Thursday, December 20, 2012

Black Leaders Criticize Obama

America's first biracial president, Barack H. Obama, has not met with the enthusiastic response he expected from the nation's black community. Having based his campaign on, and having been elected because of, his race, many people assumed that he would enjoy the full cooperation of the African-American leaders in the United States. But this is not the case.

For example, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, took issue with Obama's handling of Project Labor Agreements. These deals direct government contracts to labor unions. The problem? African-Americans are underrepresented among union workers. President Bush had eliminated these PLAs; Obama reinstated them. Alford commented:

President George W. Bush eliminated PLAs from federal contracting and his main reason was ‘unions discriminate against small business, women, and minorities.’ So here we were with the first black president who deliberately discriminates against small business, women, and minorities. How ironic!

Harry Alford was not the only black leader expressing doubts about Obama. The White House knew that it would need to do fix the situation if Obama was to be reelected. Historian Edward Klein writes:

As he headed into his fourth year in office and began to gear up for his reelection campaign, Obama was forced to face an uncomfortable fact: he was profoundly unpopular with black leaders, who found him cold and distant, an inauthentic “brother.” If he hoped to generate a large black voter turnout in 2012, something had to be done to counter this growing disenchantment. He had to rally his base.

Obama's problem was that he was at ease with an oil executive - like one of the many father figures who destabilized young Barack's childhood by casually drifting in and out of it - or with the vice president of a bank - like his grandmother - or with a room full of white university professors - like his college experiences - or with the people from an exclusive private school - like those which he attended instead of ordinary public schools. He was more comfortable with elite white people than with a gathering of ordinary African-Americans.

This feature of Obama's personality made itself known among the leaders of America's black community. He would need to repair his image among the nation's African-Americans in order to be reelected. Edward Klein reports:

Suddenly, I started hearing from prominent blacks, whose phone calls and emails to the White House had gone unanswered for three years.

"I wanted you to know that I finally got an invitation to the White House — I was asked to attend the White House Christmas party," one of Obama's severest black critics told me. Others confirmed that the White House had undertaken a full-court press to win black approval.

But it was too little and too late. As it turned out, Obama would be reelected in 2012, but by white voters. The black vote for Obama declined precipitously from 2008 to 2012. The African-Americans were not impressed with Obama.