Black lawmakers and leaders are showing no signs of relenting on their new, more publically vocal push for President Obama to focus more attention on African-American issues. The communities they represent are experiencing unprecedented levels of unemployment, poverty and dysfunction and are losing patience with the man many Blacks have often treated more like a Messiah. And, given the tough re-election fight Obama has ahead of him, they won’t be taken for granted.
The president is angry that African-American leaders aren’t giving him more credit for health care reform, increased federal financial aid and other initiatives that will greatly benefit Blacks, Politico reports. They, on the other hand, want to see efforts to provide solutions for issues that disproportionately affect Blacks, such as a job-creation plan.
A source close to Obama told Politico that the administration has met with Black leaders more than any other group and is increasing its outreach to that community. Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee and campaign operative Michael Blake met this week with veteran Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; BET CEO and Chairman Debra L. Lee; the heads of the NAACP and National Urban League; and other Black leaders.
“I understand that you’ve got to be president for all people, but this administration has gone just too far; they really don’t even say ‘African-American’ or talk about [our] specific issues,” Rep. Laura Richardson (D-California) told the publication, adding that Obama is afraid that people will think he’s favoring African-Americans.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) made a similar observation at a recent Congressional Black Caucus town hall meeting in Miami, daring an Obama aide participating in the event to use the word “Black,” which he did. She and other CBC members have been hosting a series of job fairs and town hall meetings around the nation during their August recess. One week, while they were watching thousands of people line up in sometimes precariously hot weather, desperate to find a job, Obama was conducting a bus tour in largely white communities, leading Black lawmakers to ask why he wasn’t visiting their constituents.
“There are three [Black] congressional seats in L.A., and I don’t think he’s visited any of them as president,” Richardson said. “Not Watts, not Compton, not Long Beach, not Carson.”
In an interview on MSNBC on Monday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed warned of the political hazards of being too critical of Obama.
“A small depression among the African-American electorate could be devastating to this president,” he said. “And I’d also like the folks on the other side of the conversation to tell me who the alternative is that’s going to do such a better job for Black people. Will it be Michele Bachmann? I mean, will it be Mitt Romney? Rick Perry?”
(Photo: AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)