Sad Liberals: Cornel West and a Salon Columnist Attempt to Talk Through Their Obama Disillusionment

Highlights from the EXCLUSIVE interview

Foremost public intellectual Cornel West. (AP)
August 25, 2014

Did you miss Salon's EXCLUSIVE interview with "public intellectual" Cornel West? Of course you did. But it’s worth a quick skim, if only to take in the adorable agony of two liberals suffering through a bad case of Obama disillusionment syndrome. Here are the highlights.

So much hope, squandered

Salon columnist Thomas Frank recalled how "impressed" he was by Barack Obama the candidate in 2008: "At the time, I sometimes thought that he looked like he had what this country needed."

West proceeded to EVISCERATE Obama for his failure to live up to the hype:

No, the thing is he 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…[H]e 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. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay.

Obama the opportunist

West offered a blistering assessment of Obama's character, even going so far as to compare him to sexual deviant Bill Clinton. "We ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist," West said. "It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin."

‘He pimped us’

West described how liberals have, until just recently, been afraid to publicly criticize such a transcendent historical figure such as Obama. Frank agreed:

There’s a lot of disillusionment now. My liberal friends included. The phrase that I have heard from more than one person in the last year is they feel like they got played.

But West took it one step further:

That’s true. That’s exactly right. What I hear is that, "He pimped us." I heard that a zillion times. "He pimped us, brother West." That’s another way of saying "we got played."

MSNBC = Obama propaganda

West criticized MSNBC host Al Sharpton—"a cheerleader for Obama"—for getting involved in the Ferguson tragedy. "When you say the name Al Sharpton, the word integrity does not come to mind," West said. "MSNBC, state press, it’s all Obama propaganda, and Sharpton is the worst."

West said Sharpton "can’t stand" his criticism of the president because Sharpton considers it "an act of racial traitorship." Frank concurred that a lot of liberals are reluctant to speak out against Obama because he’s a Democrat.

The night is dark and full of Hillary

Both Frank and West conceded that despite all of Obama’s shortcomings, the future is even bleaker. Indeed, winter is coming, and her name is Hillary.

"Look who’s around the presidential corner," West said. "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.’"

He’s right. That is exactly what you say.

Frank was just as pessimistic, noting that if Hillary is elected in 2016 and serves two terms, the dream of a "liberal, progressive president" may not be fully realized until 2024.

That may be too late for America, West lamented:

It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

West is absolutely right. Hillary would be a disaster for America, and is so inevitable that she is trolling liberals with her right-leaning views on Wall Street and profit mongering (pro), and her views on Islamic terrorism (anti). But because she "titillates" so relentlessly, there is not a damn thing committed liberals can do about it. And that must be pretty depressing for them.