Cornel West’s rage against President Barack Obama evokes that kind of venom. He has accused Obama of political minstrelsy, calling him a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface”; taunted him as a “brown-faced Clinton”; and derided him as a “neoliberal opportunist.” In 2011, West and I were both speakers at a black newspaper conference in Chicago. During a private conversation, West asked how I escaped being dubbed an “Obama hater” when I was just as critical of the president as he was. I shared my three-part formula for discussing Obama before black audiences: Start with love for the man and pride in his epic achievement; focus on the unprecedented acrimony he faces as the nation’s first black executive; and target his missteps and failures. No matter how vehemently I disagree with Obama, I respect him as a man wrestling with an incredibly difficult opportunity to shape history. West looked into my eyes, sighed, and said: “Well, I guess that’s the difference between me and you. I don’t respect the brother at all.”
And that's where the game of black political academia is right now in 2015, the "I hate Obama but I respect him" crowd versus the I hate Obama and don't respect him" crowd. No group has turned on Obama faster than these puffed-up pinheads, and no group is more aware of the complete expiration of their mild at best relevance to current politics on January 20, 2017.
Both of these men, along with Tavis Smiley and Melissa Harris-Perry and a whole host of other black thought leaders on campuses across the country, have made a fortune on "If only President Obama would listen to me, black America wouldn't be in this mess."
But the grifters, man they have to grift, and West has gone so far down the Obama Derangement Syndrome rabbit hole that he's even an embarrassment to the rest of the grifters, enough so that instead of making the fight always about Obama and his failures, Dyson breaks that cardinal rule and makes it about West.
The rest of the piece is Dyson just absolutely wrecking West, and deservedly so. It's been a long time coming as well, a 10,000 word disassembly of the last ten years of West's numerous academic sins that only could be delivered by the man he once mentored, and not just the sins against President Obama.
But the whole time Dyson has one foot in the same abyss that claimed West's career and Dyson can't see it. in a very real way it kind of proves the point that the rest of us have figured out: we're really going to miss Barack Obama as President when he's gone.
West and Dyson will too, of course, but for a whole other batch of reasons.