This is a delicate subject for me as I want to avoid giving the impression that there is some kind of feud between Dr. Cornel West and President Barack Obama. I am a big fan of Dr West as I have always enjoyed listening to him speak. Over the past couple of days I have listened and watched Dr West be questioned about the article in Playboy where Cornel West talks about some of his disappointments with President Obama so far. I have no issue with the West criticizing the president, I just want to make sure the criticism is legitimate.
In NO WAY is West being a hater of our 1st Black President with his criticisms. Too many times we have seen Black man/woman criticizes President Obama and then that person being criticized for attacking a fellow Black person in power. I have listened to Dr West on several occasions and he is an equal opportunity critic and believes in loving of all people. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. West is the epitome of his beliefs:
“Committed to truth and justice; no matter what color, what culture, what civilization. Just Truth and Justice!!!!
With that said Dr West has criticized the President for not pushing the agenda of taking care of the poor, creating jobs with a living wages, and focusing on what he calls the “New Jim Crow” which is the prison complex where the jail time doesn’t fit the crime. Dr West feels that there is too much focus on taking care of Wall Street and big business when we should be taking care of the poor. West feels if you take care of the poor then you will have your job growth; getting the poor and working class back to work will lower the unemployment rate and improve this economy. Along with the criticism Dr West during an interview on NPR discussed his last encounter with President Obama at a speech in Washington D.C. After the speech West said the President briefly talked to him (West) and sounded “deeply upset”.
“He talked to me like I was a Cub Scout, and he was a pack master, you know what I mean?
I said, well, my mother and father raised me right. I respect my dear brother, but I don’t like to be demeaned and humiliated in that way, and I didn’t get a chance to respond to him. And I hope maybe at some time we can. But it was very, it was a very ugly kind of moment, it seems to me, and that disturbs me because then it raises the question for me: Does he have a double standard for black critics as opposed to white critics?
Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, a whole host of brilliant, courageous critics say all kinds of things, and he treats them with respect. They get invited to the White House. I say the same thing, he talks to me like I’m a Cub Scout.” – Cornel West talking about Pres Obama
With all due respect Dr West, I think your recent assessment of President Obama is off just a bit….
I can fully understand where Dr West is coming from when he talks about the importance of jobs and addressing the poor in our country. I also respect Dr West desire for President Obama to more like Dr Martin Luther King in caring for the underprivileged. Unfortunately that is easier said than done in the world of politics. I know my last statement sounds terrible and in no way am I diminishing the accomplishments of Dr King, I am just saying the 2 worlds are different. For example; everyone can agree that 9/11 1st responders should be taken care of as they sacrificed working in that toxic environment at the WTC. So what happened?? Instead of voting for the legislation Republicans chose politics over the right thing to do. This is what the President is facing as he pushes his agenda; the Republican party refuses to work with the President and Democrats in Congress. The “Party of No” (Republicans) have shown they will not support any initiatives supported by Democrats. While Republicans talk about Job creation and reducing deficit they vote against Jobs Bills and Extending Unemployment Benefits stating they will add to deficit. While in the same breath scream support for extending the Bush Tax Cuts that gives relief to only 2% of Americans and adds to our growing national debt.
Even with a Democrat majority Republicans have made it nearly impossible to pass any substantial legislation. To his credit the President was able to pass Healthcare Reform which will help a lot of poor/working class Americans and he also pushed through tax cuts for the Working/Middle class in an attempt to ease the burden on the backbone of our society. Those were major accomplishment that was done before Financial Reform, but I don’t hear Dr West talking about that. I don’t hear Dr. West talking about how Democrats in Congress have proposed legislation for Jobs Creation and how the President has pushed Congress for a bill for him to sign to help the working class and small businesses.
It takes 2 to tango and right now Republicans are not showing any desire to dance…
Jobs creation will happen, but like Healthcare Reform and Financial Reform it will take work as Republicans will have to come around on this legislation. Republicans can’t afford to say “No” as the people overwhelmingly want this. Instead of criticizing the President, Dr West should join him in pushing this through!
As for Dr. West feeling the President “demeaned and humiliated” him, that is unfortunate and the President will have to work that out with West. In my opinion it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not but it matters that Dr. West felt demeaned. Over the last year or so I have heard about Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow being invited to the White House to discuss various topics; there is no reason why Dr. Cornel West has not been invited to discuss those same topics. His experience is invaluable and should be shared.
As Dr. West said on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” the President cannot take for granted the support of Progressives like himself.
I don’t believe the President is taking Progressives for granted but it’s all about perception; and right now President Obama is learning that Progressives and Liberal Democrats are NEVER happy!!
If there is something to be said, “Its On Broadway” to step up and say it!!!