Hannity clashes with Cornel West over Cain comment

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 11, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: How to restore prosperity in our economically broken nation. Now that is what tomorrow night's event in the nation's capital is called -- "Remaking America," that's what they aim to explore.

Now it's hosted by liberal PBS talk show host, Tavis Smiley. It will be a nationally televised discussion among a, quote, "all-star panel of leaders and activists."

Now left-wing film maker, Michael Moore and my next guest, Princeton University professor, Civil Rights activist, Dr. Cornel West. Tonight, Dr. West joins me for the first time since 2006 to reveal whether his thoughts on restoring America are in line with the Obama administration.

And include actions like expanding the role the federal government, raising taxes on the so-called rich. So, here with me now is "Remaking America" panelist, co-host for the "Smiley and West" radio program, Dr. Cornel West.

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    Where have you been? Why you don't come on my show anymore. What is up with that?

    DR. CORNEL WEST, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: No, brother, you ask and I will come.

    HANNITY: No, I ask and you don't come.

    WEST: No, you ask and I've got something else to do, that's what happened. That's what happened.

    HANNITY: Good to see you. Welcome back.

    WEST: Happy New Year to you though.

    HANNITY: All right, now on your radio program with Tavis, and I've known Tavis for many years. Our careers kind of got started at the same time together.

    Harry Belafonte, not been a friend of conservatives, said Barack Obama does not deserve a second term. He lacks a moral compass. Do you agree with him?

    WEST: No, no, not at all. When you look at Republican candidates, I must be honest, my brother, I see mediocrity. I see mean spiritedness toward the poor and I see too many of them not being for real.

    It's one of the reasons why Ron Paul is doing so well. He, at least, is for real even though I disagree with him about 85 percent of the time, but there's no doubt that Barack Obama is much better than the Republicans.

    My problem is that I just wish Barack Obama were even more intense in terms of his commitment to the poor and working people.

    HANNITY: Hang on a second. He's given us $5 trillion in debt. He got his health care bill through. He got his budgets through. He's got his stimulus through. He gave all his money to his cronies at Solyndra and Sun Power and all these, quote, "green energy groups." And that's not enough? You want more money. You want more spending and more government.

    WEST: No, not at all, Brother Sean.

    HANNITY: No?

    WEST: My problem is that in America, oligarchs rule and rotating politicians reign. Look at big money in New Hampshire. Look at big money in South Carolina. Here goes money from Adelson. Here comes money from the Koch brothers.

    HANNITY: Obama is going to have a billion dollars to smear Republicans.

    WEST: I know, it's big business, and big money across the board. That's what I'm critical of. That's one of the reasons why I do deeply disagree with you, Brother, when you spread the falsehood that Obama is a socialist. He's not a socialist. He's a neo liberal tied to oligarchs. If you want to see a real socialist, go to my --

    HANNITY: Let's not split hairs and parse words.

    WEST: No, it's not splitting hairs now.

    HANNITY: Listen, I know your class at Princeton is popular. Somebody we both know goes there.

    WEST: Who is that?

    HANNITY: My nephew, I told you my nephew goes to Princeton, and he couldn't get into your class. He's graduating this year.

    I've got a little bit of bone to pick with you on something. Let me play the words that you used talking about Herman Cain is going to be on next. And I think you owe Herman an apology. Let's roll this tape.


    UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you make of what Herman Cain said? He did acknowledge that racism exists, but he says, you know, it doesn't matter that much that more of it is about actually working hard and making opportunities happen for yourself.

    WEST: Well, one, black people have been working hard for decades. I think he needs to get off the symbolic crack pipe and acknowledge if the evidence is overwhelming.


    HANNITY: Symbolic crack pipe? Why can't somebody be African-American and conservative and why are they constantly beaten up, demonized, called Uncle Toms and sellouts, horrific names that I know in your heart you're not like that. Why would you say that about somebody like that?

    WEST: Herman Cain is a member of the Antioch Baptist Church, I come out of Shiloh (ph) Baptist church and we're fellow Christians. By symbolic crack pipe, what I meant was, he's living in Never Neverland.

    Anybody who down plays the role of racism when it comes to the present industrial complex, when it comes to the way our brown sisters and brothers are treated with immigration policy, when it comes to the glass ceiling still at work even though we have a black president, racism is still very real.

    When he puts it down, when he says the reason you're not rich is because you've got to blame yourself, I know this is not just conservatism, but it's a vulgar version. I believe a sophisticated version of conservatism even though I disagree. That's not a sophisticated version, my brother.

    HANNITY: Wait a minute. Go ahead.

    WEST: No, you believe that racism is still very much in America.

    HANNITY: Of course.

    WEST: Absolutely. But he didn't say that, Brother Sean.

    HANNITY: Hang on a second. But Herman Cain -- look at the word, he was called a bad apple, trying to curry white favor. The Tea Party, the base likes him because he's a black man who knows his place. You're talking about the proverbial or symbolic crack pipe.

    WEST: All I said was he's out of touch with reality, symbolic crack pipe.

    HANNITY: Wait a minute, you know me racism is repugnant. We're brothers in Christ.

    WEST: Absolutely, absolutely.

    HANNITY: The point is why would you use such language because you disagree with him? And why are conservatives that are African-American beaten up, called names, with impunity, it would never -- if you're liberal and African-American it's fine.

    If you're conservative, you can't have your own thought process without being called these names. Don't you find that repugnant? I bet deep down inside you do.

    WEST: No, but I mean, I only reacted to him saying that racism was not still operating in society to the degree to which it's holding people back. If he's saying something agree with, I agree with that, there's a host of conservatives who are black, white, and red and what have you. Brother Robby George is my dear brother, deeply conservative. You know Robby George. You know, we teach together at Princeton. We disagree on much.

    HANNITY: He's right and you're wrong on a lot of issues, I agree.

    WEST: No, I'm right and he's wrong on a lot of issues very much so, but we still go at it. I could even say you or I could say him at times, out of touch with reality on the symbolic crack pipe.

    HANNITY: Now you're saying I'm on the -- now, he's coming up next, let me ask you a question. He's coming up next, but wait a minute, here is a guy who grew up. His dad worked three jobs, his mother was a maid and his father drove a car and his father was also a janitor. He worked hard. He worked at Coca-Cola. He worked at Godfather's Pizza and he worked at Pillsbury and all of these big companies and worked his way up to be contender of the president of the United States of America.

    Doesn't he deserve more respect than those names that I read off to you that he was called?

    WEST: I just think the words that he used. Do you --

    HANNITY: Forget about that, disagree with him, but don't call him names.

    WEST: No, but the thing is, when it's mean spirited. When you say the reason why you are poor is because you must blame yourself, blanket statement. That's so cold-hearted people respond with righteous indignation in some ways the way Jesus responded in the temple, my brother. Righteous indignation pushed off the money changers, push out those who create --

    HANNITY: This is interesting to me. You said there are two Jesuses and two Martin Luther Kings in a recent interview. I would agree and disagree with you. You know, I went to a seminary and you know I studied theology.

    WEST: I know, absolutely.

    HANNITY: And I would also argue that there was a Jesus that talked about go and sin no more and take responsibility for your own life and follow God.

    WEST: But you agree Jesus had a fundamental tilt toward poor people, the dignity and decency of poor people. Poor people being priceless, poor people being precious like anybody else, but his tilt was toward the poor.

    HANNITY: No, no, his tilt was towards bringing, reconciling man to God and that meant everybody. And his tilt was towards getting humanity to turn from what he believed were evil ways so he can reconcile them with his father in heaven. There you go.

    WEST: But you know, when he went to the temple, the reason why he was crucified -- he ran the money changers, the marketers.

    HANNITY: And you're saying the Republicans are the money changers?

    WEST: No, but Democrats can be as well. Democrats can be as well.

    HANNITY: All right.

    WEST: It's oligarchy and plutocracy that needs to be criticized. Anyone who loses sight of the rich and humanity and individuality --

    HANNITY: I know what we need to do. I think we ought to teach a class at Princeton together.

    WEST: Well, I'm on my way to the theological seminary you know that now.

    HANNITY: Wherever you go, I'll be there because deep down even though I disagree with you, I still like you. I don't know why. Are you coming back on the program, did you have a good time?

    WEST: We shall bring you the Union Theological Seminary. We'll go back and forth because when you're roughly with the blood at the cross, transformation and conversion always a deep possibility, my brother.

    HANNITY: Are you coming back on the program. I don't have to wait five years?

    WEST: I will come back and try to make my schedule relative. Something I'll be able to come, but you know, the reason I don't come is because I'm on the run, I'm on the run.

    HANNITY: All right, last question, Mrs. Obama, a headline from The Washington Post -- Mrs. Obama resists pushy label and she's wary of angry black woman stereo type. Is that a stereo type that says that?

    WEST: I think there are some citizens out there who have wrongly perceived her brilliance, courage, charisma as one in which she had somehow has a righteous indignation that Jesus had in the temple. But black folk in general who are full of passion for the truth often times get characterized in that way, my brother.

    HANNITY: All right, but she also said living in the White House was hell, apparently, and for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country.

    WEST: I think living in any house can be hell for a moment, but it's probably heaven at other times too. She's just an honest sister that's all.

    HANNITY: You and I are rooming together. I think it would be hell because neither one of us would shut up.

    God bless you. Professor, good to see you.

    WEST: God bless you, and our struggles shall continue, brother.

    HANNITY: All right, may the Lord be with you.

    WEST: God bless you.

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