*Well, this is pretty interesting. In an interview with German mag/website, Spiegel, Jesse Jackson discusses black America’s frustration with Barack Obama and the president’s failure to anticipate the Republicans’ tenacious will to “destroy” him. Check out some excerpts:
SPIEGEL: When was the last time you spoke to President Barack Obama?
Jackson: It has been a while.
SPIEGEL: But you were one of his early mentors in Chicago and the picture of your public tears in Chicago’s Grant Park after his election victory in 2008 went around the globe. How would you describe your current feelings about his presidency?
Jackson: At that moment in Grant Park, we were finally winning, but I was reflecting on the long journey, the many years of struggle for civil rights. Obama ran the last lap of a 60-year campaign. I thought of all the bruises we endured during this campaign and I thought of Dr. Martin Luther King and wished he had been there just for 20 seconds to see how 60 years of struggle suddenly paid off. Sure, some layer of the excitement of that night is gone.
SPIEGEL: Is it true that even among African-Americans Obama’s standing has suffered?
Jackson: We blacks were the first people embracing Obama, long before the people at expensive fundraisers were supporting him. We gave him his first love, 96 percent of blacks voted for him in 2008. Yet today we are the number one in unemployment, with 16 percent of American blacks out of work. We are number one in foreclosure, number one in short life expectancy, in loan default. Big banks steered their toxic products toward minorities and Congress did not oversee them properly because it is basically corrupted by all the money it is raising on Wall Street. So there is a lot of pain here in our community and this pain must be addressed.
SPIEGEL: During the recent negotiations on the debt ceiling Obama agreed to billion dollar cuts in public spending and received no tax increases in return from the Republicans. Is he too willing to compromise?
Jackson: I think he sometimes underestimates the force of the other side, how tenacious they are in their ideology. A few weeks ago, during the debt ceiling negotiations, Obama went golfing with John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House. Afterwards, they said their differences are not ideological, not philosophical. Really? If Republicans say they want to cut public spending drastically, they want to cut social security and Medicare and the social safety net for poor and working families, and cater to the wealthiest Americans, then that is a different philosophy. If the Tea Party is determined to kill the New Deal and Great Society programs we won in the past, that is a different ideology. And if the right wing of the Republican party is determined to shield themselves from tax obligations or to fight the Civil War again by pushing voter suppression legislation to take away minority voting rights across the country, that is also a very different ideology.
SPIEGEL: So Obama needs go get tougher?
Jackson: He underestimates how ideological the other side is, and how determined they are to destroy him, even when their actions harm the nation’s economy and millions of people. I think reconciliation is Obama’s goal — but the fight with the Republicans is like a fight with pit bulls, they never let go. Even worse, now the Republicans feel they can keep pushing and he will keep giving.
Read/learn more at Spiegel.