In a recent interview by Chris Hedges at Truthdig, Princeton Professor Cornel West provided a blunt critique of Barack Obama, saying the president “lacks backbone.” Last night on The Ed Show, West further explains this statement saying that the president lacks backbone for “poor children, abused workers, those unfairly incarcerated, those middle class folks experiencing downward mobility and confronting the Wall Street Oligarchy and the corporate plutocrats.”

The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry responded, both on The Ed Show and in a piece called “Cornel West v. Barack Obama,” calling West’s assertions disingenuous and vague. She points to actions the president has taken to speak for America’s underrepresented such as his Supreme Court nominations and signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

—Sara Jerving