Bill Cosby said little about Barack Obama during the campaign — all the more surprising because they each have been similarly outspoken about the responsibilities of African American fathers and the problems of single-parent households.
In fact, when asked about Obama's candidacy by Larry King in the fall of 2007, Cosby seemed somewhat miffed to be asked to say anything.
But the comedian was much different when he appeared on "Meet the Press" on Sunday. He offered not only praise for the incoming president, but he cast a spotlight on Obama's message of national service in a week where the stimulus package, Roland Burris and the war in Gaza are dominating the public's attention. If celebrity surrogates are every called upon to promote Obama's agenda — with a goal of cutting through the media clutter — Cosby is certainly a model for such a task, even if he speaks to an older generation.
Asked by host David Gregory about what he expects from an Obama presidency, particularly for the African-American community, Cosby said, "I believe he's asking us to be
honest. I, I, I believe he's, he's asking us to be honest. I believe
he's asking us to look around and see in all honesty what we can do and
what makes sense as opposed to what will go into our pockets or make us
feel good or who we can punish according to our religion. I think it's
time for all of us to, to do things in terms of community, to stop
worrying about what other people think of us and, and just go right on
in and begin to talk to our youngsters about correct choices, to not be
afraid to, to challenge them and be honest with them and, and, and to
not be afraid to just stand and, and work with him and think that we're
working with him to make change and choices and challenge."
Karl Rove and others have suggested that "The Cosby Show" helped pave the way for Obama's election, Cosby himself sounded skeptical.
Cosby said, "I, I, I don't know. I–look, that show's
always–it was 25 years ago, so certainly it should have hit somebody
before it hit Obama. So what, what I have to do is give credit to
Michelle and to Barack and the beauty of what they've done with their
children, with their lives. I still wear the, the rubber thing that
says, you know, the Obama–because that was the day we were going
around Detroit talking about get out and vote."
Most moving was Cosby's story of going to the voting booth on election day.
"Well, I took my father's picture, I took my mother's picture and I took
my brother James, he died when he was seven, I was eight. And I took
the three of them into the voting booth in Shelburne Falls,
Massachusetts, and I pulled the curtain and I took their pictures out
and I said, "And now we're going to vote." And I–we only, I only voted
once. But–and I did that and their pictures were out, and then I put
them back into my pocket and I opened the curtain. And it, and it was
In a Web-only interview, Cosby reiterated his call for greater responsibility in black communities, and offered words of praise for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, He also said that humor in the coming months will be somewhat refreshing after the Bush years.
"It wasn't a funny administration, but it was funny," he said.