18 May

Cornel West Spars With Ed Schultz About Obama

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Ed Schultz sparred with Prof. Cornel West about President Obama after a day after the high-profile scholar and leading black intellectual gave a scathing interview condemning Obama’s term in office.

On Monday, an interview with West appeared on the website Truthdig. In it, West called Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

Schultz did not agree with this critique, and on his Tuesday show, he asked West to explain what he meant. West had also said that Obama didn’t have “backbone.” Schultz mentioned the killing of Osama bin Laden and said, “what are you talking about?” West said he was referring to having “backbone for poor children, misabused workers, those unfairly incarcerated, those middle-class folks who are experiencing downward mobility.”

“Is this personal?” Schultz asked, noting the intensity of West’s critique. “Well, it’s personal only to the degree to which we’re talking about the system in place that is rigged at the moment against poor and working people and Obama is the president,” West said.

Schultz said that Obama is facing record numbers of filibusters and a Republican-controlled House. “He has accomplished some big things, don’t you think?” he said. “…If he didn’t have the votes, what is he going to do?”

“But Ed, he missed the moment!” West said, saying that Obama could have focused on homeowners and poverty.

West also repeated his assertion from the interview that Obama “has a fear of free black men.” Schultz asked him to explain this. West said he thinks “has a predilection much more toward upper middle class white brothers and Jewish brothers [and] a certain distance from free black men who will tell him the truth.”

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