Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Black Publisher is 'Insulted' That President Obama Hasn't Invited Her to the White House

Hermene Hartman, publisher of N’DIGO, a newspaper that focuses on "the black urban agenda," is going in on President Obama. In an interview with Chicago magazine, Hermene, who has known the president since 1995 and fundraised for him in his 2004 Senate run, says Obama has neglected his friends in Chicago since he moved to the White House.

Here's an excerpt of the interview.
CF: What’s your relationship with the Obamas?
HH: It used to be good. It used to be superb before they got to the White House. I haven’t been invited, and I’m insulted.

CF: What’s the history of your relationship with the president?
HH: I met Barack when he was trying to get us to review Dreams from My Father. He was getting ready to run for office. [Hartman says that Obama was considering a run for alderman, and she advised him to go for a seat in the state senate.] I told him how important it was for him to make speeches on the [legislative] floor, and I said, “You’re not going to get on the aldermanic floor; Daley will shut the microphone down. Your issues are probably served better in the state than they are in City Hall.”

CF: When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, were you one of his first backers?
HH: Barack came to me, and said, “I need you to raise about $50,000 for me.” I said, “When do you need it?” [He said,] “Next week.” I said, “You’re out of your mind. I don’t have $50,000 dollars, and if I did I wouldn’t give it to you.” [He said,] “But I gotta get it. I opened up the office, turned the phones on, the lights are on, and I gotta move forward. Don’t you know Oprah? C’mon, think of something. Michelle’s gonna kill me.” So I called a friend named Al Johnson, who was the first African-American General Motors car dealer—he was very involved with Harold Washington and John Stroger, in fundraising capacity, and over the years, we’ve done a lot of things together. I asked him to meet with Barack. [I said,] “He’s a cut above and he’s gonna be something.” They hit it off, and Al gave him $50,000. [Johnson died last year at 89].

CF: Give me an example of your work for candidate Obama in 2008?
HH: Al Sharpton… was with Hillary. I got Sharpton to support Obama before Hillary dropped out. I called him every day for a week. [A request for a comment from Sharpton was not returned by post time.]

CF: Care to share more on your current feelings about President Obama?
HH: There’s a whole backroom, black community story on Barack that the white media hasn’t paid attention to. Barack was not launched by Penny Pritzker for the presidency. Barack was launched by black businesspeople. I call them the “Day One people.” We’ve not been to the White House; we’ve not had appointments. I have barked a little bit about it.

CF: Did you ever express your disappointment to old Chicago friends who went to Washington with Obama?
HH: I said something to Valerie Jarrett. I haven’t seen Valerie since she has been in the White House. That whole group—they forgot… or they don’t care.

CF: You mentioned that you’re a friend of [former White House Social Secretary] Desiree Rogers. I’m surprised that you didn’t end up at one of the White House parties before she was pushed out of the job.
HH: I am, too. We all are. Barack is not necessarily loyal. In Chicago politics, that’s rule number one: be loyal; dance with the one who brought you. I see that as a key trait. I see Rahm having it. Rahm is very appreciative and very thankful. I was very loyal to Barack, but he has not been loyal to some of the people who were there for him from day one. That’s my personal disappointment in him. Did you outgrow us, or did you forget?
The president is probably too busy to respond. Or, he's just not that into you. Look down!
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