By most reports and attendee reaction, President Barack Obama's speech at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gala Saturday night was a thunderous success with the base. Cynthia Gordy, blogger for the African-American news and commentary website The Root, writes:
"When speaking before black audiences, President Obama tends to be more charismatic in his delivery. He just plays the room differently -- gripping and galvanizing, with a preacherlike cadence that can sometimes rise to a holler at points of emphasis."
Rep. James Clyburn told POLITICO that he was pleasantly surprised to hear Obama confront the dissent among African-Americans and talk frankly about how difficult the road ahead to a second term will be. Rep. John Conyers, who has at times been one of the President's biggest African-American critics, was satisfied that the President called out his opponents, and said of Obama:
“'He realizes the people who oppose him are beyond compromise or negotiation,' the congressman said. 'We’re gonna have to take the case to the people and not just debate it between the Republican House' and the White House.
'He hasn’t lost support but he has to stimulate his base. That’s how you do it,' he said. 'You don’t stimulate the base by talking inside the beltway politics.'”
Obama's divisive and aggressive speech didn't satisfy everyone, though. CBC member and outspoken critic of the Tea Party Rep. Maxine Waters expressed Monday that she is confused by the President's call for the CBC to stop complaining.
Waters said on CBS's "Early Show" Monday that she feels Obama unfairly singled out black leaders by characterizing them as complainers. The particular phrase that Waters did not appreciate was when the President told the crowd to "Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying," and instead "march with me and press on."
"I'm not sure who exactly the president was talking to," said Waters Monday. "We're certainly not complaining. We support him and we're protecting that base, because we want people to be enthusiastic about him when that election rolls around."
That said, Waters made her own observations that Obama has handled other minority groups differently than the CBC, and suggested that perhaps he should tell them to stop complaining.
"I found that language a bit curious because the president spoke to the Hispanic Caucus, and certainly they're pushing him on immigration... he certainly didn't tell them to stop complaining," she told CBS. "And he would never say that to the gay and lesbian community, who really pushed him on Don't Ask, Don't Tell:"
In an interview with CNN later Monday morning, Waters clarified that she did not take Obama's words as an attack. Rather, Waters thinks Obama did not mean what he said in regards to the "stop grumbling" remarks, and asserted that the CBC thinks the President "just got off script."
While Waters said that she has not been complaining, she did suggest in August at Detroit's Wayne County Community College that members of the CBC don't pressure Obama enough.
"The Congressional Black Caucus loves the president, too," CBS reported she went on to say. "We're supportive of the president, but we're getting tired. 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."
Waters has been elected ten times to represent California's 35th Congressional District, composed of a large part of south-central Los Angeles, and has been consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt members of congress.
(H/T: The Hill)