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Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The Congressional Black Caucus agonizes as the accumulated miseries of their constituents force Black lawmakers to put distance between themselves and Wall Street's ally in the White House, Barack Obama. Ten members of the Caucus boycotted a vote on an Obama bill, to show their displeasure. But until they muster the nerve to vote against their president and his bankster friends, they are just shuckin' and jivin'. 


Black Caucus Finally Gets the Message: Obama’s Not ‘The One’

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black and Progressive Caucuses will become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation.”

One can only hide from reality so long, before it catches up and bites you on the butt. The Congressional Black Caucus has been pretending that Barack Obama is the best thing to hit Washington for Black folks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It was, of course, deliriously wishful thinking, grounded in no reality whatsoever  – a self-induced illusion initially shared by most African Americans and by legions of Kool-Aid drinkers on the white Left, as well.

Obama has lied about many things. But, to be fair, he never told Black people that he had any intention of tackling the kind of institutional racism that for the last 40 years has made Blacks twice as likely to be unemployed as whites. So, when the president says, as he told reporters last weekend, that he won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment because “it’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States,” then no one should be surprised. This is the same guy that declared, 100 days into his presidency, that a “rising tide lifts all boats,” and Black folks should just quiet down and wait for the tide.

Unfortunately, Black lawmakers’ constituents have been swamped by the tides of joblessness and home foreclosure. They want their representatives to do something about it – to at least holler when they hurt. Last week, ten members of the Black Caucus staged a demonstration boycott of a committee vote on Obama’s pitifully weak financial regulations bill, which passed anyway.

"Since last September,” said Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters, “we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today." The Black Caucus, said Waters, “can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

“Obama won’t lift a finger to ease Depression-level Black unemployment.”

The statement makes great sense, although it comes rather late. The Black and Progressive Caucuses will only become worthy of respect when they begin voting against Obama’s Wall Street-inspired legislation, rather than staging boycotts when it doesn’t much matter. It will be easier to believe that the Black Caucus has wised up to Obama when they vote against funding his wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and against his horrific private insurance bailout bill that masquerades as health care reform.

Detroit Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the Black Caucus, has said the president bows down to “nutty right-wing proposals” on health care, and that he's tired of “saving Obama's can.” Several weeks ago, Conyers got a telephone call from the White House in which the president asked why Conyers was “demeaning” him in public. “Let's talk about it,” said Obama. Conyers says he's in no mood to “chat” with the president, and will put his complaints In writing.

Which is just as well. Obama has shown he is ideologically wedded to “the worldview of Wall Street,” as Congresswoman Waters put it. What the Black Caucus and all progressives will have to learn, is that if you want to fight Wall Street, you're going to have to do battle with Obama. It's way past time to put down the Kool-Aid, and start swinging.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20091209_gf_CaucusObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 5:17am EDT