As President Obama seeks congressional approval to save face over the red line he drew against Syria (but has since tried to obfuscate), the more than 40 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are members of the Congressional Black Caucus have become very important.
Over his presidency, the CBC has been intensely loyal to the nation’s first black president. This loyalty has persisted through terrible black unemployment, the loss of homeownership and increased reliance on welfare.
War, however, may be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Opposition to the possibility of an air campaign, advisors and an open-ticket to even more military adventurism by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama in a civil war in which no one really seems to know who the good rebels are is trying the support of individual CBC members.
Already members such as Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) are rumbling about Obama’s go-it-alone prospects. Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has begun his regular wartime rumblings about reinstituting the draft.
This concern of the President publicly losing his most loyal constituency on an issue critical to him appears so strong that the CBC chairman, Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH), e-mailed her colleagues to ask them “to limit public comment on this issue.” Her aide told The Hill newspaper that she feels that her members “need more information” before they make a decision or publicly voice their opinion.
Too bad the CBC didn’t wait to seek more information during the ObamaCare debate in 2010. That $100,000 prize for more information leading to the identity of the person who allegedly spat on CBC member – an issue that CBC members crowed about ad infinitum at the time – has yet to be claimed. Or that an appeal for calm and cool consideration was not made after the George Zimmerman verdict, in which the CBC as an organization refused to honor the jury’s verdict.
As The Hill opined:
The issue is a tough one for black Democrats, caught between a desire to support Obama, the nation’s first black president who remains enormously popular with the CBC, and an inclination to avoid another military campaign overseas.
In fact, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a non-voting delegate, is so engrossed in protecting the President that she said she would apparently vote for any plan put in front of her (if she could) out of fear that Obama would be “shamed and humiliated on the national stage” if he was denied congressional approval on Syria.
Once again, this is the president who got his signature legislative package – ObamaCare – passed through Congress by dubious parliamentary tactics. This is the president who makes recess appointments when Congress is in session and has decided to pick and choose which laws passed by Congress that he wants to enforce. He’s even holding out the option to act on his own against Syria if Congress doesn’t give him the authority that this upcoming vote is supposed to do.
What it all boils down to is the CBC would seem to be primarily motivated by the color of the President’s skin and not the content of his character. So soon after everyone celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s remarkable speech on that very subject is remarkably ironic.
Members of the National Center’s black activist leadership network, Project 21, are appalled by this state of affairs in the nation’s capital, and they are speaking out about it.
Project 21 member Kevin Martin, a Navy veteran, said:
It would seem that Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge has slapped a political gag order on her fellow CBC members in asking them not to publicly comment on President Obama’s push for military action against Syria.
In the past, the CBC has proudly and publicly stated that its opposition votes to military operations and spending has been based on its belief that it drains funding away from domestic programs. But that same opposition has often been partisan in nature, and seemingly based on which administration was in the White House.
This detracts from the CBC’s claim to be the “conscience of Congress.”
As a military veteran, I find the President’s reasoning in calling for military action in Syria to be murky at best and downright spiteful at worst. Chairwoman Fudge’s action indicates the CBC may soon find itself in the unusual position of supporting a military operation in the face of overwhelming opposition from not only the black community but majority of Americans in general.
It remains to be seen which side members of the Congressional Black Caucus will come down on the issue of Syria and President Obama’s insistence on American intervention. They now find themselves with a tough choice for them of supporting this President blindly as he makes his cases for war or standing with what appears to be majority of their constituents.
Project 21 member Christopher Arps added:
The lesson learned by the Congressional Black Caucus leadership’s behavior is that you get the leaders you deserve!
Congress is debating a life and death decision to send our armed forces into a war zone. And out of some warped and perverted allegiance to President Obama instead of to their constituents, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been asked to “limit any public comment.”