Cornel West; Tavis Smiley (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Barack Obama failed to kiss the rings of scholar Cornel West and talk-show host Tavis Smiley in 2008 before entering the White House, he unwittingly touched off a series of invectives from the duo, L.Z. Granderson writes at CNN.

… When Obama didn't accept the invitation to speak at [Tavis] Smiley's forum in 2008, Smiley interpreted it as an affront to his influence in the black community. When Obama opted not to attend in 2009 — although he did address the crowd via video conference — that was the proverbial final straw.

Smiley and [Cornel] West have been aggressively attacking the president, sandwiching legitimate concerns about poverty in between over-the-top comments that far too often detract from what they claim is their primary focus — helping poor black people. Their comments may grab headlines and land them on Sunday morning talk shows, but how have they engaged with the administration in finding solutions on poverty?

Instead, Smiley and West appear to be two egocentric men who believe they alone are the face of black intellectualism. And any black talking heads who don't side with them have, in West's words, "sold their souls."

Welcome to the ivory tower version of black on black crime.

Again, I'm all for fairly criticizing the man in the White House. But it feels that West and Smiley are more upset that Obama didn't kiss their rings before he walked through the door than about anything he's done since he got inside.

Read L.Z. Granderson's entire piece at CNN.

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