Democrats Try to Win Over Cornel West

Can the interim DNC chairwoman convince the outspoken critic to zip it?

Posted: 04/26/2011 12:12 PM EDT
Cornel West

Provocative and quirky, Princeton professor Cornel West is never at a loss for words, and lately he’s had plenty to say about President Obama, none of it good.

 

Once fiercely loyal to the president, he of the wild and woolly ‘fro has had a serious change of heart. West says he’s unsure of what Obama really stands for and believes that the president has not addressed the challenges of being Black in America. Chances are he’ll grow increasingly more critical in the coming months as he watches “Brother Obama” court the African-American vote for his 2012 re-election campaign.

 

Donna Brazile, political strategist and interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, also is someone who’s not unafraid to speak her mind. Last week she and West participated in a public debate at Princeton University, where West teaches African-American studies. Mind you, this meeting had been set up before some of West's more pointed comments.

 

It was all very polite. The two agreed that Obama’s election was an important milestone for the nation. West repeated his uncertainty about what the president stands for. Brazile said that the people who elected Obama are the actual change everyone’s been looking for. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

 

This is just speculation, but the real juicy stuff likely took place in a behind-closed-doors conversation, during which the pragmatic Brazile may have told West she feels his pain, but the brother will have a hard enough time getting re-elected without another brother calling him out on national TV. To which West, eyes widening and hands waving the air, may have responded,  “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

 

Brazile is a seasoned diplomat in the world of politics, but West could sorely test her skills. Only time will tell whether Brazile had a word with the professor and how convincing she might have been.

(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

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