Smiley, West: the anti-poverty theme cant hide the anti-Obama sentiment

Ph.D. | 8/17/2011, 5 p.m.

This is an issue I've known about for some time, but have chosen to remain silent on it, beyond a few friendly admonishments. But the issue has rocketed into the mainstream public discourse with the launch of a poverty tour. It's a conflict between two people I highly respect. One I love and one I revere. I got mad love for Tavis Smiley, because of where he comes from and the voice he has represented the last 20 years. I consider him a friend, and I hope he considers me one.

Friends can talk to friends when nobody else can, and we can disagree without being disagreeable ... I hope.

I have a reverence for President Barack Obama simply because of what he represents in this nation's history--the unlikelihood of his accomplishment, the self-esteem he presents to my children, grandchildren and all Black children in the realm of what they now see as possible--and the fact that I had a direct hand in helping this impossibility come about, places him in a position of esteem that few can attain.

Make no mistake, poverty is an important issue. And it is commendable that Tavis on his national platform as a social commentator, television host and now documentarian, wants to focus the nation's attention on poverty. But to cast himself as some kind of moral compass for the country in the footsteps of King's poor people's campaign (which started in Chicago in 1966 and ended in Memphis in April 4, 1968), is over the top and very suspect, given he's established himself as the Black community's leading "Obama-Hater." He should do a documentary on the poor in America, which I'm sure he will. But he can't do it at Obama's expense.

To suggest that President Obama is ignoring the poor and poverty is a continuation of what many (including myself) see as a personal grudge Smiley needs to let go. Everybody can see through it.

It's Black on Black violence on another level, and he's jamming Obama just because he can and has the platform to do so. But he's creating a pathway for the Republicans to miscast the president and impede his re-election. People are not going to let Tavis use the poor as his excuse to undermine the president's re-election.

Last week, the conversation reached a fever pitch when the highly popular Steve Harvey went on a five-minute tirade on his nationally syndicated radio show that pretty much represents how people are feeling about Tavis' megalomaniacal behavior in this Obama-hating. If you didn't hear it, here's the link, www.eurweb.com/?p=124298. Harvey threw a fit.

For nearly three years, Tavis has been on this "accountability" mission, which just so happened to start right after Obama failed to attend at his last State of the Black Union panel in 2008. He really tried to cause him to lose to the nomination, and when he didn't, he became a very vocal critic of the president, and Black America didn't take it well. They pushed back on him on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," making him quit the show, and Tavis has been relentless in taking potshots at the president ever since.