Why Maxine Waters Gets Away With Criticizing President Obama When Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Don’t
I withstood a lot of heat and insults (some which were actually funny) from a previous article I wrote where I took great umbrage with the motivation behind talk show host Tavis Smiley’s and Princeton professor Cornel West’s relentless denigration of the Obama presidency.
I will repeat and reiterate what I said before: Smiley and West have thus far come across as disgruntled, infantile haters whose egos were injured when they didn’t get invited to play on the South Lawn. Their injurious invectives completely and absolutely overshadowed many of the issues they raised, some of which are completely legitimate and that I happen to agree with. The manner and spirit in which the odd couple have made their pronouncements explains why they needed to seek cover from the thunderous criticisms from a wide swath of the black population in America, including some high-profile verbal “smackdowns” from Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey.
Yet Maxine Waters — and members of the Congressional Black Caucus for that matter — has thus far escaped the scathing backlash that has charred Smiley and West and other Obama critics. Other see what I see: Smiley’s and West’s disapproval is seen as more of disparagement and outright denunciation of Obama emanating from personal slights, financial incentives and exploiting the opportunity to raise their own profiles at his expense. It has bred a nest of distrusting blacks and progressives who watch them with wary eyes.
There is another reason for the wide disparity in the treatment of the Caucus compared to the Smiley/West camp: personal attacks. Feel free to trample on the president’s manhood as “a black mascot of of Wall Street oligarch and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats” if you so choose, but there are consequences for such reckless and venomous vitriol. Waters’ pronouncements come off more as familial urgings and stern but loving encouragements by comparison, all while couching her statements in love and support.
At a recent stop in Atlanta, legendary Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., said backstage at the CBC’s “For the People” jobs tour that he still stands behind the president. He also said in a moment of enlightenment, that during his long tenure in the House, that most debt ceiling debates aren’t even debates. At most, he later said during the town hall meeting, previous debt ceiling discussions had been as little as a paragraph or a single sentence and the issue would dissipate into memory without so much as the utterance of a single syllable. In other words, conservatives and tea party fanatics, he insinuates, blew up the issue in order to wreak havoc on the Obama administration. Congressman Al Green, D-Texas, said at the Miami stop that Obama has done a good job, while CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver seconded the sentiments by saying, “There’s not a hater up here on this stage.”
Now, let’s look at West and Smiley. They have been popping off about what Obama’s transgressions and shortcomings, which many agree with including me, but as of this writing have offered little or no viable solution to the problem except the exhalation of carbon dioxide.
Even as Maxine Waters implored at the Detroit stop that blacks “unleash” the CBC to be open and honest with the president, they had already constructed a jobs tour, which is why she and others were in Motown in the first place. They were figuring out ways to help theirs and their constituents’ cause instead of going across the country tossing cherry bombs in the direction of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The CBC has not lost favor because their words were not first dipped in acid and slung at Obama — partially because they are beholden to the electorate to maintain their congressional seats, therefore lack the freedom to go at Obama with both fists balled up. But it might also be because urbanites do not yet detect personal agendas interwoven into their message points. –terry shropshire