Congressional Black Caucus Chair: "If Obama Wasn't In Office We'd Be Marching on the White House"
Members of the CBC have made no bones about being none too happy with President Obama's performance and, in their perception, abandonment of the black working class. Last month, Maxine Waters expressed her dismay with the President to a crowd in the poor black and LatinoA district of Inglewood, CA, where unemployment is disproportionately high compared to the rest of the country. And now, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) has told the Miami Herald he thinks Obama's policies are detrimental to blacks in America, but that the CBC has refrained from going too wild because they do not want to "empower the people who hate the president. A rock and a hard place:
Nearing 17 percent, joblessness among blacks is at a three-decade high and almost twice the size of 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 occupant of the White House and the sometimes untethered animosity that his election has triggered.
"If (former President) 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. [...]
"It's tough," Cleaver said. "I'm chairing a group of people who are former mayors and state senators and judges. I'm trying to develop a very aggressive agenda. But Maxine Waters represents central Los Angeles first and she has to represent her constituents first and she's going to say things in order to represent them."
Of course, the specter of racism looms over the Obama presidency, and the "not empowering haters" tack is most obviously in response to the Tea Party, which CBC members have criticized for their own racism. For Cleaver's part, he told the Miami Herald that during the health care debate, he was spat upon. Read the full piece here.