01 Nov 2011 Obama Being Paternal and Patronizing to the CBC Crowd, by Charles Butler
Black folk can be forgiving, but, when it comes to President Obama’s recent speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, forgiveness is tough.
Everyone — and not just blacks — should be insulted at Obama’s transition into a pseudo-black vernacular during his September CBC speech. Did he really need to get up in front of this group of successful, educated black professionals and start jive-talking? Isn’t that just a little condescending?
As a Chicagoan who watched Obama’s political rise, I admit that I never trusted him — not as an organizer, not as a state lawmaker, not as a U.S. senator and certainly not now as President. He’s an interloper and an opportunist.
While so many at that CBC event have advanced on their own merit, Obama is a guy who I believe blatantly uses the color of skin to advance his agenda. By his own admission, Obama is not culturally black. But there he was, his voice accented, commanding the crowd to “shake it off, stop complainin’, stop grumblin’, stop cryin.” It’s time to support your black president!
Obama essentially was mocking the people who gave him over 95 percent of their vote — and those with political intelligence and savvy in particular. Blacks should not be fooled by the drawl and reassuring smile. They shouldn’t put on their “marching shoes” to support the declaration of class war that is his new jobs bill.
Consider something that seemed really important to him — the Solyndra solar panel company. How did his sweetheart loan of half-a-billion dollars to a company supported by his campaign donors help black America? The money is gone, the “green jobs” weren’t created and the demonization of reliable fossil fuels will raise consumer prices across the board.
Furthermore, ingratitude toward the CBC was apparent early, when April Ryan of American Urban Radio took then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to task when Obama declined to meet with the CBC about the stimulus bill in February of 2009. She asked, “Are they on the President’s agenda?” Only then did Obama sit down with his former caucus members.
It wasn’t until Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) complained that Obama finally seemed to start paying attention to black America. Obama began to conspicuously show up in places such as Detroit and the CBC event. He also held a private lunch with black political commentators, including Ryan.
But Waters, whom I surprisingly find myself agreeing with more often these days, remains rightfully skeptical of Obama’s earnestness. In a CBS News interview, commenting about Obama’s remarks to the CBC, Waters said:
[T]he President spoke to the Hispanic caucus and certainly they are pushing him on immigration… and despite the fact that he has appointed [Sonia] Sotomayor to the Supreme Court [and] he has an office for excellence in Hispanic education right in the White House. They’re still pushing him. He certainly didn’t tell them to stop complaining. And he would never say that to the gay and lesbian community who really pushed him on “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Or even in a speech to AIPAC, he would never say to the Jewish community, “Stop complaining about Israel.” So I don’t know who he was talking to…
Obama’s lax attitude toward his most loyal constituency almost cost historically black colleges and universities when a $85 million federal allocation expired on his watch. “Shovel-ready” stimulus projects that were realized contained Davis-Bacon Act provisions that traditionally shortchange black laborers. While Obama mourns for dead students in Syria, Chicago students are growing increasingly immune to the sound of gunfire. This past summer, multiple murders occurred within a mile of Obama’s Chicago residence.
Obama cannot — and should not — take black America for granted.
Greatness eludes Obama. While likely wanting to be remembered as another Franklin Roosevelt, his failed leadership, poor treatment of his base and efforts to make America less exceptional in the world will make him just another Jimmy Carter.
# # #
Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.