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Rep. Maxine Waters, CBC, Waiting For You to "Unleash" Them On Obama

While President Barack Obama was on the road doing a listening bus tour, members of the Congressional Black Caucus were getting an earful in Detroit from frustrated constituents upset over our dire economic conditions. When pressed on why the CBC isn't doing more to put pressure on the president, Rep. Maxine Waters gave a candid response that they were waiting on permission from their constituents. She said these voters, often fervent supporters of the president, needed to "unleash" them, like political Kraken.

From Crewof42

Waters said: “When YOU tell us it’s alright and you unleash us and you tell us you’re ready to have this conversation — we’re ready to have the conversation,” Waters said.  “It’s alright!” — a woman in the audience loudly responded.  The “conversation” Waters appeared to be referring to is a referendum and a challenge to the Obama White House on targeted help for black Americans facing high unemployment.

“We want to give the President every opportunity to show what he can do and show what he is prepared to lead on… 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 he’s on now — he’s not in any black communities. We don’t know that.”

“We’re politicians. We’re elected officials. We are trying to do the right thing and the best thing,” Waters continued.  “When you let us know it’s time to let go, we’ll let go.”

As I was telling a friend and long-time support of this blog, Joe V., Rep. Waters and other CBC members are in a precarious situation where their voting public is angry, frustrated, struggling and wants action. But there is a serious political risk if members like Waters and others if they are perceived as too aggressive.

Said Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post:

Because of the deep affection for the first black president, as Waters noted, constituents didn’t want to hear anything that remotely came close to criticizing Obama or his administration. It’s an emotional response, to be sure, especially when you recognize that those same folks agree with every knock on the president and the administration on policy grounds. But to criticize Obama was to ask for a beat-down. (Trust me, that threat extends to African American pundits who dare to say something negative.) This, in turn, caused black members of Congress to pull their punches or go mute on important issues for fear of riling up the folks back home who would view them as disloyal. Or as a friend put it to me yesterday, the relationship between Obama, black members of Congress and their constituents is like that of children of divorced parents. Congress is the mom. Their constituents are the kids. And Obama is the father who’s seen only once in a while. Mom won’t say anything bad about the father in front of the children because they’ll shout back: “Don’t talk bad about my father!”

Obama has only been in office three years. Many CBC members have been around since the Clinton Administration or longer. And many issues dragging down the African American community are systematic issues that have lingered since -- quite frankly -- forever. But when it comes to the current economic crisis, it's been at a "Depression" level for African Americans since George W. Bush's second term as president. Any critique of "Why isn't Obama doing anything?" can easily be turned around back on them and they can be asked, "What has the CBC been doing for the last 20 years?"

Is that a fair question given how complicated politics can be? Probably not. But will that get asked over and over again by those in defense of the president? Yes, indeed. As I told Joe, if they go too hard on the president, who is more popular than many of them as a whole (individually, I'm sure they're beloved in their various districts) -- they will get clowned. For all the CBC's accomplishments, many perceive the current organization as ineffectual and decadent in the same way people view the NAACP and the National Urban League. There seems to be no innovation in the fight, just a retread of old tactics -- like having a meeting, holding a boycott or having a march. Things that don't have the same bite in our age of 24-hour-news cycles and instant messaging.

The President can do some things, but all legislation goes through Congress. And that's where they are. People will ask Waters and others why the Congressional Black Caucus was so unsuccessful in pushing initiatives that would help black unemployment no matter who was in office, whether it was Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or, current White House occupant, Barack Obama. And CBC members don't want to have to answer that question because that question will set the groundwork for political rivals and challengers, leading to contested elections in what should be "safe" districts. And that will end with them possibly being booted out of office by the same people who put them there.

Also, many African Americans voters who lean Democrat would like to see Obama get a second term in hopes that without the concern of having to go through another election he will be more vigorous. Or, at a minimum, they simply don't want any of the current GOP crop to get the top spot. Even among my black conservative peers, I don't hear a lot of excitement over the current GOP crop no matter how annoyed they are with Obama. If Michele Bachmann is the nominee, they'll likely (silently) cross party lines or sit this one out. If Sarah Palin decides money isn't enough and runs as a spoiler in any capacity and even looks like she might win, they've threatened to move to Canada.

Therefore, with no real alternative, quite a few people don't want to do anything that would hamper Obama's chances at re-election.

That's why Waters can't, or any member of the CBC, get too tough. And it wouldn't do much good anyway, since Obama, despite everyone being upset all the time, still has more than 80 percent support in the African American community. Starting a black-on-black political fight would do nothing but give the press a nice narrative about Obama's strongest supporters turning on him. And even then, it's not so much about Obama, as most black people don't hate the guy, but hate the system which they feel is rigged, and Congress, which under John Boehner has become even more inept than usual.

(If I have to hear one more time Boehner talking about the "mandate" the GOP received when they took one house of Congress, ignoring the fact that people wanted to see a "Jobs" bill and to get help out of this recession and they've spent all their time holding the debt ceiling ransom and screaming about balanced budget amendments like it's 1992.)

Waters, et al, may be waiting to be "unleashed," but what they really want is for you not to vote them out if they get a little rough with the Great Hope Mongerer. And this isn't about Obama simply having a meeting with members, this is about getting an agenda through Congress. And can anyone -- the president, the CBC, the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid -- get anything through this Congress that is truly transformative, that is truly innovative and that is large and expansive enough to uplift the many Americans struggling in this limping economy? The answer is, hell no. We just got our credit rating lowered by Standard & Poors because House Republicans made the nation's solvency a "debateable" issue in their effort to get back the White House.

If you're willing to crash the country to just get a better shot at an election, rational governing left the building long ago. Even more disturbing, when politicians like Michele Bachmann or Texas Gov. Rick Perry STILL go around saying they wouldn't have raised the debt ceiling, and no one in the press questions them on it, it makes it seem as if the inmates are finally running the asylum in America. Things that used to be truths for us have become politicized. Our history has been revised. Reality is up for debate. 

That's a far cry from the Congresses Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson dealt with. Heck. It's a far cry from the Congress President Clinton dealt with. Our political march to the right wing versus the "extreme" right wing has become a death march, all based on cynicism and power-by-any-means-you-can-achieve-it, rather than doing right by the people of this country.

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Reader Comments (12)

It's a shame, that in MODERN TIMES, black congressional members have to beg us to rescue ourselves form the kumbayah, that is Barack Obama.

He is a republican in every day mans clothing; a trojan horse; a sell-out.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsMommy

What has stop her from sponsoring a JOBS BILL she has not sponsor zero JOBS BILLS since at least Sept 09 so how much does she really care she need to voted out of office.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBt

Once again I see even people in congress need a middle school civics refresher.

There are three (3) co-equal branches of government, according to our Consitution: Congress (House of Representatives and Senate included), Executive Branch (The President) and the Supreme Court (Legal Branch).

In order for legislation to be made a law, it has to originate from the Congress, where Representative Waters has worked for decades. Once the legislation passes within Congress, the President can sign it into law. Obviously she has not been paying attention for 8 months since the Congress became divided in January 2011 *(Republican /Democrat). No new legislation has come from congress since the conferring of Speaker John Boehner regarding employment. Why does she not encourage the citizens of our community to be "unleashed" onto the Congress where legislation comes from?

Moreover, he is President of the United States of America, not the President of Black America. The issues he has been able to move policy upon (healthcare, stimulus, education, farming subsidies, EPA regulations, Native American and Black Farmers reparations, etc. help everyone). The unemployment issue is being made worse, due to the specific lack of action from Congress upon issues that would help unemployment.

Furthermore, did she ask Presidents' Bush, Clinton and Bush II to "pay attention to her" or did she make them pay attention to her by drafting legislation that passed Congress that they could sign to specifically assist the Black community? She seemingly has amnesia because she has not done so and she wants people to forget the manufactured "debt crisis," where members of the Tea/Republican Party were not cooperative with anyone and for that reason S and P downgraded our economy and sent a political statement abour the intransigence.

Wow, I respect Representative Waters, and I know she "knows better," but she will wind up only hurting herself playing this political game.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter"Goddess Divine"

"Goddess Divine" I co-sign your statement. I find it laughable that Rep. Waters need permission from constitutes to do her job. Her job is to bring about legislation and do her best to get it passed. President Obama cannot sign into law what has not passed Congress.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterconstant gardener

Although I understand Divine Goddess's comments, I have to agree with Mrs.Mommy, and Cornell West and the like.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPOSHH

@ Goddess Devine -> Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap....... brava! He is a President, not a king....

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdivaliscious11

Goddess Divine, LOVE IT. If there was a like button it's be pressed. I understand what she's saying but come on. There is a way to let the President know you and your constituents mean business without having to throw him under a bus and get people worked up. Start presenting Bills and saying here's what we got that looks good to the public. And if the NUL (Nat'l Urban League) can come up with a form of a Jobs Bill, why can't they?

August 18, 2011 | Registered CommenterTD1016

They are supposed to be there to serve the people who voted them into office. Why should they have to wait for Black folk to unleash them on the president? It's not the president who is keeping their bills from getting on to the floor. I am sick of hearing people talk about what the president needs to do as if they are all invalids. Get up and do what you need to do. And people in the community sitting on their arses constantly complaining about how the president is not dealing with issues in the Black community. Get off your rumps and get into the street and protest for these things and stop sitting on the sidelines bitching and moaning. Thank God we didn't have this attitude in the 60s. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE???

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkhrish

When it comes down to it, it doesn't matter anyway. Obama will lose reelection. Besides that, Obama doesn't need to court the black vote. They will vote for him regardless. He has that section of population locked up. I don't care if he was running against Jesus they would still vote for him. That voting block is predictable.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDarin Zarin

Barack Obama is the Messiah!!!!! He is the second coming of Christ. He can multiply the loaves and fish. He turns water into wine. He is the living embodiment of God and we must worship him as such. Those who dare to questions him are demons bent on doing the work of Satan.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdapstyls

While you are engaged in the conversation Please take a moment and Read the view of others -- This will answer many questions!!!!!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLIZ

I have heard all of the opinions posted here and gathered invaluable insight into how passing bills work. However, I being a voter, tax payer, a former student, a former home owner, a career father (grandfather) and successful husband fail to see what any of this has to do with keeping Americans employed.
I am aware of the insurmountable arguments for who is working and who is'nt, who are the problems and who produces the economy. I understand that the accepted preconceived notion of what defines Americanism is afforded by blood, patriotism, and illusiveness.
But boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, domins und herrins, sick and non-prefreintial citizens I (a degenerate nobody by design) beckon unto you all "I want to see everyone residing in this last frontier of unity to contribute." Absent the prejudice, nepotistic, insidious, intellectual designs of failure to inhibit what it could really mean to quantify the "declaration of independence."
So, whoever you may or may not be, be part of the possibility to survive another day cheering one another on to what eventually will become our finest hour.
`the comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of my family and extended love ones and safety will be required to protect them against threats both seen and unforseen.` thank you for your time.
I love you all, later.

September 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVight
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