There is quite a lot to say on Micheal Eric Dyson’s 10,000 word article in the New Republic lambasting his old friend Cornel West. Much of the criticism he levies against West is personal and that’s unfortunate. It should be obvious that Cornel West is not beyond reproach. Nor is he above making needlessly personal charges against opponents. All that aside, what concerns me is Dyson’s pretence that he has maintained an independent, critical outlook on the Obama administration. “I expressed love for Obama and criticized him for not always loving us back,” Dyson writes, adding that “[t]hroughout his presidency I have offered what I consider principled support and sustained criticism of Obama.” In reality, he has long performed as a loyal Democratic party operative, tempering left-wing criticism of the Obama administration and defending its record regardless of the policies it pursues.
In 2010 the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs angrily denounced the “professional left” for what he deemed its unreasonable expectations of Obama. “I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.” Admonishing this “professional left” for having a loose grip on reality–echoing Dyson’s own comments about Obama’s left-wing critics–Gibbs remarked that they will only be “satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” Long before Gibbs made those comments, Dyson had already established his vocation of shielding the Obama administration from left-wing criticism. That, above all else, has been Dyson’s political function since Obama announced his candidacy. Consider the following examples: