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Tavis Smiley refuses to contain his contempt for President Barack Obama.

And here’s the pathetic reality: Obama didn’t attend Smiley’s “State of the Black Union” conference in 2008 because he was campaigning for the White House and five years later, Smiley still can’t let it go.

On Sunday, during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Smiley said Obama’s remarks about race last week were too little, too late and “as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid.”

“I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up,” Smiley said. “But this town has been spinning a story that’s not altogether true. He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.”

Smiley, a frequent critic of Obama, said the president didn’t address the broader issue of moving forward as a nation.

“But when he left the podium, he still had not answered the most important question, that Kingian question, where do we go from here? That question this morning remains unanswered, at least from the perspective of the president. And the bottom line is, this is not Libya. This is America. On this issue, you cannot lead from behind. What’s lacking in this moment is moral leadership. The country is begging for it. They’re craving it.”

Smiley has become consumed by what seems to be hatred towards the president – or at the very least, disgust – that his disdain for Obama has resulted in his inability to think logically when it comes to the nation’s first black president.

Obama’s remarks last week weren’t meant as a definitive speech on race or to facilitate a national discussion. It was specific: Obama, for the first time in his presidency, used his White House bully pulpit to stand with black men all across America and share their collective pain of racism.

“There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars,” Obama said. “That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.”

This was a testimony by Obama that should be applauded, not criticized, but Smiley can’t give Obama credit for anything. In Smiley’s world, Obama doesn’t speak up quick enough on black issues, and when the president does speak, he doesn’t go far enough.

“I don’t know how the president argues that he doesn’t believe that he can have a role in leading us in a moral conversation,” Smiley said. “This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. I don’t know how he can’t lead us in a conversation on this, but he can on gay marriage? He can on a litany of others—he can on Israel and Palestine, but not race?”

“I don’t want the president to look back and realize he didn’t do as much as he could have in this critical moment,” he said.

Smiley certainly has a right to share his opinions and there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, but Smiley has lost a huge African American following and his obvious anger toward Obama has caused many black Americans to question his logic, his motives, and his credibility.

Black folks on Facebook and Twitter are saying Smiley is becoming irrelevant — he just doesn’t know it yet.

(Photo: PRPhotos)

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17 thoughts on “COMMENTARY: Tavis Smiley: Obama’s Race Remarks Are ‘Weak as Pre-Sweetened Kool-Aid’

  1. ewattree on said:

    Tavis Smiley commented in response to President Obama’s remarks on race in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict that the President’s remarks were “as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid.” Yet, as pointed out in a previous article, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West traveled all across the country on a bus under the pretext of being so passionately concerned about poverty in America that they just HAD to take a stand – but of course, that was BEFORE the election, and when they had books to sell. But now that the election is over, and they don’t have any books to sell, they couldn’t bring themselves to walk down the street from Tavis’ office to support the Black Friday demonstrations taking place all across the country against Wal-Mart – Tavis’ major sponsor, a member of ALEC, and the biggest abuser of the working class in America today.
    And not only did they fail to attend ANY of the demonstrations taking place across the country against Wal-Mart, they didn’t even issue a comment of support. All we’ve heard coming from the Smiley/West camp are crickets – and as everyone knows, that’s extremely uncharacteristic of Cornel West, who’s renown for being willing to trade a kidney for a sound byte. So that just about says it all about those two. And while some may consider the following comment an ad hominem, that charge is only valid if one is failing to address the facts, and the facts suggest that Tavis Smiley and Cornel West are two of the most blatantly self-serving hypocrites that the Black community has ever suffered.
    According to Scott Collins in his article, Tavis Smiley’s bumpy 10th anniversary with PBS, in the Los Angeles Times:
    “Such is the life of a public-television personality. Unlike most TV hosts, who simply do their jobs and collect a paycheck from a network, Smiley has to go out and raise most of the money for his program, which costs between $7 million and $8 million a year to produce. PBS generally contributes about $1 million of that sum. The rest comes from corporate sponsors, which Smiley has to round up himself.
    “The sluggish economy and reduced corporate spending have threatened the show’s viability. But luckily for Smiley, Wal-Mart, a longtime sponsor, stepped up again, this time with a three-year commitment. (PBS can only offer a maximum of two years on renewals because, as a government-supported entity, it must be periodically authorized by Congress.) But Wal-Mart covers only about a quarter of the costs” (,0,6312121.story#ixzz2ndW5CAp5).
    And therein lies the problem – and, the reason for the prescription in the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics that “Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.” You cannot serve two masters. In the instance above, Tavis Smiley had to choose between the public’s right to know, and his personal self-interest, and the public lost – and it’s not the first time the public lost to Smiley’s self-interest.

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  5. President Obama doesn’t owe Tavis anything. Yes, Tavis your childish behavior must really make your mother feel really proud of you. I going to remind you of something you said to me, some years ago, when five people showed up for your book signing. “You really have a lot —-s, to think that the President owes you anything. Your just another negro, looking for a hand out.”Take A Number Tavis”

  6. Tavis is his own worse enemy. He has turned off so may people with his bitter rhetoric that he is no longer relevant. That’s too bad, because I remember having so much respect for him. I am truly disappointed.

  7. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another bunching-up the panties of Tavis Smiley – He says and does t
    hings to draw attention to himself, I mean really, how much weight does his words, thought & opinions carry? Not much, in my book ~

  8. But as a black person living in an urban area experiencing all the hell i question why do tom joyner feel like he has to come back and make comments behind tavis that also sounds personal

    • Slim on said:

      This article was written by Michael Cottman, what are you talking about. I agree with the majority. Tavis and West are bitter.

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