According to West himself, President Obama betrayed him on two counts after his election. The first was personal. It all started with a mix-up over inauguration tickets. Obama became increasingly hard to track down after his election but came through with a ticket for West. Tickets for West's mother and brother were nowhere to be found, and the three ended up watching the event from their hotel room. West told Hedges:
What it said to me on a personal level was that brother Barack Obama had no sense of gratitude, no sense of loyalty, no sense of even courtesy, [no] sense of decency, just to say thank you. Is this the kind of manipulative, Machiavellian orientation we ought to get used to? That was on a personal level.
After the inauguration it became clear that West would sing a different tune about Obama and began to addressed what Hedges identified as Obama's "betrayal on the political and ideological level." On the first anniversary of Obama's inauguration West sent a message to President Obama expressing skepticism about progress so far. He called it "loving pressure" and pointed his harsher remarks directly at Obama's economic team:
I must say that despite your brilliance, despite your charisma, I’m disappointed when it comes to the fundamental question, the question of priorities, the question of urgency… We need democratic policies, not technocratic policies. Your economic team has little or no concern about poor and working people. Job creation is an afterthought. You say the recession is over, but 10.2% of our precious citizens are unemployed and many of those have given up working.
Later that year, an interview with Playboy launched one of the bigger headlines sprees in July with West's admission that he didn't think Obama was "a messiah or even a very progressive politician." West continued by addressing what he called "whitewashing within the administration:"
Black folk can't be blindsided by Obama's pigmentation and historical symbolism. What I'm saying is I wish he could be more Martin Luther King-like… But by necessity, Obama has had to downplay his blackness to appease the white moderates and independents and speak to their anxieties.
Shortly after the Playboy interview, NPR spoke with a still fuming West and more name-calling ensued. West described his most recent and very brief meeting with the president in the August 2010 interview:
I hadn't seen [Obama] for two and a half weeks, and he made a beeline to me, though, brother, and he was deeply upset. He talked to me like I was a cub scout, and he was a pack master… It was very, it was a very ugly kind of moment, it seems to me, and that disturbs me because then it raises the question for me: Does he have a double standard for black critics as opposed to white critics?
Then after several months of relative silence came the April flare-up that Hedges analyzes. Though many headlines today point to West calling Obama "a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats" the phrase is fairly well rehearsed. West used the phrase in this April 4th interview with RT America and echoed the talking points on MSNBC a week later: