In a revealing interview in the New York Times Magazine, Cornel West unloads some of his angst and anger about President Obama. He was interviewed for the magazine by Andrew Goldman.
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.
He was running a successful candidacy for president. He might have been busy.
So many of the pundits assume that it's just egoism: "Who does Cornel West think he is? The president is busy." But there's such a thing as decency in human relations.
The West-Obama feud has become something of a cliché. Clearly, the president is not following the path the professor sought for him. But then, everybody expected so much that he never promised.
Read the entire interview in the New York Times.