Tavis Smiley Trashes GOP Presidential Field: 'You Can't Beat Somebody With Nobody'
Published: 5/13/2011 4:20 PM ET
PBS's Tavis Smiley offered his own half-baked assumptions Friday on the 2012 GOP presidential contenders. The far-left anchor dismissed the GOP field as a bunch of nobodies on the 9 a.m. EDT hour of CNN Newsroom.
"You can't beat somebody with nobody," he quipped when asked what GOP contender poses the biggest threat to President Obama's re-election. "I don't see somebody yet that the president should be all that concerned about, at least to the point of losing sleep."
[Click here for audio.]
Smiley also hit Obama for not doing more to help unemployed African-Americans. He assumed the reason Obama is hesitant to do so is his fear of accusations of being "tribal."
Anchor Carol Costello teed up the far-left PBS host when she asked him if President Obama has "done enough for the African-American community." Smiley, who has repeatedly hit Obama from the left in the last two years, tersely responded in the negative.
"...To your point about black unemployment," he told Costello, "when you have double the national average, triple, and...in some places Carol, quadruple the national average, this answer that the White House is giving that a rising tide will lift all boats - I don't buy it."
Smiley boldly added that Obama "has not done enough about black unemployment, in part I think because, respectfully, he's afraid of being accused of being tribal if he does, in fact, help the African-American community in specific and unique ways. He ought not to be afraid of that."
Smiley contrasted Obama's failure in reaching out to the African-American community with his embrace of the gay rights causes on the domestic front and of Israel in foreign policy. "When our Jewish brothers and sisters want help on the state of Israel, vis-a-vis public policy, he stands up for them. When gays and lesbians wanted don't ask, don't tell overturned, he was right about that."
"Black unemployment is a significant issue, it ought not to be overlooked just because the White House is afraid of being accused of being tribal."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 13 at 9:38 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
CAROL COSTELLO: I want to talk more about your book in a little bit, but first let's talk a little politics. So Ron Paul just announced. Should President Obama be concerned?
TAVIS SMILEY: I'm sure the White House is concerned about any potential candidate. Ron Paul of course has run before. Has a loyal following and what's - would have been fascinating for me to watch him over the years is how much he has a loyal following amongst young people, and the money that he can raise.
So he's a threat obviously on a certain level. But at the same time, I've said many times, you can't beat somebody with nobody. And at the moment, I don't see that somebody yet that the president should be all that concerned about at least to the point of losing sleep.
COSTELLO: Not Newt Gingrich? What if Sarah Palin runs? Which Republican potential contender is worrisome for the President?
SMILEY: I think it's not Sarah Palin, I think it's not Newt Gingrich, I think it's not Ron Paul. Again, you can't beat somebody with nobody. I don't know who the White House - you know I don't speak for them, obviously - I don't know who they would prefer, but I don't think it's any of those you've just mentioned. And at the end of the day, I don't that Mr. Paul, respectfully, Mr. Gingrich, respectfully, or Ms. Palin, respectfully, has what it takes to win the nomination of their party in the long run.
COSTELLO: I'm also wondering about this. President Obama met this week with the Congressional Black Caucus, and their message to him was jobs, jobs, and more jobs. Has the President done enough for the African-American community?
SMILEY: In a word, no. The African-American community is the most loyal part of the President's base, and obviously the black community wants to see this president re-elected, and I suspect they'll turn out in big numbers, as they did before - not the same, because you can't play that history card but one time.
For the White House, speaking of should they be concerned, they should, in fact, be concerned about the fact that the black numbers may drop significantly because you can't play the history card, number one, a second time. And number two, to your point about black unemployment, when you have double the national average, triple, and depending on the (Unintelligible) in some places Carol, quadruple the national average, this answer that the White House is giving that a rising tide will lift all boats - I don't buy it. All the boats didn't go down at the same time, they're not going to come up at the same time. And if when the tide does come up, if you're in a yacht and I'm in a dingy or an inner tube, we still have a problem.
The President has not done enough about black unemployment, in part I think because, respectfully, he's afraid of being accused of being tribal if he does, in fact, help the African-American community in specific and unique ways. He ought not to be afraid of that. When our Jewish brothers and sisters want help on the state of Israel, vis-a-vis public policy, he stands up for them. When gays and lesbians wanted don't ask, don't tell overturned, he was right about that. He took too long, but he got it done, he responded to them. Big speech recently on immigration - he's responding to those concerns. Black unemployment is a significant issue, it ought not to be overlooked just because the White House is afraid of being accused of being tribal.
COSTELLO: But, but still? I mean, still afraid of that? Why?
SMILEY: Well, I don't know. I don't speak - again, you're asking me questions I can't answer. I don't speak for the White House. I have the same question, Carol - why? If you were in a car accident and they rushed you to the hospital with a head trauma, I would pray that they would not start operating on your feet. The point is, you don't help these folks because they're black, you help them because that's where the pain is most acute. That is where the pain is most severe. The stimulus package was not big enough the first time when Democrats did control both houses of Congress. When they sent that money out to the country, they sent it to the states as opposed to sending it to the cities where it could get to the people most in need. I think the White House has done a righteous work and a yeoman's job in trying to lift America up out of the economic malaise in some respects. But they've not done enough where the pain is most acute.
- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.