The Unfortunate Statements and Tone of President Obama to the Congressional Black Caucus

Michelle Singletaryby Michelle Singletary

“Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes,” President Obama said at the CBC Foundation’s annual dinner Saturday night. “Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.”

Stop crying?

Those are perhaps the most jarring words I’ve ever
heard Obama say. I know they came at the end of a long speech aimed at
rallying his supporters. But does he really think CBC members and their
constituents, many of whom are suffering in this awful economy, should
just “shake it off”?

Was Obama trying to appeal to the
pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps crowd, which believes government
should do less to help those in need? Or to those in Congress who want
to dismantle the social welfare safety net?

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
II (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told me he spent
much of Monday fielding calls from CBC members, ministers and Obama
supporters who took exception to the president’s parting remarks.

“I
think he got caught up in the moment,” Cleaver said. “I don’t think he
intended anything. I think he was saying to supporters around the
country, ‘You don’t have any more time to complain.’ ”

Still, Cleaver noted that one woman, who had been excited to attend the dinner, solemnly told him: “He didn’t have to go there.”

For
much of Obama’s speech, I was with him. He showed empathy when pointing
out that blacks have kept the faith even though the official
unemployment rate in the African American community is nearly 17
percent, the highest it’s been in almost three decades. He expressed
compassion for the 40 percent of black children living in poverty.

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Source: The Washington Post

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