When the President began his remarks he began with an anecdote from Dr. Joseph Lowery. He discussed the sermon Lowery gave in the book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abedegno. He said the three were bold enough to stand up for God, survived on faith, and it was that faith in God that allowed God to show up for them when they were burned alive. Obama said Dr. Lowery said this was a good kind of crazy. The same kind of crazy that applied to Obama when he announced his run for office in 2008.
This speech beginning with a sermon showed Obama's level of comfort with whom he was talking to. It also showed his inherent Blackness. (Yall know black folks like to quote scripture) Additionally, it gave him a sense of familiarity with his base.
I noticed immediately the President was comfortable. Laid back. Cool, calm and collective, but urgent and insistent upon getting his point across. After associating himself with good crazy, he ran down the laundry list of good crazy accomplishments he has achieved for all of America that has also benefitted Black America. The consumer protection agency to keep Blacks from being victims of predatory lending, the Affordable Care Act that allows more young adults access to quality and affordable health insurance and Wall Street reform. He then listed statistics about Black unemployment nearing 17 percent, poverty nearing 50 percent, and belief in the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deteriorating.
Obama listed his accomplishments and rattled off these statistics before a crowd that knew the numbers inside out. A crowd that went on tour trying to get the President to know these numbers inside out. He received uproarious applause for saying what needed to be said but was already known, before explaining why passing his American Jobs Act will save the country, the economy, Black business, the chronically unemployed, teachers, construction workers, veterans, and our children. Obama then launched into full on preacher mode noting the talking points of his opposition and likening himself to Congressman John Lewis who marched on Selma and faced the terrors of the Civil Rights Movement head on.
In this comparison the President shouted that we put our marching shoes on. He quoted Dr. King saying that before we (Blacks) can reach majestic shores of the promised land we will face the prodigious hilltops of opposition and mountains of resistance. He ended his fiery speech saying he didn't have time to feel sorry for himself or to complain, grumble or cry (jab at Maxine Waters) because he has work to do.
He said all of this to thunderous applause. Affirmations of "Amen." And hallejuah choruses of "Thank You Jesus he really does get what it's like out here for Black folks." He really is a "real" Black man despite what Cornel West says.
But you have to not get caught up in the hype. We all know President Obama can give a speech that will make you want to go out and make a difference immediately. He can move you with words in ways we haven't seen since the Civil Rights Movement. But just because his speech was good, and made him seem more personable to his Black base than distant and aloof does not mean that it was not calculated and a pragmatic political chess move. It was.
This is where my initial reaction returns. Everything President Obama said before the CBC Black people already know. We already believe in. We're all ready to go to war with him if it means closing education gaps, achievement gaps, employment gaps, and wealth gaps. We're ready now just like we were ready in 2008. We don't need his tough talk. He's already got us. I'm glad he acknowledged us, but we're not the group of people he needs to be preaching too. Telling supporters how right you are and how wrong your opponents are is like teens in high school posturing before their friends before the after school fight goes down.... If I may speak directly to the President... Your supporters already got your back. You don't need to "front" for us, we already know. What you need to do, if I revert back to my high school self is "Say that shit to Republicans faces."
Those are ultimate fighting words. They set the stage for a good fight, and never has the country needed a good fight as it does now. Telling the CBC you talked to the much beloved Bill Clinton and found that his plan of higher taxes on the rich boded well for the economy in the form of more jobs and more money is all well and good. Saying we tried it the Republican way and failed when the Democratic way worked are lovely words to hear in a room of supporters. Now go say that same shit the same way to John Boehner's and Eric Cantor's faces. Go tell Mitch McConnell who has stated it is his goal to make sure you are a one term President that he needs a new goal and it needs to be passing the American Jobs Act BEYOTCH!
Okay I got a little carried away.
But you see my point.
Talking tough for supporters is cute, it renews what may be our declining faith in you. But Mr. President you haven't lost your Black base, and you probably won't unless Herman Cain really is the Republican nominee for President. The people you need to tap are the independents who came out for you in droves in 2008. Educated White men and women who aren't so wealthy they automatically lean Republican but are aware and socially conscious enough that they feel where you're coming from.
In your speech you stated "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper." To that I say prove it. Don't just tell me. Show me. Show this country you are President and that a minority caucus doesn't have you by the balls. Show me like Jay-Z says that you use your cahones. Show me that you're not just fronting in front of your friend to strike a populist approach among supporters. Show me you really want this American Jobs Act passed by saying everything you said this weekend, in the tone that you said it to Congress. Now is not the time for diplomacy and bi-partisanship. If you want the bill passed as is Mr. President you have to work for it. You have to fight for it as much as you want your supporters to fight for it. Talking to us is not going to cut it.
You have our support. You see we're backing you up. Bigging you up just in case the situation gets reckless, but you gotta start the fight. We're ready, earrings off, vaseline on. But you gotta throw the first punch. You gotta give the country the fight we've been waiting to see more than Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Until you do that you're just talking. And Republicans will tell you, "All that talking, you can do that shit while you walking out the White House" after what some have deemed a failed first and only term.
And you don't want that do you?
1. Do you think Obama's message is directed toward the wrong audience?
2. Has his first term been a failure?
3. Do you think people still ambivalent about the President's leadership skills will stay home from the polls in 2012 if things don't start looking up.