It took Barack Obama two years to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall any reporters ever asking him when he planned to have such a meeting.
Yet, not even 30 days after being sworn in, Trump was asked at his press conference if he planned to meet with the CBC. Of course, the reporter did not mention how long it took for Obama to have such a meeting.
It has been reported that the CBC has asked for a meeting and that the White House staff is reaching out to schedule one.
Trump shouldn’t waste his time!
It could be a recipe for a public and political relations disaster with some CBC members either boycotting the meeting or taking the opportunity to attack Trump his staff and his agenda.
After basically taking an eight-year leave of absence and, except for a few, giving Obama a pass, the CBC appears ready to play catch-up on many of the same issues facing black America for which most of its members refused to hold Obama accountable.
Also keep in mind that from 2009-2011, the CBC not only had Obama in the White House, their party controlled both the House and the Senate and some of their members chaired key House Committees including Judiciary, Crime, Criminal Justice, Ways and Means, Health and the Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.
What was the impact on CBC districts and black America on urban revitalization and criminal justice reforms from this Democratic governmental triumvirate in those two years? I don’t know of any.
Now, the media and many Democrats expect Trump to jump when the CBC calls and likely asks him do what their black president and the once Democrat controlled Congress failed to do, or risk being called a racist and anti-black.
They have short memories.
Why should Trump rush to establish a relationship with the CBC, which was so careful not to criticize Obama as they would have if he had been white or Republican.
In fact, they protected him.
When the black unemployment rate reached an almost 30 year high of nearly 17 percent in 2011, then-CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said that the Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Bill Clinton were president. The message: Obama was the first black president so he couldn’t be criticized by other blacks.
As The Hill then reported, “rather than criticize Obama, many CBC members aimed their fire at the Tea Party movement...” with Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fl., calling it “the real enemy” seeking to hold Congress “hostage.”
Obama basically took the caucus, as he did the black community, for granted and gave them the back of his hand on more than one occasion. When some of them complained when their issues — such as an urban jobs program — weren’t on his priority list, they got push back from his White House — and him.
At a 2011 CBC dinner, he told them (and black America) to: "Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying.”
Since they got virtually nothing from Obama to deal with issues impacting significant proportions of their constituencies, you can bet that they — and Democrats — will demand more of Trump than they ever did of Obama. Look at how fast they moved to demand a meeting.
So why meet?
A common mistake of conservatives and Republicans is that the first thing they feel they have to do to garner credibility with blacks when they get to the White House is to “reach out” to the Jesse Jackson’s, Al Sharpton’s, or CBC members, none of whom usually have anything positive to say about Republicans or conservatives — especially a Republican president — and definitely one named Trump!
Since they dare not offend the Democratic establishment, it is likely — as was the case during the campaign — that they will have only negative things to say about Trump’s agenda to address failing schools, high black youth unemployment, gang violence, and neighborhood safety — issues impacting many CBC districts.
They had better be careful!
Many in the CBC might be surprised to learn that many of their constituents, which include a growing number of Hispanics, might just respond to Trump’s efforts to improve education and end the gang related drug violence plaguing many of their neighborhoods — which Democrats and the CBC have ignored!
Trump has already met with a group of his black supporters and should continue to do so. He should expand the group to include blacks representing small business owners, law enforcement, clergy, educators supporting school choice and community leaders such as housing and poverty expert — and House Speaker Paul Ryan adviser on urban issues — Robert Woodson, whom Trump considered for the secretary of housing and urban development post.
Although I have known, respected, argued, socialized and been friends with many members of the CBC over the years, at this time, the current CBC can wait!
This is no time to attempt to appease and meet with a group that stands ready to plunge a political dagger into his back and burn his agenda — even if that agenda will benefit their constituents!
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns. He is a former co-owner of WTVT-TV in Tampa and former president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters. Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.
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