I didn’t get a chance yesterday to post this email from TPM Reader TA while we were discussing the jobs speech scheduling throwdown, but I want to make sure it gets into the mix:
While I agree with “JB” that Obama was smart not to make a fight out of the scheduling issue, I also believe that s/he is wrong in assessing the impact of Boehner’s move as being one that only 100,000 people care about or that no one will think about it one iota.
It ignores a critical element of Obama’s base that is particularly sensitive to slights Republicans give the President - the African-American community.
When Boehner does something like this (that no previous Speaker has done to any previous President), when he refuses to return the President’s phone call during the debt ceiling crisis, when he skips state dinners, when he refuses to definitely say that he believes the President was born in the US or is a Christian, or when Boehner coddles a member of his caucus who shout “you lie” during a Presidential address, etc one certain thing happens - black Americans notice it.
African-Americans are especially sensitive to the unprecedented disrespect that white Republicans have afforded to the first black President. Every time it happens, it ripples across black radio, black newspapers, black websites, and in conversations in black communities. It helps cement the ties that Obama has with the black community, and helps overcome whatever doubts and disappoints some may have. It reminds people who have experienced overt racism in their own lives that the President is experiencing the same kind of dehumanizing disrespect. It will help drive strong African-American turnout and overwhelming numbers for Obama next year.
Political pundits may gossip about the rift between Boehner and Obama, but millions of black Americans see something much more sinister when this happens.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.