Cornel West vs. Barack Obama: "It's Political... It's Personal, Too"
Professor Cornel West has been outspoken about his beef with President Obama in the past—particularly with his feeling that Obama snubbed him after he lent copious support to his candidacy. This weekend, he aired it out in even greater detail in an interview with the New York Times Magazine, and detailed both his personal gripes and his concern over the way Obama has dealt with Wall Street. To wit:
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. [...]
You have 30 seconds of private time with the president — what do you say to him?
I would say: “Look at that bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oval Office and recognize that tears are flowing when you let Geithner and others shape your economic policy, when you refuse to focus on poor and working people or when you drop the drone bombs that kill innocent civilians. Tim Geithner does not represent the legacy of Martin King.”
West also says he was slightly upset at Obama's appointment of Harvard Pres Larry Summers, who once disrespected West's rap albums, leading the professor to quit the university. It's an interesting read, and he makes some valid points—why so nice with Wall Street, Obama? But West's case would be far more impactful if he let go of his personal feelings and focused on the big-picture issues. The election was in 2008, and this type of chatter is just starting to sound petty.