Why Obama Can't Lead on Ferguson

The president has learned that the White House can sometimes be a treacherous perch from which to agitate for change.

Protesters outside the White House following the announcement that a white police officer would not be charged in the death of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, 2014

Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In March 2008, candidate Barack Obama gave a raw, lengthy speech about his own experience as a black man in America. It was a political risk made necessary by a controversy over racially divisive statements by Obama's former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and by a protracted battle against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination. The gamble was vindicated by his history-making election, fueling a hope and belief that he emphasized in his victory speech: "Change has come to America."

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