Kanye, We Hardly Knew Ye!
There are some powerful forces that come to Earth to change and shape our lives in mysterious ways and are gone almost as quickly as they came. The thousand days of John Kennedy’s presidency were known as that brief shining moment of Camelot. When he was taken from us, the cry went out: Johnny, we hardly knew ye.”
Kennedy was like a comet burning across the sky of our shared destiny, and we all thought he was gone too soon. But of all the bright comets that have seared the American political heavens, Kanye West certainly burned out the quickest. Or so it seems.
It was just two months ago when Kanye was hailed by many conservative pundits, including this one, as a prophet of the new black experience — a Moses who would lead his people out of the serfdom of the Democratic plantation. Of course, it was all expressed in hyperbole — the language of the modern political culture. No one really thought Kanye (or Ye as he prefers to be known) could single-handedly part the blue sea of black voters just by wearing a red MAGA hat, but cultural icons have a sway that can’t quite be explained. Just ask Oprah!
So it did seem like the potential was there for a significant shift in black voters, especially when Kanye met in the Oval Office last month with his political idol, President Donald J. Trump, and hugged him while expounding on the virtues of being your own man.
But then Kanye pulled up short at the end of October, threw away his MAGA hat, and dissed his erstwhile hero. Or did he? On Oct. 30, he tweeted the following:
“My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!”
This was widely interpreted in the mainstream media as a rebuke of Trump, but the one thing that was missing from the outspoken rapper’s unpredictable Twitter feed was anything that conclusively stated a newfound opposition to Donald Trump.
In fact, he appeared to be settling a score not with Trump, but with Candace Owens, the black spokeswoman for Turning Point USA, who claimed West had designed the logo for the Blexit movement encouraging blacks to leave the Democratic Party.
Immediately prior to saying he was stepping back from politics, West had tweeted this:
“I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they didn’t want their name on it so she used mine. I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it.”
Owens accepted responsibility for putting West in an unpleasant situation by making it seem like he was a supporter of the Blexit movement. She then went further:
“I would also like to publicly apologize to President Trump, as I know that Kanye’s tweets were rapidly misinterpreted as a shot to this administration. His tweets were aimed at me and me only, rightfully, for my personal failings.”
Regardless of Owens’ mea culpa, the media proceeded to interpret West’s tweets with all the certainty of reading tea leaves, and they came to the unmistakable conclusion that the Oracle of Calabasas had switched his allegiance from Superman Trump to Never Trump. Was this breathless celebrity reporting just more fake news? Perhaps, but at a minimum it appears at least to be wishful thinking. After all, the “eyes wide open” tweet was preceded by these pronouncements from Kanye:
— “I support creating jobs and opportunities for people who need them the most, I support prison reform, I support common-sense gun laws that will make our world safer.”
— “I support those who risk their lives to serve and protect us and I support holding people who misuse their power accountable.”
— “I believe in love and compassion for people seeking asylum and parents who are fighting to protect their children from violence and war.”
— “I would like to thank my family, loved ones, and community for supporting my ACTUAL beliefs and my vision for a better world.”
That’s the sum total of the evidence that Kanye has disowned Trump, but many of the things the musician/entrepreneur supports are also part of the Trump agenda. The president has bragged about creating jobs for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and women. The president has been working on prison reform, and famously commuted the life sentence of a woman who was championed by Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian. The president has been ambiguous on gun control, but has argued that common-sense gun laws should be considered as a compromise. The president certainly echoes Kanye’s support for law enforcement and “those who risk their lives to serve and protect us.” The only conceivable policy difference with Trump that West has drawn attention to is his belief in “love and compassion for people seeking asylum,” but even there President Trump has also said he supports the asylum process, but wants it to be done in an orderly and legal way.
Not exactly the stuff of big-time celebrity breakups! Maybe the better explanation for Kanye’s public statements is that he realized he was taking a financial hit from getting too close to Trump, and needed to dial it back to protect the family fortune. That’s something which business tycoon Trump could certainly understand and appreciate, even if he hasn’t followed that strategy himself as president.
As for Kanye’s chance of rising out of the ashes and taking another flight of fancy on behalf of his soulmate Donald Trump, no one would dare predict what might or might not happen with this dynamic duo. But just in case, keep an eye out for a mercurial passenger riding close to the heavens on Air Force One — and I don’t mean the one who has orange hair!