In his remarks at a Congressional Black Caucus gala on Saturday night, President Obama tried to reconnect with his black supporters; after all, he can’t lose the black vote and the Jewish vote and have any chance at winning re-election in 2012.
I encourage you to read the transcript yourself, but just a few quick points:
After talking about the Depression-like levels of unemployment among American blacks, Obama talked about what he has done for blacks: “(W)e fought to extend unemployment insurance, and we fought to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and we fought to expand the Child Tax Credit — which benefited nearly half of all African American children in this country.”
Of course, he got applause for this line, but even the CBC members and gala attendees must understand deep in their hearts how this is precisely what Newt Gingrich means when he talks about Obama as “most successful food stamp president in American history.”
Do Americans, even CBC members, truly believe that income redistribution amidst an utter absence of jobs for their constituents constitutes a shred of success? Sadly, some CBC members might.
To excuse his performance, Obama offered the “Clinton Defense,” namely, the argument that the economy did fine when tax rates were higher. Of course, this is a lie-in-part too: The surplus we remember under Clinton occurred only after Clinton slashed the capital gains tax rate. During the first years of the Clinton presidency, after he raised marginal income tax rates, the economy underperformed and deficits were larger than had been predicted.
The president reminisced about his and his wife’s deprived childhoods: “When Michelle and I think about where we came from — a little girl on the South Side of Chicago, son of a single mom in Hawaii — mother had to go to school on scholarships, sometimes got food stamps. Michelle’s parents never owned their own home until she had already graduated — living upstairs above the aunt who actually owned the house.” I suppose nobody in the room cares that Michelle is sure making up for lost time now, having spent a reported $10 million of taxpayer money on vacations in just 2 1/2 years as the First Lady. Michelle has nothing on Clinton when it comes to “I feel your pain.”
Obama told the assembled that they should have expected the current situation: “It’s never easy. And I never promised easy. Easy has never been promised to us.” And while that’s basically true — it’s more that his followers assumed that he’d make their lives oh so easy — one has to remember Obama’s words at his June, 2008 speech in Minneapolis, shortly after wrapping up the nomination: “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment-this was the time-when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals”
If that doesn’t sound like someone suggesting that things will get better and easier, I don’t know what does. Actually, it sounds like the ramblings of a narcissistic megalomaniac, but let’s put that aside for a moment and notice, again, Obama’s promise to “remake this great nation.” Think about that for a minute. It’s a great nation…so he wants to remake it? And people are surprised when things get harder rather than easier?
Finally, Obama aggressively played the race card with his audience: “Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop.” There was more like this, but you get the idea. It’s not Obama versus the Tea Party; it’s Obama and the CBC versus white Republicans. The post-racial president is intentionally stirring up racial tension in the most race tension-filled administration since the 1960s.
In short, whether it’s pandering too late for the Jewish vote (which he will probably still get a majority of, but a historically small majority for a Democrat) or pandering to regain the enthusiasm of blacks (which he probably did temporarily by his speech, but only temporarily because the Earned Income Tax Credit is no long-term salve for the indignity of long-term unemployment), there is no political gutter too low for Obama to step into.
As far as “I never promised easy,” at least we can say that in this case the president did not break his word.