Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obama's Christmas Interview With Oprah And His Fallout With Congressional Black Caucus Leader Barbara Lee, And Where Does Rep. Fudge Of Ohio Stand?

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama
U. S. President Barack Obama
Media Personality Oprah Winfrey

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of California's Ninth Congressional District (D-Cali.)
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio's 11th Congressional District (D-Oh.)
Posted Sunday, December 13, 2009
(National and Cleveland, Ohio Area News)

By Kathy Wray Coleman
Editor of the Determiner Weekly.Com and
The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog and Media Network

President Barack Obama told Oprah Winfrey in a before Christmas interview that aired Sunday evening on ABC that his Christmas gift to his fellow Americans is his message that America is not cheap and its got to be earned, and that it “must return to its seriousness of purpose.”

The president also took the opportunity to promote his universal health care initiative, which passed the House of Representatives last month. The controversial health care bill is now before the Senate and Obama has announced publicly that it should pass the Senate floor by Christmas, a prediction that remains to be seen.

“We are in a better position today than we were nine months ago and we are about to pass the most significant legislation since social security when health care passes," Obama said.

Oprah's 20- minute interview with the first Black President of the United States of America and First Lady Michelle Obama caught America's most powerful couple relaxed and poised, but it was not a cakewalk as some may have expected from Winfrey, an Obama supporter and the first Black woman billionaire in the world.

After giving himself a B-plus for his presidency, Obama blamed his declining ratings on the economy, after Oprah asked if his national decline in popularity bothered him at all.

“No,” Obama said. “It was inevitable because we've got 10 percent unemployment.”

The 44th U.S. president, a recession greeted Obama when he took office in January, one that followed back-to-back quarters of negative growth under the Bush administration. Various polls have the Nobel Prize winner's overall approval rating anywhere from 48 to 50 percent with a Quinnipiac University poll noting it at 48 percent nationally, and revealing that for the first time since he took office more Ohioans disapprove of the charismatic president than approve. Ohio is a pivotal state where few Democrats, and with certainty, no Republicans, have won the White House without winning Ohio.

Michelle Obama, at ease during the interview as was the president, told Oprah that she and her husband pay little attention to media polls, focusing more on positive responses from the American people. She added that the Obama family is in the Christmas spirit.

“I've never visited the White House during [the] Christmas [season] and it is absolutely magical,” the First Lady said.

Asked what he misses most about life before the presidency Obama replied that he misses taking his two daughters, Malia and Sasha, for ice cream without such hoopla, and “the goofy stuff.”

Conspicuously absent from the interview was any mentioning by Winfrey of the growing impatience against Obama by segments of the national NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus Chairperson Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and a group of Black caucus members, nine seemingly vocal, in addition to Lee herself. They have accused the Obama administration of failing to embrace legislative initiatives pushed by some Black congressional legislators, and not moving fast enough in helping Black Americans in the midst of an unprecedented recession, one that has in many instances hit Black America hardest as Americans in general deal with increasing home foreclosures, declining home values, unemployment, and economic fallout as a by product of the ups and downs on Wall Street.

Comments on Obama's relationship with some disgruntled members of the Congressional Black Caucus and their discontent with his jobs agenda came hurling last week from the outspoken Lee, an affiliate of the Black Panther Party in college who worked on the 1973 Oakland mayoral campaign of Panther co-founder Bobbie Seal.

"While we agree with the president that support for small businesses, infrastructure investment and green jobs is essential, we also believe that much more needs to be done, particularly for those Americans who are hurting most," she said in a statement.

Like it or not Lee has made it clear to Obama that Blacks must be counted and remembered from his groundbreaking campaign speeches where he mesmerized America, and promised to be all things to all people, seemingly in a genuine gesture, if not a naive one.

The leader since Jan. of the 42-member caucus of Black members of the U.S. House of Representatives the veteran Lee, 63, a Democratic member of Congress since 1998, was voted the sixth most liberal House member on roll-call votes on economics and social and foreign policy by the National Journal in 2006. She endorsed Obama early on during the Democratic primary for president, and when polls had now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, then a former Sen. from New York and First Lady to former president Bill Clinton, leading among Democratic voters 43 percent to his 23 percent. Clinton, however, ultimately lost the party's nomination to Obama, then a junior senator from Illinois, who went on to beat Republican nominee Arizona Sen. John McCain to take the presidency.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Oh.), who represents the 11th Congressional District, inclusive of parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs, is not among the vocal members of the Congressional Black Caucus taking on Obama. A proponent of the president's universal health care initiative Fudge said in a statement that it will help women, poor women included, who need health care for necessary hysterectomies and other crucial medical conditions.

Data are explicit in showing that Blacks, women included, are disproportionately affected by ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.