Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

Click for Source Article on Salon — Interview of Cornel West by Thomas Frank


Cornel West talks Ferguson, Hillary, MSNBC — and unloads on the failed promise of Barack Obama by Thomas Frank

Cornel West on Obama = “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

Cornel West = Obama posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit = A Wall Street presidency + A drone presidency + A national security presidency + Torturers go free + Wall Street executives go free + War crimes in the Middle East + War Crimes in Gaza + War criminals go free.

Cornel West = Obama Acted as if he was a progressive concerned about serious injustice and inequality = Actually another neoliberal centrist with a nice rhetorical flair.

Cornel West = USA in a very sad moment in history—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life.

Cornel West = USA needed a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility and everyone thought Obama was that at the time = “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

Cornel West = Instead we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton neoliberal opportunist.

Cornel West = Ferguson reconfirmed even among the people within Obama’s own circle = You get Kenny G in brown skin = Even progressive liberals don’t think he is progressive — There’s a lot of disillusionment now among liberals — they feel like they got played = “He pimped us.”

Cornel West = OBAMA had the country in the palm of his hand in terms of progressive possibilities. Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

Cornel West = Obama’s modus operandi way back to him heading the Harvard Law Review — First editor to NOT publish a piece in the Law Review. = Chosen because he occupied the middle ground — NOT a great leader or statesperson BUT just occupies the middle ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision.

Cornel West = We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one. We got middle medocrity NOT a LEADER. = MIDDLE HEADS straight to the establishment reassurance = He picked John Brennan, architect of torture as CIA Director = So Torturers go free and called real patriots — The rule of law doesn’t mean anything — One law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street or TORTURE or BREAK OUR FREEDOMS.

Cornel West = AG Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives — his friends — He might charge them some money — a tax write-off = ZERO accountability + ZERO answerability + ZERO responsibility as Wall Street people take it all. — Same as the Clinton-Robert Rubin crowd.

Cornel West = Obama got all this PROGRESSIVE populist rhetoric down BUT he does everything for the Robert Rubin crowd — Larry Summers + Tim Geithner + 70 OTHER WALL STREET CLONES — Obama’s WORST MOMENT — Suskind’s book, The Confidence Men — Wall Street guys are running things = Neoliberals Deregulating Markets causing even more poverty and shrinking the Middle Class. = Same ones who screwed it up before.

Cornel West = Obama searches for 6 years for the Grand Bargain with GOP = Fruitless. = He is a DO NOTHING CENTRIST FOR WALL STREET SCAMS. = His success is predicated on finding that middle ground STATUS QUO. “We’re not black. We’re not white. We’re not rich. We’re not poor. There’s no classes in America. We are all Americans. We’re the American family.”

Cornel West = Obama invoked the American family last week = A lie to the American people = We’re not a family. We’re a people. We’re a nation. And a nation always has divisions. You have to be able to speak to those divisions in such a way that, like FDR, like Lincoln, you’re able to somehow pull out the best of who we are, given the divisions. You don’t try to act as if we have no divisions and we’re just an American family, with the poor getting treated in disgraceful ways and the rich walking off sipping tea, with no accountability at all, and your foreign policy is running amok with Israelis committing war crimes against precious Palestinians and you won’t say a mumbling word about the Palestinian children.

Cornel West = Obama’s history is going to say Counterfeit! Not the real thing.

Cornel West = Ferguson is a systemic thing thats been going on in terms of the arbitrary police power. President Obama came to NYC and said Bloomberg was a terrific mayor doing stop and frisk to 4.5+ million since 2002. Obama said Ed Koch was one of the greatest mayors in the last 50 years — arbitrary police power like Ferguson. Obama has been completely silent. You get this uprising and the family asks for an autopsy at the Federal level and Obama holds back, so the family had get their own autopsy, and then the federal government finally responds. Finally, Obama sends Holder.

Cornel West = Obama now says he’s concerned about his legacy and says he’s been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there = LIE as He’s been relatively silent with a couple of gestures on the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing. See what I mean?

Cornel West = Ferguson could be New York, Chicago, Atlanta, L.A. = Militarized police to frightened people = Something VERY WRONG HERE. But People are reacting to this in a different way — It’s a great moment!

Cornel West = But Eric Holder going in trying to create the calm with Al Sharpton to NEUTRALIZE THE ENTHUSIASM = NO integrity and low-quality black leadership — cheerleaders for Obama = Decadent and distorted MSNBC state press — All Obama propaganda with Sharpton = The Worst = Sharpton said “I will never say a critical word about the president under any condition.”

Cornel West = Obama has allowed violation of our civil liberties = Trayvon Martin + Michael Brown + SO MANY OTHERS = Black rage over this injustice. OBAMA sends in Sharpton and Holder to DEFUSE THIS RIGHTOUS RAGE.

Cornel West = Post-Obama America = Post-traumatic depression and disillusionment = So deep. But the new wave of young and prophetic leaders like Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others are on stage now.

Cornel West = Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders. Hillary Clinton is an extension of Bill Clinton-Obama’s Wall Street presidency = MORE Drone presidency + MORE National Surveillance State + MORE National Security State + SUPPRESSION OF DEMOCRACY + MORE MASSIVE WARS OF DOMINATION AND AGGRESSION for MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS TO EXPLOIT.

Cornel West = It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different.


Click for Cornel West on Democracy Now


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