Frustrated African-Americans demand more from Obama


African-American support for Barack Obama appears to be softening, because of a rocky economy that has hit US blacks especially hard, and a perception that the president has ignored the economic travails faced by this once rock-solid pillar of his political base.
A Gallup poll last week found Obama’s poll numbers in the African-American community down from its once stratospheric 95 percent approval early in his term, to a still-high, but notably lower 81 percent — tying his worst ever showing from earlier this year.
Observers say weaker support for Obama is the result of a faltering economy that at 16 black percent unemployment — compared to about nine percent for the population at large — has hit the African American community especially hard.
“We’re totally frustrated,” said US Representative Elijah Cummings, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, speaking Sunday on CNN television’s “State of the Union” program. The Maryland lawmaker said his constituents in the predominantly black city of Baltimore, about 40 miles (about 65 kilometers) from the White House, want to see the Barack Obama of the 2008 presidential campaign, who sounded like a champion of progressive causes to aid the poor and downtrodden.
“When he came in, he talked about hope, he talked about jobs, he has talked about fairness, he has talked about addressing Wall Street effectively and efficiently, and trying to make a difference,” said Cummings.
“He has got to go back to those basic points. That’s what got him elected,” the lawmaker said.
“People need to know that the president feels their pain and is trying to create jobs. Jobs has got to be… number one,” said Cummings.
Black frustration with Obama may have hit new highs partly as a result of last month’s debt ceiling debate, during which many critics said Obama made too many concessions to Republicasn and their Tea Party faction.
Democratic CBC chairman Emanuel Cleaver, for one, scathingly denounced the deal concluded by Obama as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”
And many blacks, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, said they want to see more push-back from the president in future battles with the conservative Tea Party.
“Almost every African-American I have talked to said they want him to fight, and fight harder,” Cummings said.
Even as the president prepares next month to unveil a major jobs package, black leaders said the president has not been sufficiently proactive on the unemployment crisis.