Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who once famously called a debt deal a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich,” compared people turned off by President Obama’s remarks on the Trayvon Martin slaying and race relations last week to vampires repelled by garlic.
On MSNBC, Cleaver called criticism of Obama’s Friday speech “so sad and in some ways amazingly so.”
“The president said simply and un-agitatingly that our nation is better than the racial rancor that all too often creates a problem with us. He addressed an issue, and he did it I think in a very personal and very profound way,” the congressman said.
“I can’t imagine anybody of good will becoming angry and hostile over the way he spoke. But I hope that the people around the country understand that, you know, rejection of a fault-finder is what garlic is to a vampire. I think we just reject this kind of thing and continue to erase the racial divisiveness that has been a part of our country for too long.”
Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor, compared Obama to someone doing construction.
“When we were adding on to our church, we had to buy a lot of property around the church. And so we had to have those houses torn down. And so I went over one day and asked one of the guys that was tearing down one of the houses if he could come take a look at my house and he wanted repairs made,” he said. “And he said look, Reverend, you’re getting me confused with somebody who builds things. We tear down things. And I think that it is important for us to understand that it is infinitely easier to be a detractor than a contractor.”
“And the president in his statement was a contractor, trying to build a better America and those who are attacking him I think are still bitter, and most Americans are trying to get better.”
Cleaver also took issue with critics noting that the Zimmerman case got more attention than black-on-black violence in the president’s hometown.
“I think it is absolutely horrible that somebody would even remotely suggest that the president of the United States is not concerned about something that is tearing about his hometown of Chicago,” he said.