Will Hillary Clinton Do More For Black America Than Did Obama?

Executive editor and founder of Black Agenda Report Glen Ford slams the latest article from Georgetown University professor and The New Republic columnist Michael Eric Dyson

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Story Transcript

JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome, everyone, back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore.

Since joining the New Republic earlier this year, author and Georgetown University scholar Michael Eric Dyson has used his post there to attack Cornel West, defend Ta-Nehisi Coates, and most recently to explain how he thinks Hillary Clinton will offer more for black America than did Barack Obama. In his latest piece, titled “Yes She Can: Why Hillary Clinton will do more for black people than Obama”, Dyson writes: “If we were betrayed by Bill Clinton and suffered dashed hopes under Obama, maybe, just maybe, we will get from Hillary Clinton what we most need and truly deserve: a set of political practices and policies that reinforce the truth that black lives must and do finally matter.”

For a look at this seemingly odd claim is executive editor and founder of Black Agenda Report Glen Ford for this edition of the Ford Report. Glen, welcome back to the Real News.

GLEN FORD, EXEC. EDITOR, BLACK AGENDA REPORT: Hey, thanks for the opportunity, as always.

BALL: So I’ll start with that. I mean, how do you distill this argument or claim that Dyson seems to be making here, or does in fact make, not seems to be making, that Hillary Clinton will do more for black America than did Barack Obama?

FORD: Well, Jared, this is some vapid, empty stuff, and it makes no mention or explanation of what she might do. It’s just some vague, she will do things.

Michael Eric Dyson is famous for throwing up a wall of words. And when he does that it’s usually to signify his obedience to people in power. And so this piece is just more of the same. And this time he’s signaling his availability to serve Hillary Clinton, who he anticipates will come to power in the next election. That’s what this exercise is all about. The problem here is that Dyson is a kind of ill-mannered, nasty type of courtier of power in that he likes to take swipes at people who are on the way out, as Barack Obama is on the way out, even though he kissed their butts when they were in power. So he writes that Obama was a big disappointment to lots of black people like himself, who had looked forward to Obama giving leadership. And he says that Obama has been of little practical use to black people during his time in the White House.

But Michael Eric Dyson was a huge booster for Obama for most of Obama’s presidency, and I know that because I had to debate him twice. And he was a booster just like the rest of the black misleadership class. They are all, him and they, trying to reinvent their own personal and political histories. They are trying to position themselves as constructive critics of the Obama presidency, rather than the boot-lickers that they were until very recently.

The truth of the matter is that Obama got away with doing nothing for black people. And in fact, for doing very bad things, doing great harm to black people, through his austerity policies and his attacks on social programs. He got away with that because people like Michael Eric Dyson demanded nothing from Obama and in fact vigorously, loyally, defended Barack Obama until recently.

BALL: So, but Glen, could then this be seen as his attempt to offer up a demand? I mean, he says in the piece that he expects that Hillary Clinton will provide policy and actual practical, tangible response to the conditions of black people in this country, unlike Barack Obama who could lean on his blackness. And unlike her husband, Bill Clinton, who could lean on his charm. She having none of that, as he says, might be left to actually do something, unlike the two men most expected to have done something during their presidencies before her.

FORD: He is not only incapable of making any demands of power in this long article, which is about Hillary Clinton, he does not even say anything of substance at all about her foreign policies or her domestic policies, or what he thinks her foreign policy might be, or what he thinks her domestic policy might be. In fact, all he comes up with, and I think this is really a strange quote, I’m going to read it to you, in order to explain why he’s supporting, clearly, Hillary Clinton is this. Basically he says that if Bill Clinton gave black America bad policy, and Barack Obama gave black America no policy, then Hillary Clinton is left only with good policy. Now, Jared, what sense does that make at all? I can’t even understand it.

He says that she is sensitive. That she displays sophistication. All of these valueless words.

BALL: Well, she did meet with Black Lives Matter activists.

FORD: And that is how he proves that she is sensitive and sophisticated. And you know, really, this does not reflect very well on Black Lives Matter, when Michael Eric Dyson says things like that. Hillary clearly has profited politically from her two meetings with the Black Lives Matter organizations, although I don’t see how black people as a whole have profited at all. She is getting credit for being racially engaged. And that’s why Dyson is so impressed, because he wants people in power engaging him as a power broker in the next administration. And this article is just part of his audition. And unfortunately, I fear that this is also what some of the folks in the Black Lives Matter organization are also up to.

BALL: Well, Glen Ford, thank you again for joining us again for this edition of the Ford Report here at the Real News Network.

FORD: Thank you.

BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News as well. As always, from Baltimore I’m Jared Ball, saying for all involved, as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace, if you’re willing to fight for it. So peace, everybody, and we’ll catch you in the whirlwind.

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