Why Tavis And Cornel Won’t Stop Obama in 2012 (Even if They Try To)

August 18, 2011  |  

By Jay Anderson

A recent Newsweek story mused about the possibility that Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West’s constant criticism of President Obama might lead to some trouble for the president come 2012:

Never mind the slings and arrows of Tea Partiers. The most politically problematic criticism of Obama these days is coming from his base. And there’s no question that there is a deep reservoir of frustration, confusion, and even rage among many in the African-American community for [leaders like Dr. Cornel] West to tap into. With unemployment hovering near 17 percent for African-Americans (the national average rate is 9 percent) and 11 percent of black homeowners facing imminent foreclosure, African-Americans have ample reason for anxiety about the coming budget cuts that Obama reluctantly signed into law this month. The Congressional Black Caucus chairman called the recent debt deal “a sugar-coated Satan sandwich” that will do little to help communities already struggling.

Dr. Cornel West  and his longtime friend, radio host Tavis Smiley, have taken their criticism of Obama to the streets, launching a two-week, 15-city “poverty tour,” aimed at forcing the powers that be to once again focus on the “least among us” and getting the president to “wake up.” Their efforts are increasingly stoking fears among some African-American leaders that West and Smiley could discourage black voters from turning out when the nation’s first African-American president stands for reelection in 2012.

I’m not one of those who thinks that substantive questions about President Obama’s dedication and attention to black America’s problems are out of line. Yes, it’s entirely true that Barack Obama is the President of The United States, not the President of Compton. He can’t solely focus on the issues that ail Black America when we barely comprise 12% of the U.S. population.

Trending on MadameNoire

View Comments
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • Martinlove56

    Obama will be president in 2012 tavis has no pull.

  • olivieayb

    I agree with you brotherap. We an individual becomes president s/he is not just President for one race but fall all. Obama has done the best he could with the cards he was given, I don't know if there is something in the water or what but when Bush was jacking up everything nothing was said not even from our African American leaders. These gentlemen are indeed very scholarly yet no one has elected either one to speck for the black communities. So now we have a man here trying his best and there is a possibility that Rick Perry could win because people don’t see the results they want to. And tell me why is it that some African American will get on TV and put their own race down it runs deep in our culture. "Change happens immediately but effort takes time". I pray Obama serves his terms with dignity and safety as well as honor.

  • brotherap

    Tavis and Cornel, I'm not against either of you raising issues about the President's apparent ambivalence towards creating jobs period for this national economy. If there is anything that will predictably sink his ship that will be it because he, IMO, has failed to follow the mandate of the people. But you two fail to recognize symbolism and proper timing and that is mystifying to me. In short, as long as black folk, especially black women feel like they are treated with ambivalence so often by brothers, I doubt seriously that Barack, who has carried a real sister that all can recognize into the White House, I don't see either you, Tavis, or you, Cornel, making any penetrable progress in bringing about his downfall. The Michele factor is simply symbolically too powerful, I'm betting, for you two hip-cats to overcome. Better turn the van around!!!…..Peace.

  • "…..the first and most persistent obstacle Obama was to confront throughout his first term, was a devilish opposition in Congress which, as an article of faith, made the decision to “just say no to everything” he proposed, however valuable or critical to the country’s growth and the peoples’ prosperity. It really is difficult to imagine a group of “tribal leaders” in even the most backward and primitive of nations who would deliberately choose to sabotage their country’s economy and cause the prolonged suffering of many of its people just to ensure that the leader fails and is not returned to office. There is the smell here of the miscreants in Somalia, preventing humanitarian aid from getting to starving multitudes."

    Read more: http://barackamerica.blogspot.com/

  • tony

    "doesn't he know love means to support and care." Who do mean, Tavis or the president? I can't wait until you hypnotised fools wake up and realize how you have been played. Maybe when these cuts that the president is making hit you you'll wake up.

    But then again, some of you robots are so far gone, he'll have to call you the "N" word before you wake up.

  • Lewis

    Instead of worrying about what President Obama can do for Blacks, why don't we as a community do something for ourselves!! I suggest everyone read Message to the Black Man by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. If you read pages 192-205 you will get a general synopsis of His economic blueprint that If Implemented by our community would lift us out ,of the terrible economic Condition we are In as a people. And you don't have to agree with Muhammad's theology to agree with the economic program

    • Alice Martin

      I agree with you 100%. I cannot understand why we always expect others to do for us. Education is the key. Learn to research and decide for yourself instead of everyone with their own agenda influencing you.

  • american

    "The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces."

    —Seems like Obama cares more about Illegal Immigrants then he does about real american citizens!!

  • myopinion

    Yes they did display outrage for the actions and inactions of Bush. They also supported Obama during the campaign. I don’t believe that they don’t want to see Obama re-elected, because they know what the alternative would be.They are pushing voters to ask questions.The problem is hat African-Americans thought that Obama would be able to “make it rain” so to speak in their neighborhoods. That stems from a lack of knowledge in basic government. They don’t understand separation of powers between the branches of government.

    As unemployment goes, the problem is not a lack of jobs. It is a lack of skills.Instead ofcomplaining about not being able to find a job and just sifting at home, research what fields are in demand and go to school.If you have no skills, why should you have a job?

    Now I have problems with our defense budget which is causing a lot theeconomic troublesand not benefiting the people that deserve it the most. I have a problem with teachers not being paid what they are worth. I have a problem with tax cuts for the rich.I know there is still work to be done and I’m sure he is under a lot of pressure. Bush created this problem and it will take a while to fix.

  • Gold

    Seriously, what was the point of this post. You pretty much justify Smiley and West's opposition or criticism towards Obama, which is not wrong or a bad thing. I don't think they are trying to deter black voters or anything. They are speaking their opinion based on some the facts that brought up. I am more convinced not to vote for Obama based on what you wrote!

  • Jerry

    I didn't realize poverty started in the black community under the Obama administration. Where is the protest under the Bush Administration? Better yet, where is the protest of Congress? Why not protest all the companies who are making profit in US while not paying any taxes in US? Bottom line, people (all races) are hurting and it going to take years for the US to recover.

  • BlackElite

    I kind of agree with Tavis and Cornel West but they're going about it the wrong way. Pres. Obama can only do so much but he has pivot to his constituents and the people that helped in win the election. Black folks on the come up always have a problem being seen helping other black folks…that's the slavery mentality. I hope the new generation black folks that buils success will bring other blacks with them and hire blacks. The Hispanics are on the rise because they take care of their own. It's time black folks do the same and stop the slavery mentality of depending on the white man. Black folks have to create their own wealth and pass it down to other blacks…don't be like Oprah, hiring all white staff.

    • Seventh West

      Today many blacks feel we have "arrived" because we have a black president who has capitulated to the GOPs and capitalist. Obama should be held accountable as did former presidents, moreso because he is one of us (at least I thought he was). I take issue when apologists say "he's everyone's president," where was this sentiment throughout american history. I also take issue with his appointing a predominately white cabinet. Since Obama is everyone's president, then his cabinet and appointees should reflect such.

    • Alice Martin

      My niece works for Oprah, she is Black and not the only one.

  • nycmrs-718

    @YNE..u could not have said it better..tavis n cornel fail to realize is that they don’t live in the hood..I’m sure while they’re sayin blacks need jobs they forget to mention that most r in jail or already got a job pushin drugs n other illegal sh*t..I’m not sayin all but have u seen detroit??? They don’t wanna move from their house to a better city for wrk all just to say I love detroit..fck that! U got a family..MOVE! I see these young dudes sittin on there stoop roamin the streets @ 2am..why don’t tavis n cornel come down to detroit n ask these young thugs/soon to be jail birds why they can’t find a job!!..they askin the wrong folks that’s why..OBAMA 2012

  • gica

    Connie and Travalina go to NY get married and focus all your energy on each other.

  • Clinton

    To Jay Anderson:

    Have you ever been in Compton, California? Evidently you haven't. I've lived in Compton since 1962; raised my three children, sent them off to college, they have finished and are doing very well. There have been ten college graduates (all black) on this one block. I bet yoy can't say the same about your block? I say all the above to you people in the media who have fallen for what you see and hear in the mainstream media without really visiting some of the upstanding residents of my community. We're no different than the surrounding LA area. As a matter of fact there are more Latino's hear than Blacks. (55% to 45%). Besides that, MOST of the problems are happening IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS. Pay attention to the local news if you can. So, GET THE HELL OFF COMPTON'S BACK. Are better yet, DON'T MENTION US AT ALL IN YOUR COMMENTS, VOCAL OR WRITTEN.

    • Clinton


    • barry

      well said people don't beleive the hype

  • Tanishia M.

    2 questions: 1) where was the outrage from these two when Bush was in office, and we were hemorrhaging jobs, particularly in the black community? These are not necessarily new issues. 2) If we don't vote for Obama, who exactly is it that they are suggesting we vote for – the same group of individuals that are practically trying to revert voting laws back to the days of Jim Crow?

    Every other group sticks together but leave it to blacks, to find a way to divide, NOT conquer and "crab-in-the-bucket" our way to success….who is paying these two? They are just pissed off b/c Obama did not invite either of them to the white house…..get over it! If Al Sharpton – the last person that any of us would have expected to endorse Obama – can get in line, standing in support of Obama, then there should be no reason why tweedle-dee and tweedle-gone ape sh*t can’t as well.

    It’s disgusting…

    For the record, the issue with jobs is the result of 2 major factors: 1) decreased demand 2) a mismatch of skill set w/ the opportunities that are currently available. Instead of just focusing on Obama, why not focus on the fact that tea party leaders & republicans have been more interested in GRANDSTANDING than voting on key legislation, previously put forth, for job growth? The real issue is that some folks in congress want to see Obama fail more than they care to see the country grow; additionally, there is no urgency on the part of many of these congressional leaders, b/c they are already wealthy in their own right, with or without the position.

    Again it’s disgusting…

  • whateva

    where was this bus tour during the bush administration, just like at your job the black man gotta work harder than anybody

  • Alin

    I like Obama and I think he wants to do the right for Americans. Unfortunately, he has been rattled and riled by the Tea Party nuts. Worse; he’s become a Wall Street oligarchy.

  • YNE

    I think President Obama is doing what he can do for the Black community, but more importantly, he cares about equality, education, and affordable health care for all US citizens. The unemployment numbers are high for Blacks but its likely due to the fact that for every 3 black men going to college, 1 black man is going to jail or has been arrested. Fewer than 8% of young African American men have graduated from college compared to 17% of whites and 35% of Asians. If you don't have a clean record and/or have the knowledge, skill, and abilities matching the job description then your chances of finding a job is very slim. And based on the other candidate's I've seen thus far, clearly, President Obama is the best choice for the 2012 Presidential Election.

    • wisdom

      President Obama is the best and only choice.It is his destiny to win.One cannot stop the will of God

  • Earl P. Holt III

    We will always have race-hustling phonies among us, who are beneficiaries of "affirmative-action"…

  • James

    Obama is nothing but a New World Order puppet just like Tavis and Cornell. They know there masters are the Banks.

  • Jara

    You should do more research before you write an article about political policy. Your “to my knowledge” is hollow. All of those projects that you mentioned benefit blacks:

    Blacks use Pell Grants

    Blacks live in rural areas


    Look up “Promise Neighborhoods”. Look up ANYTHING.

  • Herby Hanson

    Why are all your articles about black people?

    Seems kinda racist to me.

    • jerry

      In "Madeas Voice" will someone please tell ' Mr. Brown and JJ from Good Times" to Sat Down!!