Seventy-year-old Democrat James Clyburn has been the U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 6th congressional district since 1993. He also has served as House Majority Whip since 2007, making him the third-ranking Democrat in the House behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. When the new Congress convenes in January 2011, Clyburn will retain a #3 leadership position – “Assistant Minority Leader” – among the now-minority Democrats. As one of the most influential political figures in the country, he merits the closest scrutiny of the American people – particularly in light of the fact that his politics are those of Democratic Party orthodoxy writ large.
A member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Clyburn, in the longstanding tradition of the CBC and the political Left, has cultivated an uncanny ability to spot white racists lurking menacingly around virtually every corner. For instance, when former President Bill Clinton likened Barack Obama‘s 2008 Democratic primary victory in South Carolina to then-candidate Jesse Jackson‘s primary victory there twenty years earlier, Clyburn concluded that Clinton’s remarks were embedded with a racist intent to diminish Obama’s achievement. “When he [Clinton] was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” said Clyburn. “I think black folks feel strongly that that this is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation.”
When South Carolina’s Republican governor Mark Sanford formally rejected federal earmarks for his state early last year, Clyburn alleged that Sanford was a racially insensitive elitist: “He [Sanford] happens to be a millionaire. He may not need help for the plantation his family owns, but the people whose grandparents and great-grandparents worked those plantations need the help.”
In February 2009, Clyburn offered this assessment of why Sanford and three other southern white governors were opposing President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package: “The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition. [Louisiana] has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina. These four governors represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that. All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans.”
In March 2009, when Governor Sanford compared Obama’s massive stimulus spending to the disastrous fiscal policies of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Clyburn characterized the governor’s remarks as “beyond the pale.” When reporters subsequently asked Clyburn if his use of that phrase was intended to imply that Sanford’s comments had racial overtones, the congressman replied: “I’m sure he would not say that, but how did he get to Zimbabwe? What took the man to Zimbabwe? Someone should ask him if that’s really the best comparison.… How can he compare this country’s situation to Zimbabwe?”
After Rep. Joe Wilson infamously shouted “You lie!” during President Obama’s September 9, 2009 address outlining his healthcare-reform proposal to a joint session of Congress, Clyburn again sniffed the pungent stench of racism. Claiming that he had always tried to “look past” Wilson’s “membership in some groups that call into question his feelings about his whole notion of white supremacy,” Clyburn said: “Joe Wilson has worked very hard to cultivate a sort of choir-boy image, but I think that most people realize that there’s something else going on with him.”
In Clyburn’s calculus, even a refusal to dutifully swallow the fantasy of manmade global warming qualifies as evidence of racism because, as the congressman explains, “African-Americans are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change economically, socially and through our health and well-being.”
Clyburn’s unwavering leftism manifests itself not only in such reflexive charges of racism, but also in the congressman’s voting record on a wide range of vital issues. A devoted fan of the bloated welfare state, Clyburn, early in his legislative career, voted against a 1995 bill designed to move people off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs. In addition to limiting welfare aid to five years per family, this bill barred states from giving cash assistance to children of unmarried teenagers; to families that had given birth to additional children while on public assistance; to any person who had fraudulently sought to obtain benefits in more than one state; and to fugitive felons, parole and probation violators, alcoholics, and drug addicts. But alas, Rep. Clyburn thought all these stipulations were bad ideas. The following year, he voted against the landmark Welfare Reform Act of 1996, which caused welfare rolls nationwide to shrink by more than 50 percent, as millions of formerly dependent people were moved successfully into jobs where they were able to earn their own way instead of being the wards of American taxpayers.
Clyburn also thought it was a bad idea in 2003 to place even minimal new conditions on welfare eligibility. Thus he voted against a proposal to raise the work requirements, from 30 hours per week to 40, for individuals receiving public assistance. By contrast, boondoggles requiring absolutely nothing of their beneficiaries are just dandy in Clyburn’s eyes. In 2006 he voted Yes on a $70 million amendment to fund 10,000 Section-8 housing vouchers. Two years after that, he voted in favor of yet another spending bill to revitalize public housing – despite the fact that the U.S. already had more than 80 federal housing programs operating on an annual budget exceeding $30 billion.
Just as Clyburn is willing to funnel billions of other people’s dollars toward redistributive welfare and public-housing initiatives, so is he ever-eager to pour rivers of cash into a public-education system that has scarcely proven to be worth its weight in dirt. In 2007 he voted in favor of a bill – stuffed with more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion, and funding nearly five-dozen programs that were duplicative or had proven ineffective – allocating an additional $10.2 billion to federal education and HHS projects. Two years later, he voted Yes on a proposal to spend $40 billion for the modernization, renovation, and repair of “green public schools.” Every year since 2005, Clyburn has received a perfect rating from the National Education Association, the largest American labor union, the leading engine of leftist indoctrination in the public schools, and a major funder of Democratic candidates and causes.
By Clyburn’s reckoning, only the enlightened Washington elite are qualified to determine how American children ought to be educated. Thus in 1997 the congressman voted against permitting certain federal education funds to finance vouchers that would enable low-income families to send their children to private schools rather than to dismal, failing public schools. The following year, Clyburn again voted against federally funded vouchers for impoverished children in Washington, DC, a city whose schools are the very embodiment of fiscal waste and academic incompetence.