Yesterday, House Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn spoke with Michele Norris on NPR. NORRIS: Let’s start with the criticism that’s being lodged at the president. Why are the people who are perhaps the most enthusiastic about his election now frustrated with him as president?
CLYBURN: Well, I think a lot of what you hear has to do with style as opposed to substance. And those of us who are in office, most of us have a style that’s a little bit different from the president’s, ’cause it’s his style to try to seek common ground or try to compromise, and he keeps getting the thumb in his eye. And those of us who come from a different era tend not to appreciate that style. NORRIS: And is it that people want him to be more pugilistic? Is that what you’re saying?
CLYBURN: Well, yes. No question about that. Because if you are not going to get it done, what’s wrong with going down swinging? That is what people tend to want to see. They want to see you fight for the issues, even when they question whether or not you can you can be successful.
NORRIS: I’m curious about your reaction to the president’s speech. Now, he said many things that evening. We just heard the end of the speech, where he told people to put on their marching shoes, take off their bedroom slippers, stop complaining. Your reaction to that.
CLYBURN: Well, when I heard it, I cringed because I kind of anticipated so much of what came in the first part of the speech would get lost and people would be hanging on to those words. Though, I’m of the opinion that it is a little bit unusual for people to believe that anyone segment is going to be a hundred percent. When the president ran in 2008, he did not have a hundred percent of the black vote. He won’t have a hundred percent when he runs next year. We’re not monolithic, I guess is the best way to put it, as a black community.
NORRIS: There are some within the Democratic Party, even in leadership positions and also Democratic watchers, who look at some of the comments that people like Maxine Waters in particular have made and said it’s hard to imagine a Republican in office, speaking that harshly of, say, President Bush. Are they right?
CLYBURN: Well, you know, there’s always been much more diversity and independence in the Democratic Party than you’re going to find in the Republican Party. The Republican Party is by and large very vanilla – and that’s an intended pun there. And they tend to abide by an 11th commandment – they’ll speak no ill of another Republican. Democrats are not that way at all. Never have been, I don’t think they ever will be. We tend to sometimes not agree on everything. But so what? I don’t agree with everything in talking with my own wife, when it comes to politics.