“I can’t pass laws that say I’m just helping black folks. I’m the president of the United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That in turn is going to help lift up the African-American community.”
~ President Barack Obama
The day after formally announcing he was running for a second term, President Obama traveled to New York City to speak at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention and both parties benefit from the association. Obama gets to show his concern for issues of particular interest to African-Americans and Sharpton gets to rub shoulders with the President of the United States and gets to stand a bit taller among the ranks of unelected Black leadership.
Of course that didn’t go down well with some of Obama’s critics/haters. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are rapidly becoming the Cheech and Chong of angry Negro “intellectuals” and their latest comedy act takes both Obama and Sharpton to task.
Smiley: The President knows his base in Black America is shaky. You can’t play that history card more than one time.
West: Sharpton is wrong to provide cover to Obama given the level of Black suffering and misery.
I get why Tavis has a bug up his nose about Obama. He got mad when Obama wouldn’t come off the campaign trail to show up for the 2008 State of the Black Union pajama party. Then he got irked when Obama offered to send Michelle instead and just generally showed his ass about it. He griped how the president did an interview with Bill O’Reilly during Super Bowl Sunday, but not one with him. (Maybe blowing off the guy about to be president’s wife wasn’t the smartest thing you could have done, Tavis) Then there’s the displeasing fact Smiley wrote a Obama-bashing book Accountable that flopped hard because people weren’t hearing that noise.
The rise of Obama’s star has come at the price of Smiley’s falling. Tavis has not taken the change in popularity well. His jealousy and wounded ego means his opinion of the president’s job performance is completely tainted. Smiley’s criticism of Obama are about as valid as what could be expected from Rush Limbaugh.
Dr. West’s problem with Obama is he has to back his boy, Tavis and that’s understandable. Loyalty is a beautiful thing. But the way the good doctor ignores the harsh realities and problems President Obama has had to face and the entrenched and sustained racism from the Republican Party, the right-wing media machine, billionaires like the Koch Bros. and their Tea Party foot soldiers assembled against the president’s agenda undercuts West’s credibility as a political commentator.
Or maybe Obama said something nasty about the good doctor’s acting in The Matrix Reloaded?
Maybe intellectuals such as West envisioned a bigger role as an adviser to Obama and when they weren’t invited into the tent he decided to take a giant leak on it instead. There might be a deeper, more complex and complicated reason, but the mundane, petty and trivial reasons can’t always be dismissed.
What’s next for “Cheech” Smiley and “Chong” West? Going the birther route and hoping Donald Trump scratches them a check?