This was three days before Antonin Scalia died.
President Obama had just spoken before the Illinois General Assembly. Now, he and some old friends, all retired from that body, were being interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Obama was talking about the legislative gridlock that has marked his terms and how he might have avoided it.
"Maybe I could have done that a little better," he said.
One of his friends wasn't having it. "They were afraid of you for a couple of reasons," said Denny Jacobs. "Number one, you were black."
Mr. Obama parried the suggestion, saying what he always says when asked about race and his presidency....