President Barack Oama apparently referred to Kanye West as a “jackass” this evening, as tweeted by ABC’s Terry Moran and then reported by Politico. West is a rapper who rudely stole country music artist Taylor Swift‘s thunder at a music awards ceremony last night.
Obama’s comment was supposed to have been off the record. Nonetheless, this could inadvertently end up being one of the smartest pieces of White House communications efforts in some time.
Think Bill Clinton and his Sista Souljah moment. Such a moment is when a politician denounces a member of his own political constituency or base when they have veered too far off course for the mainstream public, thereby gaining personal political credibility by demonstrating good judgment and independence.
The Kanye West incident was a poignant one, and frankly, I’m surprised (well, I guess I shouldn’t be) that nobody questioned or brought up the potential racial, gender and generational dynamics involved. (West is Black, male and older, Swift is female, White and younger….i.e. would West have done that to an older, Black male star? Who knows – West has a history of antics. I’m not saying he would and I’m not accusing him of anything other than being a jerk. But we can bet that those types of questions would be being asked non-stop if the roles and demographic traits were adjusted).
In any event, the White House has no comment at the moment and we’ll see if that changes. If they’re smart they’ll just let the statement stand for a while (what else could they really do anyway…the moment may even be on tape). I doubt if the White House was smart enough to orchestrate this (i.e. Obama “accidentally” calls West a jackass, but you know, it’s “off the record”), but who knows. If they were actually smart enough to do so, I’ll have to give them some credit for a nice little Sista Souljah moment of their own.
For the record, what West did to Swift was incredibly distasteful. It showed his own arrogance, selfishness and absolute disregard for others, and reflected poorly on his own artistic genre and culture. I wonder if his feelings are hurt right now, after being dissed by his man Obama.