Socialist philosopher Cornel West calls President Barack Obama's tenure as president a letdown, even as he and many others saw the potential for a turning point when he was first elected in 2008.
In an interview with Salon
, West, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, offered a harsh assessment, describing Obama as a president who "posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit."
"We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free," West ranted.
"And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair."
While some see the president attempting to shore up his legacy, West described to Salon's Thomas Frank his view of Obama's tenure, calling it a "very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline."
He added that "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."
Obama, West told Salon, "posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln… And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist."
West said many supporters have come to him in private to tell him they agree with what he has said — even as they offer that he his words have at times been too harsh as he told the BBC recently that Obama was a "disgusting black president."
He said liberals are now disillusioned, noting that the president they got was not the president who was sold to them years ago, a fact borne out in polls, even among optimistic millennials, Politico noted
"What I hear is that, 'He pimped us.' I heard that a zillion times," West told Salon. "'He pimped us, brother West.' That’s another way of saying 'we got played.'"
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