Obama's Leadership Challenged by Rep. Maxine Waters, Black Voters
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members, once hesitant to directly challenge the leadership of the first black president, are being goaded by an angry black crowd to go after Barack Obama's failed leadership on jobs.
On Thursday morning, African-American Congressmen took to the media to talk about the things they have been hearing on their "For the People" Jobs Initiative tour after a video of a Tuesday town hall meeting in Detroit revealed that blacks, once a fiercely loyal constituent of Obama, are fed up.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told MSNBC from Atlanta, Ga., "I don't think that the people that I've been talking with today ... they're not frustrated with President Obama, they're frustrated with unemployment."
The 15.9 percent unemployment rate has certainly been a topic of discussion during the job fair/town hall tour. However, on Tuesday night an angry Michigan crowd called Obama by name as did a frustrated Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
An angry crowd screamed "let go" and "we're ready," as the congresswoman asked for the freedom and support to let go of their silence and challenge the president.
Those in the crowd were not the only ones expressing their disappointment with Obama. Waters, who admitted she was "tired," openly questioned the president's leadership and reasoning.
"We want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he's prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity," she bellowed. "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 that he's in the United States now; he's not in any black community. We don't know that."
Waters is not the first African-American leader to speak out publicly against the president.
Princeton University Professor Cornel West, who campaigned for Obama several times in 2008, joined NPR talk show host Tavis Smiley to expose poverty in American cities and highlight the failures of the administration.
"I think too often [the president] compromises, too often he capitulates. I think the Republicans know that. I think they laugh when he's not around," Smiley told ABC News.
The CBC meeting is an indication that the recent drop in the president's support – down to an all-time low of 39 percent – represents black sentiments as well.
Since the Michigan meeting, CBC members are taking a new tone with Obama.
Waters called on the president Thursday to show leadership and "fight hard." CBC members have also called for a meeting with the president.
Waters and other Democratic CBC members believe that Obama must fight the Republicans and the Tea Party and insist of on taxes for high-income earners.
The CBC's sole Republican, Rep. Allen West (Fla.), agreed on Fox News Wednesday that Obama is not leading African Americans in the right direction, but ridiculed black Democrats for being complicit for so long in black complacency with the Democratic Party.
"So you have this 21st century plantation that has been out there where the Democratic Party has forever taken the black vote for granted and you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than the overseers of that plantation," he said.
Allen West charged Waters and others with phony leadership. He said black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton do little more than pacify the black vote until election time.
West called himself a "modern day Harriet Tubman," pledging to lead blacks, as the Underground Railroad heroine did, to political clarity on the other side of the party line.
West also criticized the Republican Party for failing to reach out to the black community. He urged Republicans to answer black frustrations.
"We have an opportunity to show that the conservative principles and values that really are the cornerstone and bedrock of the black community: individual responsibility and accountability, faith and family, hard work ethic," he said. "Those are the type of things we can reconnect to the black community and once again get a thriving economic community within our inner cities."