Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
The Hutchinson Report
American Urban Radio Network
Al Sharpton Show
Monday 10:00-11:00 AM PST 2:00 to 3:00 EST
Streamed on http://tunein.com/radio/WURD-900-s23419
KPFK Radio Los Angeles 90.7 FM
Saturdays Noon to 1:00 PM PST
Streamed on http://www.kpfk.org/programs/181-hutchinson-report.html
In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on June 24, Bev Smith, Queen of Late Night Talk Show Hosts.
EOH: Is the criticism that the President is not moving fast enough healthy and can it help, hurt or make no difference regarding the election?
BS: The President is the President of the United States. Criticism comes with the job. As the African American community was critical of past presidents, looking at how this president deals with an African American community with triple numbers of unemployment, the highest number of health problems, I would think there would be criticism. It is absolutely healthy. The problem is not making the criticism but how and where it’s made and what you use it for. If you feel the African American community has not changed or improved and not able to get to the White House, it is a legitimate reason. If your criticism is because you feel the White House has ignored you personally as a so-called black leader, you need to keep your mouth shut because you’re hurting the cause. We should be critical, supportive, objective, and maybe have a deeper commitment because he is of African descent.
EOH: Is it possible that criticism from “progressive” African Americans could be used by the enemies of the President?
BS: This President should have expected criticism by virtue of the history of this country and how it has treated slaves. America did not disappoint us. He has more death threats than any other president. There is high expectation in the African American community because of his ethnic origin, and because of our condition. I believe we put a great deal of pressure on this president that has not been put on other presidents because he is the first black president. African Americans need to become politically astute and learn to play the game, whether the president is black, white, green, yellow, glowing in the dark. I don’t feel he has fulfilled what I expected in terms of an audience with the African American community. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus will share their disappointment. The President has met with other ethnic groups more than he has with African Americans. Some people suppose it is because he does not want to give an air of favoritism. I think the President could have used our “condition” for the reason, but I really don’t think he needed an apology at all. I think he finds himself in an extremely precarious position and we find ourselves in a precarious position because he needs us, and we need him; we ought to learn the game of politics and negotiate that way.
EOH: Do you think there is a discontent on the part of increasing numbers of African Americans because of lack of aggression on African American concerns.
BS: There is some displeasure and it comes from all walks of life. That does not mean they will not support him in his second bid for presidency. We must learn to negotiate with him in a better form than we do. We are disappointed in the members of the Bush Administration that he attached to his administration. Why keep those people who caused many of the problems we face, and had no interest in working Americans? Also, why did the President not meet with the Congressional Black Caucus who tried hard in the early days to meet with him? Now he is meeting with more, and maybe it was because he was adjusting to the office, giving him the benefit of the doubt. Black people are not taken with polls. We rarely get polled, and the polls can be manipulated. I pay attention to what is going on and I think the President missed some golden opportunities to do things that should have been done. I think he could have appointed a Director of Minority Affairs to look at the problems of the African and Native American communities. I think the President made mistakes that might have cost the affection and support of people who pledged total support. I think they will support him in the future, but they are disappointed in him.
Another thing we are disappointed in is the Democratic Party. I think they suck. I believe they had a golden opportunity to use Donna Brazile instead of Ron Brown as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, not genderize or discriminate against her. I also think the Democratic Party has not been as supportive of the African American community as it could have been. It has put its tail between its legs, and is not supporting the President as staunchly as they should. I think they feel intimidated by Republicans, and have no chutzpah; they are at a loss as to what to do with the power black Americans gave them.
EOH: Is it a valid comeback argument that he is doing things that are not being publicized?
BS: In my opinion it’s a valid cop-out. The most southernized president was Lyndon Baines Johnson who put through civil rights bills, met with people like Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders and did not apologize for it. Even Nixon had a better relationship and did more. The President has sat down with Native Americans, Arab Americans, and Asian Americans. He is putting his voice out there. What is wrong with the President looking at Americans who have and are paying with blood, sweat, tears and their lives? In 13 counties in Mississippi there is still slavery. What is wrong with the President saying I am going to sit down and talk with you? Why is it, when you support the efforts of black Americans, there is always this criticism that you are showing favoritism towards blacks? I think it’s a cop-out and you should not use that anymore, because it’s not working. The jobs program should have been a priority, because our numbers were higher than the highest average, but when whites became as unemployed as the blacks, this issue has taken front and center. He needs to sit down with those who criticize him and listen to them.
EOH: If President Obama is re-elected, will we see the “real” Barack Obama?
BS: First, if people want to find out what we’re doing and where we’re gonna be, they can go to http://WWW.BevSmithTalks.com and that will lead them to our Facebook and all the other things. Now, to your point. We have to remember this president faced an unbelievable task, the clean-up of George Bush and Company, the loss of respect for politicians, two wars that we are not sure we should be in and one we know for sure we were lied to about. He faced a group of people that had been killed because of terrorism in our country and a campaign against all people who look like some of those people. He had more on his plate than any other time in the presidency, as well as being the first African American President. His task was monumental. He had to face realities that maybe he had not considered when he first stepped out. He has learned the lay of the land, the game of politics, and he has learned that sometimes you have to sit down with thieves and try not to wake up a thief. He will be smarter in the second term. Black people need to stop being so emotional and deal with the real deal. There is a science to politics. We must learn how to use our power. We have a man in the White House who is black; now we have to work with him, use our might, our mouth and our money to get rid of people who do not respect us and work on that every day. We need organization. Leaders are all over the country, you just see the ones the white media goes to. We must give our strength, our time and our dollars as we did in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Unless we do that, whether Barack Obama gets a second term will not make a difference.