President Obama's call to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie to commend him for providing Michael Vick with a second chance after the quaterback spent time in prison on a dog-fighting conviction serves as a reminder of the president's willingness to weigh in on potentially controversial news stories with a racial element.
This should not be totally surprising coming from America's first African American president. But the Vick comments, revealed as they were during the slow post-Christmas news week, have nonetheless laid that narrative plain, just in case his earlier comments had not.
Here are some other example of Obama playing the role of social critic:
On the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. at his own house in Cambridge, Mass.:
"My understanding is that Professor Gates then shows his I.D. to show that this is his house and, at that point, he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped," Obama said at a news conference in July 2009 that sparked the controversy leading to his famous "Beer Summit."
"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that [Gates case]. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That's just a fact," Obama said.