(Politico) — If there’s anything close to a political certainty in 2012, it’s that Barack Obama will get more than 90 percent of the African-American vote.
But that doesn’t mean every black Obama supporter will vote for him happily – nor does it guarantee that turnout will approach the stratospheric levels of 2008, even though Obama needs a huge showing from his base to offset the expected loss of swing voters in states like North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
With that in mind, prominent black leaders — fearing Obama is not only taking them for granted but avoiding them in public — have turned up the heat on the nation’s first African-American president, transforming all-in-the-family concerns into open criticism of the president at a time when they had hoped the completion of a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. near the National Mall would bring a moment of unity.
The leaders are tired, they say, of Obama dog-whistling his support for a broad black agenda rather than explicitly embracing the kind of war on racism, poverty and economic segregation embodied by King.
“You can spend a lot of time trying to win over white independents, but if you don’t pay attention to your base, African Americans, if you have not locked up your base yet, you’ve got a serious problem,” said CNN contributor Roland Martin.
In a striking turnabout for a president who has rewritten American racial history, Obama finds himself the target of criticism from the black cultural and political elite that has, for the most part, been leery of airing its disappointment.
The president is reportedly angry that African-American leaders aren’t crediting him for his hard-bought achievements that will especially help communities of color, including health care reform, aid to cities, student aid and protecting Medicaid.
“The whole thing is bull-sh-t… We have met with [black leaders] more than any other group and we are increasing our outreach,” said a person close to Obama.
But Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), who represents several predominantly-black Los Angeles-area neighborhoods, brings up an issue that African-American leaders repeatedly raise when talking about Obama: They say he’s worried about being too closely identified with the community that gave him inspiration and bedrock support.
“I understand that you’ve got to be president for all people, but this administration has gone just too far, they really don’t even say ‘African-American’ or talk about [our] specific issues,” Richardson told POLITICO.