Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed



Obama is no King


Brown University economist
Glenn C. Loury

Brown University economist Glenn C. Loury delivered a rousing talk at Reed on Monday titled "Obama is No King: Reflections on Presidential Politics and the Black Prophet Tradition." (audio recording)

Professor Loury did not mince words in stating his thesis that while President Barack Obama's ascent to the Oval Office is historically significant, it is by no means the fulfillment of Martin Luther King Jr's legacy as a social critic and moral witness. He is skeptical of such claims because he thinks it is foolish and unrealistic for us to expect that Obama is on a "sacred mission of prophetic criticism." Though Obama the candidate rose up from a background of good works and activist sensibilities, Obama the president has little leverage for creating change when sustaining forward progress (e.g., "profits for the shareholders") is his primary charge. The role of commander-in-chief-must be viewed pragmatically; the office has its own imperatives, Loury maintains, one of them being the advancement of "the great imperial project" that is US government. He suggests that Obama is aware of the imperfections of democracy and that taking a stand on issues of racial inequality and poverty, as he did with conviction on the campaign trail, is no longer an option.