Cornel West Uncovers Obama’s Brain Fetish

Question: Have Obama’s policies helped out the working class?

Cornell West: You know, when I talk about the symbolic victories, black man in the White House, precious black family in the White House -- I mean, the legacy of white supremacy in America -- you can't help but celebrate. I told that brother I was going to break dance, which I did, but only in the afternoon. The next morning I woke up a major critic: how do your policies relate to poor and working people? But you have to break dance in terms of that breakthrough, because racism is real, and it has an ugly and vicious history in the country. So for him to be in the White House is quite significant symbolically.

At the level of substance, what kind of policies? If you're going to bail out investment bankers, if you're going to have public options negotiable and make deals with greedy drug companies and pharmaceutical companies before you even have a substantive debate on health care, then it's clear you're not tilting toward the poor and working classes; you're tilting toward the well to do. And I'm afraid sometimes that my dear brother Barack Obama is too mesmerized, not just by Wall Street; he's mesmerized by braininess of those who are on intimate terms with Wall Street. My dear brother Larry Summers -- brilliant, brainy -- tied into a Wall Street Weltanschauung and a Wall Street worldview, cronies, best friends, comrades tied in to hedge fund communities and so forth. So that we can always applaud his brilliance, but brilliance and braininess need to be tied to a framework that puts poor and working people at the center.

This is why they can celebrate recessions -- oh, recovery's set in. For who? Wall Street? Yes. Everyday people, escalating unemployment, underemployment, much of which they don't even count, as you know, you see. But that's what -- when you have a neoliberal framework, jobs are a second thought, working people are a third thought, poor people not even on your radar screen. So we need to have voices out there that are very honest and candid about those persons who have been thoroughly left behind during the age of Reagan, and of course having a longer history in terms of issues of race and class and empire and gender and my gay brothers and lesbian sisters. They're important.

Recorded on: November 3, 2009

The President’s failing is that he is "mesmerized" by brilliant men who are too cozy with Wall Street.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

A map of London's most toxic breathing spots

Air pollution is up to five times over the EU limit in these Central London hotspots.

Strange Maps
  • Dirty air is an invisible killer, but an effective one.
  • More than 9,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to air pollution, a recent study estimates.
  • This map visualizes the worst places to breathe in Central London.
Keep reading Show less