In a scathing interview with Chris Hedges, Princeton Professor and one time Obama campaigner Cornell West tears into Barack Obama for what he sees as a political and personal betrayal on every conceivable level:
“It became very clear to me as the announcements were being made,” he [West] says, “that this was going to be a newcomer, in many ways like Bill Clinton, who wanted to reassure the Establishment by bringing in persons they felt comfortable with and that we were really going to get someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy that we see in the opportunism of Bill Clinton. It was very much going to be a kind of black face of the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council].”
According to West, Obama refused to take any of his calls after rigorous campaigning around the country and did not invite him to the inauguration. To boot, Obama apparently also ‘cussed him out’ after making a speech at Princeton:
“He makes a bee line to me right after the talk, in front of everybody,” West says. “He just lets me have it. He says, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself, saying I’m not a progressive. Is that the best you can do? Who do you think you are?’ I smiled. I shook his hand. And a sister hollered in the back, ‘You can’t talk to professor West. That’s Dr. Cornel West. Who do you think you are?’ You can go to jail talking to the president like that. You got to watch yourself. I wanted to slap him on the side of his head.
The whole interview is certainly worth reading as it gives insight into how a prominent and well respected black intellectual views Obama and his relationship with his own roots. And while it isn’t very complimentary, it is, at least in my opinion, painfully accurate. The money quote:
“He [Obama] feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want,” he says. “He’s got two homes. He has got his family and whatever challenges go on there, and this other home. Larry Summers blows his mind because he’s so smart. He’s got Establishment connections. He’s embracing me. It is this smartness, this truncated brilliance, that titillates and stimulates brother Barack and makes him feel at home. That is very sad for me.”
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.