February 20th, 2009
05:33 PM ET
11 years ago

Clyburn defends 'slap in the face' remark

Clyburn said Thursday that stimulus opponents were insulting black Americans.

Clyburn said Thursday that stimulus opponents were insulting black Americans.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic Rep. James Clyburn on Friday defended his remark that opponents of the stimulus bill are insulting African-Americans.

The House Majority Whip argued that many of the federal funds are specifically targeted towards low-income minority communities. He also accused GOP governors who have resisted the stimulus of hypocrisy.

“Let’s take, for instance, Louisiana,” the South Carolina Democrat told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. “Gov. [Bobby] Jindal has been in my office a number of times. He has called me a number of times asking for billions of dollars in assistance to stand communities back up as a result of hurricane Katrina and Rita.”

“Yet he says there is something wrong with this money for the stimulus that comes from the same pot, that he sees nothing wrong when he’s trying to stand back up after Katrina,” he said.

Asked about opposition from South Carolina’s governor Mark Sanford, Clyburn said that in his home state, a chunk of the stimulus funds would be directed to the poorest counties along the I-95 corridor, a poverty-stricken region of the state most famous for its dilapidated schools.

He said it would be an affront to black South Carolinians in those counties if Sanford turns down the money.

“That’s why I called this an insult,” Clyburn said. “That’s why I said it's slap in the face. Because a majority of the people in these counties are African-Americans.”

Clyburn did not say that Republicans who oppose the funds are racists.

“I have never used that word in my life and I won’t use it now,” he said.

Filed under: James Clyburn • Mark Sanford
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. craig

    Nothing more to say but: THIS GUY IS A COMPLETE AND UTTER MORON!!
    It has NOTHING to do with skin color you fool. It's about reckless and runaway spending.
    In my house we don't spend more money than we make. SIMPLE ECONOMICS. If our politicians could ever grasp that concept it would be a miracle.

    February 20, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. What does it take

    What does it take to get a reply posted CNN? I agree with Rep. Clyburn. Of course these govs take money for the very things the stimulus aid will be going for. I had a problem with the bail out Bush gave the financial sector. There was no accountability that went with it and they used it shamelessly for lavish retreats and Billions in bonus pay. Bonus for what? total failure on their part? The only reason the Republicans don't like the stimulus aid is that it is going for America–all of us–and not just the top 1%. Enjoy your warm, lake front homes in eternity Repubs.

    February 20, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    In other words, this guy thinks it's somehow "offensive" if everyone isn't perfectly willing to empty their wallets and give the contents to the blacks. He's apparently trying to prove that blacks are basically parasites.

    February 20, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. Vic

    I don't know if anybody out there knows this or not. But, the UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FOR BLACK AMERICANS IS ALMOST 13%. U never hear that figure, and I wondrer why. That figure is really disturbing to me. So, I think I know where Congressman Clyburn is coming from with his comments. Seems like Repubs want to punish the Black Community with more unemployment to me. For the record, IM WHITE.

    February 20, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  5. YBM

    As a young American (who happens to be black and was born in America, not Africa then naturalized American) I am becoming very fearful for my country. And feel that if you do not want to be stereotyped or "profiled" then you should not fit the stereotype or profile.

    I suspected during the primaries and election, but as time goes on it becomes more evident. Obama either has a piece of the spear of destiny, or he is the antichrist.

    How else can it be explained that so many, otherwise intelligent, people turned into blind, non-thinking, non-listening, sheeple that practically worship the ground he walks on?

    February 20, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  6. Mark

    So now the stimulus package is a racial give away package?

    The GOP governors are considering not taking the money, because this is a social spending bill, not a stimulus package. It's a GIVE AWAY. He has let the cat out of the bag, the Dems focused the money to go to blacks. That is what I hear him saying.

    I don't get any tax refund, I don't get any mortgage relief, and I don't get anything from the stimulus bill. Oh wait, yes I do get something. SCREWED.

    1 TRILLION dollars added to our national debt in 30 days. And now if you oppose this fiscal irresponsibility, you're a racist. Seems like just yesterday the Dems were complaining about how Bush ran up the debt. Today it seems to be OK. Hypocrites.

    This country is heading in a bad way.

    February 20, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. Thumbs Up For Obama

    They are trying to put on a show /they better go back and look at the show Bush/Cheney put on for 8 long years and the OMG mess they got this Country in but they never consider all the problems people are having since they have their nests feathered. and as usual with Republicans don't give a good – – – – – – – – -.

    February 20, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. andrew

    no one cares about what some indian thinks

    February 20, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. jm

    when politicians take opportunites such as this to inject race into the discussion, they only help widen the divide that already separates americans. to say that only low income minorities would be disadvantaged by a governor possibly refusing money from the federal government, is polarizing. there are as many low income white families that would be affected by such a decision.

    do some of these governors have alterior motives for possibly making the choices they are indicating? sure, this is politics after all.

    progress in this country will only trully be achieved when we no longer have politicians who want to divide us by appealing to our lesser sensibilities. until we recognize that whatever happens, we are all in the same boat together. the choices being made by our political leaders will not only affect the poor or the rich, but everyone of us. if the congressman trully wants to help move the dialogue forward, he needs to stop using this kind of language. it is not helpful and is just divisive.

    February 20, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Mike

    Two points: (1) Does Mr. Congressman believe all Blacks are on the government dole so refusing the bailout hurts them disproportionately? Why is that not offensive? (2) Why does it seem that it's never an option for government to make SPENDING CUTS as a first way to address deficits v. getting a bailout? What's going to happen when this installment runs out? One every year? In my house, if we can't afford it, we don't buy it. Unlike government, we don't spend first (i.e., buy votes) and look for the money 2nd. It's mind-numbing.

    February 20, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. Brian

    "Racists", "Cowards", "Bitter Clingers", "Ashamed of America" Abe would be so proud of this White House. Its time to build a bridge (with the spendulous bill) and GET OVER IT!

    February 20, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  12. G in BR

    To all the posters bickering back and forth about playing the "race card":

    OK, let's forget/move away from this and look at something for a moment.

    By appearances only, it seems that there are several Governors that do not care if the “backbones” of their respective states swim or drown. The backbones are the people (the average American) that clean the streets, picks up the garbage, drives the buses/trucks, and constructs the buildings, roads and bridges. People are losing houses, jobs, and a way of life and it appears that some Governors are having a Nero complex (playing the fiddle while Rome burns). There are still hard working people who cannot move into or rebuild houses in New Orleans (Katrina was in 2005). Many chemical plants in Louisiana are cutting back and laying off workers. But Governor Jindal says he will have to review the package to see if there are any “strings” attached. When will life start coming before political jargon and position?

    Is Rep. James Clyburn wrong for his analogy? I can’t say because it is the way he feels at this time in history. Are some whites wrong for saying that blacks are becoming racist and playing the race card? I can’t say because it is the way they feel at this time in history. What I do know is that if we don’t come together on this economy and fix it, we will ALL fail. In other words, the bickering isn’t worth a hill of beans in the long run. Let’s stop the politics, the name calling, and the finger pointing and get this nation running again.

    February 20, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  13. MB

    It's enough to say the region needs the funds and would benefit from it. It's enough to say it will generate jobs in a region hard hit by unemployment and the current economy. It's enough to say that about any region/project receiving funds. Race has no place in the discussion. By doing so, it says race was a factor in determining who gets desperately needed help. This is America's money and America should benefit from it regardless of the demographics of the area.

    His statements do two things. It's leveraging race for support and to put pressure on the opponents. It's daring them to oppose the distribution and sets them up to be called "racists" if they do, even if there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed. It also says race was a factor when looking at who will benefit, and the decision wasn't based on "needs". I could care less who benefits if it fixes the economy, but the stimulus package needs to be distributed based on where it will be most effective in turning this mess around, not for political gain. Now's not the time for politics.

    February 20, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  14. Old Artillery Man

    Representative Clyburn should keep quiet about Governor Sanford talking about refusing to accept the funds from the stimulus package. Sanford is laying the groundwork to run for the republican nomination for president. He was polishing his image with the right wing of the Republican Party by talking about not accepting the funds.
    He cannot even get along with the republican legislature who has overridden his vetoes. There is no way he would have a viable future political career if he should refuse the money.
    Clyburn put into the legislation a clause that if a governor did not accept it, the legislature could. Now Sanford can refuse it or parts of it and still be a hero to the ultra right. He can claim he was forced into it by the legislature.
    Clyburn provided a way to let Sanford out of a position that he would not look good no matter which way he went into one where he can still look good and still polish his resume. Clyburn should have been able to see this.
    As a citizen of South Carolina I most emphatically say, as a president, Sanford would make George Bush look like a super hero.

    February 20, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  15. Mark

    The Iraq war has cost us about $500 billion in 5 years. This doesn't take into account the tax dollars that were returned on payments to US companies and individuals that were paid from those funds, so the real amount is less.

    The Democratic Congress has cost us about $800 Billion in 30 days. This doesn't include the interest that will accue for all the borrowing the government is going to need to pay for this, so the real amount is more.

    Anyone who opposes this is a racist? I think not. I think anyone who opposes this can do the math, and can see what this package is really about, and he just proved it to most who can see thru the magic dust of the political lies.

    I am opposed to this package. I'm not racist, and I'm not a Republican. I may not be a Democrat for long if the hate-mongering and disgusting behavior keeps happening.

    Clayburn should be ashamed of himself. He is divisive, and very likely a racist himself. Why do Black leaders always use the race card. I would love to hear the conversation between him and a black American who opposes this bill. I guess he would be a Jim Crow.

    February 20, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  16. DeeTee

    For the uniformed - Clyburn's district is majority African-American in a state that has a large percentage of African Americans, so he's speaking the truth about how a rejection of the stimulus money by the SC governor would affect the majority of the people in his state.

    February 20, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  17. DeeTee


    For the uninformed — Clyburn's district is majority African-American in a state that has a large percentage of African Americans, so he's speaking the truth about how a rejection of the stimulus money by the SC governor would affect the majority of the people in his state.

    February 20, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. Proud Democrat who is against this Stimulus

    Clyburn doesn't speak for all blacks or minorities.

    Mr. Clyburns remarks were a slap in the face and insult to ALL MINORITIES.

    He acts as if we have one mind and cannot think independently.

    Well Mr. Clyburn please wake up and join the real world, because millions of minorities disagree with the Stimulus plan. It is doing very little to help the poor and disadvantaged.

    Unless of course you think $13.00 every two weeks is going to change any aspect of our lives.

    Considering we are going to be paying for the 800 billions of money going mostly to the rich......it looks like we got a bad deal and it's only going to get worse.

    February 20, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. Obama Been Lying

    "annie – Palin 2012 February 20th, 2009 5:35 pm ET

    Why do the demmie dummies keep playing the race card?"

    Because it works......I just say, lets change it for the "Stimulus Bill" to the "Reparation Bill".

    February 20, 2009 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  20. Simmy

    To Jadie,
    Why are we focusing on this crap? All of a sudden everyone is insulted and offended with one thing or another…..it's starting to be very old. Let's move on to more important issues.

    You know nothing about the character of Rep. Clyburn. If you did, you would be more respectful. He is a man who only speaks out when a situation has gotten grossly out of hand. There is nothing racist about him. He has worked with more white Republicans and Democrats than any Repub. has worked with black Democrats. Before you get on your high horse of denial, do a little reading. Racism is not "crap." It's an issue that has caused the lives of many. If you don't know, go and ask somebody.

    To Jean, and other Dissidents,

    What I said to Jadie applies to you as well. Why are you (Repub.) people so bitter? Racism is alive and well in this country. No one is pointing a finger at you. If you're offended, or think it's "getting old," I pause at your reasoning. Is it that you can't bear to hear the truth?

    February 20, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. EC

    PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE...... Congressman Clyburn is RIGHT. This is NOT ABOUT THE RACE CARD FOLKS!!!! The South has a LONG and deep history of "segregated" mentality. Its funny that everyone blames Congressman Clyburn for his statement when in FACT Governor Sanford is depicting the same "slave master" tendencies by REFUSING BILLIONS IN STIMULUS DOLLARS to his constituents that need it the MOST!! So WHY would a Governor refuse money that will help the people of South Carolina from losing their homes and jobs? Because his refusal will NOT affect the RICH in the south, it will affect the POOR and the dis-advantage in South Carolina, and Congressman Clyburn knows who those families are. Bottom line.

    Southern WHITE RED-NECK MEN in the south (yes, I said it) know exactly what the refusal of the stimulus money would do not only to African Americans, but also low-income WHITES, LATINOS, etc. in their state. Republicans are focused only on the RICH, RICH, RICH. Everyone else is just royally screwed by their own Republican leadership.

    WHITES in the south still display a very strong "segregated" mentality and they often HIDE behind policies and agendas as an excuse to get away with being a racists/bigot undercover. This is NOTHING NEW, and Congressman Clyburn knows it.

    SPIN IT ANYWAY YOU WANT..... The mere fact that Governor Sanford is REFUSING the money when his state is in dire need is nothing short of selfish and despicable. Governor Sanford is doing it for political postering, nothing else. He's taking the high political road and screwing his own constituents in the process.

    February 20, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  22. Roy B

    Not sure that its racist but it is certainly political as hell on the Republicans part. They would rather let their constituents (of all races) suffer than to work with the Feds to determine the best way this money can help people. If it were going to their rich buddies, there would be no problem.

    February 20, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  23. aware

    Quit playing the race card! Blacks are not victims unless they choose to be! They need to take responsibility for their lives and become victors! Read Bill Cosby if you want to digest some black wisdom! 🙂

    February 20, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  24. aware

    Give it up Clyburn! You have over-played this card!

    Remember – when you worship a false messiah you are participating in idolatry. And idolatry exacts a heavey penalty! 😦

    February 20, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  25. aware

    Give it up Clyburn! You have over-played this card!

    Remember – when you worship a false messiah you are participating in idolatry. And idolatry exacts a heavy penalty!

    February 20, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
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