All Articles Tagged "congressional black caucus"
(Eurweb) — The sound bites and subsequent headlines that some media outlets posted from the President’s recentspeech to the Congressional Black Caucus have set off a firestorm of Obama criticism; waging arrogance, insensitivity and a lack of action for the current plight of African Americans in this country and especially in light of the current economic crisis. Ironically, the same speech landed in our in box, as we (The Electronic Urban Report) are recipients of news from the White House press office. For us, the speech resonated a tone of inspiration and passion for African Americans, and for all of America.
(Politico) — Against a backdrop of slipping support among African Americans and widely acknowledged tension with black members of Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a fiery defense of his record at a Congressional Black Caucus gala Saturday night. Judging by the audience’s reaction — the president’s words often brought the crowd to their feet — Obama went a long way toward silencing his critics. Like a minister preaching to a restive choir, Obama used familiar cultural touchstones to remind the audience of his roots, including Biblical references, a rhythmic cadence and his own humble beginnings as the son of a single mother who sometimes relied on food stamps. He then challenged his naysayers with a list of legislative accomplishments that he said will uplift African American communities: middle-class tax breaks, money for college education and summer jobs programs.
During the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday in Washington, DC, President Obama delivered a fiery summons to black people to quit crying and complaining and “put on your marching shoes” to follow him into battle for jobs and opportunity.
Obama’s speech to the annual awards dinner of the CBC was his answer to increasingly vocal griping from black leaders that he’s been giving away too much in talks with Republicans — and not doing enough to fight black unemployment, which is nearly double the national average at 16.7 percent.
The president encouraged us to “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,”, “shake it off. ‘Stop complainin’. ‘Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
(NPR) — The annual meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus kicks off Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Michel Martin speaks with CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) about African-Americans’ 16.7 percent unemployment rate and why the CBC has not been more aggressive in criticizing President Obama.
Unlike the extremely outspoken Rep. Maxine Waters, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Rep. Emanuel Cleaver has attempted to promote the cause of African-Americans through polite means. While he stands by many CBC members’ critiques of the president’s failure to address black unemployment, he has done so without fiery words. Cleaver understands that his group must be free to pursue black interests in Congress, even if that means going against the opinion of America’s first black president. But at the same time, the former mayor of Kansas City is highly sensitive to appearances. A black president being attacked by fellow African-American politicos can help fuel hostile foes of Obama’s legislation. The Miami Herald reports that Rep. Cleaver tries to balance the CBC’s scrutiny with support of the president — but this balancing act is not easy.
Miamiherald.com has more on this black leader caught in a political catch-22:
Cleaver is a lifelong Democrat who prizes political loyalty, and black unemployment has put him and the group he leads in the awkward position of criticizing the policies of a president they admire, but not the president himself.
“It’s not personal,” Cleaver said. “They’re attacking his policies, or lack thereof, with regard to this gigantic unemployment problem among African-Americans. If we can’t criticize a black president, then it’s all over.”
When lawmakers swarmed around Obama as he was leaving the House of Representatives chamber after his recent speech on jobs, caucus members were in the crush, eager for a handshake, a pat on the shoulder or an autograph.
“This is an unprecedented circumstance where an African-American president who is an iconic, heroic figure enjoys a status with African-Americans that no one since Martin Luther King has enjoyed,” said former Rep. Artur Davis, D-ALA., who was a member of the black caucus until leaving office a year ago.
(Miami Herald) — As the debate over jobs turns into the latest political tug-of-war, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri walks a careful but candid line. As chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, he has been at odds with President Barack Obama over the administration’s response to soaring unemployment in the African-American community. Nearing 17 percent, joblessness among blacks is at a three-decade high and almost twice the overall unemployment rate. The black caucus wants the president to do more. But the group’s efforts are freighted with political sensitivities, given Obama’s unique role as the first African-American president and the sometimes untethered animosity that his election has triggered. ”If Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House,” Cleaver said. “There is a less-volatile reaction in the CBC because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president.”
“The Tea Party should go straight to hell!” was Waters in finger-waving fury and a chorus of call-and-response. It was a stunning display of raw snap, like the pop of air pressure released in an airplane cabin.
Much of the confounded analysis on Waters’ recent tirades paint her as “angry black woman” on emotional punching spree. Rattled commentators on FOX News are whining about it in pouting fits of “how dare they.”
It’s the culmination of a cantankerous string of classic Waters gracing many television screens and online virals. There she was in Detroit: “The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president, too. We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired, ya’ll. We’re getting tired. And so, what we want to do is, we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is. We don’t know why on this trip that he’s in the United States now, he’s not in any black community. We don’t know that.”
But, there is more to this, a political calculation that Waters herself is hoping will pay tremendous dividends somewhere down the line. While her outbursts and keep-it-realism in Congress is the stuff made of legend, Waters has used it skillfully to her advantage since her days as a rising star in the California state legislature. If anything, keeping it loud and on the offensive keeps the heat of a taxing House Ethics probe off her back. She’s essentially putting her political enemies on notice: beware.
Putting Waters out front is also a well-planned attempt by the CBC to show frustration with the President, representing a deliberate and last ditch effort for access to the White House. Tensions had been mounting between the CBC and the Obama Administration since before Obama was elected. Whispers in Washington tell of a President soured on the Caucus since pretty much half of it dissed him in favor of initial 2008 primary favorite Hillary Clinton. Some observers partly blame the Caucus for the unnecessarily long and caustic primary battle between Clinton and Obama – if black Members of Congress had, simply, unanimously supported their former member when his tide began rising, it could have ended a bit more gracefully.
Instead, there were Democratic superdelegates like Waters and current CBC Chair Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MI) who made high profile gambles on Clinton, perhaps unable to sever old ties from the stickiness of political favors. CBC endorsement of Clinton seemed to egg her on to the very end (Clinton: “I must be doing something right if they don’t like him”). After all, the Clintons were at one time seen as honorary black political royalty.
Obama, in turn, felt slighted. And some say he’s been a bit “prickly” about it ever since.
It’s one of the main reasons behind the CBC enjoying very little access to the White House in comparison to their colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. During the course of one year, the CHC held four meetings with the President in contrast to the CBC being invited only once – and they had to beg for the next sit down.
While speculation has bubbled to the surface since Inauguration, no CBC Member wants to admit on record that there are tensions. Or, that they messed up in 2008 and are now suffering for it. One nasty conspiracy theory floating about is that the CBC Members embattled by very public and politically devastating House Ethics probes are among the very ones who supported Obama’s primary opponent.
Unleashing Waters is acknowledgement that the tensions have in many ways hampered CBC policy efforts on the black unemployment issue. And, running a multi-city jobs tour where Members get to rally black constituents is a clever way to get community backing without openly maligning the President – although that’s exactly what’s happening. Waters is highly skilled at employing political theatre like acupuncturist finding the perfect pressure points. Already, it’s forced the White House to pivot and focus on the black unemployment issue, dispatching senior officials to CBC town halls and, suddenly, planning speeches in Detroit and at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial celebration. At some point, perhaps upon return from a lavish and ill-picked Martha’s Vineyard vacation, the CBC might get another meeting in the Oval Office.
Charles D. Ellison is Chief Political Correspondent for The Philadelphia Tribune, author of the critically-acclaimed urban political thriller TANTRUM and a nationally recognized, frequently featured expert on politics.
(Christian Science Monitor) — With unemployment locked in double digits in many congressional districts, the defining political event of the summer for many members of Congress is becoming the jobs fair, sponsored by lawmakers to connect constituents with actual hiring prospects. The concept has taken off with conservative Republicans as well as liberal Democrats serving some of the poorest communities in America. The political advantages are two-fold: The events cast members as doing something about the nation’s jobs crisis while at the same time shielding them from public confrontations with angry voters. It means town-hall meetings – once a staple of the congressional summer season – are now in decline thanks to the testy summer of 2009, when health-care protests helped launch the tea party movement and provided endless grist for opposition campaign ads.
With the recent Gallup Poll showing that President Obama has slowly began to lose support within the black community – the Congressional Black Caucus hasn’t been shy with their distaste for Obama’s political direction. Adding fuel to the fire, the CBC seems to be taking up their frustrations with the source of its discourse – the Tea Party.
Even though Obama’s approval rating has decreased to 81% from the 95% earlier in his term, some heavy players in the CBC are urging Obama to finally make moves when it comes to his 2008 campaign promises.
Maryland US Representative, Elijah Cummings admits that he is not the only one in the Caucus to feel frustrated by the President’s recent actions.
“When he came in, he talked about hope, he talked about jobs, he has talked about fairness, he has talked about addressing Wall Street effectively and efficiently, and trying to make a difference,” Cummings told CNN’s State of the Union talk show on Sunday.
It also didn’t help matters much with Obama appearing to coddle the Tea Party during the government cutbacks.
Since unemployment in the black community is at approximately 16% (with no alleviation in sight) – many in the CBC are tired of waiting for Obama to fight back. That mentality has caused the 43-lawmaker team to go up against the Tea Party to make their opinions known.
“The Tea Party discovered something. That is if they organize, if they talk loud enough, if they threaten, if they register to vote and elect a few people, they can take over the Congress of the United States. They called our bluff and we blinked. We should have made them walk the plank,” US Representative Maxine Waters told onlookers at a CBC job fair in Atlanta, Georgia.
During another summit in California, Waters again lashed out towards the group.
“I’m not afraid of anybody. This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘tea party’ can go straight to Hell.”
Of course, such comments didn’t go unnoticed by the group for that long. Soon after Waters comments spread a prominent Tea Party group, the ‘Tea Party Patriots’ quickly came to its defense.
“…now an elected Democratic representative says that we can ‘go straight to hell. The president and all leaders of the Democratic Party, who have called for civility in the past, are neglecting to censure their own. Is civility only required from their opponents? Perhaps it’s time for a new-NEW era of civility. … The president’s silence on these latest violations of civility has been deafening, but not surprising.”
Even with all this, it is hard paint the Tea Party as the victim, being that they made it their mission to “destroy” the current government and how some view it. Are they really surprised that there is push back or are they surprised about whom is doing so? Especially now, since the CBC is refusing to sit idly by and do nothing – only time will tell how this all will pan out.
Cynthia Wright is an avid lover of all things geeky. When she isn’t freelancing, she can be found on her blog BGA Life and on Twitter at @cynisright.
(Daily Beast) — With a stinging budget defeat behind them and unemployment in the black community soaring to 16 percent, members of the Congressional Black Caucus say they’re done waiting for Barack Obama to fight their battles for them. Instead, the 43 African-American lawmakers say they’re taking matters into their own hands and will carry the fight to Tea Party Republicans, whom they blame for Obama’s latest lurch to the right. “The Tea Party discovered something. That is if they organize, if they talk loud enough, if they threaten, if they register to vote and elect a few people, they can take over the Congress of the United States,” said Rep. Maxine Waters. “They called our bluff and we blinked. We should have made them walk the plank.”