President Obama's response to Conyers has ruffled some feathers:
That report [regarding Conyers and Obama] didn’t sit well with many African-American lawmakers, aides and lobbyists, who revere Conyers as an elder statesman.Some of the battles, however, sound like "turf warfare." For example, CBC members complain that Obama met with Ben Jealous (head of the NAACP) and Reverend Al Sharpton although they are still waiting to meet with the President.
"Conyers has been in Congress longer than Barack Obama could spell," said a black strategist close to both the White House and Congress. "If he’s making a complaint, it’s a shot across the bow, and you might want to pay attention to that."
Perhaps that meeting with Jealous and Sharpton has translated into political support. Recently, Jealous and Sharpton both passionately defended Obama against criticism by some black politicians who say that he is not doing enough to address the concerns of poor people and blacks.
Coincidentally, these are the exact same allegations that Sharpton has made repeatedly against other presidents and politicians -- including Democrats. Now, Sharpton argues that it is ridiculous to expect Obama to push a "black agenda." It is probably immature to expect any president to advance something narrowly described as a "black agenda." But promoting equal economic opportunity and equality are not "black agendas"; these are universal concerns that liberals expect Democrats to pursue.
A second article, in USA Today, suggests that Obama is losing his liberal base. Although liberals still support Obama in great numbers, there are growing signs of discontent. On issues ranging from national security to healthcare reform, Obama has faced conflict with progressives.
Donna Brazile, an Obama supporter, says that: "The energized base which transformed the nation and elected our first black president [is] now disengaged. . . If this was September, I would hit the panic button." Although liberals have criticized the President, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says that the notion that Obama has taken liberals for granted is "silly." Note to Gibbs: The flip dismissal of liberal concerns will not do much to alleviate existing tensions.