On Monday, the daily presidential tracking poll for Rasmussen Reports showed that Barack Obama no longer has the job performance approval of a majority of Americans. His overall approval rating was down to an even 50 percent. Released on the same day was a demographic breakdown of that rating: only 41 percent of white Americans approve of the job he’s doing, while 97 percent of blacks approve and 58 percent of all other ethnicities combined approve.
The approval rating of blacks jumps off the page because it’s such a glaring anomaly — or at least it should be. Upon seeing the numbers, it was hard to bury the frustrated anger accompanying the thought of how unwilling so many black folks are to think for themselves. When reading news in black media outlets, it’s clear that African Americans are easily star-struck by the first black president.
“With all the unique challenges facing African Americans, identifying just one problem as our most fundamental issue sounds like the beginning of a long nuanced conversation. It’s not so complicated, however, for President Barack Obama,” wrote Cynthia Gordy in Essence magazine in a report on how to fix the education crisis in the black community.
Ethelbert Miller wrote in EbonyJet that “when President Obama stepped into the room to address the NAACP this week, he first met a group of black people (many women) who became almost hysterical with joy. … It reminded me of when the Beatles arrived in the States from England.”
Then there was the reader who wrote in response to Miller’s article: “Nothing & no one can inhibit the pride I feel when reading about what President Obama represents while standing before the NAACP as the leader of our nation and if he doesn’t do another thing — that symbolism, if given a chance, will impact our children and the world for centuries to come.”
In another article, experienced White House reporter Kevin Chappell gushed over Obama in print, because riding on Air Force One with a black president was apparently so much more comfortable and inviting than it was under George W. Bush: “Another difference: Last time I was escorted to my seat, and left there until it was time to interview President Bush. This time, I was given a full tour of the aircraft, including the president’s private quarters. I saw the bathroom where Obama showers, and the bedroom where he sleeps.”
This kind of adulation removes the inclination to engage in rational thought. It leads to a 97 percent approval rating among the ethnic group with the highest unemployment rate, the group that should be most outraged at the waste and favors in a stimulus package that isn’t stimulating much. Chappell wrote that the black media, at home and impressed though they were, still asked the tough questions, but no one seemed to put those tough questions and presidential answers in print.
Laura Ofobike of the Akron Beacon Journal managed to keep her feet on the ground when covering the Obama speech at the 100th anniversary of the NAACP. At one point she asked, “Can Obama be serious?” when he suggested that black parents discipline their neighbors’ children when needed, as they did in the old days. She mentioned that the old days didn’t include kids that would shoot you for talking to them and accused the president of being a bit too nostalgic. Ofobike also took the time to mention the Bureau of Labor statistics on black unemployment, but she didn’t draw a link to Obama’s inertia on the issue of job growth.
It would appear that African American media paint such a rosy picture of the man and his administration that black America can’t help but be ridiculously loyal and overwhelmed with racial pride. But perhaps the reality is that the loyalty of black America is consistent for Democrats, even when the president is white.
Back when a bare majority of the general population approved of Bill Clinton, African Americans maintained a 91 percent approval rating for Bubba — just six fewer points than Obama’s current rating, according to a Joint Center for Political and Economics Studies poll from 2000. The Clinton rating actually makes more sense, since the same poll shows African Americans reporting that they were consistently better off financially, year after year, during the Clinton administration. It’s hard to imagine that being said for Obama a year from now, when more than 14 percent of blacks nationwide are currently unemployed.
African American journalists who are keeping Obama on a pedestal are all but guaranteeing that blacks will accept anything from this president (or nothing at all) and love him anyway. For a while there, it was looking the same in the mainstream media. Then the June unemployment numbers were released — and even many who voted for him were forced to acknowledge that reality bites.
Black America isn’t there yet, and if black journalists keep it up, it never will be.