Cornel West Blasts Obama As a 'Mascot of Wall Street'

President Barack Obama
Photo by: Pete Souza
President Barack Obama

In an interview with the website Truthdig, Princeton professor Cornel West calls President Barack Obama “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.’’

West, who is a leading black intellectual, explains that he once supported Obama but now feels betrayed.

“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’"

What's fascinating about West's turn again Obama is that it's not at all based on Obama changing political direction. Obama ran as a middle of the road candidate. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards both ran to Obama's left in the Democratic primaries. On the campaign trail, Obama often blasted opponent Senator John McCain's economic policies on the grounds that they were not fiscally conservative enough.

"If John McCain’s policies were implemented, they would add $5.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. That isn’t fiscal conservatism, that’s what George Bush has done over the last eight years. Not only can working families not afford it, future generations can’t afford it. And we can’t allow it to happen in this election," he said in June of 2008.

His economic platform was hardly revolutionary. He promised universal health care, more government aid for college, assistance to homeowners with unaffordable mortgages, and to "reform our tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and advances opportunity instead of distorting the market by advancing the agenda of some lobbyist or oil company."

Despite this moderation, a lot of people on the left seem to have projected their own political schemes onto Obama. They either weren't listening or were convinced that Obama was just faking moderation.

West pretty much admits this when he says that he thought Obama's "progressive populist instincts" would come out after he was elected.

West thought the moderation was just a set of "cautious policies" employed to gain power as a Senator.

“I have to take some responsibility,” West says. “I could have been reading into it more than was there."

In other words, West is disappointed that policies of Obama the President so closely resemble the promises of Obama the candidate.


Questions? Comments? Email us

Follow John on Twitter @

Follow NetNet on Twitter @

Facebook us @