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President scrambles away from Vick call

An excerpt from

The weirdest story of the day is President Barack Obama's call to Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. Two things apparently happened during the call: Obama praised the team for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance, and then he asked questions about the Eagles' use of alternative energy at their stadium.

Patting Lurie on the back for playing Vick might give the White House communications shop some headaches, but it was worth doing. About one in 100 Americans is currently behind bars, and more were jailed at some other point in time. And as a Pew report this year shows in grim detail, the punishment doesn't stop when convicts leave prison: "Serving time reduces hourly wages for men by approximately 11 percent, annual employment by 9 weeks and annual earnings by 40 percent." And those numbers hide a serious racial tilt: "Incarceration depresses the total earnings of white males by 2 percent, of Hispanic males by 6 percent, and of black males by 9 percent."

That Obama would think it important that an NFL team made a major statement about the employability of ex-convicts makes sense. That he'd want to take a risk and throw his weight behind the decision by making that call is admirable. But for the White House to say that the call was really about energy efficiency in stadium design … blunts whatever impact the call itself could have had. That was a call either worth making or not worth making, but it definitely wasn't worth making if the president wasn't willing to stand behind it.

© 2010 Washington Post

President scrambles away from Vick call 12/29/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:51pm]
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