The scene Tuesday at a Congressional Black Caucus tour stop in Detroit mirrored a large-scale argument more than a political town hall meeting. And things got testy when Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters expressed disappointment with the president and challenged the crowd regarding its "love" for Obama.
"We don't put pressure on the president," said Waters to cheers and jeers as people interrupted at will and yelled at her. "Let me tell you why. We don't put pressure on the president because ya'll love the president. You love the president. You're very proud...to have a black man [in the White House] ...First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you're going after us."
She then told the fired-up crowd that voters must "unleash" the Democrats on Obama (some obliged) before criticizing him for not visiting any "black community" during his bus tour:
"When you tell us it's alright and you unleash us and you tell us you're ready for us to have this conversation, we're ready to have the conversation. The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president too. We're supportive of the president but we're getting tired ya'll...we're getting tired. And so, what we want to do is...we want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he's prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity...but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is. We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States now, he's not in any black community...we don't know that."
You can watch the heated exchange below:
There is a lot to digest in that video. For starters, how come a sitting congresswoman can get away with referencing "our people" and not face any backlash?
Second, the comments point to a division within the black community -- and even among liberals -- that has been brewing over the last few years. While many were excited for the historic election of a black president, an increasing number of them are upset the president hasn't done enough for them.
Could it be, though, that the people of Detroit have too high of expectations? Remember this clip about "free Obama money" from 2009?
Third, it may be disconcerting to some to hear a Rep. admit that there are those in Congress who -- despite disagreeing with the president -- are keeping quiet for fear of retribution. What happened to courage?
Rush Limbaugh pointed that out (via Daily Rushbo) on radio Wednesday, finding it comical that Waters had to ask the black community "permission" to go after the president:
And that brings us to our final point: what better timing for an event calling for people to stand with courage?
Editor's note: read Meredith's thoughts on this over at the blog.