Ed Asner, Harry Belafonte Both Lament Obama's Betrayed the Left

Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer reports hard-left actor Ed Asner is slamming Obama as another "corporatist as president," another "president who represents corporations more than people." The remarks came on the liberal Stephanie Miller radio show:

ED ASNER: I’m on the board of Defenders of Wildlife, and at a recent board meeting the announcement was made for just wildlife alone the conditions are worse with this administration than they were when Bush was president and both houses were under Republican control.

STEPHANIE MILLER: Now, how so, why? What’s happening?

ASNER: Well, I guess you’ve got craven Democrats and you’ve got maniacal Republicans who are being infected by Tea Party candidates who got elected. I don’t know.

MILLER: But tell us more about the, what is the state of what’s happening and why in that regard, with wildlife.

ASNER: Well, I think we’ve got another corporatist as president. That’s what I think. And I think he’s [Obama] behaving accordingly. It seems we can’t get away from a president who represents corporations more than people.

MILLER: You’re kind of harshing my buzz this morning, Ed.

On January 26, Harry Belafonte came on radical Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now show and harshed more Obama buzz:

And when you ask me about Barack Obama, it is exactly what happened to Kennedy. We, the American people, made the history of that time come to another place by our passion and our commitment to change. What is saddened—what is sad for this moment is that there is no force, no energy, of popular voice, popular rebellion, popular upheaval, no champion for radical thought at the table of the discourse. And as a consequence, Barack Obama has nothing to listen to, except his detractors and those who help pave the way to his own personal comfort with power—power contained, power misdirected, power not fully engaged.

And it is our task to no longer have expectations of him, unless we have forced him to the table and he still resists us. And if he does that, then we know what else we have to do, is to make change completely. But I think he plays the game that he plays because he sees no threat from evidencing concerns for the poor. He sees no threat from evidencing a deeper concern for the needs of black people, as such. He feels no great threat from evidencing a greater policy towards the international community, for expressing thoughts that criticize the American position on things and turns that around. Until we do that, I think we’ll be forever disappointed in what that administration will deliver.

AMY GOODMAN, host: And to those who say, "If you want President Obama re-elected, you will undermine him if you criticize him; and consider the alternative"?

HARRY BELAFONTE: I think we will not only undermine him, but undermine the hopes of this nation, if we don’t criticize him. Absence of protest in the times of this kind of national crisis—Theodore Roosevelt once says, "When tyranny takes over the national agenda, it is that time that the voices of protest must be awakened. And if you don’t raise your voice in protest, you are a patriotic traitor." And I believe that patriotism is betrayed by those voices that are not heard. Those who would detract you from that fact are those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Nothing will happen but good for Barack Obama and the United States of America, and indeed the world, if everybody stepped to the table and said, "This is the course we must be on."

GOODMAN: Have you let President Obama know your views? You have been with him.

BELAFONTE: Every opportunity I’ve had to put that before him, he has heard. I have not had a chance to put it to him as forcefully as I would like to, because he has not yet given us the accessibility to those places where this could be said in a more articulate way and not always on the fly.

But he once said something to me during his campaign for the presidency, and he says—he said, you know—I said, "I’ve heard you"—he was talking before businessmen on Wall Street here in—there in New York. And he said to me—I said, "Well, you know, I hope you bring the challenge more forcefully to the table." And he said, "Well, when are you and Cornel West going to cut me some slack?" And I got caught with that remark. And I said to him, in rebuttal, I said, "What makes you think we haven’t?" And the truth of the matter is that we were somewhat contained even at the extent to which we criticized him during the campaign, in the hopes that it would energize his capacity to get elected and that, once he was elected, that burden would be off his back and he would use this new platform to do things other than what we have been experiencing. And I think any further retreat from bringing truth to power and forcing him to hear the voice of the people would be a disservice to this country and all that it promises to be.

Earlier: Ed Asner Says Conservatives Landing 'Mortal Blows' on American Society

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis