George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium was packed with people, some of whom offered tough love for President Barack Obama as PBS host Tavis Smiley presented a program entitled “Reawakening America: From Poverty to Prosperity.”

“The face of poverty is the person next to you,” said TV personal finance expert Suzie Orman, who along with filmmaker Michael Moore and Professor Cornel West dominated a two and half hour discussion during a program that also featured several other panelists.

Smiley and West embarked on an 18-city “poverty tour,” to highlight the fact that many Americans, particularly those in the African American community, are struggling. Even though the tour began in Chicago, Smiley has constantly rebuffed critics who charge that he and West have become the President’s number one critics.

 During the forum Smiley said while it is clear that black America “loves Barack Hussein Obama,” he has to respond to a sad reality. “Putting it frankly, black people are catching the most hell.”

 “We came to George Washington University tonight in the nation’s capital to talk about the issue of poverty,” said Smiley in an interview after the program. “Dr. West and I took an 18-city tour last summer to try an put the issue of poverty on the agenda for the 2012 election.”

 Moore was highly critical of President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and the 535 members of congress, calling them “puppets” of Wall Street.

 While Moore was critical of the President, in the next breath he talked about how he cried the day he cast the vote for Obama and that he expects him to be reelected because the Republican have a very poor field of candidates.

 In an interview after the forum, Moore said he is still hopeful about the future of the country. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t hopeful. I remain hopeful because we still have the votes. It is more of us than it is of them.

“It has been a disappointing three years. He had a huge mandate. He won with more than 10 million votes. The American people wanted change. He came in and thought he would be a nice guy. He turned the other cheek, then he turned the other cheek and I am thinking I couldn’t do that.”

“Right now we don’t need a nice guy, we need someone who will stand up and kick some butt for this country,” Moore said. “People should not be afraid to speak out. You can still vote for President Obama and be critical of him. If he is a real leader and cares for this country, he expects you to be on him.”

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