President Obama’s tightrope-walk response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin created a no-win scenario for a White House that inserted itself into a racially charged debate with no easy way out.
The president’s own words more than a year ago — “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” — are fueling the push for his Justice Department to bring federal charges against Zimmerman, the Hispanic neighborhood-watch coordinator who has become a symbol of a broken justice system in the eyes of civil rights groups.
|‘“The president in the beginning needlessly exacerbated the issue — it added nothing to the tragedy. I don’t see how this ends well for anybody.”’|
When Obama waded into the controversy in March 2012, his words seemed to carry limited consequences. His statement of support for the Martin family played well with supporters and was more than a year away from the polarizing trial.
It’s not that simple anymore.
In an apparent effort to cool emotions, Obama reminded Americans after the verdict that the “jury has spoken.” And White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, answering questions for the first time about the outcome, insisted that Obama had “no opinion to express” about a potential civil rights case against Zimmerman.
However, the president’s political headache is just beginning.
Attorney General Eric Holder vowed that his department would root out any racial stereotypes causing violent confrontations, telling both a black sorority in Washington and the NAACP in Orlando that his office was not done investigating the shooting inside a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Federal prosecutors started its examination of the killing last year, and the longer it goes, the more questions emerge about whether the Justice Department has enough evidence to bring a case.