“Dear Brother Cornel and Tavis…”

Brothers workin' it out--for themselves.

I admire the way you two have worked that “Obama ain’t done nuthin'” riff you’ve been pounding for three years now.  You do a real fine job of laying out the case that voting for Barry was the worst move Black folk could have made in 2008.

What you haven’t done is make a case how things would have been so much better if John McCain and his dumb as a bag of rusty nails running mate had won instead.   Guess they would have jumped right on that Black unemployment thang, right?   Right?

But I got a question for you my dear brother Cornel and my less dear brother Tavis.

Why haven’t you two come up with a practical, workable, politically doable PLAN.  Like say–oh, I don’t know–how to go about electing a few more Blacks as state governors?  Or maybe putting at least ONE-non Illinois Black man or woman in the U.S. Senate.   How about demanding the Democrats in the House push aside confirmed losers like Nancy Pelosi for a savvy winner like James Clyburn?   Maybe even pick a few more genuine Progressives to Congress and a lot fewer Reagan Democrats?

I know two smart Black men can do more than gripe about what Obama ain’t done.  Couldn’t you come up with some feasible plans, some savvy strategies, and long-term goals that can be implemented even if Obama isn’t reelected next year?   Something?  Anything?

Smiley is on a holy mission against Obama.

Nah.  Not going to happen.  What we will get from Prof. West and Mr. Smiley is another year and a half of “Obama ain’t done nuthin'” whining, moaning and griping because that’s so much easier than coming up with genuine strategies to expand and maximize Black political power.  Empty rhetoric is a lot easier than rolled-up sleeves, knocking on doors, registering voters, supporting candidates of our own choosing and building rather than bitching.

So now you two are about to embark on a tour of 15 towns to highlight the issue of poverty in the U.S.    You guys say the poor have been forgotten.  I agree.  I would add that the jobless millions of Americans have been forgotten by both parties in Washington too.

This seems like a worthy mission for you two.  But why do I have the sneaking suspicion you guy are just opening up the newest front in your ongoing war to tear Obama a new hole?

Wait, wait…don’t tell me.  I bet you’re going to tell me what the move for 2012 should be.  Does it have something to do with telling Obama to come correct to your “don’t have one yet but that Black Agenda will be ready any minute now”  demands or you’re going to tell Black folks to stay home next November and let the Republicans waltz back into the White House?

In an interview in the NY Times Sunday magazine West gave no sign his Cold War against the president is ending anytime soon.

So let me ask you: in 2007, you introduced Barack Obama as your “brother, companion and comrade.” But in May, you referred to him as “the black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs” and the “head of the American killing machine.” What in the world happened?

It was a cry from the heart. What happened was that greed at the top has squeezed so much of the juices of the body politic. Poor people and working people have not been a fundamental focus of the Obama administration. That for me is not just a disappointment but a kind of betrayal.

But you have also acknowledged that this is more than just political — you’ve said that after campaigning for him at 65 events, you were miffed that he didn’t return your phone calls or say thank you.

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.

My Root colleague Jack White described the West interview as “deep.”

What’s so “deep” Jack about West continuing to blubber like a lonely 16-year old schoolgirl on a Saturday night that Barack never calls anymore?

“But we’re talking about one phone call, man. That’s all. One private phone call.”

West seems to be pretty damn needy for an acclaimed public intellectual. Why’s he so insecure? Will everything be sweetness and light if Dear Brother Barack just breaks off a call to Dear Brother Cornel and say, “Hey man, I’ve been reeeaaal busy, but you know you my boy, right?

West and Smiley claim they bash Obama because they want to help him become a better president.  Some doubt that’s all they’re trying to do.

Not many believe that Smiley’s criticism comes from a place of love, though, and I don’t blame them, since he also complains about not being invited to the White House. West looks equally shady when he damns the president because he couldn’t get a hookup on extra tickets for the inauguration.

Let’s not forget to separate the personalities and their petty little beefs from disagreements with the policies. The latter is worthwhile and legitimate, the former is petty and illegitimate.

Nobody ever said President Obama was above criticism. It’s simply wise to understand what is really motivating the critics.   Motives ALWAYS matter. Yours, mine and certainly Mr. West and Mr. Smiley’s motives.

If your criticism is coming from a sincere philosophical, practical or political place it deserves to be taken seriously. But if your criticism is based upon ego, envy, anger or irrationality, it deserves to be dismissed.

Tavis and Cornel are two egomaniacs whose criticism of the president is based upon their own private blind spots and not some wish to help Obama be a better president.

By the way, isn’t Dr. West also Professor West? I just saw him in Philadelphia a few weeks ago at the NABJ convention and he’s always on television somewhere.  Doesn’t he have a class he should be teaching?

You will never see a repeat of this.

Just don’t tell me you’re doing a thing to preserve, protect, defend and advance the interests of African-Americans.  You are not.

Seriously, you aren’t.

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6 thoughts on ““Dear Brother Cornel and Tavis…”

  1. It’s a strange thing to see these brothers, who are experts in their respective fields, whine and complain and obsess about President Obama, who ain’t even giving either of them the time of day.

    They both are acting like a couple of fatal attractions, and that is just WEIRD, coming from men who should know better.

    They diminish themselves with every step they take in this.

  2. I was wondering when you were going to write this piece, Jeff. I’d like, just once, for someone to ask them what their plan is. Because I know that there isn’t one, I tend to ignore them.

  3. Together, they’re a modern day Don Quixote. Go it alone and attack that which needs not be attacked. The only person that could tell Tavis to tone it down is West. Instead, he’s the one hyping his mind to the point of doing this crazy shit.

    Seems like Tavis is just a professional bridge burner, BET, Tom Joyner (who blindly loves black folk). Now that he’s relegated to PBS, it’s only a matter of time before he’s done there two.

  4. There seems to be a strange obsession with Tavis Smiley’s and Cornel West’s opinions of the president. It’s almost as if they are his only critics.

  5. now forming a circular firing squad…

    I wonder if they have words of support for “dear brother” Herman Cain?

    This is a case of “where is my hook up?” if i ever saw one. I don’t mind if they mind the store and voice the valid concerns of most black folk, but dear sweet Jesus. They remind me of Wendell Pierce from “Get on the Bus”. If you don’t recall his scene shame on you.

    What’s stopping these concerned citizens from running for something. Maybe they can mount a primary challenge against the president. Tavis is from Mississippi and was raised in Indiana. Those are 2 states that could use some help with civil rights. West was born in Oklahoma, I’m just sayin…

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