We celebrate and protect Tavis Smiley’s and Dr. Cornel West’s right to criticize President Obama or anyone else, for that matter. But they both have thoroughly invalidated their political positions because their public discourse has been contaminated by personal animus and resentment for being allegedly snubbed by the president.
They, along with Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, cry foul because they have not been invited to play on the South Lawn with Obama’s other friends, and that’s sad.
West confirmed in a New York Times interview my previous suspicions that he is admittedly embittered because he never received a single phone call from Obama after campaigning so hard for him.
“I think he had to keep me at a distance. There’s no doubt that he didn’t want to be identified with a black leftist. But we’re talking about one phone call, man. That’s all. One private phone call.”
West also shared that it was a personal blow to his ego when Obama made former Harvard University president Larry Summers one of his first administration appointments — and this was after Summers severely lampooned West, telling him that his rap album was an “embarrassment” to the university. West left Harvard soon thereafter.
Personal is the only way to describe how West went from calling Obama his “brother, companion and comrade” during the historic 2008 campaign to labeling Obama a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs” and “black puppet of corporate” barons and saying that Obama is the “head of the American killing machine, and he is proud of it”
Here’s the thing: I happen to agree with Smiley that Obama’s record with redressing the grievances of the working class and the poor has left a lot to be desired. Obama has been particularly soft-handed with Wall Street reptiles and the banks who continue to red-line minorities in terms of loans and never really punished the financial and mortgage institutions for their serial predatory lending, all of which nearly bankrupted this country. West’s points have some validity as well.
But it is obvious that the spirit of their criticisms has been motivated by egoism, that they possess this attitude of “How dare Obama ignore my requests for a phone call and spurn my invitation” to Smiley’s defunct “State of Black America” events. Blacks recognized Smiley’s personal pettiness, which incited the ire of African Americans and led to him being run off the “Tom Joyner Morning Show.”
The legitimacy of the two men’s points is polluted to such a degree that many folk can’t hear what they have to say.