This past Friday, President Barack Obama gave a deeply personal address about the George Zimmerman verdict and the death of Trayvon Martin. And although many applauded the president for sharing his thoughts on Martin’s death, TV personality Tavis Smiley recently criticized the president, saying he only gave the address because he felt pressured to.
“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true. He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium,” Smiley said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” yesterday.
According to The Grio, however, an administrative source claims that Obama spent several days after Zimmerman’s acquittal in intense conversations with friends and family about the case. By last Thursday, Obama decided to speak to the nation about his thoughts, resulting in the impromptu address.
However, Smiley claims that didn’t do enough for his national audience, when Obama “left the podium, he still had not answered the most important question, that Kingian question, where do we go from here? That question this morning remains unanswered, at least from the perspective of the president. And the bottom line is, this is not Libya. This is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind. What’s lacking in this moment is moral leadership. The country is begging for it. They’re craving it.”
Smiley challenged Obama’s claims that politicians might not be the best people to lead a national discussion on race, and claimed that Obama is just the right politician for the job.
“I disagree with the president, respectfully, that politicians, elected officials, can’t occupy this space on race. Truman did, Johnson did, President Obama did. He’s the right person in the right place at the right time, but he has to step into his moment. I don’t want him to be like Bill Clinton, when he’s out of office, regretting that he didn’t move on Rwanda. I don’t want the president to look back and realize he didn’t do as much as he could have in this critical moment.”
Well, Smiley certainly isn’t the first person to challenge the president. Check out some other major Obama critics below. –nicholas robinson