Abandon Obama At Your Peril, Blacks Tell Angry Liberals : It's All Politics Black writers warn liberal Democrats they risk alienating blacks with political threats to Obama. Threats of a liberal primary challenge to the first African American president won't be taken lightly one of the most loyal parts of the party's base.
NPR logo Abandon Obama At Your Peril, Blacks Tell Angry Liberals

Abandon Obama At Your Peril, Blacks Tell Angry Liberals

President Barack Obama, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Many liberals might be unhappy with what they see as President Obama's repeated, and by their lights unnecessary, concessions to Republicans.

But some black commentators are warning that if liberals think they're unhappy now, they haven't seen anything yet.

In the unlikely event of a liberal presidential primary challenge to Obama, they warn, beware the black backlash.

Colbert King, the Washington Post columnist wrote:

Sabotage the nation's first black president and the Democratic Party might as well bid farewell to its most loyal base of supporters: African Americans.

In 2008, the turnout for young black eligible voters was higher than that of young eligible voters of any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Pew Research Center. Consider them gone in future congressional and presidential elections if the left dooms Obama in 2012.

The 2 million more blacks who voted in 2008 than in 2004 because of Barack Obama? Say bye-bye to them, too. As for African American women, the group with the highest voter turnout rate in the 2008 presidential election? Don't even ask.

Writer Ishmael Reed sounded a similar note in a New York Times opinion piece:

When these progressives refer to themselves as Mr. Obama’s base, all they see is themselves. They ignore polls showing steadfast support for the president among blacks and Latinos. And now they are whispering about a primary challenge against the president. Brilliant! The kind of suicidal gesture that destroyed Jimmy Carter — and a way to lose the black vote forever.

There are liberal African Americans who share other Democrats' disappointment with the president's willingness to compromise. Or the Shirley Sherrod debacle. Or any of a number of policy decisions.

But the view expressed by these writers is likely one which resonates widely with black Americans.

Reed makes the salient point known by black people who've navigated in in a white world, that an angry Obama would've never become president of the Harvard Law Review, let alone U.S. president.

Another Reed excerpt:

One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.

What the progressives forget is that black intellectuals have been called “paranoid,” “bitter,” “rowdy,” “angry,” “bullies,” and accused of tirades and diatribes for more than 100 years. Very few of them would have been given a grade above D from most of my teachers.

You can file this under "Stuff Black People Just Know." And many white people know it, too. Arguably, more need to.

Because of this, you get in reading King, Reed or others a sense of the perception that an unfairness is being heaped on Obama. Because of race and the way it plays out in human minds, he can't be a "give 'em hell" president.

Yet, he's being threatened with political punishment for not doing something he couldn't do and survive politically.

Again, there's much more to say about this topic of race and the presidency and I intend to return to it in later posts.

Suffice it to say that if some liberals continue threats to abandon Obama or mount a campaign against him, they'll likely hear more voices like King's and Reed's warning that they will reap the whirlwind come 2012.