Does The Black Caucus Have A Point?

                                                         The congressional black caucus  took the initiative to  do something about the joblessness in America , and particularly in the black community. We commend senior congressional representative John Lewis of Georgia for his leadership and unflinching efforts toward the uplifting of  all  Americans and particular African-Americans.

The initiative was in the  form of a job fair in Atlanta Georgia on Thursday August 18th which saw thousands of job seekers turning up hoping to get a job.( ABC news saw it this way).Thousands of unemployed waited overnight, camping out in their business suits and office heels and braving the tormenting heat in Atlanta to stand in line for a job fair Thursday. Authorities treated 20 people for heat exhaustion as they struggled to keep the line moving and get people moved inside.(abc news.com)

The congressional black caucus says it intends to do it again sponsoring one in  Los Angeles California and in Miami Florida. The Job fair made the news in other ways, as some members of the black caucus took the opportunity to voice their discontent at the lack of jobs in the economy. Front and center was California representative Maxine Walters who seemed rather frustrated with the President , whilst at the same time insisting that she supports him.

At the heart of Walter’s discontent is the fact that the president took a three-day bust trip to ally the fears of rural folks in Iowa , Minnesota , and Illinois , but did not visit any urban centers that are traditional homes to black Americans.

This leads us to look at the president’s style of leadership.

From the onset,  candidate  Obama was forced  to separate himself  from the shackles of being characterized as a black candidate for the presidency, Obama understood that if he was pigeon-holed as a black candidate his chances of winning the White House was slimmer than that of a snow-ball in hell.

Whether Obama did this as a shrewd  tactical political move or because he had to relate to the other half of him, that is his mother’s side, is irrelevant. Anyone looking at his candidacy had to see  it as the best strategy if he was to pull off something most people thought they would never see in their lifetime, a black man in the White House.

  Bill Clinton former Democratic President characterized Obama’s  candidacy as a quote “fairy tale’. President Clinton spent a lot of energy trying to walk back those comments. We in the black community knew exactly what he meant, I however understood why he said it, I would have done the same in his place, if my wife was running, and it would not be racial.

 It just was never done before.

In order for Obama to pull off the impossible, he had to position himself as a race neutral being, he could ill-afford  to be characterized as another angry black left-wing radical. Labels that were hung around the necks of previous candidates like Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. In essence Obama had to  disavow his black side in order to appease white Americans.

A white America that have always been wary  and afraid of black men. A fear born out of guilt maybe, but fear nontheless.

This however drew the ire of black stalwarts like Jesse Jackson who had done the grunge work to make it possible for a candidate Obama .

The goodly Reverend  allegedly had some choice expletives for Obama, for daring to chastise black Americans on taking responsibility for their own actions, in a black church no less.

 Something too many of my African American brothers and sisters do not nescessarily take kindly to. But which is made  no less true because of their denial.

 Bill Clinton was forced to take on the black community in the face of a scathing attack from right wing republicans who saw rap music as the potential death of America. 

Clinton  went on to diss, rapper sister Soulja, about the content of her lyrics, Clinton knew however that blacks had  nowhere else  to go but the Democratic party. where were blacks going to go ? To a party that is as lilly white as the Colorado Mountains IN winter. Blacks have long been  persona non grata (not welcome) in the Republican party , so he could afford to  take that gamble in order to counter balance the vapid assault coming from the right , from attackers who were up in arms about rap lyrics.

Throughout the election campaign Obama was forced repeatedly to show his non blackness, but was eventually cornered by a new wave of republican swift boaters in the Jeremiah Wright debacle. Candidate Obama was forced to deliver a major Policy speech on race, the speech of his life, well written , well delivered , and one that probably cemented into the minds of white independent voters that Obama was not a wide-eyed liberal in black skin. despite this monumental speech the Jeremiah Wright affair dogged Obama throughout the primaries to their conclusions and throughout the General elections campaign. Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton was all to happy to capitalize on the circus-like madness surrounding this non issue. For the first time a presidential candidate was being held responsible for something someone else  had said.

Obama’s  leadership style and his stated way of doing business after getting  elected, was one of  reconciliation, reaching across the aisle to republicans in order to get things done. He was inspired  by Lincoln and his strategy of putting  his former  rivals into his cabinet. Biden as vice President,Hillary Clinton at the State Department pretty much saw Obama’s objectives met.

What Obama seemingly did not bargain for , and to this day do not comprehend, at least as far as some folks I have spoken to are concerned, is the unadulterated venemous hatred republicans have for him. The President we assume is somehow shielded from the putrid bile that is spewed from the lips of every little republican ,irrespective of stature.

The disrespect is palpable  as it  followed the president into the congress, whilst delivering the  state of the Union address one republican congressman shouted out at the president “you lie”, most republicans  sanctioned the infamous you lie comment, even though it was unprecedented , disgraceful crass, and boorish. No other  sitting president as far as our research revealed,  delivering a state of the union address, have  ever been  treated with such disrespect and utter contempt.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said “I  have never in my 29 years heard an outburst of that nature with reference to a  president of the United States speaking as a guest of the House and Senate.”

The hatred and the utter humilitation at seeing a black man as President standing there lecturing a room-full of mostly old white men was too much for Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

So gut wrenching  it was  for them that Wilson arguably lost control of his entire being, and was unable to stop himself from shouting out at the President, ‘you lie”.

The troll later apologised to Rham Emanuel, then Chief of staff to the president. To their credit some Republicans found his behavior disrespectful and told him so ,this included  Senator John Mccain, of Arizona, and representative Jerry lewis of California

This was not confined to the ill-mannered congressional representative , a sitting member of the Supreme  Court Samuel Alito , a  recent Bush appointee  visibly shook his head in disagreement whilst mouthing something , as the president spoke to what he disagreed with, regarding a Supreme Court decision. Political historians are still hard pressed to find a single instance where any of the disrespect shown to president Obama was ever shown to any other American president. One can understand the intemperate outburst from an uncultured , uncouth Congressman, one would however expect a supreme court justice to understand protocol.

President Obama’s style of leadership has drawn howls of condemnation from both the right and left. The challenges he faces are unique, and  as such hard to gauge, is the gridlock in Washington just the way things gets done in the Nation’s capital, or is it because we have a black  president?

There have been  a stated desire from the people on the right to see the president fail ! I am struggling to see how the president could fail with no consequence to the country? I try to see the possibility of this, based on the claims the president’s enemies make, that they are patriots.

On his ascendency to the presidency , Mister Obama had a Democratic House, and a Democratic Senate. Democrats had  an almost  carte blanche to enact their agenda, and could legitimately claim a mandate. They could have legitimately argued  that elections have consequence. What they did was to quibble amongst themselves, splitting into different groups , blue dogs, liberals, and Regan democrats, the latter being an oxymoron if I ever did see one. Whilst democrats quibble an ominous cloud was forming on the political horizon in the form of the now  powerful tea party.

The tea party, largely  a group of  racist hypocrites, had no trouble with the expenditures of Reagan, Bush and Bush , republican presidents who ran up the national debt and operated with unbalanced budgets . Suddenly saw the destruction of America, and their quote way of life under threat  from  president Obama. They could not argue that the president was unqualified to be president because of his age, so they  cast  aspersions on the true place of his birth. The United States  Constitution requires only that a candidate be born in the United States, and be of or above the age of  35 years.

They created  what almost amounted to a national crisis arguing (1)  Falsely that Obama was not born in the United States. (2) They argued falsely  that the president was a muslim, a  falsehood that even  if  true would  not have  precluded  an American from  lawfully  seeking the presidency under the constitution.

Conversely Obama’s opponent , war hero, Senator John McCain of Arizona was not born in the United States,  reportedly  born somewhere in the Panama canal zone. Tea party activists had no problem with senator McCain’s lack of mainland birth. Tea party supporters and their cronies had no compunction about showing their rancid hatred for the president , and certainly have not been restrained in their use of derogatory and  disgustingly  demeaning caricatures in their depiction  of  Mister Obama.

Throughout all of these attacks  on the president, the congressional black caucus has been mute. Where have the leadership of that group been ? The tea  party has galvanized their supporters into a unyeilding , uncompromising , group of right-wing zealots. that have primaried traditional republican senate and house candidates , forcing some out, and forcing others far to the right of their own convictions in order to stay alive politically.

The ideological right-wing purity test have created what is now happening in Washington. This  includes  the nonsensical  manufactured debate about the debt ceiling , which  before Obama  was a mere   formality.  The attendant downgrade of America’s AAA ratings from Standard and Poors,  gave Republicans what they  wanted, the ability  to tag this president with the infamy  of having been the first American President to see this happen on his watch . Arguing it was a result of his failures, when in fact it was of their doing.

The black caucus did not establish themselves as they  most certainly could, by striking an alliance with the hispanic caucus , giving the hispanic caucus  their committment that they would support them on immigration , and asking them to join them into pushing back hard against the right-wing reactionaries in the tea party. Instead they  sat on their rear ends expecting things to happen, well things happened , the tea party got all they wanted , they have blocked the president’s agenda to the point the country is arguably  close to a second recession, the president’s approval numbers on the economy is under 40% despite his success in eliminating  Osama Bin  Laden.

This ought to be a lesson to the black caucus , whether there is a black president or not the struggle continues and despite the power of the presidency, this   president will not be able to do what other presidents did as a  matter of course. It’s not the  office, it’s the man. This is still America.

mike beckles:

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One thought on “Does The Black Caucus Have A Point?

  1. Congratulations on your cogent and well presented observations. The black caucus would do well to adopt your idea to make common cause with the Hispanic caucus. I have no idea whether they have attempted to do so or not. Failure to do so in order to maximise their clout can only be interpreted as nearsightedness. There are elements in the black community which refuse to adopt a fair and balanced approach to the immigration situation. That must change. Some have to be reminded that they themselves have been at the mercy of right wing exclusionary tactics and it is smart and beneficial to align with others who seek a fair disposition of their circumstances.

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