Congressional Black Caucus And President Obama Make Nice Ahead Of Tough Upcoming Election
After a long, somewhat contentious summer, in which the Congressional Black Caucus seemed to fall out of love with President Barack Obama over the black unemployment issue, the CBC and the president seem to be hugging it out and coming together ahead of what will likely be a fierce fight for reelection in 2012.
CBC chairman Emanuel Cleaver recently told a reporter that "most CBC members are feeling better" about the direction the president is taking.
"The White House has, in my estimation as the chair, conscientiously worked to reduce the little dings and dents that happened to the relationship, and as a result, I think things have improved," Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri told rollcall.com. "We still have little instances where maybe somebody is not notified a Cabinet secretary is coming to their district, but the White House has gone way out trying to change that."
Cleaver said that members of the CBC have gotten over any rough patches they weathered with the president over the summer and are calling for all hands on deck to fend off a Republican challenge for the White House.
"I acknowledge that there's been some restlessness among CBC members," caucus Second Vice Chairman G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina, told the website. "But when you get beyond that ... we are in lock step with each other and in lock step with the president."
Cleaver said that members had felt that there had been a communication gap between the administration and the CBC, which led some to voice their opinions of how things were going down in a very public "family discussion."
Meanwhile, the lingering effect from all the sniping and backbiting by black Democrats like Rep. John Conyers of Michigan has led to a bit of a backlash.
According to some recent reports, some in the caucus may be trying to capitalize politically by charging the morecritical members with disloyalty.
Michigan state senator Bert Johnson, who will be running for the state's newly drawn 13th Congressional District, wrote in a column published in The Huffington Post's Black Voices that "turning our ire on our president, as Rep. John Conyers and a handful of his colleagues unfortunately have done, is the wrong thing to do."
"We should not pull the rug out from underneath the president when he needs our solidarity most," Johnson wrote.
"Trying to chop off the head off the president is a very destructive thing that divides us," Johnson recently told POLITICO. "I just think it's been a very heavy hand some members have had toward the president, and I don't think it's been productive."
Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has also been targeted for what has been perceived as disloyalty to the president.
"There have been times when the congressman has spoken out against the president for not doing enough," former Rep. Debbi Halvorson, who will be challenging Jackson in an upcoming primary election, told POLITICO. But voters "really should have a person who stands with this president, who in this district is loved and revered," she said.
While there seems to be no real threat to Obama losing his base of black voters, the president and his campaign are not taking any chances.
Michael Blake, formerly Obama's point man on African-American outreach in the White House, has recently been tapped as a deputy director of Operation Vote, an arm of the campaign focused on blacks, Latinos, LGBT and other minority voters.
Other high-profile blacks have also been added to various Democratic arms, including former cellphone executive Greg Hinton as Chief Diversity Officer at the Democratic National Committee and Broderick Johnson, husband of NPR host Michele Norris, as a senior adviser to the president.