Defining his “loyalty”

Posted: April 23, 2008 in Headlines, Politics

Congressman Explains His Allegiance To The Clintons

Eric L. Wesson

kccall.com

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II has been under a great deal of pressure lately concerning his decision to support Sen. Hillary Clinton over Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president and his decision to step down as senior pastor, after 35 years, of the St. James United Methodist church.

Rep. Cleaver went one-on-one with THE CALL to set the record straight.

ELW: Some community members are upset about your choice to support Sen. Clinton in her quest to become the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Some that I have listened to say that you have not stated a position other than they (the Clintons) are friends of yours. You were the first black mayor of Kansas City. Why not support the first black serious contender for president?

EC: “When I endorsed Sen. Clinton a year ago, there were people from across the state who came and endorsed Sen Clinton. African Americans from across the state sat with her and then endorsed her. That is easy to understand because, according to the polls, African Americans endorsed her by a margin of 70 percent.”

“When we made that endorsement very few African Americans really knew who Sen. Obama was. So it was not a big deal. He won the Iowa caucus and was victorious in South Carolina. African Americans began to leave Sen. Clinton and started endorsing Sen. Obama. I gave her my word and I did not say, ‘Well, now that there is a black man in the race with a legitimate chance to win, I am going to join the other side.’”

“I feel that such a decision would have been unethical, immoral. While some other people felt comfortable in doing that, I do not feel it would have been the right thing to do. The issue of loyalty is just one aspect of my personal relationship to Sen. Clinton.”

ELW: Help us understand the other factors outside of your personal relationship to Sen. Clinton which musters your loyalty and should muster the support of the community.

EC: “There is a core connection in the sense of community between Sen. Clinton and this community. When I made a request in a back room at the Mayflower hotel to get money for the future, President Bill Clinton told his Secretary of Transportation to make it happen. As a result we were able to get constructed, a project that had been on the drawing board since 1984. I proposed and was successful in getting the name changed to the Bruce R. Watkins drive. If it were not for the Clintons the project would still be begging for an opportunity to be constructed but for that

relationship. I am not the only person who drives Bruce R. Watkins drive. So when people think about the personal connection they don’t realize that they also have a personal relationship.”

[…]

“I hear people talking about the super delegates, but like most members of Congress they do not know what they do. Most members of Congress did not even know that they were super delegates before a few months ago. The most interesting part of this whole theory is the part where it appears that black people don’t like black people. We claim to but we don’t. The only people who are receiving attacks are African American elected officials.”

Sen. Kennedy and Sen. John Kerry represent the state of Massachusetts where Sen. Clinton won by 13 points. Yet, they are endorsing and supporting Sen. Obama. They are under no attack or assault. There are 25 white members of Congress whose districts voted for Sen. Clinton but they are endorsing and supporting Sen. Obama. They are under no attack. Two weeks after Sen. Clinton won New Mexico the governor endorsed Sen. Obama. He is under no attack or criticisms. People understand that is the way the system is. The only people who are getting attacked are black people. The Hispanic community did not attack the governor of New Mexico after he endorsed Sen. Obama.” (more…)

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Comments
  1. Wizz says:

    It’s called politics… If you do something the majority of the people you represent does not support then get ready to feel some heat black or white. Kerry and Kennedy are well known former presidential candidates.. They don’t have to worry about losing their seats. And I’m sure they did get plenty of calls from Clinton supporters who were upset. But both of them know that there is no chance AT ALL of them losing support of their constituents. So they can support whoever they want comfortably. It does not have anything to do with race. The comparison is not even comparable because there is not 90+% white support for Clinton in Massachusetts.

  2. Give it a rest! says:

    What a half-a$$ explaination!

    As Wizz stated, HE is an elected official that is supposed to do what is in the interest of the voters who elected him to office. HOW SOON WE FORGET! The Clintons have zero to do with him being elected to Congress from the state of Kansas.

    His answers speaks of his PERSONAL debt to the Clintons. If not speak loudly about why you believe Clinton is the better candidate than Obama. Tell us black folks just how Mrs. Clinton is superior to Obama and WHAT it is that she is PROMISING them. If he thinks Obama is “turkey” unworthy of the presidency come out and say so!

    The problem is he CANT!

    He cant have it both ways, being non-critical of Obama yet unwilling to give us a clear reason for not supporting him.

    Im sure this “black” dude has benifitted from the same type of “group” black support.

  3. Duane says:

    Kerry and Kennedy are well known former presidential candidates. They don’t have to worry about losing their seats.

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were also former presidential candidates (If we are to use that as some prerequisite) and they too got hammered for not knee-jerking and throwing their support towards Obama after Iowa. Yet still in many quarters within the Black community, they are the first ones who are expected to raise hell on behalf of the Black community whenever there is a non-Black committed infraction. Loosing support is not the issue—its likability.

    But both of them know that there is no chance AT ALL of them losing support of their constituents.

    Over this issue, you are right. However, I do not hear too many White people tying the historical implications of an entire race on White candidates. Equating a vote for Obama with being on the “right” side of Black history is what’s fueling this particular issue.

  4. Duane says:

    As Wizz stated, HE is an elected official that is supposed to do what is in the interest of the voters who elected him to office.

    But as a superdelegate, by DNC rules he his not bound to vote in line with his constituency.

    His answers speaks of his PERSONAL debt to the Clintons.

    In part, you are right. However since this is politics we are talking about here, Cleaver’s relationship with the Clintons has also benefited the people in his district. As funny as it sounds, in politics you CAN have it both ways.

    IMO, I think that fear is part of the reason why some of these politicians are not willing to jump on the Obama ship—fear that they will have to spend more years starting from zero in creating a relationship with the President. Whether that is right or wrong depends if that politician has a decent track record of providing positive results for his constituency.

  5. Wizz says:

    Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were also former presidential candidates (If we are to use that as some prerequisite)

    I’m not sure what Al or Jesse have to do with this. Neither of them are elected officials and neither of them have very much support outside of the black community. My only point in mentioning that Kerry and Kennedy are ex-presidential candidates is to point out that they are EXTREMELY popular both in their state as elected officials, and in the nation as a whole. They are safe in their seats.. This guy?… Maybe not.

    However, I do not hear too many White people tying the historical implications of an entire race on White candidates.

    They sure as hell have been trying to tie Clinton to the success of white women… I hear that damn near every day and have read several articles about it. White feminists are just as critical of white women politicians who support Obama as blacks are of black politicians who support Clinton. I don’t think you can really argue against that.

  6. Duane says:

    I’m not sure what Al or Jesse have to do with this. Neither of them are elected officials and neither of them have very much support outside of the black community.

    Since you mentioned “Former Presidential candidates”. I mentioned them.

    Just as Kerry and Kennedy are very popular with their constituency, as you acknowledged, Jesse and Al are popular with their “constituency”. While there was much talk about demoting them to outdated negros –never to be called upon again (which btw has been going on for years), they could always count on some of those same critics to call on them when something went down (“Where’s Jesse and Al when you need ’em?”). So again, likability is what is what is at stake here, not support as you mentioned earlier. As long as Cleaver is doing his job, he is in no danger of losing it just because of his choice for president.

    They sure as hell have been trying to tie Clinton to the success of white women… I hear that damn near every day and have read several articles about it. White feminists are just as critical of white women politicians who support Obama as blacks are of black politicians who support Clinton. I don’t think you can really argue against that.

    Again, you are right…to a point. Hillary’s run has become synonymous with WOMEN in general–not just White women. Just ask some of her Black female supporters on that one (there are a couple of the in the CBC). But again, instead of making this election about personal choice, Democrats have made it all about identity politics. Railing somebody just because they do not group vote is just wrong.

  7. MIB says:

    A point of fact: Gov. Richardson was very public about the blowback from the Clintons directed at him when he endorsed Obama.

    This is routine backroom political intrigue, nothing more.

  8. Duane says:

    A point of fact: Gov. Richardson was very public about the blowback from the Clintons directed at him when he endorsed Obama.

    Cleaver’s entire narrative in this article is that Richardson, along with the other politicians he mentioned did not get hammered from his racial group for his decision. His point is little more than “routine” as you defined.

  9. MIB says:

    Rep. Cleaver said,

    “Two weeks after Sen. Clinton won New Mexico the governor endorsed Sen. Obama. He is under no attack or criticisms.”

    Now I understand Cleaver went on to parse what happened to Richardson down to just Latinos, but the unspoken pretext is Latinos are primarily for Clinton — and there’s little evidence to support that assertion. The bottom line, regardless, is every candidate indulges in a little intraparty arm twisting during elections. Mrs. Clinton has been race-baiting working class Whites her entire campaign.

  10. MIB says:

    Errata:

    “… the unspoken pretext is Latinos are primarily for Clinton — and there’s little evidence to support that assertion.”

    I need to modify that to read, Latinos are for Clinton as Blacks are for Obama. While Clinton enjoys a clear lead among Latinos voting in Democratic primaries, it’s well short of the proportion of Black voters supporting Obama.

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