The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersiSteve Blog
Barack Obama

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

A well-pleased Obama in his natural element: lecturing on Power Relationships at an Alinskyite confab

One obvious aspect of the President’s personality is how academic he is. He’d be a lot happier if the Oval Office came with a blackboard at which he could give lectures.

To non-academic audiences, however, the President can be less than galvanizing. From USA Today:

Obama makes rare campaign trail appearance, people leave early

UPPER MARLBORO Md. Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:22pm EDT(Reuters) -

President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity.

With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election.

Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity.

Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor, and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, who is running for re-election. Obama plans to appear at an event for Quinn later in the evening.

“You’ve got to vote,” Obama repeated over and over at a rally for Brown in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, near Washington.

Upper Marlboro is the county seat of Prince George’s County, Maryland, the only upper middle class black county in American. So if Obama is laying an egg in Prince George’s County …

Obama’s academic orientation is a little bit puzzling in nature-nurture terms because, while his mother eventually was granted a Ph.D. in anthropology, his Kansas grandparents, who mostly raised him, weren’t college graduates. They got out of high school near the beginning of WWII and found war work and got married. After the war, Stanley tried taking classes at UC Berkeley, but quickly dropped out.

But the President’s Jayhawk grandparents each had a sibling who earned a Ph.D., which was pretty rare in the middle of the 20th Century. Stanley’s brother Ralph Dunham got a Ph.D. at Berkeley and mostly worked for the federal government (generally not in intriguing agencies – I checked). Fittingly, the name “Ralph” had earlier entered the family line as a tribute to Ralph Waldo Emerson, the pluperfect post-Puritan.

A more obscure figure was the President’s grandmother’s sister Margaret Arlene Payne, who died this year at age 87. She earned a doctorate from the U. of Chicago and was a professor at the U. of Kansas and the U. of North Carolina in some field like nutrition. Perhaps one reason for her low profile is that she maintained what Henry James called a “Boston marriage” with another lady professor for several decades. (You can’t get much WASPier than that.)

The great-aunt’s Chicago Ph.D. helps explain the U. of Chicago connection that runs throughout the Payne side of the family: his grandmother’s brother Charles heard about a job on campus as a library manager from his sister, then spent his career at the U. of C. The President’s mother is said to have been accepted at U. of Chicago at age 15 under the famous accelerated education system (that produced such graduates as James D. Watson, Philip Glass, and Nathan Leopold of Leopold & Loeb notoriety), but her parents decided against it. Obama of course was a lecturer at the U. of Chicago law school for years.

• Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

At first glance, Barack Obama: The Story appears to be a vast heap of random details obsessively piled up by veteran Washington Postreporter David Maraniss. Maraniss hit pay dirt with bestselling biographies of Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi, but his latest is an amazingly tedious read. His “frenzied fact-grubbing and fanatical boredom” (to quote Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim) is so thorough that Obama doesn’t even get born until after Maraniss has devoted 164 pages to his ancestors.

And, despite much pre-release publicity in WaPo, Maraniss’s book has laid an egg in the marketplace, selling only 1/7th as many copies as Edward Klein’s anti-Obama quickie The Amateur. Maraniss is not at all happy about the curious fact that Obama skeptics seem to like to read about Obama more than Obama supporters do. [What drives the Obama doubters and haters?, by David Maraniss, Washington Post,July 27, 2012].

But you have to sympathize with Obama fans who might have picked up this weighty tome in the bookstore, only to drop it and reel away on finding that its 641 pages merely see us through the 27-year-old heading off to Harvard Law School.

(In case you are wondering, Maraniss devotes pp. 536-546 to Obama’s chief triumph as a community organizer: helping to get some of the asbestos removed from a housing project. I must confess to having skimmed this section.)

The tedium of this doorstop biography raises three questions:

  • Is Maraniss simply a dull writer?

His sales record suggests not.

  • Did Maraniss intentionally make his portrayal boring to protect Obama’s re-election and his supporters’ tender feelings?

Possibly. Thus Maraniss interviewed hundreds of people (and got an Oval Office interview, in which Obama volunteered that he was a B+ student at Occidental and an A- student at Columbia). The one man Maraniss didn’t interview, however, is the single most unfailingly entertaining character in Obama’s life story: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

In contrast, Edward Klein got an interview with Wright. And from it he got two scoops:

a) Wright told Klein that Obama knew more about Islam than about Christianity when they met.

This doesn’t mean that Obama is a secret Muslim. I’ve never seen much evidence for any religious feeling in Obama at all. But Obama having an intellectual understanding of Islam makes sense because most of his friends in college were rich leftist Pakistanis.

b) Wright told Klein that Obama’s friend Eric Whittaker offered him $150,000 to shut up.

That strikes me as reassuring. All else being equal, I would rather have a President who, when confronted with a problem, tries to take action rather than simply drifts.

The third question:

  • Maybe Maraniss’s biography is boring because Obama himself, for all his suaveness, is just plain BORING.

Personally, I couldn’t recall Obama ever saying anything memorably insightful on any subject other than himself. And this immense book didn’t change that.

Obama possesses an impressive understanding of the conventional wisdom. But he seems averse to original thought.

So Barack Obama: The Story is a snooze. Yet, for the handful of readers well enough versed in the trivialities of Obama’s often trivial life, Maraniss reveals, no doubt inadvertantly. enough detail that this pro-Obama biography effectively becomes a subversive commentary on the supreme Obama puzzle: how this graceful nonentity ever achieved Presidential Timberhood.

Maraniss, having cut his teeth on Bill Clinton, a prodigious politician clearly destined from youth for a career in the public arena, intermittently reveals how baffling he finds the rise of Obama, whom he reports took up creative writing at Occidental to struggle against his basic nature as an “apathetic quasi-intellectual sports fan.”

In Maraniss’s telling, our Chief Executive is essentially a passive observer of life, a “disconnected observer,” a man with the skill set of a respected but penurious writer of short stories for small literary magazines. “If he had not gone into politics, he would have been a writer …” concludes Maraniss.

Of course, the handful of articles Obama published in his twenties were poorly written, causing Jack Cashill to hypothesize in 2008 that the elegant prose of Obama’s Dreams from My Father must have been concocted ex nihilo by his ex-terrorist ghostwriter Bill Ayers. Maraniss, significantly, takes care to show that Obama was sending letters to friends a decade before Dreams that were written in the same Creative Writing 302-style prose-poetry:

Manhattan streets are broad and bumpy; the cool crisp grey of fall glows on the teeming faces of the midtown rush; the drunk slides back and forth on his subway seat under the gaze of the neat older woman knitting her mauve yarn; the pigeons comb the cobblestones on Riverside, white and grey and plump …

And so forth and so on.

This ability to conjure up mental imagery with words was once a crucial cultural skill, but it’s increasingly obsolete due to the technological progress that has made visual imagery superabundant. It mostly serves these days as a luxurious status marker: Few readers made it all the way through Dreams from My Father, but before it slipped from their sleepy fingers, they took away the lesson that Obama, despite his crass job as a Chicago politician, had Class.

Maraniss’s many quoted excerpts from Obama’s old letters are uniformly stylish—and deadly dull. Is Obama really this boring? Or did Maraniss censor everything of political interest? The biography skips over or massively summarizes almost all the ideologically intriguing content.

Time and again, Maraniss reassures us that Obama was never quite as leftist as all of his Marxist Muslim millionaire buddies from Pakistan. Well, okay …

Since Maraniss declines to pass on anything of what Obama wrote his friends on the political issues of the day, we are merely left with a self-portrait of Obama the Insufferable, self-absorbed and egotistical:

“Life rolls on, and I feel a growing competence and maturity while simultaneously noting that there isn’t much place for such qualities in this mediocre but occasionally lovable society.”

Another sub-current trickling throughout the book: Maraniss’ astonishment at how little of an impression Obama made upon his peers. Maraniss notes, for example, that among those at Columbia who had known both Obama and George Stephanopoulos, the future Clinton adviser and newscaster remains a vastly more vivid memory.

Outside of the “Pakistani mafia”—as Obama called his main social network from the time he started college at 18 in 1979 to leaving New York for Chicago in 1985—Obama’s closest friend was Phil Boerner, another cosmopolitan (the son of a U.S. diplomat, he’d grown up in a variety of countries). After meeting at Occidental College, they decided to transfer to Columbia, after which they sometimes roomed together in New York City.

After Obama moved to Chicago in 1985, he sent a draft of a short story he’d written to Boerner for criticism. Unfortunately, the manuscript has disappeared and Boerner can’t remember much about Obama’s fiction. And Maraniss explains that there is nothing suspicious about this blank spot in the historical record: after all, “there was no reason for any of his friends or colleagues to think that he would be a best-selling author someday, let alone president.”

Maraniss emphasizes how closely matched Obama and Boerner were in intellect, ideology, personality, and literary inclinations. That got me wondering about Boerner’s subsequent career. Perhaps it would help answer the question: “Besides being President and Nobel Laureate, what other kind of job was Obama cut out for?”

In 2009, Boerner penned a fond reminiscence for the Columbia College alumni magazine, “Barack Obama, ’83, My Columbia College Roommate.” The tagline at the bottom reads:

Phil Boerner ’84 was born in Washington, D.C., and lives with his wife and two children in Sacramento, Calif. He is communications and public relations manager at the California Veterinary Medical Association.

Judging from Maraniss’s book, few who knew them both back then would have been terribly shocked if Obama had ended up with Boerner’s job: PR manager for a respectable special interest group (veterinarians) in an important state capital (Sacramento).

Perhaps Maraniss’s most striking revelation: virtually nobody who knew Obama in the first quarter of a century of his life ever thought of him as their leader in anything. When he got to Harvard Law School at age 27, he was i nstantly proclaimed The First Black President. But before then, those who knew him found his passivity and disengagement frustrating.

Obama’s boss at Business International in New York, Lou Celi, told Maraniss that Obama “did not stand out in any material way.” Maraniss comments: “Celi could not see him as a leader.”

Ernie Cortes, a prominent leftist activist in Texas who got to know Obama well during his community organizing days, tells Maraniss:

“He thought by virtue of his intellect and personality he could bring people together. He never had an edge, what we call a bias toward action …”

Other examples are left merely implied. For example, Maraniss pads out his book with a lengthy account of how Punahou Prep’s basketball team came together over the course of the 1978-79 season to win the state championship.

You might think: this will show off Obama’s leadership skills—but, no, Obama started the season as the third, fourth, or fifth man off the bench, and got even less playing time as the year went on. The more insignificant Obama became, the better the team played.

By the way, Maraniss says that Obama’s story in his memoir of being discriminated against by the basketball coach because he played in a black playground style is bunk:

“The reality was that Barry, as skilled and intelligent a player as he was, could not stand out in this group.”

Or, consider Obama’s role in the “Choom Gang” of a dozen potheads at Punahou. You might think that a future Leader of the Free World would inevitably, through sheer force of charismatic personality, exert a disproportionate influence on his fellow teens in their debates over, say, which drug to take next. That’s a pretty low hurdle for leadership skills, right? However:

“There was not even a designated leader. …. The other members considered Mark Bendix the glue; he was funny, creative, and uninhibited with a penchant for Marvel Comics. … Without exerting himself in overt ways, Barry Obama held as much respect as anyone within the group.”

Got that? Our President was among the most respected dudes in the Bong Brothers.

Granted, Barry was not the glue in the Choom Gang like Mark Bendix. But he was right up there with any of the non-Bendixian Maui Wowie tokers!

By this point, you may be wondering: “Who was Mark Bendix? And what does this Bendix fellow’s penchant for Marvel Comics have to do with anything?”

Questions like this come up constantly when reading Maraniss’s biography. Mark Bendix is just one of the countless dramatis personaewho provide the reporter with welcome diversions from the dull (but no doubt well-paid) slog through Obama-ness that he has signed on for.

The apparent randomness of Obama’s life story reinforces what Maraniss says is his deepest philosophical assumption: “I believe that life is chaotic …”

Yet, like the Sixties acid casualty in the “plate of shrimp” scene in the movie Repo Man, who sees everywhere an overlaid “lattice of coincidence,” Maraniss affirms, “I also believe that there are connections that illuminate our world … they were everywhere I looked in the story of Barack Obama.”

Maraniss dumps a load of pointillist detail on the bewildered reader and leaves him to connect the dots as best he can.

He’s not going to tell you what he thinks they mean (that could get him in trouble). But if you follow very carefully, you might be able to figure out a few things for yourself.

Thus, the mention of Mark Bendix’s Marvel Comics obsession isn’t quite as pointless as it first seems. One of Maraniss’s minor themes is Obama’s fascination with superheroes. For example, one of Obama’s white girlfriends in New York, Genevieve Cook, sensed that comic book characters might provide a key to understanding Obama’s opaque personality:

Genevieve knew that he harbored faintly articulated notions of future greatness, of gaining power to change things. Once, when they were in Prospect Park, they saw a young boy in costume playing out a superhero role. They started to talk about superheroes, the comics he enjoyed as an adolescent in Honolulu, and intimations of “playing out a superhero life.” She considered it “a very strong archetype in his personality,” but as soon as she tried to draw him out, he shut down “and didn’t want to talk about it further.”

This may offer an explanation of the resilience of Obama’s gigantic ego, “his irrepressible belief that he was the smartest person in the room,” his confidence that he would someday lead millions despite the relentless evidence that even his friends wouldn’t follow him around the corner to get a newspaper.

The comic books provide a whole mythos in which nobodies have fabulous secret identities: mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent is actually Superman, while shy student Peter Parker is Spider-Man.

The irony is striking. Obama opponents have frantically tried to piece together the secret identity of this seeming international man of mystery: Is he Muslim? Kenyan? Arab? Gay? Frank Davis’s son?

But, in contrast, Maraniss goes to great lengths to reassure Obama’s supporters: relax—there’s nothing interesting about Obama!

Yet, all the while, Obama himself was convinced that he wasn’t as boring as his friends assumed. Deep inside, he had a secret identity … President Man!

It’s also important to understand that the young Obama, despite his obscurity, was hardly a lowly outsider (as he has recently been portraying himself—in contrast to the conventionally well-heeled Mitt Romney).

The young Obama didn’t have a lot of money, but he traveled in elite international circles. Lots of people who knew him saw him as an elegant and exotic accouterment to their social scene. Thus, he got invited places, such as when he jet-setted to Singapore in 1981 to watch his Pakistani pals compete in an international polo match.

It’s just that none of these friends viewed him as a take-charge guy.

Perhaps Obama’s problem was that he hung out with members of various ruling castes, in which standards are high.

For example, one of Obama’s New York roommates, the drug addict waiter Sohale Siddiqi, sounds like a lowlife in Dreams. But he was actually from Pakistan’s crème de la crème. Maraniss reports Siddiqi and Obama being visited in New York by Siddiqi’s old friend from the top grammar school in Pakistan—Sanam Bhutto, daughter of the late president of Pakistan, Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, and sister of future president Benazir Bhutto.

Likewise, Obama’s girlfriend in New York, Genevieve Cook was the daughter of Michael J. Cook, whom Maraniss reports was then head of “the Australian equivalent of the intelligence assessment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency and, years later, would become ambassador to the United States.” Cook had previously been Australia’s “number two man in Indonesia.”

Genevieve’s mother was by then remarried to Philip C. Jessup Jr., a well-connected Democratic lawyer with homes on Park Avenue and in Georgetown. Jessup’s great-grandfather had founded the America University of Beirut. His diplomat father had flown in from Pakistan to defend himself before the Senate when Joe McCarthy accused him of “an unusual affinity … for Communist causes.” Harry Truman nominated Genevieve’s step-grandfather as American delegate to the United Nations, but McCarthy convinced the Senate to block his appointment.

The younger Jessup himself had

lived in Indonesia, where he was a top official at the International Nickel Company during a period when it was … benefiting from a lucrative, if politically and environmentally controversial, relationship with the Suharto regime.

During these years, Obama’s mother was working mostly in Indonesia (and sometimes in Pakistan) for the Ford Foundation, which has often been accused of serving as a front for American power abroad. She had started out at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta in 1967, where, according to Obama’s autobiography, CIA men had told her hair-raising stories about the Indonesian military’s vast slaughter of Communists in 1965. At this time, she was a good friend of Genevieve’s step-brother, anthropologist Tim Jessup. (It’s a small world, after all!)

Stanley Ann Obama Soetoro had gotten divorced in 1980 from her Indonesian second husband, Lolo Soetoro. One of Maraniss’s revelations is that Obama’s account in his memoir Dreams from My Father of the stories Lolo had wooed his impressionable mother with—thrilling accounts of how his family had been freedom fighters who had suffered horribly at the hands of the Dutch colonialists—had been “a concocted myth in almost all respects.” Instead, Lolo came from a family of wealthy collaborationists:

“Lolo’s father … had been a geologist, a prominent profession in an archipelago rich with minerals, natural gas, and oil. He had worked for a Dutch oil company … His expertise in mining was so extensive that he had written a book about it, in Dutch.”

Lolo was a geologist who worked in government relations for an American oil company. He had gotten the job through his brother-in-law, a heavyweight in mineral extraction for the Suharto government.

Are you noticing a “lattice of coincidence”?

By the way, remember the story in Dreams about how Obama’s African grandfather had been tortured by the British colonialists during the Mau-Mau uprising? Maraniss says that probably is just made up, too, although he’s less certain than he is about the Indonesian tale. Obama’s Kenyan grandfather was a collaborationist also. That’s how his father could afford to attend an expensive private high school that made him eligible for the Tom Mboya Airlift to the U.S.

Mboya, a Luo like Obama Sr., was America’s man in Kenya. But Maraniss points out that Obama Sr. was closer ideologically to Mboya’s fellow-Luo archrival, Oginga Odinga, who sent his son, Raila Odinga, to East Germany for college. (He’s now prime minister of Kenya). But Obama Sr. had many tribal ties to Mboya. Indeed, Obama Sr. was one of the last people to see Mboya alive before his conspiratorial assassination in 1969, and served as the anchor witness in the trial of the Kikuyu hitman who shot Mboya.

While dating Genevieve in New York, Obama was himself perfunctorily working for Business International, which he famously described as feeling “like a spy behind enemy lines.” Obama’s mother wrote, in a letter to a friend, that

He calls it working for the enemy because some of the reports are written for commercial firms that want to invest in [Third World] countries.

Maraniss explains that Business International was just a dreary newsletter company, not the glamorous corporate consultancy fictionalized in Dreams. And yet…

“[T]here were suggestions of derring-do in the early days of the enterprise, intimations of spookdom, always denied, of nondescript men in seemingly bland jobs who had worked around the world for the CIA. Not that the place itself was a front, just that it might have been a convenient cover for a few agency types.”

Obama didn’t work hard at B.I., but one time he showed energy:

“… Dan Armstrong, who considered Obama a friend…remembered seeing Obama get into a ‘huge argument’ with an older colleague named Dan Kobal. The subject was the CIA. ‘It was heated and brief. … I don’t think it was discreet at all. It touched on some deeply held belief of Barack’s. … Barack was attacking it.’ … [Kobal] postulated that he and Obama might have been talking about Africa. Obama, he said, ‘may well have been’ anti-CIA then, which Kobal was not.”

I’ve been writing about the remarkable number of “Cold War” coincidences in Obama’s background since 2009. Maraniss seems to have been reading my stuff (although I don’t see my name anywhere in his citations).

My suggestion is not that Obama is some kind of Manchurian Candidate of the CIA, but that the CIA and other players in American influence abroad tend to work more like the “municipal favor banks” described in Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and David Simon’s The Wire. Perhaps Obama’s mom made a few phone calls to old acquaintances and helped get the ball rolling for his newsletter gig at this Company-affiliated firm.

Maraniss, however, takes extraordinary pains to point out that Obama could have wound up at Business International through random luck and normal bureaucratic channels:

“His resume likely was sent to Business International from the placement office at Columbia’s School for International Affairs, which had a long-standing relationship with B.I. … Obama had taken the mandatory copyediting test and performed well …”

Now, that information is interesting…but only to me. It looks like Maraniss wrote it in response to my “favor bank” theory. But if you are some poor Obama fan who voted for him to bring “hope” and “change” and has never allowed yourself to read anything heretical about your hero, these kinds of passages must be baffling in their boringness. Who cares about how his resume got there? What’s the point?

This is a pattern. Barack Obama; The Story is an odd book that often appears intended to answer sophisticated questions about Obama, but without ever mentioning what those questions are.

Here’s where I think Obama is coming from: he’s an offshoot of the American Cold War’s political (and thus leftist) wing.

When I first began to notice Obama’s family ties to the CIA and its counterparts and accessories, I asked myself if my family had similar connections. At first, I said, “Of course not!” But the more I thought things over, the more I noticed that, yes, actually, I do.

For example, my mother’s best friend’s husband went on to be Lockheed’s chief designer of the CIA’s SR-71 spy plane. My wife’s late uncle, an Air Force colonel with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, spied behind the Berlin Wall, debriefing dissident Soviet scientists in parked cars on the back streets of East Berlin. My wife has other relatives with vague jobs in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, except when they move to Alice Springs in the center of the Australian Outback, presumably to work at the Pine Gap satellite tracking station. (You’re never supposed to ask them what they do).

Now, my family connections are mostly to the “technical” wing of American intelligence. I’m an offshoot of the Cold War military-industrial complex (engineering division). And, from that, my basic loyalties are pretty predictable. American engineers don’t do complicated when it comes to national loyalties.

Obama, in contrast, appears have had numerous personal connections to the “political” wing of the Cold War “twilight struggle.” The strategy was to outfox the Communists in the struggle for the hearts and minds of Third Worlders by recruiting people who were almost, but not quite, Communists themselves. It was the international intrigue version of the Median Voter theory: sign up everybody to the right of the KGB.

This makes Obama’s inherited loyalties much more, well, interesting. But the appeal of power, acclaim, and money crosses many borders and ideologies. Obama originated in a segment of the global elite resentful of their dependence upon American domination. But, bygones can be bygones in a 21st Century where the global elites’ vast enthusiasm for Obama’s run for President presumably mollified any ideological hard feelings he might still have been inclined to nurse toward them.

All this raises the question of how Obama ever attained Presidential Timberhood in the national MSM in the mid-2000s, despite his long track record of not having much of a track record. Perhaps Maraniss will explain this in Volume II. But it would be understandable if he gave up this monumental project in disgust at Obama supporters’ lack of interest in learning the mundane realities behind their cherished fantasies.

My last word: it’s easy to overthink Obama. Don’t overlook the largest element in his make-up—the “apathetic quasi-intellectual sports fan.”

Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative and writes regularly for Takimag. His features his daily blog. His book, AMERICA’S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA’S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE”, is available here and here (Kindle)

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying. We are going to press on. We have work to do.” [Obama to Blacks: “Stop Complaining. We Have Work to Do“,, September 25, 2011]

President Obama’s rather startling reproof of his black critics at the Congressional Black Caucus’ dinner on Saturday night might or might not work. But it is a useful reminder that Obama’s relationship with the black community has always been complicated—while remaining, as I argued in my book America’s Half Blood Prince, the central preoccupation of his life.

Someday, a very funny novel will be written about how Barack Obama became President. Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy’s new study The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency isn’t that book. But it provides, from a conventional but open-minded black liberal’s perspective, ample evidence of just how large a role race played in Obamamania—with the candidate presenting a “blank screen” for the projection of inane racial fantasies.

With the Main Stream Media finally raising doubts about Obama’s capabilities, it’s worth considering the views of the leading black expert in Obama’s chosen field of discrimination law, a man who knew Obama in the 1980s.

(By the way, have you noticed how being a law professor increasingly seems like The Last Good Job in America? Actually being a lawyer is turning into a lousy career choice , due to the vast number of graduates that law schools churn out. The law of supply and demand applies to salaries as well as wages. But law professors evidently have this thing, and it’s golden. Thus, I frequently find myself reviewing books by law professors, such as Kennedy of Harvard —here’s my review of Kennedy’s 2003 book Interracial Intimacies—and Amy Chua of Yale—here are my articles on her Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and World on Fire. They seem to have ample time on their hands. Other law professors, such as Chua’s husband Jed Rubenfeld and Stephen Carter, both of Yale, write mystery novels in their off hours. And, of course, Obama was offered a tenured professorship at Chicago for writing nothing at all. Nice work if you can get it!)

Professor Kennedy is a strong supporter of Obama. But he points out a number of inconvenient facts that aren’t part of The Narrative.

For instance, Kennedy, who likes a good argument, is struck by how little Obama was asked throughout 2007 and 2008 about his lone area of professional expertise: race law.

Not only did candidate John McCain refuse to bring up Obama’s embarrassing relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but he also ignored (despite my express instructions) the entire issue of affirmative action:

“… McCain never seriously broached the matter; remarkably, in three nationally televised presidential debates, the issue of affirmative action never surfaced.”

Kennedy notes:

“When Obama did discuss race relations, it was with notable sketchiness: he never explained during the campaign exactly where he stood on racial affirmative action, or racial voting rights, or other racial subjects that any president will influence considerably, through, among other things, his superintendency of the Department of Justice and his power to nominate federal judges.”

Actually, Obama did post online detailed plans for expanding quotas and the like in the factsheet [PDF] given out at his Howard University speech, which I pointed out here in April 2008. You just had to know where to look for the information—which is the way Obama wanted it.

Thus, if you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll notice the inevitable local news stories, such as this one from Toledo last week, about how the Obama Administration is investigating the local public schools to find out why, on average, whites get suspended less and take Advanced Placement tests more than blacks.[Why the Feds are Investigating the Toledo Public Schools, By Molly Bloom, NPR, September 20, 2011]

Why is Toledo, apparently, the only place in America where that happens? What are those racist Toledoans doing to cause this unique locus of racial inequality?

Each local racial inquisition would be comic in its stupidity if the country didn’t have better things to do with its scare resources.

Kennedy says of Obama: “He won’t champion it conspicuously, but he will maintain the affirmative-action status quo.”

And, granted, the Bush Administration went around similarly encouraging racial quotas ( e.g., Alberto Gonzales’s lawsuit against the Fire Department of New York).

But Obama has, as he promised at Howard University, hired more and more enthusiastic inquisitors from leftwing organizations like the NAACP. The Obama Administration is cracking down, for example, on employers not hiring enough criminals in Baltimore, on disparate impact involving Facebook, and much more.

Now, you might think that pestering employers and educators is counterproductive, but that’s not the point. The point is uncomplicated: to provide jobs and power to Howard grads.

Obviously, there’s no profit for Obama in going public with his efforts for more quotas. Yet, since the Republicans are afraid to touch the issue, there’s also no cost to him in the low profile maneuvers. Thus, to the extent that “personnel are policy”, he’s on the job.

Kennedy points out that Obama’s one taciturn reference to affirmative action in The Audacity of Hope was disingenuous:

“Obama, here, is simply obscuring the dilemmas that affirmative action inescapably poses. Racial affirmative actiondoes distinguish between people on a racial basis. It doesredistribute resources. It does subject preferred candidates to lower standards than those who are unpreferred.”

The most interesting anecdote about Randall Kennedy, Obama, and affirmative action, unfortunately, isn’t in Kennedy’s new book. It’s in David Remnick’s voluminous biography of Obama, The Bridge. There we learn that Obama signed up for Kennedy’s Harvard Law School class on “Race, Racism, and American Law” (Obama’s career specialty), but then dropped it when he found out that Kennedy didn’t silence debate over affirmative action:

“At the first class, Obama … watched as a predictable debate unfolded between black students who objected to Kennedy’s critique [of some aspects of affirmative action] and students on the right, almost all white, who embraced it. Obama feared a semester-long shout-fest. He dropped the course.”

In the Anglo-American tradition, public debate is considered a good thing. But think about this from Obama’s perspective of What’s-in-it-for-me? How could open discussion of his legal privileges benefit him? He merely wanted to continue to enjoy unequal protection without having to attempt to justify it to skeptics.

Mission accomplished.

Kennedy is amusingly dubious about everything touching on the Obama-Wright Affair. For example, Kennedy is impolitely skeptical of Obama’s much acclaimed Christian faith, which he supposedly demonstrated by joining Rev. Wright’s trendy church in the 1980s. (Oprah Winfrey had been a member, too, but she wised up and dropped Rev. Wright many years before Obama.)

“Obama’s purported ‘religious beliefs’ have a remarkable character: they fit almost perfectly with the political profile that, in his view, best advances his electoral ambitions … His ‘religious beliefs’ fit with such uniform snugness into his electoral strategy that I doubt their authenticity. They are, themselves, little more than another tool.”

Kennedy is also unimpressed by Obama’s lavishly praised “A More Perfect Union” speech that he ginned up in response to the networks finally broadcasting tidbits from Rev. Wright’s sermons. The response from white pundits:

“… is a vivid example of Obamamania. … Many observers have lauded what they see as the speech’s intellectual ambitiousness. I don’t see, however, what so impresses them. … I am not deriding or condemning the speech. As I mentioned previously, it appears to have accomplished its main purpose. Eloquence and candor are not always useful qualities.”

In his lawyerly language, Kennedy flat out doesn’t believe Obama’s claims about being astonished and outraged by the broadcast sermons:

“It is noteworthy that candidate Obama, too, expressed shock in some of his varied responses to the Reverend Wright imbroglio. It is hard to believe, though, that he was truly unaware of the sentiment and rhetoric that generated the uproar. The claim of surprise is best understood as a strategy aimed at distancing himself from his former pastor.”

One point that Kennedy touches on in passing is Obama’s good luck in failing at his career ambition of convincing blacks he was black enough to be their leader. In the 2000 Democratic primary for a South Side seat in the House of Representatives:

“[Bobby] Rush decisively defeated Obama, in part, because he and his allies framed Obama as a “white man in blackface.”

In a footnote, Kennedy adds:

“Obama’s loss was a stroke of tremendous good fortune. Had he won, he would probably have had to adopt a political style attractive to the majority of his voting constituents but too liberal and too black for a presidential run.”

The federal law requiring the drawing of mostly House black districts explains the weak progress of black politicians to statewide office better than supposed white animus. The Voting Rights Act is a quota system that offers black politicos an easy path to the House by playing the anti-white “race man”. But then it leaves them without a career path beyond that.

In contrast, in other popularity contests, black celebrities such as Oprah, Will Smith, and Michael Jordan have proven colossally popular with white audiences. Oprah, for instance, is the richest self-made woman in America, with $2.7 billion.

The simplest explanation for this pattern of huge black success in some popularity-driven fields but not in national politics: all else being equal, it’s advantageous in 21st Century America to be black; but the quality of black politicians has been low. Oprah is a lot better at her job than, say, former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (who got caught stashing $90,000 in bribes in his freezer) was at his.

Thus, Obamamania.

A WASPy black guy arrives on the scene, “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” in Vice-President Joe Biden’s words, and white people rush to tell him he ought to be President.

He quickly comes to believe it, even though his wife can never quite figure out what the white people are getting so excited about. “Barack?” Michelle Robinson Obama used to babysit for Jesse Jackson, and Barack, for good and bad, is no Jesse.

Indeed, Obama lacks a key personality quirk needed for anyone to prosper psychologically as President: he doesn’t thrive on human contact. He likes crowds chanting his name, but meeting people wears him down. He’s not a big man. That’s why a favorite weekend activity of his when he was back in Hyde Park was to browse alone in a bookstore for hours. Perhaps the happiest he seemed last summer was going to a bookstore on his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to pick up the new novel by Daniel Woodrell, who wrote Winter’s Bone. (Obama has good taste in literary fiction.)

In contrast: in 1987 I was getting off a plane at O’Hare, when I heard an excited murmur from female passengers in line ahead of me. Oprah was sitting in first class, waiting for the airliner to go on to Detroit. She was passing the time by greeting her fans as they filed passed. It was an interesting opportunity to study a celebrity in action without gawking.

Oprah turned out to be tremendous at this kind of random meet and greet, the best I’ve ever seen. In five seconds, she made each woman walking by feel like Oprah was her best friend forever.

That was 24 years and about $2.6 billion dollars ago for Oprah.

In that claustrophobic situation, Obama would likely have dashed off the plane for a cigarette.

Indeed, I suspect one reason Obama kept up his unfashionable smoking habit for all these years is that the legal persecution of smokers gave him an excuse to disappear from the smoke-unfilled rooms of today’s political life and go out in the alley by himself for his Alone Time.

Picture Obama at some political meeting gesturing vaguely toward the Exit sign with his pack of Marlboros: “It’s not that I’m sick of your company and have to get away from all of you before I scream, it’s … it’s just the Law!”

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

“But as he stood on the stage in Grant Park, a shudder went through Barack Obama. He would now have to command Washington, tame New York, and rescue the economy in the first real management job of his life.”

Ron Suskind in Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,

“Barack Obama came to Washington just six years ago, having spent his professional life as a part-time lawyer, part-time law professor, and part-time state legislator in Illinois. … But there was no mistaking the lightness of his résumé. Just a year before coming to Washington, State Senator Obama was investigating the dangers of a toy known as the Yo-Yo Water Ball. (He tried, unsuccessfully, to have it banned.)”

Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker,May 2, 2011

How did we wind up with another lightweight in the Oval Office?

Ron Suskind’s upcoming book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President, is perhaps the first full-scale work of real investigatory journalism to subject the Obama Administration to non-fawning attention. It documents how:

“The Citibank incident [in which Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ignored a Presidential order], and others like it, reflected a more pernicious and personal dilemma emerging from inside the administration: that the young president’s authority was being systematically undermined or hedged by his seasoned advisers.”

One of those Washington insiders who pushed Obama around, his chief economic advisor Larry Summers, complained repeatedly to a rival Administration economist, Peter Orszag:

“’You know, Peter, we’re really home alone.’ Over the past few months, Summers had said this, in a stage whisper, to Orszag and others as they left the morning economic briefings in the Oval Office. … ‘I mean it,’ Summers stressed. ‘We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.’”

Of course, Larry Summers, like T imothy Geithner, was one of those insiders who helped get the country into the financial mess that it’s in. But how was Obama—a man of so little financial acumen that he didn’t start putting his own retirement savings into a tax-sheltered SEP account until 2007, the head of a family that had kept going deeper into debt despite a $200,000 income—supposed to out-argue the famous economist?

Suskind’s phrase “the young President” is literally true of Obama: Only four Presidents were younger when they entered the White House: Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ulysses S. Grant.

And “young” is also a euphemism for “inexperienced,” “untested,” and “callow.” Obama’s uneventful life and lackluster career provided him with far less executive experience than even Kennedy, much less General Grant.

Until recently, Obama has benefited from press coverage so masturbatory that the Main Stream Media was shocked last week to learn from Suskind’s book that Obama doesn’t take white feminists seriously:

“‘The president has a real woman problem’ was the assessment of another high-ranking female official. ‘The idea of the boys’ club being just Larry and Rahm [Emanuel] isn’t fair. He [Obama] was just as responsible himself.’ … ‘[L]ooking back,’ recalled Anita Dunn, when asked about it nearly two years later, ‘this place would be in court for a hostile workplace … Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.’”

[Book: Women in Obama White House felt excluded and ignored,By Nia-Malika Henderson and Peter Wallsten, Washington Post, September 16, 2011]

But why should this be news? Obama hired Larry Summers, who, as you’ll recall, is a bête noire of feminists for telling some unwelcome truths at a feminist kvetch conference. Telling truths of this sort is exactly the kind of thing that feminists would normally complain about. But as with most things interesting about Obama, the MSM just never brought up the issue.

Although Obama has made millions of dollars off his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, few have read it closely. (Except, of course, for me, researching my book America’s Half Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance”). One thing that stood out is Obama’s lack of interest in feminism. My recollection is that he devotes clauses in a couple of sentences in his 150,000-word book to boilerplate tributes to feminism, which isn’t much for a modern politician.

In general, Obama gives the impression that he viewed feminists as horning in on all the sympathy due the real victims: black men (such as, to pick a random example, Barack Obama).

Obama deeply resented his mother dumping him on his grandparents in Hawaii while she pursued her career, such as it was, in Indonesia writing her 1,067-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing.

Intellectually, he could acknowledge that his grandmother, a pioneering female bank executive, worked a lot harder than his beloved Willy Lomanish grandfather. But his appreciation for her is distinctly limited.

In the notorious Throw Grandma Under the Bus anecdote recounted in both Dreams and in his celebrated 2008 race speech in which he compared his still-living grandmother to Rev. Wright, Obama treated his grandmother’s fear of violence from a male thug who accosted her at the bus stop as a racist insult.

His lazy but anti-racist grandfather explained why he refused to drive his evil wife to her high-paying job even this once:

“He turned around and I saw that he was shaking. ‘It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to me. She’s been bothered by men before. You know why she’s so scared this time. I’ll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black.’ He whispered the word. ‘That’s the real reason why she’s bothered. And I just don’t think that right.’

“The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure.”

Similarly, after Michelle Obama got off to a rocky start on the campaign trail, Obama started treating his Harvard Law graduate wife the way Ike treated Mamie: as a devoted homebody who could barely bear to be away from her children for minutes.

Of course, that should have raised the question: if Michelle’s priorities are so home-centric, how did she “earn” $317,000 in 2005 from the University of Chicago Hospitals? Wasn’t Michelle’s giant raise and bonus therefore mostly just a payoff from private medical interest to a potential President?

The big question that hasn’t been much discussed: why the remarkable four-year rush that propelled a second-string state legislator into the White House. What was Obamamania all about?

Answer: It was all about race.

Race isn’t the only reason Obama edged out John McCain and Hillary Clinton. But it’s the main reason why an obscure state legislator wound up in the White House before enough people noticed he wasn’t all that bright.

To understand the mania of 2008, imagine some island tribe whose shamans have been telling them for years that all their troubles are due to the volcano gods being angry. The solution, obviously, is to throw a virgin into the volcano.

Obamamania was the mirror image. The witch doctors in the schools and the MSM had been telling us for decades that our troubles are caused by white racism. Then Obama comes along and volunteers to graciously exorcise the demons of racism for us by allowing himself to be cast into the White House.

The slightly demented party that Obama presided over in Chicago’s Grant Park on the night of his election was a lot like the orgy after the volcano virgin-tossing: everybody is fired up that they’ve finally done what the high priests had been telling them to do. All our troubles are over!

But then a couple of years go by, and it turns out that our troubles are only worse.

People start to argue. Some say we didn’t throw enough virgins into the volcano. Others whisper: “Where’s the proof that virgin was really a virgin?”

But nobody quite wants to believe yet that angry volcano gods don’t actually have much to do with our problems.

Although he’d be reluctant to admit it, Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy’s new book, The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, documents the answer to what the frenzy of 2008 was about: Just as George W. Bush was the Legacy President, Obama is the Affirmative Action President.

Without their distinctive dads to attract attention to them, Bush could have made a pretty darn good sales executive, while a white Obama might have wound up one of the best lecturers at some community college.

Although there are two Ph.Ds in his family tree (his mother and his late maternal grandmother’s sister, a retired statistics professor), it’s hard to imagine Obama ever finishing a dissertation. This author of two volumes of autobiography has a hard time staying interested for long in anything other than himself.

And Obama can’t ever quite come up with an original insight even about Obama, much less anything else. (Can anybody recall any new idea even being credited to the President?)

Still, Obama has a solid knack for digesting and lucidly repeating back other people’s ideas, which would have served him—and, let’s not be ungenerous, his JuCo students—well in an all-but-dissertation academic career.

Suskind’s revelations about the contempt some of Obama’s underlings’ felt for their boss’s brains are quite similar to the ones he reported in his 2004 book, The Price of Loyalt y, which revealed former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s view of Bush.

So, let’s ask a question that won’t get asked much elsewhere: Who is smarter: Obama or Bush? The Harvard Law School grad or the Harvard Business School grad?

As seen with all the attention devoted to Texas governor Rick Perry’s lousy college grades, the MSM tends to be rather avid in reporting the academic records of Republican politicians. Of course, since everybody knows that Democratic politicians are smarter, they see no need to do any actual reporting on Democrats. How smart, for example, is Vice-President Joe Biden?

Thus, we know a fair amount of objective information about Bush’s intelligence as a young man. He scored a 1206 on the SAT (640 math, 566 verbal). That would be about a 1300 on the SAT after scores were inflated in 1995. He earned a 77 average (C+) at Yale majoring in history. And when he took the Air Force officer qualifying test in 1968, his scores equated to an IQ in the 120s, much like his SAT score does.

In August 2004, Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times, asked rhetorically in a column entitled The ‘Dumb’ Factor:

“”Does anyone in America doubt that Kerry has a higher IQ than Bush? I’m sure the candidates’ SATs and college transcripts would put Kerry far ahead.”

Oh yeah? Challenged, I dug up Kerry’s 1966 scores on the Navy officer’s qualifying test. They were slightly worse than Bush’s on the 1968 Air Force equivalent.

When NBC’s Tom Brokaw asked Kerry about my finding, he testily replied that he must have been out drinking the night before the test.

A year after the election, Kerry’s GPA at Yale finally leaked out: 76—a point lower than Bush’s.

Similarly, Obama has been widely portrayed in the press as a near-genius. But nobody has looked terribly hard for objective evidence to support these first impressions. And in fact, viewed dispassionately, Obama’s career presents a mixed bag.

He was a run-of-the-mill student at a strong prep school in Honolulu. Although he impressed some of his classmates as verbally agile, in general he didn’t make much of an impression.

He then attended Occidental, a decent but underachieving liberal arts college in Los Angeles. Oxy had a longstanding arrangement for a certain number of sophomores to transfer to Columbia, one of the middle tier Ivy League schools, and Obama took advantage of that.

He seems to have experienced some sort of crisis in New York that led him to give up drugs. In retrospect, that was the beginning of his ascent, but his autobiography depicts his New York years as depressed. His sister worried that he would end up homeless.

The record of his accomplishments at Columbia is meager. He published a single poorly-written article in a college newspaper. He managed to graduate, although without honors.

Nobody knows what his grades were, although David Remnick’s biography The Bridge quotes John McKnight, who later wrote a recommendation for Obama to Harvard Law School, as saying “I don’t think he did too well in college.”

Obama eventually got a job as a copy-editor at a newsletter company with CIA ties. He then moved to Chicago to take part in the struggle between blacks and whites during that city’s virulent Council Wars era.

He was nominally a “community organizer,” but he didn’t seem to get much organized. His most legendary accomplishment over the next three years: helping get some of the asbestos removed from a housing project. He published one forgettable article, on community organizing, in the book After Alinsky.

Somehow, though, this lifelong history of futility propelled him to a fabulous career at Harvard Law School.

How Obama got into HLS has never been adequately explained. Affirmative action no doubt played a role. At HLS, he wrote, “As someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative-action programs during my career …”

Indeed, the great majority of elite black law students are beneficiaries of racial preferences. A 2005 study found:

“… without affirmative action, African American enrollment at the first-tier schools would decline by over four-fifths and at each of the next two tiers by approximately two-thirds.”

Also, Obama was a legacy due to his father picking up a Masters in economics before Harvard kicked him out for practicing polygamy.

Yet, considering his weak college grades, my guess is that Obama did quite well on the Law School Admissions Test compared to the black average. He apparently only applied to Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, which suggests he knew he was a sure thing and didn’t need any safety schools.

A relatively strong LSAT performance might also explain Obama’s otherwise seemingly inexplicable self-confidence at Harvard. One classmate was Jacqueline Fuchs, bass guitar player in the 1970s girl group The Runaways with Joan Jett. Jett subsequently turned herself from a fifth wheel in The Runaways into an arena rock star in the 1980s through force of will. Fuchs marveled in 2008:

“.. Barack Obama reminds me of Joan Jett. … When I met Barack Obama, in our first year of law school, he had already put on his big-time politician act. He just didn’t quite have it polished, and he hadn’t figured out that he needed charm and humor to round out the confidence and intelligence. One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the “Obamanometer,” a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. … In law school the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up.”

More naïve white people at Harvard Law with no experience with wanna-be stars were blown away by Obama’s act. He was the One they’d been waiting for. For example, famous Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe saw Obama as possessing expert insight into quantum physics.

Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, an honor that at the time appears to have been restricted to the top 1/6th of the class. His course selections appear to have been focused on the kind of “racism and the law” courses that prepared for his chosen specialty of anti-discrimination law. They are likely easier than other courses, and he was a famous teacher’s pet. Still, even discounting all the hoopla surrounding him at Harvard and all the special favors done him as a high potential black student, his performance there was most respectable.

Obama also won a political election among students as a compromise candidate to edit the Harvard Law Review. But despite his vocal volubility, Obama passed up the editor’s traditional prerogative of publishing a lengthy essay and only contributed a single unsigned note.

And being head of the Harvard Law Review doesn’t require strong organizational skills. The system is set up to have a new editor every year, and is designed to keep a bad one from wrecking the brand.

Obama went back to Chicago. His record as a lawyer was undistinguished. He was allowed by his firm to speak in court only once.

As a political leader, well, if he did nothing else, he built the Obama brand. But there’s little evidence of Obama possessing a carefully crafted Machiavellian masterplan. He was depressed to discover in 2000 at age 38 that black Democrats thought he wasn’t black enough. But white Democrats thought he was just right, so he then shifted his career strategy.

Obama was associated with the University of Chicago Law School for a dozen years, during which he published zero (0) academic articles. Yet, astonishingly, he was offered tenure anyway. His only national publications during these many years were his autobiography, which earned a few respectful reviews before being remaindered, and an appearance on National Public Radio in 1994 denouncing The Bell Curve.

It’s not that he can’t write. Although Jack Cashill has argued that terrorist Bill Ayers must have ghostwritten Obama’s memoir, the essay questions Obama wrote for his classes on racism and the law reflect an agile prose style and a comprehensive if unoriginal understanding of the legal issues.

In fact, Obama seems to like to write. As David Remnick reported, writing his two books struck him as less boring than the rest of his duties.

For example, numerous columns under Obama’s byline appeared in the Hyde Park newspaper and the black Chicago newspaper. Republican researcher Stanley Kurtz has read through these columns (which aren’t online), without discovering much worth noting, for good or bad.

It could be that Obama has been covering up his Deep Thoughts for all these years to maintain his political viability. But the more likely explanation is that while Obama enjoys writing (although not quite as much as he enjoys talking), he just can’t think of much of interest to write about.

Obama appears to be smart enough to be President, but not smart enough to be terribly interesting. But it’s okay for Presidents to be boring.

Yet Obama doesn’t seem to get that he’s the second coming of Gerald Ford. His swollen vanity makes him see himself as the New Lincoln. Obama told Lizza in 2008:

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

That level of egotism in a President is disturbing. If he knows “more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors,” then he needs to ask himself: Why, if I’m so smart, can’t I find better policy directors?

Adulation can be addictive, and Obama has been subjected to so much due to his race that it has to have taken a toll. The sad thing is that Obama doesn’t get the joke about why white people constantly tell him how smart he is. If he’d actually read The Bell Curve before denouncing it, he might have figured out that white people keep telling him he’s brilliant because he impresses them as much smarter than the average black. Being, say, 40 points smarter than the median African-American, however, wouldn’t put him at a Nixonian 140—it would put him at a George W. Bushish 125.

The interesting question is why his performance at so many other times in his life has fallen short of his halcyon days at Harvard. Obama seems to feed psychologically on elite white adulation, as at Harvard or as on the Presidential campaign trail. When it’s in short supply, however, he seems to lose interest and energy, as his closest supporters have remarked.

What about various seemingly unforced errors as President, such as not releasing his Hawaiian birth certificate until halfway through his first term? A Boy Scout president like Jimmy Carter might have released it immediately to prevent public misapprehension, while I could imagine a master gamesman like FDR keeping it in his top drawer until the week before the election to maximize how bad his opponents look.

My guess would be that Obama was trying to play the latter game, but lost his nerve when Donald Trump, a celebrity even better at garnering media attention, made an issue of it.

The notion of Obama as an expert politician is mostly based on the idea that to become President he had to overcome huge barriers of racism. In reality, being black put the wind at his back. American culture has hungered for a black President for a generation, as long as he was a long way from the Marion Barry school.

For example, in the 1996 exit poll, as mentioned in Kennedy’s new book, voters said that if the race had been between Bill Clinton and Colin Powell instead of Clinton and Bob Dole, they would have voted for the black Republican general by a thumping 48-36 margin (with Perot getting 8 percent).

In general, Obama never showed acute insight into even his own field of expertise, racial politics. It didn’t occur to him that he should emphasize winning white votes rather than black votes until 2001. But that insight didn’t lead to the logical corollary that he therefore needed to distance himself from the anti-white Rev. Jeremiah Wright until seven years later. For example, he gave over $20,000 to Rev. Wright’s church in 2007, the year he started his Presidential campaign. It didn’t occur to him that it wasn’t a good idea for him to feature Rev. Wright at his campaign kickoff on February 10, 2007 until the day before.

Mostly, Obama benefited from the media flying air cover for him on any issue touching on race, and from the willingness of Clinton and McCain to lose rather than to go to the mat with him over Wright. But then just about everybody in American public life is pretty obtuse about race.

Moreover, a career devoted to self-promotion through of his personal story or race and inheritance didn’t leave him much time, energy, or interest in mastering other fields necessary for being a good President (as opposed to a good candidate), such as economics and finance. Thus, he has been at the intellectual mercy of the various insiders he has had to rely upon like Summers and Geithner.

Now, it’s possible that he will grow in office. Obama showed he could make himself a good law student in his late 20s, and he appears to have improved significantly as a prose stylist over that period, too. But, it’s not clear whether his much petted ego will allow him to recognize his current deficiencies.

How do we make sense of Obama’s odd career of ups and downs? How does somebody go back and forth between being a nobody at Columbia, a rock star at Harvard, a bore in Chicago (virtually disappearing after his humiliating defeat by Bobby Rush in 2000), then the wildly popular Mulatto Messiah in 2008, and now the widely panned President Bummer in 2011?

Last year, Jonathan Last compiled a list of Obama intimates testifying to his bouts of listlessness:

  • “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.
  • “The reality,” [Judson] Miner told [David] Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.”
  • Valerie Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”

Last week, the rumor site Gawker floated a plausible-sounding trial balloon:

“We’re told by a source inside the [New York] Times that the paper is preparing a story … taking seriously the notion that Obama may be suffering from a depressive episode.”

Manic-depression is hardly unknown in politics, even if it’s never talked about. It can be highly beneficial to a career if the timing is just right.

If Obama is bipolar, he has a much milder case than, say, Ross Perot. In early 1992, Perot decided he could be elected President on an Independent ticket. That sounded crazy, but within a few months, he was leading in the polls. But after being accused of racial insensitivity for addressing the NAACP as “you people,” he disappeared into a paranoid funk for the rest of the entire summer.

Perot then re-emerged from seclusion in the fall to campaign strongly and win 19 percent of the vote. And Perot’s crazy campaign really did his country some good: for a few years, it scared both parties into taking deficit-cutting actions. But the MSM never mentioned manic-depression, even though we could all see it.

Finally, my own belief is that Obama’s ineffectuality has probably made him a better President than if he were on top of his game. Time will tell, but my guess is that at this point Obama has been less destructive than George W. Bush. By fall 2003, Bush had launched the subprime bubble with his White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership, started a war over nonexistent WMDs, and more or less invited in millions of additional illegal immigrants.

But if Obama hits another up cycle, watch out.


[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog. His book, AMERICA’S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA’S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE”, is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

President Barack Obama was marketed to America as the magic cure for its racial divisions. But in my book America’s Half-Blood Prince Barack Obama’s “Story Of Race And Inheritance”, based on a close study of Obama’s own much-purchased, little-read autobiographyDreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I argued that Obama was in fact fundamentally motivated by race and that some people, probably his credulous white supporters, were in for a big surprise.

This is exactly what has happened. Obama has proved racially divisive both for implicit and explicit reasons. Eighteen months into his Presidency, the races are farther apart in their views of him than when he came to office.

Here are Obama’s Gallup Poll approval ratings every week since his Inauguration:

Black support for the black President remains almost rock solid, standing at 89 percent through the week ending July 11, 2010—slightly higher than in his first week in office.

But Obama’s approval rating among whites is now only 38 percent—51 points below the black level. The white approval rating has fallen 25 points since January 2009.

It’s important to note that the white approval rating was as high as 60 percent as late as the week of May 10, 2009. The subsequent sharp fall-off is usually blamed on the economy.

But an alternative explanation is that white disenchantment with Obama appears to have set in during the warm weather months of 2009—about the time of Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court (May 26, 2009); the Supreme Court’s rebuke of Sotomayor’s ruling in the Ricci case ( June 29, 2009); and the ludicrous damage-controlling “Beer Summit” featuring Professor Henry Louis Gates and an Obama-dissed Cambridge, MA police officer, James Crowley (July 22-30, 2009).

Since the end of summer 2009, Obama’s staffers, such as the cynical Chicagoan Rahm Emanuel, have worked diligently to keep their boss from alarming whites with obvious racial gaffes—as when he responded frankly to the Henry Louis Gates question at one of his rare press conferences. Obama’s rating among whites has continued to trickle downward, but at a less catastrophic rate.

On the other hand, his staff’s perceived need to prevent “Obama from being Obama” has likely contributed to Obama’s current guarded, depressive affect.

For a man proclaimed an inspirational political genius in 2008, he strikes many people in 2010 as a downer, a bit of a buzzkill.

And Obama’s allies continue to provoke racial squabbles. For example, the NAACP is trying to “concern troll”[=undermine]the Tea Party movement into dropping all that stuff about endless deficits and conduct purges of purported racists in its ranks. And the public is just waking up to the fact that Congresswoman Maxine Waters has larded the new financial reform bill with racial quotas.

Hispanics’ feelings toward Obama lie in between those of blacks and whites, as is so common in American racial patterns. The President’s Hispanic ratings have fallen roughly in parallel with white opinion, with the big drop starting a little later in 2009. This also follows a long tradition: Hispanic voters generally follow changes in white opinion, just more erratically, and stay significantly to the left of whites for perfectly understandable reasons of self-interest: they are much more enthusiastic about racial / ethnic preferences and tax-and-spend policies from which they hope to benefit at white expense.

Over the last decade, the Main Stream Media has carried countless credulous articles about the Hispanic vote. Most are based on self-serving talking points fed to journalists by so-called Hispanic leaders.

But there is a dirty little secret in all this: Hispanic voters seldom pay much attention to whatever the press proclaims to be their burning issues, such as Sotomayor or Arizona’s SB1070.

For example, Hispanic warmth toward Obama hit its peak (85 percent) a few weeks before he nominated Sonia Sotomayor on May 26, 2009. By August, he was down in the 60s with Hispanics.

One high school teacher told me that, throughout June 2009, he repeatedly brought up the Puerto Rican judge’s name to inspire his mostly Mexican-American classes. One youth responded that he’d heard she was Cuban. But the rest never had any idea (even an incorrect one) about who she was or why anybody would think they’d care about her.

Similarly, in the weeks before Obama went to war against the citizens of Arizona in late April 2010 over SB1070, his Hispanic approval rating had been in the 60s. Now, it’s at 55.

The fact is that Hispanics, on average, don’t pay all that much attention to the news. They tend to be younger, less literate, less interested in America, and less interested in public affairs in general.

The decline of the Los Angeles Times would be a sad reminder of this—it has long tried to compete with the New York Times for the title of the Most Serious Newspaper in the country, but its circulation area has become increasingly Hispanic—if the paperhadn’t been such an enthusiastic backer of the cause of its own destruction.

The conventional wisdom that says that the GOP must submit to the rising tide of Latinos. I have repeatedly argued that this is simply overblown. Despite their numbers, Hispanics are not the most formidable challenge any political party has ever confronted. They don’t have terribly charismatic leaders, they don’t have a determined and focused rank and file, and they don’t have much of a claim on the conscience of America. Their main political advantage so far has been that they’ve bored whites and blacks into inattention regarding illegal immigration.

In contrast to Hispanics, however, black opinion tends to swing (to the extent that this rather monolithic bloc swings at all) in the opposite direction to white opinion. For example, Ronald Reagan increased his share of the white vote from 56 percent in 1980 to 64 percent in 1984. But his share of the black vote dropped from 11 percent to 9 percent.

This tendency for Hispanics to follow broad white political trends (while remaining consistently to the left of whites) has shown up throughout the history of exit polling. Journalists always label Hispanics a crucial “swing vote”.But in fact they are more of a “flow vote” that fluctuates with the overall tide.

For example, the GOP candidates for the House did their best among Hispanics in Newt Gingrich’s big year of 1994, gaining 39 percent of the vote—which was also the same year they did their best among whites.

There may be an even dirtier secret reason for this behavior: Hispanics don’t particularly like blacks. In fact, nobody likes blacks as much as whites do. Everybody else around the world has certain prejudices against blacks—and they don’t feel terribly guilty about having them, either. Hispanics, for example, come from cultures in which people of 100 percent African descent are at the bottom of the social ladder, and everybody else tries to be perceived as whiter, or marry somebody whiter. Even a race warrior like President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela traded in his dark-skinned first wife for an Eastern European-looking blonde.

So the “Rainbow Coalition” may not be as formidable as its advocates imagine.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration’s first two years make it even more unmistakable than ever that American politics are Balkanizing racially.

As I wrote in in 2002:

“… I am uncomfortable with the idea of the two major parties splitting into racial blocs.

“But there’s a simple solution. If you don’t want whites to act like a minority group—e.g. racially-conscious, bloc-voting, biased, prickly, led by racial racketeers constantly proclaiming their group’s victimization—then the government should stop making whites a minority through mass immigration.”

Needless to say, the Bush Administration ignored my advice and pursued the opposite policy. And probably that is still the GOP Establishment’s instinct, given the rumors that it intends to respond to the surging immigration issue, not by supporting a moratorium, but by urging a guest worker program.

What does the rest of Obama’s term hold for his party—and America?

Recently, the pragmatic domestic policy influence on Obama of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a ferocious competitor dedicated to winning victories today, seems to be waning. It’s not that Emanuel wouldn’t mind putting millions of illegal immigrants on the path to voting Democratic, it’s just that he can’t see how to get away with it over the next few years.

Yet, the lawsuit against Arizona filed by Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, a descendant of the mulatto elite of Barbados, represents the ascendancy of the Elect-a-New-People-to-Rule-the-Future side of Obama’s otherwise cautious personality.

A Time article of July 14 by Jay Newton-Small Will Obama’s Immigration Focus Hurt Democrats? reports:

“Back in 2007, when Rahm Emanuel was in charge of electing Democrats to the House, he famously marveled at how immigration reform had overtaken Social Security as ‘the third rail of American politics.’ … Instead, western Democrats—egged on by rather large swaths of their moderate white base—are growing increasingly nervous at the Administration’s twin push on immigration …”

The article quotes a “senior Democratic aide” as saying “The White House’s infatuation with immigration reform is a lose-lose proposal for Democrats this election year.”

I wonder if that “senior Democratic aide’s” initials are R.E.? Will we be seeing President Obama announcing that his Chief of Staff has decided to move on to spend more time with his family?

In part, the Obama-Holder strategy of attacking Arizona and pushing amnesty is based on old-fashioned Karl Rovian delusions about the Hispanic vote. Greg Sargent noted in the Washington Post:

“Obama’s immigration speech was partly driven by serious White House concern about the impact of softening Latino support for the presidentin major swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida.”

In other words, Obama realizes no more than George W. Bush did that he’s being lied to by self-interested Hispanic politicians and consultants about the size and motivations of the Hispanic vote. They are all prisoners of the dominant interpretation of reality.” The repeated failures of its predictions simply mean that its nostrums have not been tried hard enough yet.

Obama has lived almost his entire life in a bubble of entitlement and theory divorced from reality. My prediction: he will get an even bigger wake-up call than we’ve seen to date.


[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE”, is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

Barack Obama is the most powerful man in America. And David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, [Email him] is one of the most powerful figures in American journalism.

So, not surprisingly, reviewers of Remnick’s new Presidential biography/doorstop, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama,have prostrated themselves before Remnick with the same shamelessness as the journalist himself does before the politician in these 656 pages of humorless hagiography. (Historian Douglas Brinkley’s review of The Bridge in the L.A. Times is particularly embarrassing.)[ “A definitive chronicle of the growth and achievement of the first black U.S. president by the prize-winning New Yorker editor.” March 28, 2010]

A biography of Santa Claus would be more hard-hitting than The Bridge. Remnick, who is certainly a bright fellow, makes himself seem obtuse as he constantly offers insipid interpretations of Obama’s choices.

The Bridge stands as a self-emasculated monument to the insidious costs of Access Journalism. Yes, Remnick scored a lot of interviews.The Bridge, for examples, ends with Remnick reverently interviewing his subject in the Oval Office about the meaning of his being in the Oval Office.

Yet, for what shall it profit a writer, if he shall gain the whole world of access, and lose his own soul?

When you could speak truth to power, what does it say about you that you choose to speak spin for power?

The irony however, is that Remnick’s bland and bloated tome lavishly confirms the interpretation of Obama’s life I put forward in my own 2008 book, America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance,” a reader’s guide to the politician’s 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father.

David Axelrod, Obama’s Karl Rove, sold him to a willfully gullible press as the post-racial candidate with what Remnick quotes West Wingwriter Eli Attie as calling “an almost militant refusal to be defined by [race]”. But Remnick’s book makes exhaustively if inadvertently clear that, as Remnick puts it, “race is at the core of Obama’s story …” Remnick aptly quotes Obama’s Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree as saying of the white-raised, mixed-race man from mixed-race Hawaii: “Black identity was not given to him, he sought it”.

In contrast, the great frustration of Obama’s life—epitomized by his soul-crushing defeat at the hands of former Black Panther Bobby Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary for the South Side of Chicago’s First Congressional District of Illinois—was that he could never make himself quite “Black Enough” (as Remnick ironically entitles his chapter about Obama’s loss) to become a major black leader.

Politics is fundamentally about whose side you are on. The Bridgemarks a milestone: the Main Stream Media finally and reluctantly beginning to admit they systematically misled the electorate about what Obama’s autobiography has to say about that crucial question.

Despite Obama’s hopeless struggle with being black enough relative to other black politicians, he was a natural at exploiting white people’s vast reservoir of good will toward blacks—and desire to feel superior over other whites—for his own personal advancement. He was the one they’d been waiting for. As Eric Zorn, the liberal Chicago Tribunecolumnist, said about Obama’s campaigning among whites in 2004:

“Obama was somehow all about validating you. … He was radiating the sense that ‘You’re the kind of guy who can accept a black guy as a senator.’ He made people feel better about themselves for liking him.”

Indeed, although I say it myself, Remnick’s Bridge reads much like my America’s Half-Blood Prince—just with all the interesting bits ruthlessly excised for the sake of message control; and with vast, eye-glazing digressions from Black History Month interlarded.

Remember how, back in the 1980s under elderly editor William Shawn,The New Yorker would run meandering, interminable articles? Well, you can now relive those days. The Roman poet Juvenal famously asked,“Who watches the Watchmen?” The Bridge’s 656 oversized pages raise the question, “Who edits the Editor?”

The “Bridge” of the title, as Remnick explains in his 23-page prologue, is the one in Selma, Alabama where Martin Luther King triumphed over Jim Crow in 1965.

Barack Obama wasn’t, technically speaking, there. (He was a busy being a three-year-old in Honolulu.) Still, Obama managed to convince Remnick that the sacramental fulfillment of King’s Dream required his own personal aggrandizement to the Presidency.

When you stop to think about it, this is one of the funnier hustles any man on the make has ever pulled off.

Yet, to Remnick, there’s nothing at all comical about the preppie from paradise’s rise to power. It’s sacred stuff. (Remnick proudly emphasizes throughout how Obama seemed like a dream come true to countless Jewish liberals.)

Remnick retells Obama’s not very eventful life story with appropriate piety. Thus, despite The Bridge’s endlessness, Remnick chose to leave out many juicy details.

Consider Remnick’s dull treatment of Obama’s long-time friend and financial benefactor Tony Rezko, who is still awaiting sentencing in Chicago’s jail. There are a lot of crooks in Chicago politics, but what makes Rezko extremely relevant to a book that’s overwhelmingly about race is exactly what Remnick decided to leave out: for a quarter of a century, Rezko was in business with the Black Muslims.

Despite the Syrian Christian immigrant’s non-Black non-Muslimness, Rezko got his start as a big-time Chicago operator by managing for the Nation of Islam its most famous recruit: boxer Muhammad Ali.(The champ’s latest wife eventually liberated him from Rezko and the NoI.) Rezko went on to a long career of pocketing lucrative minority set-aside contracts using the son of the founder of the Nation of Islam as his token black front man.

Now, you might think that, well, maybe Remnick just doesn’t know much about the Black Muslims. But in fact Remnick authored a 1999 biography of Muhammad Ali. So he’s familiar with the score.

Remnick, we can infer, left out his most amusing and germane material about Rezko intentionally. Why?

Perhaps because allowing readers to contemplate just how much money was made off black pride and affirmative action by Tony Rezkoa white guy from the Levant!—would inject a subversively farcical note into Remnick’s sanctimonious book about race.

Moreover, Obama’s 15 years of chumminess with the Black Muslims’ chief wheeler-dealer inevitably raises embarrassing questions about Obama’s cold-bloodedness. After all, Obama’s boyhood hero, Malcolm X, was executed by a well-organized assassination squad of…Black Muslims. Would you pal around with the business agent for the organization that murdered your idol?

Obama would, if it was in his self-interest. The President is a fascinating man, although you wouldn’t notice that from The Bridge.

Unfortunately for the readability of The Bridge, Obama’s career largely consisted of showing up, asking intelligent questions but not doing much of anything actually to help black people’s stubborn problems; and then getting promoted out of there by worshipful white people.

Remnick therefore feels compelled to devote pp. 164-169 to the community organizer’s participation in that semi-successful 1986 attempt to get some asbestos removed from certain public housing projects.

Sure, it’s as dull as it sounds. But, after all, what else besides the world-famous asbestos project did the young Obama ever accomplish—other than to promote himself?

There are only two places where Obama’s semi-blackness wasn’t an advantage: the South Side of Chicago’s First Congressional District; and Indonesia, where the local Asian boys tried to drown him for being black. But with whites in America, despite all the self-pity in Dreams from My Father, it’s been a sweet ride for Obama.

As it happens, one of Obama’s schoolmates Honolulu’s Punahou Prep emailed me last week in regard to Obama’s self-pitying portrayal in Dreams from My Father:

“Barry was treated very well and almost worshiped at Punahou because he was black. This ‘poor me, nobody ever liked me’ is a complete fabrication.”

The Bridge consists in large part of white people saying that they thought Obama should be President the first time they met him. (Something I hadn’t known previously is that the Joyce Foundation offered Obama a million dollars a year to leave the Illinois State Senate and head their organization. The materialistic Michelle Obama was nothappy when he turned that job down to continue his pursuit of power.)

Why did white people love Obama so much his entire life?

BBecause he’s smart. Not with an Al Sharpton-like quickness, but in a conventionally white way.

At Harvard Law School, the normally aloof professors were, in the words of classmate David Goldberg, now a civil rights lawyer, “almost sycophantic” toward Obama “because he was brilliant and because he was African-American”. Similarly, political consultant Don Rose recounted that when Obama got back to Chicago and networked with wealthy white liberals, “they are all bowled over to discover this brilliant black guy”.

Hmm. Well, how “brilliant” is Obama?

My answer: certainly, he’s smart enough to be President—but that’s not a particularly high bar. I see no evidence in The Bridge or Obama’s own books that he has ever had an original thought about anything. But that’s hardly necessary in a President.

The Obama camp has refused to authorize the release of any of his academic records. (Bush and Kerry didn’t release their records either, but I was able to draw conclusions about both men’s IQ, because they had both served in the Armed Forces, and taken the IQ-heavy tests given to everyone in uniform.)We have a general sense that Obama’s grades were mediocre at Punahou, Occidental, and Columbia, but then good at Harvard Law.

His test scores remain particularly shrouded. It’s easy to see that releasing them would be a no win proposition for Obama. Either they weren’t good, which would then underline the benefits he, coming from an upper middle class white background, received in getting into all these gaudy universities from racial quotas.

Or, his test scores were good, which would emphasize the validity of standardized testing. That’s an uncomfortable subject in polite society in general, and in the Obama household in particularly, since Michelle Obama continues to complain about being dissed by standardized testing. Yet, her failures in her abortive law career, such as not passing the bar exam at her first chance after graduating from mighty Harvard Law School, are a classic example of the failures of affirmative action in general.

My guess is that the President did quite well on at least the verbal sections of his tests.

Obama has a way with words, less in speech than in text. Remnick reprints several well-written personal letters he sent to friends, which again demonstrate a certain literary talent that makes him unusual among politicians.

Obama is especially facile at restating other people’s views, which is a highly useful skill that everyone should try to develop.

Paradoxically, most people aren’t good at listening to other people’s arguments because they assume that their opponents disagree with them because they simply don’t understand their point of view; so they are in a hurry to reiterate it. Obama, in contrast, cares less about being right than about winning. He assumes that most people’s opinions are, like his, motivated by race, class, and self-interest, so he’s not terribly interested in arguing with people who disagree with him.

Remnick notes that Obama signed up for a course at Harvard Law School taught by the prominent black moderate Randall Kennedy, on one of Obama’s passions, affirmative action. Yet, when Obama discovered that Kennedy encouraged white students to engage in frank debate with blacks over quotas, he quickly dropped the course.

Most young men with political ambitions would think they could persuade their fellow students to share their views. But Obama didn’t appreciate in-depth discussion of racial preferences. What was in it for him?

Instead, Obama’s usual goal is to outsmart his opponents with apparent compromises that tempt them with a rhetorical slice of the pie while he quietly takes the lion’s share.

Thus, for example, when TV newsman George Stephanopoulos got up the courage to ask Obama if his two privileged daughters should benefit from quotas, Obama waffled, giving many the impression that, if elected President, he would cut quotas because his election demonstrated a decline in discrimination.

In reality, as soon as he reached the White House, he expanded quotas.

This kind of thing takes skill.

On the other hand, Obama is being judged against the low average standard of black politicians who have emerged over the last few decades as the Voting Rights Act has corralled blacks in majority-minority districts where they launch their careers by playing the “Race Man”. It’s not hard to look better than, say, Marion Barry. The poor quality of so many black politicians reflects what the black community demands. In contrast, Obama is a product of white elite tastes.

Blacks who knew Obama better, such as Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., offered Remnick more interesting accounts of him than the endless quotes from Obama’s white acquaintances about his super-duperness. Thus Wright told Remnick something particularly interesting: that “a close friend of Barack’s” offered Wright money to shut up. Wright refused.

But the one thing Remnick can’t abide in a black is public reference to Jewish political power. So, after many pages of taking Rev. Wright’s ideas seriously, Remnick ultimately dismisses Wright for saying:

“… hateful things. As late as June, 2009, he bitterly told a newspaper in Virginia, the Daily Press, ‘Them Jews [presumably, Axelrod and Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel] ain’t going to let [Obama] talk to me.’ … He also said that Jewish voters and “the AIPAC” vote were controlling Obama … With these flourishes, Wright made it a great deal more difficult to see, or care about, the complexity of his drama.”

After Wright’s years of sermons finally hit TV (although not until 42 states had voted in the primaries), Wright and Obama talked:

“… Obama said he would greatly prefer that Wright stay at home and keep quiet through the rest of the campaign rather than continue to preach in Chicago and on the road. “He said, ‘You know what your problem is, is you’ve got to tell the truth.’”

Obama suffers even less from that got-to-tell-the-truth problem than does Remnick. One of the relatively few revealing anecdotes in this huge book comes from Obama’s class at the University of Chicago Law School on “Race, Racism, and the Law”:

“’But there was a moment when he let his guard down,’ one former student recalled. ‘He told us what he thought about reparations. He agreed entirely with the theory of reparations. But in practice he didn’t think it was really workable. … as the complexities emerged—who is black, how far back do you go, what about recent immigrants still feeling racism, do they have a claim—finally, he said, ‘That is why it’s unworkable.“”

Of course, the exact same questions also apply to affirmative action—which Obama finds wonderfully “workable”.

Obama’s student recalled:

“You could tell that he thought he had let the cat out of the bag and felt uncomfortable. To agree with reparations in theory means we go past apology and say we can actually change the dynamics of the country …”

And make Tony Rezko l look like a piker.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE”, is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

In his State of the Union speech on Wednesday, Barack Obama attempted some rhetorical recalibration to win back the trust of white America. Notable from VDARE.COM’s point of view: despite repeated announcements to the Hispanic press that he would push for amnesty in 2010, Obama’s only mention of immigration was calculatedly vague:

“And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system–to secure ourborders and enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our system.”

This marks a good point to reflect upon what we’ve learned about the man since October 2008, when I finished my reader’s guide to Obama’s Dreams from My Father memoir, America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance.

The most obvious point is the most unspoken. Obama’s remains, fundamentally, a “story of race”. Despite running in 2008 as a racial transcender, despite a press cover-up of the President’s autobiography, Obama could not transcend in his first year in office his long history as a race man.

In his Foreword to my book, Peter Brimelow predicted:

“I think the contradictions that Steve has identified in this book will turn any Obama Presidency into a four-year O.J. Simpson trial and that the consequent meltdown willcompare to the Chernobyl of the CarterPresidency in its destructive partisan effects.”

That the Massachusetts Democrats were unable to hold onto a Senate seat won by a Kennedy in every election since 1952 suggests that Peter’s mordant pessimism about Obama’s effectiveness might be on track.

My view: Obama, a relatively cautious man, still has advantages that might help him hold power to 2017. For example, he has pervasive MainStream Media bias—and, most of all, the Republican Party, which is prospering right now only by being leaderless and largely idealess.

The President botched the Democrats’ best issue—after all, who isn’t driven crazy at some point by their health insurance provider?—because he originally defined ObamaCare as solving what he considers the two big health care problems:

The citizens who show up to vote in special and midterm elections are more white, more mature, and less frivolous than those who turn out only in Presidential elections featuring fad candidates. In other words, people who take care to vote in off-years also tend to make thesacrifices necessary to obtain health insurance for their families.

As Massachusetts showed, these reliable mostly older white voters aren’t at all sure they trust with their money and their lives a young black President who sees them as part of the problem.

My point: It’s becoming ever more obvious that Obama, an unaccomplished Chicago politician, was nominated for President for the same reason George W. Bush got to run for President—because of who his daddy was. If Obama’s father were white, he no more would have been considered Presidential timber than if the last President’sfather had been named Smith.

As Obama admitted in The Audacity of Hope, he served “as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views”. In other words, he’s something of an empty suit. And as he falls from the empyrean heavens of Hope and Change to the mundane world of governing and deal-making, he turns out to be a not particularly talented leader and administrator.

He does have a gift for words (in pleasant contrast to our last President). Yet Obama lacks the masterful, confidence-inspiring temperament that allowed FDR to thrive politically although he had noclue how to end the Depression. Obama tends toward sensitive, moody self-absorption. Not surprisingly for a man who published his first autobiography at age 33, he used the word “I” 104 times in his State of the Union address. He seems to need to take a lot of mental health days on the golf course.

Only the late-night comedians’ numbing terror of the career dangers of making fun of a black President have saved Obama from instant derision. For example, his first post-election speech (12/7/2008)began by dwelling on how many federal workers it would take to screw in light bulbs:

“First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. … We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

His 2010 State of the Union ditched the mercifully forgottenlight bulb screwing in scheme in favor of 57 new flavors of pork, along with an implausible “discretionary spending freeze”.

Thus Obama’s appearance at a rally in Tampa on Thursday trumpeted a new brainstorm—handing over $1.25 billion for a Train to Nowhere.

Obama has called for the construction of a high-speed rail line that will run from the Orlando airport all of 75 miles to a To Be Announced destination in the sprawling Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metroplex.

The current best guess for the Tampa Bay terminus seems to be alittle past Ybor City.”

Think about it. (Obama hasn’t.) Rail travel works best connecting centralized cities. Orlando is hardly centralized. And Tampa Bay is likely the least suitable metropolitan area in America for an expensive new rail system: its center is salt water.

Q. After you drive to south suburban Orlando International Airport, park, and wait for the ObamaTrain, it accelerates up to 168 mph but then soon starts decelerating so it can grind to a halt somewhere near Tampa (meaning it will only average 86 mph), what do you do next?

A. You stand in line at the Hertz counter to rent a car to drive to your actual destination in the far-flung Tampa Bay exurbs. (For example, it’s 25 miles from downtown Tampa to downtown St. Petersburg.)

Wouldn’t it have been simpler and cheaper just to drive from Orlando?

Not surprisingly, Florida voters, who know more about their geography than Obama, turned down the Train to Nowhere by a 64%-36% landslide in 2004 when they were expected to pay for it.

Now we all get to pay for it.

In general, high-speed rail promises to be a bountiful job-generating boondoggle for decades for loyal Obama constituencies such as planners, plaintiff’s attorneys, and environmental activists. Watch as they laboriously rule out each proposed route by discovering some obscure Endangered Species of weed or bug, and then go back to the drawing board, all the while billing at their hourly rates.

For most Americans outside the densely populated Boston-Washington corridor, high-speed rail is as big a joke as, but considerably more expensive than, George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union plan for hydrogen-powered automobiles.

(Remember hydrogen-powered automobiles?)

But being both a lightweight and not very likable didn’t stop Bush from winning a second term, and it might well not stop Obama either. After all, to get re-elected, all you have to do is beat one guy.

Moreover, as my book documents, Obama has the advantage of having spent a lifetime thinking about the politics of race, about theracial hopes and fantasies of Americans, which is much more than any GOP leader can say. And how are Republicans supposed to learn about race if nobody is supposed to teach them?

Obama is not a quick learner, but he does learn. In 2000, his decade-old plan of becoming the second black mayor of Chicago was crushed when South Side African American voters in a Democratic House primary scoffed at the racial authenticity of the prep-schooled Hawaiian. But after a lengthy depressive spell, Obama reinvented himself as the black politician for whom whites would vote so they could congratulate themselves on contributing to a historicbreakthrough.

That worked, once. Whether it will work more than once is uncertain, but don’t count Obama out.

Thus in his State of the Union speech, Obama avoided the topic of health care for the first 33 minutes. Then, having tried to establish an I-feel-your-pain mood with the largely white middle-class audience who follow public affairs, he attempted to reboot ObamaCare. Now, he’s not positioning it as redistribution—but as a response to the rightful grievances of people who already have health insurance!

He claimed:

“I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on gettingcoverage; patients who’ve been denied coverage; families—even those with insurance—who are just one illness away from financial ruin.”

Will Obama get away with rewriting history?

Sure. What racially-related issue hasn’t the MSM rewritten or shoved down the Memory Hole? WillieHorton?

And the recent Republican counter-strategy is seriouslyvulnerable. They simply position themselves as the mirror image to Obama’s “blank screen” by running ruggedly handsome white guys upon whom hopes can be projected, such as Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts and Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia.

McDonnell delivered the GOP’s artfully vacuous response after the State of the Union. It made no mention of immigration, affirmative action, or other disturbing realities.

Eventually, though, the Republicans will need a few actualissues.

Here’s a suggestion: If Obama, as the first black President, is too sacred to be touched, take on his surrogate, Attorney General Eric Holder. Obama boasted Wednesday of Holder’s Quota Crusade:

“My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. [Applause.]”

The mustachioed Bajan-American simply rubs people the wrong way.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative.

His website features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

Many wild rumors have circulated about Barack Obama, such as

And finally, the most popular and yet most self-evidently implausible rumor of all, assiduously promoted by Obama’s media handler David Axelrod:

  • that Obama refuses to be defined by his race, that he transcends race, that he’s not interested in race, blah blah.

What do all these assertions have in common?

First, they betray a lack of awareness of the facts of Obama’s life.

Second, they tend to reflect the widespread desire among whites of all political stripes to not think about race anymore, and to imagine that Obama doesn’t either.

In truth, the big secret about Obama is that there’s no secret: as Obama explains at vast length in his memoir, what he himself calls his “racial obsessions” have dominated his life.

I document in my new book America’s Half-Blood Prince (which you can purchase here) how the President-Elect spelled out exactly what he considered the central mandates of his existence in the subtitle of Dreams From My Father. To Obama, his autobiography is most definitely not a postracial parable. Instead, it is (as he helpfully says in his subtitle) A Story of Race and Inheritance .

You probably got an email or two asserting that Obama’s father was Arab, not black.

Actually, he was black. Here’s a picture of Barack Obama Sr., with Obama’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham.

Obama Sr. might have had a tiny bit of ancestry from an Arab slave trader or two to whom his African ancestors sold captured black slaves, but he sure wasn’t 7/8ths Arab. In his memoir, Obama rightly calls his father “black as pitch” and refers to his father’s tribe as “as ink-black Luo”. Here’s a picture comparing father and son:

Nor is there evidence that Obama, who displays almost no spiritual side whatsoever in Dreams from My Father, is a secret Muslim.

The fact is that Obama would have been much more likely to become a Black Muslim (a Scientology-like religion made up in the early 1930s out of sci-fi elements and hatred of whites) than a genuine Muslim. For instance, the young Obama adored The Autobiography of Malcolm X—except for the part about Malcolm’s conversion near the end of his life from the anti-white Nation of Islamto Islam.

The notion that Obama is really the biological son of African-American Communist Frank Marshall Davis—an aged propagandist for the Communist Party USA who chased loose women with Obama’smaternal grandfather in Honolulu’s red light district—and therefore is a Communist through some sort of Lamarckian inheritance is equally silly. The President-Elect is clearly part East African. (Just look at him.)

There couldn’t have been more than a handful of East Africans in<st1:place
w:st=”on”>Honolulu when Obama was conceived in early November 1960, a few weeks before Ann Dunham’s 18th birthday <st1:date
month=”11″ day=”29″ year=”1960″ w:st=”on”>November 29, 1960. Certainly, Barack Sr. was the only East African in Ann’s Russian language course at the University of Hawaii.

As for Barack Sr.’s ideology, we know quite well how it was passed on to his son: through Obama’s leftist mother. As part of her passive-aggressive war with her unsatisfactory Indonesian second husband for influence over her son, she taught the boy to idolize his father as a great black leader and to strive to emulate him by winning personalpolitical power to serve his race.

As a black activist in Chicago, the adult Obama still believed whole-heartedly in the image of his father as the noble leader of the black race concocted by his mother. The son imagined his father demanding of him:

“You must help in your people’s struggle. Wake up, blackman!”

And we know almost exactly what political views Barack Sr. passed on to Ann Obama during their brief marriage. That’s because Greg Ransom of PrestoPundit has dug up the long article Problems Facing Our Socialismthat Obama Sr. published in the East African Journal in July 1965, attacking Kenya’s centrist economic policies from the left.

It’s not quite accurate to call Obama Sr. a doctrinaire Communist. Hisconcern was less with socialism v. capitalism than with blacks v. whites and Asians . (Like <st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Uganda’s Idi Amin, Obama Sr. was deeply displeased by the large role Indians played in East Africa’s economy.) The young Obama Sr. criticized Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta’s public advocacy of colorblind law and governance:

“One need not to be Kenyan to note that when one goes to a good restaurant he mostly finds Asians and Europeans, nor has he to be a Kenyan to see that the majority of cars running in Kenya are run by Asians andEuropeans.”

Like a proto-Robert Mugabe, Obama Sr. demanded in his characteristic peremptory tone:

“It is mainly in this country one finds almost everythingowned by non-indigenous populace. The government must do something about this and soon.”

Obama Sr. didn’t seem to favor Marxist policies for the sake of Marxism , but because government control of the economy was mostconvenient for taking power and wealth from white and Asian businesses and giving it to blacks , especially to blacks of Obama Sr. ‘s tiny class of foreign-educated black intellectuals.

Thus, it might be more accurate to describe Obama Sr. ‘s ideology as “racial socialism . Like the more famous “national” variety of socialism , Obama Sr. ‘s version of socialism was less interested in ideology than in Lenin’s old questions of Who? Whom?

As for the Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, Obama was clearlydisingenuous in downplaying the extent of their relationship.

Yet it’s also evident that the McCain campaign overemphasized the white radical Ayers, relative to its utter self-gagging about Obama’s deep relationships with various black radicals, most notably Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Until the mainstream media finally noticed who Wright was last February—after 42 states had already voted in the nominating process—Obama had repeatedly boasted of his closeness with Wright.

I would hardly be surprised if it turned out that Ayers had, say, copy-edited a draft of Obama’s memoir in early 1995. Yet, once again, Obama’s critics—in their fussing over whether Obama would have used the word “ballast” in Dreams without Ayers’ help—are missing the forest for the trees: Obama’s rhetorical debt to Rev. Wright.

Last January, the outstanding British essayist Jonathan Raban wrote in The Guardian:

“… one sees immediately how much Obama has learned from him. The title of Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope is an explicit salute to a sermon by Wright called ‘The Audacity to Hope ,’ and his speeches are peppered with Wrightisms, … but his debt to the preacher goes much deeper. … Obama, when on form, can entrance largely white audiences with the same essential story, told in secular terms and stripped of its references to specifically black experience. When Wright says ‘white racists,’ Obama says ‘corporate lobbyists’; whenWright speaks of blacks , Obama says ‘hard-working Americans,’ or ‘Americans without health care’ …”[The Church of Obama: How He Recast the Language of Black Liberation Theology into a Winning Creed for Middle-of-the-Road White Voters, January 9, 2008]

And what about the theory that Obama was actually born in<st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Kenya, on a putative trip that his two parents took there to meet his family?

Ever since Dan Rather tried to pawn off on the public hoax documentspurportedly about George W. Bush’s National Guard service, it’s hard to take on faith pictures of pieces of paper. But let’s take a step back away from the minutia of the birth certificate controversy and just think for a moment about whether the idea that Obama was born inKenya makes any sense.

Has anybody advocating this actually looked at a globe and thought about what a trip from <st1:place
w:st=”on”>Honolulu to <st1:place
w:st=”on”>Nairobiwould have been like on a first-generation jetliner in 1961?

Hawaii and <st1:place
w:st=”on”>Kenya are on almost exact opposite sides of the world. The Boeing 707 had a range of only 3700 miles, so the outbound portion of their supposed trip would have looked something like this:

  • A flight from Honolulu to the West Coast.
  • Then a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast.
  • Then from the East Coast to a refueling stop at Gander in<st1:state
  • Then Gander to <st1:city
  • Then London to somewhere to the south (Cairo?).
  • Then on to Nairobi in one or two more segments.

(The Great Circle distance going the other way around the world is slightly less, but there would have been even fewer flights available.)

They would have been in transit for, say, 100 hours each way.

It would then have taken a day or two on buses to get to the Obama family farm near Lake Victoria.

Two round trip tickets for this ambitious expedition would have been prohibitively expensive for anyone, let alone two young students.

Barack Sr. only got from Kenya to Hawaii in the first place due to the famous Tom Mboya Airlift, an expensive Cold War project funded by Americans to woo the next generation of Kenya’s elites away from Soviet influence.

Not surprisingly, there’s little evidence that Obama Sr. ever went home to <st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Kenya during his four years in America. It was just too expensive.

It’s especially unlikely that he would have taken his heavily pregnant bride on such a grueling trip to Kenya.

Besides the difficulties of travel for a pregnant woman, Obama Sr. had a little problem that would have dissuaded him from taking his new wife to see the folks. See, back in Kenya, he already had a wife—Keiza, and two kids, Roy and Auma.

His bigamous marriage to Obama’s mother was a criminal act in<st1:place
w:st=”on”>Hawaii. Fortunately, for Barack Sr., the state of Hawaiididn’t know about his other wife.

Granted, polygamy is legal (indeed, is fashionable) in<st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Kenya. But it seems highly unlikely that Obama Sr. would have been in any hurry to open the can of worms that his bigamy entailed while he was still living in <st1:country-region

Also, Obama Sr.’s father, Onyango Obama, a wealthy, politically influential landowner, had opposed his son’s marriage to a white woman on racial grounds. So, why would the young man go looking for face-to-face trouble with his famously strong-willed father?

It’s not as if he was terribly serious about this latest marriage. He abruptly abandoned Ann and Barack Jr. two years later because his scholarship offer from the highbrow New School of Social Research that would have paid for the whole family to move to Manhattan was, while prestigious, not as prestigious as the scholarship offer from Harvard that paid just his own living expenses.

Still, these anti-Obama rumors aren’t any more improbable than the one that Axelrod and Obama have promoted in the mainstream media about how Obama rises above race. It takes a lot of cheek to try that one out after you’ve written a 460 page book about your ultimately successful 25-year struggle to prove that you are black enough to be a black leader.

The big difference between the anti-Obama rumors and Axelrod’s pro-Obama rumor is that the latter one worked.

The country had plenty of time to study Obama’s own first book and challenge him on whether he still felt the same way as when he wrote it. (In 2004, he said he did.) But, almost nobody did. Obama critics instead went off on wild goose chases to avoid dealing with the “deepest commitments” of Obama’s life, which all have to do with race, while his white supporters just imagined that somebody socharismatic just must feel the way they do about race.

Fortunately, politics never ends. An informed public can still restrain President Obama from working the worst mischief.

To help the American people understand better the man they just elected President, I’ve written a reader’s guide to Obama’s autobiography: America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance.”

Order it for Christmas presents!

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His features his daily blog. His new book, <st1:place

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

I’m happy to announce that you can now buy a hard-copy version of my new book, America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance”,which as been available as a free pdf download since last month. This 282-page paperback is my first book and alsothe first book published by the VDARE Foundation. It can be ordered for $29.95 by clicking here and makes an excellent Christmas gift—just be sure to have it shipped via a fast enough method to arrive by Christmas Eve!

John Derbyshire kindly writes of America’s Half-Blood Prince:

“Steve Sailer gives us the real Barack Obama, who turns out to be very different—and much more interesting—than the bland healer/uniter image stitched together out of whole cloth this past six years by Obama’s packager, David Axelrod. Making heavy use ofObama’s own writings, which he admires for their literary artistry, Sailer gives the deepest insights I have yet seen into Obama’s lifelong obsession with ‘race and inheritance,’ and rounds off this brilliant character portrait withspeculations on how Obama’s personality might play out in the Presidency.”

My book serves as a reader’s guide to the President-Elect’s elusive but ultimately revealing autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Although there has been a vast effusion of verbiage about Barack Obama (Google lists 117 million webpages), there has been little serious analysis of what the next President has written about himself.

That’s more than a little strange because Dreams from My Father has sold millions of copies, and will likely sell tens of millions more in future decades as it inevitably gets added to high school and college mandatory reading lists.

The seemingly puzzling lack of insightful attention paid toObama’s 1995 book has a simple explanation: Obama, the MainStream Media, and, for that matter, John McCain (who, as I accurately predicted back in February, more or less threw the election by vetoing all ads having even the most tangential connection to race) haven’t wanted the public to understand the central obsessions of Obama’s memoir. You aren’t supposed to grasp what, actually, arethe dreams from Obama’s father: to gain personal political power for himself in service to his race.

The fundamental message of Obama’s enormous tome about himself is that, despite his half-white nature and all non-black nurture, he is black enough to be a leader of the black race. The moral of the story is not at all complicated. It just hasn’t been understood for tworeasons:

  • First, Obama’s prose style of thoughtful nuancesand literary flourishes is designed to induce in readers not comprehension but a Zen-like trance of admiration for the writer. Moreover, Obama’s writing is engineered to be unquotable.
  • Second, Obama’s book relentlessly contradictsObama’s own campaign image that was invented for him by David Axelrod as America’s magicalracial transcender.

Peter Brimelow, editor of VDARE.COM, writes in my book’s Foreword:

“Barack Obama has been presenting himself since 2004 as a ‘half-blood prince,‘ an archetypal ambiguous figure in whom the various parts of a deeply-divided society can jointly invest their contradictory hopes. Such figures spring up regularly in conflicted polities. A classic example in my own experience: Pierre Trudeau, the son of a French-speaking father and English-speakingmother, who appeared to have pulled off the same trick in reconciling English and French Canada in 1968. But, in such situations, someone is going to be disappointed. In<st1:country-region
w:st=”on”>Canada, Trudeau turned out to be an epiphenomenon of French Canadian nationalist debate.”

As with Trudeaumania in 1968, Obamamania in 2008 is dependent on nobody paying much attention to the politician’s past. (The 2006 biography by two Trudeau supporters, Young Trudeau: 1919-1944: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, revealed that to aid the Vichy puppet regime in France during WWII, the young Trudeau tried to organize a Fascist revolution to take Quebec out of Britain’s war effort.)

America’s Half-Blood Prince offers a close critical analysis of the next President’s story of his own life. You’ll recognize some of it from my articles and from my iSteve blog, but much is completely new and the rest is put into a coherent framework for the first time. My book provides a biography of Obama, with a fair amount of it in his own words.

Here’s an excerpt from the final chapter:

When asked what represented the greatest challenge for a statesman, British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan responded in his typically languid fashion, “Events, my dear boy, events.”

“What kind of President would Barack Obama turn out to be?

“I don’t like to make predictions because I hate being wrong. It’s especially hard to be right about the future interplay of personalities and events. In 2000, anotherunder-examined Presidential candidate, George W. Bush, was elected while promising what his chief foreign affairs advisor, Condoleezza Rice, called a more ‘modest’ foreign policy.

“Then, 9/11 happened.

“After becoming British Prime Minister in 1957, Harold Macmillan, whose adult life spanned the Great War, the Depression, WWII, and the Cold War, observed that governments are driven less by their own goals than by the sheer necessity of responding in some fashion to unforeseen events. As I write during the financial turmoilof mid-October 2008, ‘events are in the saddle and they ride mankind,’ to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson. Whether events wouldconstrain or liberate Obama’s ‘deepestcommitments‘ is impossible to say at this point.

“A few likelihoods seem apparent, though. In Obama, ambition and caution are yoked. Becoming President is not his ultimate objective. Becoming a two-term President is.Republican Richard Nixon’s first Administration was one of the most liberal in American history. There were hints at the beginning of his second term, before Watergate washed every bit of policy coherence away, that Nixon, having safely won re-election, intended to move toward his innate conservatism. That analogy suggests that a second Obama administration might more truly reflect the real Obama.

“Also, the conflict-adverse Obama isn’t all that likely to go to the mat with the Senate if the Republicans keep at least the 41 Senate seats necessary to stage filibusters. …

“If elected, this ‘blank screen’ candidate would inevitably disappoint at least some of his enthusiasts. After all, they espouse profoundly contradictory hopes.

“Which ones will he disillusion?

“Rather than make a prediction, I prefer to take a more Heisenbergian approach. As Barack Obama Sr. no doubt could have pointed out, Marx said, ‘The philosophers have onlyinterpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.’

“The point of this book is to change a potential Obama Administration for the better by making the public a little less ignorant about Obama. For all his talk of ‘audacity,’ Obama is far more cautious than his brash father was. Fortunately, the son remains a work inprogress. His opportunism makes him deterrable. The less gullible the American people are about who Obama truly is, the better chance we have of keeping him from trying to fulfill his ‘deepest commitments.’

“More broadly, America has had it easy for decades, but the fat years are coming to an end. We aren’t so rich anymore that we can continue to get by with a conventional wisdom built on ignorance, lies, and spin.

“The widespread assumption that Obama must be our Half-Blood Prince, born and bred to resolve our racial disputes, is symptomatic of American elites’ loosening grip on realityregarding anything dealing with ‘diversity.’ Recall how the media, both parties, academia, and Wall Street all pushed for 15 years for laxer mortgage lending standards for minorities … with catastrophic results.

“Why? Because everyone who was anyone had agreed that only evil people publicly display skepticism about diversity.

“Similarly, the American establishment has been so intellectually enfeebled by political correctness that for two years we’ve all been fed a steady diet of David Axelrod’s implausible campaign concoction starring the author of Dreams from My Father as the Great Race Transcender. All these months, our elites barely mentioned (or even noticed) the subtitle of the ‘postracial’ candidate’s autobiography: A Story of Race andInheritance.

“It’s time for new elites.”

To repeat: America’s Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama’s “Story of Race and Inheritance” , the paperback, can be ordered now for $29.95 from here. It makes an excellent Christmas gift. (Just be sure to have it shipped via a fast enough method to arrive by Christmas Eve.)

Over the years, VDARE.COM and I have greatly appreciated your support. It has made it possible for my colleagues and myself to make a living as bringers ofunwelcome, but salutary, news.

We would be most grateful if you’d buy my book. And we think you will enjoy it.

And if you want to thank us some more—it’s tax-deductible!—you can click here (earmarking for me if you like!)

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His features his daily blog. His new book, <st1:place

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

Although Barack Obama spent 20 months running for President, he never quite found the time to tell us much about what he would actually do in the White House.

Yesterday, he announced something he forgot to mention during thecampaign: A massive public works effort that he says “will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011.”

Obama didn’t put a price tag on his plan, but one reasonable estimate (mine) is “a hajillion dollars.”

Nor did he offer details. In outline, though, his description of his plan is an amusing combination of Stuff White People Lik e and Stuff Mayor Daley Likes:

“We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels; fuel-efficient cars and the alternative energy technologies that can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and keep our economy competitive in the years ahead.”

It’s unclear whether Obama realizes he’s pulling our leg about getting gigantic environmentalist fantasy projects going in just 24 months. Nothing happens that fast anymore—precisely because of all the environmental laws and regulations. Huge wind and solar farm projects are mostly going to employ lawyers, bureaucrats, and environmental impact consultants for the next several years. But those are the kind of tax-eaters who make up Obama’s political base. So, to Obama the master politician, that’s not a bug, it’s a benefit.

Presumably, Obama’s real plan is to try to inflate an Alternative Energy Bubble to replace the Housing Bubble that helped get Bush re-elected in 2004.

What Obama could do fast is what he’s watched Chicago Mayor Richie Daley do for two decades: hand out huge amounts of money to resurface roads … badly.

In Chicago, traffic is terrible for half of each year because of all the snow and ice. And the other half of the year, traffic is worse—because of all the crews employed by major campaign contributors usingtechnologically obsolete gunk to filling potholes that will reappear in a decade, about one-fourth of the time that road repairs in Europe last.

To the Chicago Machine, however, the short-lived crumminess of the repairs is all part of the plan.

The real issue posed by Obama’s proposal: will he follow the precedent set by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) in limiting employment on his public works projects to United States citizens?

The WPA started in 1935, a period when there was little immigration because of the 1921-5 cut-off and the Depression. When the economy turned down in 1937, the Democrat-dominated Congress restricted it to American citizens (n.b. citizens, not even legal residents):

“In 1937 Congress, following a trend already established by the states, declared that all programs of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) would be closed to aliens. The “citizens-only” policy of the WPA extended even to companies that fulfilled government contracts;corporations such as General Motors fired those whom they perceived as foreigners to keep from losing lucrativegovernment business.”[LATINO AMERICANS, IMPACT OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION ON, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004]

Otherwise, Obama’s public works spending will merely draw in millions of foreigners, just as the late Housing Bubble did.

As you’ll recall, the rich, powerful, and influential relentlessly lied to us throughout this decade about how illegal aliens were crucial to the economy because they would do “the jobs that Americans just wouldn’t do.” O Of course, it turned out that we didn’t need—and couldn’t afford—the McMansions and granite countertops that the illegal immigrants were employed to build.

Nor could we afford the illegal aliens. In fact, it’s hardly a coincidence that the states with the most illegal immigrants, such as California, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida , set off the great crash of 2007-2008. We deluded ourselves with the dogma that diversity was prosperity, but, in truth, no matter how profitable it was for employers whosocialized costs while privatizing profits, importing millions of grade school dropouts was always a losing proposition overall for our modern economy.

Moreover, during the Housing Bubble, blue-collar Americans in dying cities like Detroit and Cleveland largely missed out on the chance to move to places like Las Vegas for construction jobs—the illegal aliens would work for less.

During the Bubble, huge sums of money flowed out of the United States as remittance s. The Washington Post reported in 2006 at the peak of the Bubble:

“A report released yesterday by the Inter-American Development Bank estimates that immigrants living in the United States will send $45 billion to family members this year …”[Immigrants Sending $45 Billion Home, By Krissah Williams, October 19, 2006]

Remittances to Latin America shot up during the Housing Bubble, both because so many immigrants were employed in construction, and because so many took out dubious mortgages that they have since defaulted upon.

Remittances finally started falling early this year. The Dallas Newsreported:

“Other Mexican officials said the decline is a reflection of the worsening U.S. economy, particularly in the area ofconstruction. The U.S. construction industry accounts forabout 20 percent of jobs for Mexicans living in the country, according to the [Mexican] central bank.”[Remittances To Mexico See Biggest Drop In 13 Years, By Alfredo Corchado, March 7, 2008 ]

These remittances deprived the American economy of the celebrated Keynesian multiplier effecton construction spending that you will hear so much about from the Obama administration this week as they rationalize their spending plan.

The idea has been around longer than Keynes, as Jerry Pournelle noted recently:

“As Abraham Lincoln once observed, if he buys a coat from New England, he has the coat and the money remains in the United States where it can be taxed. If he buys it from England, he has the coat.”

What you likely won’t hear from Obama, however, is that if you pay an American to fill potholes, he’ll spend the money in America, where other Americans will then spend it some more. If you pay a Mexican, however, he’ll send a lot of the money back to Mexico.

Mexico, with its population of 110 million (just counting those still resident within its borders), is unquestionably going to go in the tankeconomically in 2009 because it depends upon remittances, oil, and American tourists. So if Obama fails to close his infrastructure jobs to non-citizens, there will be another rush to America by unemployed Mexicans.

Obviously, the highest priority way to reduce unemployment in the United States is to encourage non-citizens to go home, as America did during the Great Depression. (There was actually net emigration in the 1930s.)

It’s better for all concerned: after all, Mexico is a much cheaper place to be unemployed. (This is a financial-crisis friendly version of what VDARE.COM calls the “Sailer Scheme”—my 2005 proposal that all troublingly unassimilated immigrants should simply be bought out)

But because that makes the most sense of all the ideas out there, you’ll hear about it the least – except here on

[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His features his daily blog. His new book, <st1:place

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

[VDARE.COM note: Steve Sailer's book tentatively entitled The Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance" will be available ANY DAY NOW!]

At the Republican convention, VP nominee Sarah Palin famously observed:

“I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘communityorganizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

This wisecrack evidently got under the skin of Senator Barack Obama. In Obama Suddenly Riled, [San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 2008] columnist Carolyn Lochhead reported:

“Sen. Barack Obama ditched his normal languid cool today, punching back at Gov. Sarah Palin as he spoke with reporters in York, Pa, hotly defending his work as a community organizer… Obama’s hackles were clearly raised by Palin’s dismissal of his community organizing …”

The Obama message team then told us over and over about the unemployed steelworkers Obama had moved to Chicago to help.

Palin’s crack was funny. But it shows that, as I predicted in February, GOP nominee John McCain is choosing to fight the election with one hand tied behind his back. Even his VP candidate isn’t allowed to ask why Obama wanted to be a “community organizer”. Which “community” did this post-racial transcender of ethnic divisions want to organize?

Like most questions about Obama’s life, the answers about his community organizing revolve around a single word: race.

As Obama wrote in his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

“In 1983, I decided to become a community organizer. … That’s what I’ll do, I’ll organize black folks.”

The Obama campaign’s recurrent “steelworker” shtick is supposed to make you think Obama moved to <st1:place
w:st=”on”>Chicago to help guys named Kowalski. But the last thing Obama wanted to do in 1985 was help anybody with a Central European name.

Chicago in 1985 was site of the abrasive Council Wars between the leader of the white majority among Chicago’s aldermen, the Croatian-American Fast Eddie Vrdolyak, and Obama’s idol, the black mayor Harold Washington. This was the most blatant white vs. black conflict in the country at the time—which helped make Chicago attractive to the young mixed-race man from ethnically laid-back Hawaii. Obama had long been looking for a more racially hostile environment where hecould finally prove he was “black enough”.

Ultimately, he didn’t help any steelworkers, black or white. The Southtown Star reported on August 24:

“And none of the laid-off steelworkers Obama talks about in stump speeches, the people he was brought to Chicagoto help, could be found for this article, despite repeated requests to the campaign.”

So what is an Obama-style “community organizer?”

You’re not some local Scoutmaster or the lady who organizes the annual block party or some other local citizen.

It means a radical racial activist who, in Tom Wolfe‘s immortal phrase,mau-maus the flak catchers—intimidates bureaucrats into giving your ethnicity a bigger slice of the pie. It means, more than anything else, that you organize political protests for more handouts from thetaxpayers (even though dependence upon those handouts is one reason the community is so disorganized.)

It’s kind of like being the neighborhood fence who encourages the local heroin addicts to steal hubcaps so they can shoot more smack.

The famous black University of Chicago sociologist William Julius Wilson published a book on four South Side of Chicago districts, There Goes the Neighborhood, which I reviewed here in February. A key finding of his study: poor, disorganized neighborhoods had no shortage of Obama-like paid organizers. For example, in the Little Villageneighborhood, which is mostly Mexican illegal immigrants:

“There was a vast array of paid service providers in theneighborhood. … There was a school for at-risk youth, and clubs … for youth not particularly at risk.”

Wilson goes on to list some of the other taxpayer-supported programs: programs for pregnant women, for parents, for AIDS patients, for people who don’t yet have AIDS, for sick people, for the mentally ill, for gang-prevention, for seniors, for high school graduates, for high school dropouts, and for people who never went to high school and want to learn English so they can vote.

In contrast, Wilson found, Chicago neighborhoods that don’t need all this taxpayer and foundation-funded help because they self-organize—with picnics, parades, church festivals, and rapid graffiti clean-up—largely do so in order to keep property values up…and outsiders of other races out.

But that’s not the kind of community organizing Obama likes. Indeed, according to a John Judis article in The New Republic [Creation Myth,September 10, 2008], Obama spoke out in 1988 against the Save Our Neighborhoods group, which had engaged in Alinskyite community organizing to keep unscrupulous realtors from block busting their communities in order to cause rapid turnover, which leads to slumification.

And yet, like his mentor Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., Obama isn’t crazy about blacks moving out of the ghetto, denigrating that “oldindividualistic bootstrap myth: get a job, get rich, and get out.”[What Makes Obama Run?, By Hank De Zutter, Chicago Reader,year="1995" w:st="on">December 8, 1995]

The economic subtext: the jobs of both Wright as a South Side black preacher, and Obama as a South Side black community organizer and politician, were imperiled by the right of blacks who can afford it to move out of the black slums and find a less dangerous place to raisetheir children.

It’s less enjoyable being a “community leader” if your putative followers keep moving to Schaumburg. So Wright and Obama imploretheir followers to stay put—even at the risk that their children will join gangs and go to prison or the grave.

Perhaps some of the anti-white paranoia that runs through Wright‘s and, especially, Michelle Obama’s statements is partly explained by these hyper-glib leaders’ guilty consciences over self-interestedly persuading black parents to continue to expose their children to the dangers of gang-infested neighborhoods.

For example, on 60 Minutes, Michelle asserted: “… as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station …”—as if KKK snipers were cruising past the South Kenwood Amoco. (<st1:place
w:st=”on”>South Kenwood, where the Obama’s mansion is, is only 1/3rd black, but North Kenwood’s a dicey neighborhood).

Obviously, the main danger faced by black men is being shot by other black men. But that’s too unspeakable to mention. So free rein is given to paranoid fantasies about The Man being behind black-on-black violence, as in <st1:placename
w:st=”on”>Trinity Church’s Black Value System.”

Embarrassing fact: Obama didn’t actually live in any of the communities he putatively organized. Instead, he has spent 23 years living in the sliver of the South Side that’s so well organized by a rich institution that it has its own private police force. Obama has lived inHyde Park and South Kenwood, within the privileged residential bubble between 39th St. and 64th St. that is patrolled by the large, well-funded and hard-nosed University of Chicago Police Dept.

A friend wrote:

“You are missing an angle. Obama lives in South Kenwood. That is policed by the University of Chicagopolice. There is a fierce and drastic difference betweenneighborhoods within and outside the University of<st1:placename
w:st=”on”>Chicago Police boundary. When I was astudent there, it was apparent … they were only dimlyaware of things like Miranda or the presumption of innocence (for anyone, that is, other than students, faculty, black women, and black men dressed like Barack Obama—geez, I wonder who that leaves?). The<st1:placetype
w:st=”on”>University of Chicago wouldn’t last a semester without them.”

Ironically, Obama was a civil rights lawyer and taught constitutional lawat the University of Chicago Law School…

Funny thing about professional community organizers: the more disorganized the community, the more professional community organizers you’ll find.

As Wolfe wrote in 1970:

“Brothers from down the hall like Dudley got down to the heart of the poverty program very rapidly. It took them no time at all to see that the poverty program’s big projects, like manpower training, in which you would get some job counseling and some training so you would be able to apply for a job in the bank or on the assembly line—everybody with a brain in his head knew that this was the usual bureaucratic shuck. Eventually the government’s own statistics bore out the truth of this conclusion. The ghetto youth who completed the manpower training didn’t get any more jobs or earn any more money than the people who never took any such training at all. Everybody but the most hopeless lames knew that the only job you wanted out of the poverty program was a job in the program itself. Get on the payroll, that was the idea. Never mind getting some job counseling. You be the job counselor. You be the ‘neighborhood organizer.’”

Similarly, when Obama discovered that the closest Mayor’s Office ofEmployment and Training to the all-black housing project where he was focusing “was on a back street in Vrdolyak’s ward”, he exclaimed, according to Dreams From My Father: “We just found ourselves an issue”.

The <st1:placename
w:st=”on”>New Republic’s
Judis writes: “He got community members to demand a job center that would provide jobreferrals, but there were few jobs to distribute”.

As Wolfe wrote, back in the Wild West days of the Great Society, no matter how pointless the result of the protest, mau-mauing was fun for the participants because the flak catchers were white:

“When black people first started using the confrontation tactic, they made a secret discovery. There was an extra dividend to this tactic. There was a creamy dessert. It wasn’t just that you registered your protest and showed the white man that you meant business and weakened his resolve to keep up the walls of oppression. It wasn’t just that you got poverty money and influence. There was something sweet that happened right there on the spot. You made the white man quake. You brought fear into his face.”

By the time, Obama had arrived in Chicago, however, the povertybureaucrats were almost all minorities.

Still, community organizing had its upside: namely, Obama made a name for himself and networked with what has become his political base—the social services industry.

But, isn’t Obama above all petty financial considerations? After all, didn’t Obama give up a lucrative Wall Street job to make $10,000 per year as a community organizer, like he says in all those speeches?

Actually, Obama’s New York job was considerably less glamorous than he makes it sound in Dreams. He was a copy editor at a newsletter house.

And that low-ball salary he took in Chicago was just for the probationary period. His boss said, “After three or four months, he was up to $20,000, and after three years he was probably making $35,000 or so.”

Some perspective on Obama’s $35,000 community organizer salary: I also moved to <st1:city
w:st=”on”>Chicago for a job, about two and half years before Obama did. At my marketing research firm in late 1982, at the bottom of the recession, the going rate for new MBAs with quantitative skills from good B-schools was $29,000. It wasn’t great,but, for a bachelor, it was a living.

Even in <st1:city
w:st=”on”>Chicago politics, there’s a tradeoff between money and power. The Combine, the bipartisan, multiracial crew of Chicago and Illinois insiders I wrote about last week, is looking forpeople who aren’t excessively greedy to be the public face of the system. Indeed, according to Mike Royko‘s biography, Richard Daley the First became so powerful because he wasn’t particularly greedy.

And that’s what Obama wanted: power.

Obama was trained (and trained others) in the Rules for Radicals created by the famous agitato r Saul Alinsky. Yet, as Judis reports, Obama eventually became frustrated by community organizing in general, and three of Alinsky’s rules in particular: don’t trust 1)charismatic individuals, 2) politicians, or 3) lofty rhetoric.

So, Obama quit community organizing, and became a charismatic politician admired for his lofty rhetoric.


[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

[* note: If you're not familiar with the song My Kind Of Town(Chicago Is), click here to hear Frank Sinatra sing it.]

Did you know that now-convicted fixer Tony Rezko, who funneled $250,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Barack Obama from his initial campaign onward, got his start as a big-time Chicago operator back in the early 1980s through … the Nation of Islam?

Also known as the Black Muslims, they are the gentlemenin the bow-ties who preach that, in prehistoric times, the vile Dr. Yacub genetically engineered Europeans to be a race of human wolves.

Fat Tony, of course, is neither Black nor Muslim—he’s awhite Christian immigrant from Aleppo, a famous Syrianrug-trading souk.

The Black Muslims are also notoriously anti-Semitic—butnot when it came to their friend Tony Rezko, whosepartner in Rezmar, the notorious government-subsidizedslumlord racket, was Daniel Mahru, who is Jewish.

But that’s the kind of town Chicago is—diverse, vibrant, tolerant … as long as you’ve got clout and are willing to put aside petty differences and play ball with others with clout to mutually defraud the public.

If you want to understand Barack Obama, you have to understand Chicago, the city where he twice chose to make a political career.

Chicago sits at the conjunction of America’s two greatwatersheds, the Mississippi and the Great Lakes, whichmade it the transportation hub of the nation by the Civil War. Even today, the convenience of direct flights from O’Hare make the Chicago area central to American corporate life. The ample amount of money that can be extracted from businesses before they finally resolve to flee Chicago means that the city has always been a politician’s paradise.

I’m still amazed that I only found out about Rezko’sdecades-long relationship with the Black Muslims lastweek. It showed up in the obituaries of Jabir HerbertMuhammad, the son of Nation of Islam founder ElijahMuhammad of evil memory, whose followers assassinated his rival Malcolm X in 1966.

Jabir’s funeral was quite a success. Both current Nation of Islam boss Louis Farrakhan and The Champ, Muhammad Ali, were in attendance.

Malcolm had converted the young Cassius Clay to Elijah’s race-baiting Islamic heresy in the early 1960s. In 1964, however, Elijah excommunicated the dangerously charismatic Malcolm and installed his own son, Jabir, as Ali’s business manager. The energetic Rezko, who had arrived in Chicago from Syria in 1974, went to work for Jabir in the 1983 and was soon managing the ex-champ’s business affairs.

Rezko, sadly, was unable to make the memorial servicebecause he’s been busy at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center since his conviction on 16 counts in June.

And there had been some recent unpleasantness betweenJabir and Tony. The Chicago Tribune reported recently:

“Muhammad also was once a close associate and business partner of convicted political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, but that relationship ended badly and is now the subject of a lawsuit alleging trusts set up by Muhammad were looted…”[Muhammad Ali's longtime manager remembered, By JamesKimberly, August 30, 2008]

Jabir’s suit claims that Tony embezzled from him hisKenwood mansion, which is located not far from Barack’sKenwood mansion, the 2005 purchase of which Tonyapparently subsidized.

Strikingly, the Nation of Islam in particular and Chicago black politics in general were Rezko’s launching pad for his decades-long takeover of quite a bit of thegovernment of the State of Illinois.

James L. Merriner wrote in Chicago magazine in November 2007:

“When Harold Washington was running for mayor of Chicago in 1983, Rezko held a fundraiser after Jabir Herbert Muhammad, who was Muhammad Ali’s business manager, urged him to get involved in the campaign. Subsequently, Rezko also joined Ali’s entourage, traveling the world with him for five years. Rezko apparently took little interest in boxing—he says he and Ali did watch a few matches together—but he relished putting together business and endorsement deals for the champ.”[Mr. Inside Out]

I bet he did. A rich punchdrunk pugilist and Tony Rezko—what could possibly go wrong? In the 1990s, Ali’s latest wife forced out both Jabir and Tony.

Strange as it seems, the relationship between Rezko andthe Black Muslims is not unique. Chicago-based columnist Ray Hanania of the Arab Writers Group explained:

“Like many Arab Americans, Rezko had close ties to the Nation of Islam, which sympathized with the Palestinian and Arab causes. He became close to the inspiring icons likeMuhammad Ali and even young Obama, a little-known state legislator who later rose to stardom.”

Rezko is representative of a recent trend in Chicagopolitics: the rise of Arab wheeler-dealers as corruption catalysts.

The elites of the African-American and Arab communitiesmay tend to agree on foreign policy. But down on thestreet, relations are hostile. The Arab immigrants, whoare best known in Chicago as middle-man merchantsoperating liquor stores and the like in the ghetto, muchlike the Koreans in South Central Los Angeles at the time of the 1992 riots, are too hated by black voters to winpolitical power for themselves through the ballot box.Hence their leaders tend to play shadowy roles in Chicago politics.

Rezko kept a sharp eye out for upcoming black politicaltalent who could provide a politically correct front for him. Rezmar offered Obama a job in 1990. He didn’t take it, but that was the beginning of a long and mutuallybeneficial friendship between Rezko and the man who isnow the Democratic Presidential nominee. Rezko paid for15 percent of Obama’s first campaign, and Obama lookedout in the state senate for Rezko’s interests in low-income housing and in packing the state’s hospital construction board.

Contract set-asides for minorities provide a lucrativeopening for crooks like Rezko. The demand for “diversity” provides an excuse for a thumb on thescales, a justification for diverting the contract from the lowest bidder to a political ally who employs a minority frontman. Most of America’s pundit class hasn’t figured this out yet, but Rezko grasped how “diversity” works soon after getting off the plane. (Indeed, multicultural America is becoming ever more like the Ottoman Empire, giving an advantage to immigrants from old Ottoman mercantile minorities.)

Chicago explained: “Rezko ran Jabir Muhammad’s firm, Crucial Concessions. Under Mayor Washington[remember that fundraiser?], Crucial won the concessions to sell food at city beaches.”

Now I know why Chicago beach concession food in the 1980s was so untasty. The municipal hot dog stands weremanaged by the Nation of Islam and Tony Rezko!

Muhammad and Rezko worked the same minority set-aside scam with several high-grossing Panda Expresses atO’Hare airport. The Chicago Sun-Times reported onMarch 17, 2005:

“Two restaurants at O’Hare Airport have been allowed to rake in millions of dollars, even though the Daley administration learned back in 2002 that the company running them was probably a phony minority “front” for Panda Express and Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich. Crucial Inc. won the O’Hare concessions in part because it was certified as a minority-owned business. Its largest shareholder was listed as Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of the late Nation of Islamfounder, Elijah Muhammad. … The [Chicago minority contractor] program has been tarred by a relentless string of scandals…”[Cityignored possible O'Hare 'front' for years, By Chris Fusco, Fran Spielman And Michael Sneed]

Jabir and Tony also got a $10 million affirmative actioncontract from SBC, the giant phone company whosepresident was William Daley, Mayor Richie Daley’s brother, to run the payphones at the Cook County jail. Their designated owner-operator was a twofer under the quota of 35 percent of contracts reserved for minority and women-owned businesses: a black woman named DelorisWade, although she happened to be dead.

Building on these black Chicago roots, Rezko eventually became the statewide power behind the throne when the Democrats swept to victory in the 2002 elections. ChicagoMagazine reported:

“Rezko became a virtual one-man headhunting firm for staffing the Blagojevich administration, sending along recommended candidates, many of whom ended up gettingappointments. … (The U.S. attorney here has charged that Rezko schemed to pack the government with his cronies so that they could peddle their influence.)”

Diversity sensitivity also provides a convenientjustification for corruption:

Blagojevich said he sought Rezko’s

“advice on recommendations for agency directors for two reasons. Number one, I had every reason to think he was honest and independently successful in business and thathe was able to bring us people who were not part of state government before. And he has connections and roots in the African American community, and he could help us with candidates . . . because part of what we wanted to do was to have a diverse administration.”

This spider’s web of connection is baffling to outsiderstrying to understand what Obama really believes in.

You can trace his Chicago network to all sorts of unsavory folks: Rezko, terrorists, Farrakhan, the various Daleys,Jeremiah Wright, Manson Family fans, Jesse Jackson,billionaire Iraqi swindlers, Emil Jones, and so forth. One of Obama’s donors is the former Iraqi Electricity Minister Aiham Alsammarae, who broke out of prison in theBaghdad Green Zone where he was locked up for stealinghundreds of millions. Alsammarae now lives in the Chicago area, where he put up $2.8 million to help bail Rezko out of jail.

What’s the common ideological thread unifying all thesegruesome guys?

Perhaps there isn’t one—other than cynicism and acontempt for the public. All are part of the Combine,”the bipartisan, multiracial crew of insiders who s cratcheach other’s backs in Illinois.

Consider Michelle Obama. She’s been close friends with Jesse Jackson’s family since girlhood. Yet, her father was a precinct captain in Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Machine and she went to work for Richard M. Daley as a fixer when she washed out of the legal profession in the early 1990s.

The Jacksons and the Daleys were, nominally, enemiesduring a series of black vs. white mayoral elections in the 1980s and 1990s. In the long view, however, the Jacksons and Daleys are colleagues in their mutual profession of using politics to bilk money and clout from the public.

Think of the Illinois power structure as a pyramid. At the bottom are the voters. Above them are the ethnicactivists, like Obama was on the South Side back in the 1980s. Ethnic relations are pretty frosty at the bottom, but much chummier toward the top of the heap, where the big boys engage in a perpetual conspiracy to betray their respective constituencies for their mutual benefit.

Why don’t the voters turn the rascals out? Because noone ethnic group can afford to unilaterally disarm in the struggle for government boodle. Your racial leaders may be pocketing much of what they get in your name, butwithout their connections and time-tested stratagems,your group would be completely despoiled by the othergroups’ veteran politicians.

So, to echo an old story about FDR, while your leaders may be sonsabitches, at least they’re your sonsabitches.

Overall, the Obamas fit right in to this civic tradition. This isn’t to say that Barack Obama utterly lacks an ideology. He’s a complex, sophisticated man and he may well have private goals more ambitious and/or alarming than those of the average Chicago politician.

Yet Obama is a Chicago politician—make no mistake.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

A new but characteristically confused debate over whether race is a biological reality reminds me of the value of having a simple definition of “race” in mind.

Left-leaning British-Indian science journalist Kenan Malik’s latest book, Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate,has so far only gone on sale in the U.K.. But he argues online: “Race is not a real biological entity.”

In a hostile review of Malik’s book in Prospect, the fine British intellectual magazine, Mark Pagel, a British evolutionary biologist, landsa flurry of blows:

“Malik knows these facts about our genetics, but wants to insist that, unless ‘race’ corresponds to absolute boundaries, it is a useless and damaging concept. But to deny what everybody knows and to swap the word race for something less politically charged like ‘group’ is just an act of self-denial and certainly no more accurate than the dreaded ‘r’ word. It is also patronising—I would like to think we are all grown up enough to accept the facts and ready ourselves for the deluge to come. I say deluge because the more we measure, the more genetic differences wefind among populations …”

Unfortunately, Pagel doesn’t deliver a knockout punch because he lacks a definition of race. Like Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart wrote in his famous opinion in a pornography case, Pagel can’t definerace, but he knows it when he sees it.

Malik responded in Prospect by noting, with some justice, “The debate over race has moved on. To judge from his review of my book, Mark Pagel hasn’t noticed.”

To illustrate the state of the art thinking among the race realists he opposes, Malik writes:

“In the 19th and early 20th centuries, races were viewed as fixed groups, each with its own distinct behaviour patterns and physical characteristics. They could be ranked on an evolutionary hierarchy, with whites at the top and blacks at the bottom. Today, with a few exceptions, race realists reject the idea that there are essential, unbridgeable differences between humanpopulations, or that differences signify inferiority or superiority. So how do they define a race? Usually as ‘an extended family that is inbred to some degree‘ in the words of Steve Sailer of the Human Biodiversity Institute.”

Neither my friends nor my detractors will likely agree—but I suspect that, in the long run, my key contribution will turn out to be exactly what Malik [Send him mail] quotes: coming up with a straightforward definition of what a racial group is.

Race, it turns out, is about who your relatives are—a tautology with manifold implications.

That race is about family should be reassuring. Our culture produces little insightful thinking about race because the topic seems too huge and terrifying. Yet, we all have experience thinking pragmatically about the strengths and weaknesses, the benefits and detriments of extended families. And much of that reasoning is also applicable to thinking about race.

While this notion that race is mostly family writ large may seem abstract and irrelevant, it turns out to be extremely useful for understanding the world.

The more straightforward your grasp of the basics, the easier it is to understand the subtleties. For example, back in 2007, practically every other white pundit was extolling Barack Obama’s purported racialtranscendence on the naïve assumption that Obama’s mixed ancestry meant that, like the levelheaded Tiger Woods, he wasn’t all that interested in race and wasn’t biased against any race.

In contrast, I pointed out that Obama was dead serious about thesubtitle he gave Dreams From My Father his 1995 autobiography: A Story of Race and Inheritance. I noted that Obama, by his ownvoluminous testimony, was actually obsessed with race, with proving that he was “black enough.”

Malik condescendingly objects to my definition:

“If we are trying to sort out the problems of life over apint such vagueness and confusion generally does littleharm. We would expect a scientist or physician, however,to think with greater precision.”

Malik goes on to explain how Real Scientists Do Things:

“In their book Sorting Things Out, Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Star point out that any scientific classification must possess three properties. First, there must be ‘consistent, unique classificatory principles in operation’. So, when biologists order the living world, the rules they use to define humans (Homo sapiens) as a species are the same as the rules they use to define chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) as a species. Second, ‘categories mustbe mutually exclusive’. A chimpanzee cannot belong totwo distinct species. And third, a classification systemmust be complete and able to absorb even those entitiesnot yet identified. … Racial classifications possess none of these properties.”

Oh yeah?

First, defining a “species” is a much less precise process than Malik suggests. At present, there are 26 different definitions of “species” incirculation among scientists.

Second, and more important, rules for defining species are not terribly relevant because races aren’t species.

Races are better thought of as extended families. “Extended family”is a perfectly legitimate—indeed, invaluable—scientific concept. A Google search of “‘extended family’ anthropology” yields 169,000 references.

Yet, extended families obviously don’t follow Bowker and Star’s so-called rules for “scientific classification.” For example, extended families are not mutually exclusive. You can be classified as belonging, at minimum, to both your mother’s and your father’s extended families.

Malik writes:

“There is,

[Sailer] claims, ‘no need to say just how big the extended family has to be or just how inbred’. Africans, Icelanders, Basques, even Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Ireland Catholics all constitute distinct races.

“Of course, how one defines an ‘African’ or a ‘Basque’ is slightly more complicated than how one defines a ‘coyote.’”

Oh yeah? again. Ironically, “how one defines a ‘coyote’” on the margin has been a complicated scientific and legal controversy for many years. The “red wolf” of the Southern and Eastern United States is protected under the Endangered Species Act, even though many are more coyote than anything else. The federal Fish & WildlifeService admits:

“The exact identity of the red wolf has been debated fordecades, with some authorities considering it a species,some considering it a subspecies of the gray wolf, andsome considering it a hybrid, or cross-breed, of the coyote and the gray wolf.”

Naturalists in the field, lacking any sort of genealogical information about whatever animals they studied, traditionally had to use organisms’ looks to guess whether they belonged to their own species or merely to a subspecies.

Yet for a few animals, we use genealogy rather than appearance to classify them. You can’t enter a horse in the Kentucky Derby unless it is a Thoroughbred. Wikipedia says that “All modern Thoroughbreds can trace their pedigrees to three stallions originally imported into England in the 1600s and 1700s, and to 74 foundation mares of English and Oriental (Arabian or Barb) blood.”

Not surprisingly, most Thoroughbreds have a fairly distinctive appearance and manner, but that’s not what makes them Thoroughbreds. Seabiscuit, the 1930s champion, for instance, was arather funny looking horse with an odd predilection for lying down and snoozing whenever allowed. But Seabiscuit’s family tree, which included Man o’ War as a grandfather, was 100% Thoroughbred, so he was eligible.

Thus, Thoroughbreds are an extreme example of a race—an extended family that has only inbred for dozens of generations.

Malik continues his argument against my definition:

“In any case, even if human populations were as easy todefine as animal species, we are still faced with the old problem: if any group can be a race, then the concept of race becomes meaningless.”

No—not every group can be a race under my definition. Females, senior citizens, lefthanders, Catholics, homosexuals, Capricorns, cancer survivors, golfers, Democrats, Los Angeles Lakers, English-speakers, Wal-Mart employees, and Hispanics are not racial groups.

It’s extremely useful to have a concise understanding of why those groups are, obviously, not racial groups, while other groups, such as Navajo and Samoans, are.

The closest thing to a racial group is probably an ethnic group. And still, the U.S. Census Bureau insists upon drawing a sharp distinction

“People of Hispanic origin may be of any race… [I]n the federal statistical system ethnic origin is considered to be a separate concept from race.”

Here’s a general definition of “ethnic group” that I’ve come up with to match how the Census Bureau distinguishes conceptually between race and ethnicity:

“An ethnic group is one defined by shared traits that areOFTEN passed down within biological families—such as language, surname, religion, cuisine, accent, self-identification, or heroes—but that don’t HAVE to be.”

Thus, a Chinese baby adopted by Jewish parents (such as little Lily Ling Goldstein described practicing for her bat mitzvah in It’s Not Easy Being Jewish and Chinese in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles) could be described as racially Chinese and ethnically Jewish.

Malik tries again in Prospect to dismiss my definition of race:

“But once everything from the British royal family to the entire human population can be considered a race (because each is an “extended family inbred to some degree”), then the category has little value.”

Actually, the concept of race has more value when it doesn’t depend on an arbitrary cut-off size.

Please understand that I’m not making up a wholly novel use of the term “race.” It doesn’t apply just to blacks and whites, as some seem to assume today.

Contra Malik, the term “human race,” which appears 11,200,000 times on the Web, is a perfectly reasonable one.

Similarly, that a “royal family” could constitute a “race” also appeared reasonable to William Shakespeare (“Live, and beget a happy race of kings” from Richard III), Thomas Paine, Edward Gibbon, David Hume, Samuel Adams, Sir Walter Scott, Alexander Pope,Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Dryden, William Blackstone, and Alexis de Tocqueville, all of whom used the terms “race of kings,” “race of monarchs,” or “race of princes” to describe royal lineages.

As did the two most famous dictionary makers of the English language,Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster. The American lexicographer wrote in 1828:

“RACE, n.1. The lineage of a family, or continued series of descendants from a parent who is called the stock. A race is the series of descendants indefinitely. Thus all mankind are called the race of Adam; the Israelites are of the race of Abraham and Jacob. Thus we speak of a race of kings, the race of Clovis or Charlemagne; a race of nobles, &c.”

Of course, “the race of Charlemagne” (who lived at least 40 generations ago) no doubt includes hundreds of millions of people today. After all, your family tree has at least a trillion slots to fill from 1200 years ago, so it’s probable that Charlemagne’s name would show up at least once.

Charlemagne was your 40th great-grandfather? You don’t say! Well, keep moving toward the back of the bus because lots more descendants of Charlemagne are waiting to get on.

Simple lineages tend to dwindle into insignificance, unless they are reinforced by endogamy. That’s why I emphasize inbreeding in defining race. Without partial barriers against out-marriage, extended families quickly lose coherence.

If you are of European descent, you are probably descended from Charlemagne via not just one but by hundreds or thousands or millions of genealogical pathways. You may also be descended from Genghis Khan, who left a huge genetic footprint across the Asian steppe.

Yet, and here’s the key point, Europeans are likely to be more closely related, via more paths down their family trees, to Charlemagne (and thus to each other) than to Genghis Khan. For Mongolians, the opposite is true.

In the 19th Century, European royalty became increasingly endogamous, turning into an “inbred multinational elite,” according to Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s The War Of The World. Theyformed a pan-European race of royalty, who only married each other, except “in extremis, when the sole alternative was spinsterhood.” For instance, through dynastic marriages, Czar Nicholas II, who abdicated in 1917, was only 1/128th Russian.

Ferguson explains: “What better check could be imagined to the fractious tendencies of nineteenth century nationalism than the systematic intermarriage of the continent’s sovereigns.”

In the crisis of 1914, however, the family ties between Czar Nicholas II, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and King George V, who were all first cousins, proved insufficient to prevent the Great War from breaking out. The royals tended to be infected less than their subjects by war fever. But they were still dragged along by their bellicose nations.

By the 1880s, Queen Victoria had begun to worry about excessive inbreeding among her extended family. She defend her decision to allow her youngest daughter, Beatrice, to marry a mere Battenberg (Mountbatten) by saying:

“If there were no fresh blood, the royal race woulddegenerate morally and physically.”

And, in fact, the “royal race” did develop its own notorious genetic signature due to inbreeding, with hemophilia afflicting at least nine of her male descendents. This had world-historical consequences in the case of Victoria’s great-grandson Alexis Romanov, the son of two of Victoria’s grandchildren, and heir to the Russian throne.

The finest doctors in Europe could do less to ease the boy’s pain than could quiet talks with Father Grigori Rasputin, a mystic from Siberia. The grateful Czarina urged her husband, Czar Nicholas II, to listen to Rasputin’s political advice. Soon, the wild man with the Charles Manson eyes was close to being the de facto prime minister of Russia.

Because the Crown Prince’s hemophilia was kept secret, fewunderstood why the Czarina favored the erratic Rasputin. During World War I, many Russians suspected the German-born Czarina of attempting to sabotage their war against her homeland. These doubts contributed to the February 1917 overthrow of the Russian royal family—which made possible Lenin’s cataclysmic October Revolution.

This notion of “marital alliances” as a harbinger of peace among rival extended families seems terribly outdated today. Who would think any longer that dynastic marriages could solve anything? In our enlightened times, it seems silly to imagine that a prince combining Russian and German ancestry could keep the peace between Russians and Germans.

And yet, that is exactly how Barack Obama successfully sold himself in his now-famous keynote address to the 2004 Democratic convention.By beginning with 380 words about his family background, Obama positioned himself as the promised prince, the offspring of a marital alliance between the black and white races: He is the one we’ve been waiting for, the mutual heir who will unite black and white.

(That his parents’ actual marriage was a short-lived bigamous fiasco that happened because his already-married father had impregnated his 17-year-old mother—well, Obama glosses over that part.)

Marital alliances, however, can create their own problems. Just as the Russians were mistrustful of their German Czarina during WWI, withhorrific consequences, Obama has been dogged all his life by African Americans’ doubts over whether he is “black enough.” Thus he has had to take extravagant steps to prove his blackness to them—such as joining Rev. Wright’s extremist church.

It’s striking how bearing in mind something as esoteric-sounding as a definition of race as a partly inbred extended family is so useful in understanding something so immediately pertinent as the character ofthe Democratic nominee for President.

Not necessarily encouraging—but striking.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

Senator Barack Obama’s image as a “racial reconciler” seems to rest largely on the happy mixed race home in which he grew up, where young Barack worked on grooving his golf swing under the stern but caring tutelage of his ex-Green Beret dad while his anti-Communist immigrant mom washed his golf shirts so he’d look nice in the tournament.

Oh, wait … sorry, that’s Tiger Woods‘ upbringing! Like so many people, I get them confused …

Obama’s actual home life engendered a stew of inchoate resentments over his father and mother choosing not to live with him. These psychological scars have played out in complicated fashion over his entire career.

Idealizing his unknown Kenyan father while resenting his white mother for alternately nagging him and leaving him, Obama grew up desperate for acceptance by an ethnic group he knew only from television: African-Americans.

Indeed, Obama’s lifelong “Black Guilt” over not, personally, being “black enough” helps explain his otherwise weird codependency upon his angry and outspoken “uncle” (more accurately, surrogate father), Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. (who, by the way, being from the fair-skinned African-American upper middle class, has his own issues with proving himself black enough).

I have long expected that America would soon have a black President. But I assumed he would come from a background of objective, non-racial accomplishment—a military leader, perhaps a football coach turned governor, or a mayor of a mostly non-black city. Instead, the Hawaiian-raised Obama, with all possible careers open to him, chose (repeatedly) to make himself a race man. For Obama, it’s always been all about “race and inheritance,” to quote the subtitle of his 1995 autobiography.

That’s why, despite Obama’s (reasonably well-deserved) reputation for thoughtfulness, his policy stances on actual racial issues seem to be about the same as most every other black politician’s, as I will detail in an upcoming column.

Why isn’t Obama’s true nature better understood?

First, more than anybody else in recent politics, Obama has internalized the rule in all the self-help books on how to win arguments: Restate your opponent’s argument respectfully to show you understand it. Since most people assume their rival disagrees with them only because he is too stupid to understand their reasons, this instantly disarms much opposition. Indeed, Obama’s intelligence and verbal skills allow him often to summarize his opponents’ ideas better than they could themselves.

What his opponents don’t realize is that, although Obama is more than smart enough to grasp their logic, he just doesn’t care about what they care about.

Obama reminds me of a famous incident in Charles De Gaulle’s career. When in 1958 he journeyed to war-torn French Algeria, where the French Army’s mutiny had propelled him back into power, he stared out for a long moment at a waiting throng of European residents, then pronounced four words: “Je vous ai compris—I have understood you.”

The mob went wild with joy.

De Gaulle understands us! He will make everything right.

Nonetheless, much to the surprise of the pied noirEuropeans who cheered De Gaulle that day, the French president then proceeded to give Algeria to the rebels,dooming Algeria’s one million Europeans to exile for life and their Arab allies to death.

He understood them fine, better than they understood themselves. He just had other priorities.

Obama also reminds me of De Gaulle in that he’s thought longer and harder about the key issue of his age than any other politician. De Gaulle spent his out-of-power years of 1946-1958 pondering what the French want in a leader. He determined that the French felt demeaned by their parliamentary system’s partisan squabbling and wished instead to be ruled by an updated, elected version of King Louis XIV. This insight was both correct and highly convenient to De Gaulle, who happened to be best equipped by personality, record, stature (he stood almost six and a half feet tall), and even name to play the role he invented: Republican King.

Obama has likewise brooded for three decades on the central issue of American life, race, a topic that most white people with careers to protect have given up thinking about. And Obama has come to exactly the same conclusion as De Gaulle: the solution is to rise above all this partisan squabbling and make me President!

Obama understands acutely the various personae that Americans want in a President. His record of accomplishment is shorter than De Gaulle’s (to say the least), but he has something else: a protean heritage that can be read whichever way the voter desires.

Obama has taught himself to play the various roles that white Americans have hungered for. Tens of millions, for example, want a Celebrity-in-Chief to be their pretend friend, a longing brilliantly exploited by Obama’s supporter Oprah Winfrey. Others want Will Smith to be their Hero-in-Chief or Morgan Freeman as their Spiritual Presence-in-Chief. Some want James Earl Jones, the Lion King himself, to be their Father-in-Chief.

And many more millions of whites want Barack Obama to be the Role Model-in-Chief for Blacks, whose example will (in some unspecified way) persuade blacks to speak proper English, study, obey the law, and work hard; to Act Less Black—Act More Barack!

There’s no end to the psychological needs of Americans, and Obama is here to fulfill them all. These are not always easy roles for the naturally aloof, introspective, and elitist Obama to play, but he is willing to do whatever it takes.

Granted, many blacks are annoyed by Obama’s pandering to white wish-fulfillment fantasies about blacks. But Obama rightly judged that they will fall in line behind him out of sheer racial loyalty.

Of course, America’s race problem i sn’t at all like the Fourth Republic’s leadership problem, which could be solved by a new kind of leader. Obama himself likely understands that electing him President is a cosmetic gesture that will benefit Barack Obama far more than anybody else.

The good news about Obama and his radical past: he can probably be deterred. Barack Hussein Obama is more Hussein than Osama, an opportunist rather than a fanatic.

While his heart may be black, his head is quite white, the epitome of the small-town Midwest where his maternal grandparents originated. He’s conflict-averse, cautious, polite, eager-to-please, sensitive, and insecure, with a Sally Field-style need to be liked.

So, Obama’s radical principles have repeatedly pushed him left … right up to the point where he starts worrying that if he goes any farther to the left, not everybody will like him anymore, and that could endanger his amazing rise to power. Thus, he compromises and accepts promotion to the next level in return for selling out.

Up through now, Obama has been focused on attaining more power for himself rather than on actually using the power he already has to benefit the people in whose name he has promoted himself. He’s kept his eyes on the prize: the White House.

For example, Obama was elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990 at the height of the ideological tempest in a teapot over “critical legal studies.” He could have used his privileged position to plunge into the fray. But I would guess his judgment was:

Who needs the grief? The Harvard Law Review sounds like a big deal, but it’s actually just a bunch of opinionated law students. What’s the point of getting people mad at me or leaving behind a paper trail that might hurt me if the political winds ever blow in a different direction? The important thing for my career is not what I do as president of HLR , but that I am president of HLR .

So, although getting elected snagged him a book contract, he published nothing under his own name in his own journal. He appears to have let it run itself on autopilot without committing himself, even on issues as minor as pest control. The NYT reported in 2007:

“Another of Mr. Obama’s techniques relied on his seemingly limitless appetite for hearing the opinions of others, no matter how redundant or extreme. That could lead to endless debates—a mouse infestation at the review office provoked a long exchange about rodent rights—as well as some uncertainty about what Mr. Obama himself thought about the issue at hand.”[ In Law School, Obama Found Political Voice, By Jodi Kantor, January 28, 2007]

Not surprisingly, he didn’t accomplish much, objectively speaking. A commenter at claims to have done a massive statistical analysis and found:

“Obama’s vol. 104 is the least-cited volume of the Harvard Law Review in the last 20 years.”

After his year was up, the students wanted a non-Obama. Another commenter cites p. 11 of a book about Harvard Law School in those years, Eleanor Kerlow’s Poisoned Ivy: How Egos, Ideology, and Power Politics Almost Ruined Harvard Law School (1994):

“Obama was friendly and outgoing, but the class succeeding him wanted a tougher editor to lead them. [David ] Ellen .. was seen as someone who would be a more rigorous blue-penciler.”

In summary, Obama got a lot more out of the Harvard Law Review than the Harvard Law Review got out of Obama.

Once he makes the White House, though, it will be put up or shut up time for Obama. All those compromises he has made to maintain his political viability within the system will have paid off. Now it will be time for him to redeem some of those promises he made to himself, to his wife Michelle, and to his Rev. Wright.

That’s a frightening picture … especially when you realize that Obama is not some run-of-the-mill political talent like Jimmy Carter or even Bill Clinton. He might well be a once-in-a-generation superstar, like Huey Long.

The good news, though, is that politics never ends. Much to the disappointment of Obama cultists, January 20, 2009 would not mark Day One of the Year Zero. Obama’s inauguration would merely be a brief lull before mundane struggles over seeming minutia such as appointments to federal agencies, struggles in which Obama can be tied up … if enough of the public understands who he really is.

What this means is that, if President Obama’s rather timid personality would be confronted by an informed, skeptical citizenry, there would be a chance of keeping an Obama Administration from doing most of the destructive things he’s been promising himself to do once he finally got to be President.

But will the American public be up to the task?

The MainStream Media certainly won’t be.

VDARE.COM, though, with your support, will be here to help.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

The gleaming image that Senator Barack Obama has so artfully created for himself as a combination of all the best qualities of Socrates, Neo from The Matrix, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull was sullied last week by revelations about his close friends Tony Rezko and Jeremiah Wright, two very different but very representative citizens of my own long-time home city of Chicago.

In fact, the Obama story is continuing to play out along the lines I’ve been outlining over the last 14 month in more articles and blog postings than I care to remember.

Back on February 10, 2008 for example, I wrote in

“Now, Obama is a smooth operator. But the two people who have had the greatest influence on his adult life—his wife Michelle and his spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.—are not. They feel a deep racial anger and are not terribly good at hiding it.”

About a week later, Michelle made herself so obnoxious, saying “… for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” that the Main Stream Media [MSM] finally had to take notice.

And now the other shoe has dropped regarding Rev. Dr. Wright.

As I wrote in VDARE a year ago::

“Why has Obama tied his fate to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a tactless race man who is the living opposite of the myth Obama is trying to project about himself? … Obama’s ‘spiritual mentor’ just won’t shut up because the man of God is also a man of wrath.

On Thursday, ABC showed a 2003 sermon from the Obamas’ church in which Rev. Dr. Wright, whom Obama has known at least since 1988, proclaims (among muchelse of a far left ilk):

God damn America.”

The candidate later moved to “distance” himself from the man to whom he devoted much of pp. 274-295 of his 1995 autobiography, issuing this lawyerly bit of all-purpose prose:

“All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn.”Barack Obama

In Slate, Mickey Kaus rephrased Obama’s statement as:

“If it offends you, I condemn it!

“This seems to be the General Rule of Obama—if it’s going to damage him, he condemns it! And rejects and denounces. Vehemently! The Rule would seem to apply to all past and future controversial statements—his campaign could get that sentence printed up on littlelaminated cards and hand them out to reporters, or include them after the statements of all Obama surrogates, like those fine-print ‘void where prohibited’ waivers. ‘Condemned if controversial.’”

Obama did make one falsifiable assertion:

“The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation.”

Oh, come on …

Wright has been saying anti-American and anti-white things to all and sundry at least since his 1984 trip to Libya with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan to meet arch-terrorist Col. Muammar Kaddafi. That’s why Obama picked out Wright’s church after one of the many black ministers he knew during his “community organizing”days told him he would be more politically effective if he belonged to a church. Wright’s Trinity United megachurch represented for Obama the optimal combination of competitively successful and ideologically radical.

According to Obama’s Dreams, when the Ivy Leaguer first met Wright, he interrogated the minister about whether Trinity wasn’t too bourgeois for him.

Fortunately, Wright’s powerful sermon “The Audacity of Hope” , whose title Obama borrowed for his 2006 bestseller,—

“It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere …

—overcame Obama’s doubts about Trinity’s covert “middleclassness” and he joined in 1988.

Here’s an excerpt from Trinity’s website explaining their Black Value System:

“Disavowal of the Pursuit of ‘Middleclassness.’Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that captors must be able to identify the ‘talented tenth’ of those subjugated, especially those who show promise of providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the captor’s control.

“Those so identified are separated from the rest of the people by:

1. Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.

2. Placing them in concentration camps, and/or structuring an economic environment that induces captive youth to fill the jails and prisons.

3. Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which, while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of ‘we’ and ‘they’ instead of ‘us.’

4. So, while it is permissible to chase ‘middleclassness’ with all our might, we must avoid the third separation method – the psychological entrapment of Black’middleclassness.’ If we avoid this snare, we will also diminish our ‘voluntary’ contributions to methods A and B. And more importantly, Black people no longer will bedeprived of their birthright: the leadership,resourcefulness and example of their own talented persons.”

In 2006, the Obamas donated $22,500 to Trinity, helping propagate this racist paranoia.

Meanwhile, a very different side of Obama is also finally surfacing in the press due to the federal corruption trial of Obama’s political patron Tony Rezko. As I wrote on VDARE.COM in April 2007:

“Does this mean that the idea of all that is pure and holy being embodied in a Chicago politician was ridiculous from the beginning?

“Why, yes, it does mean that.”

On Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Obama was even deeper in Fat Tony’s debt than he had previously revealed:

“But in a 90-minute interview with Tribune reporters and editors, Obama disclosed that Rezko had raised more for Obama’s earlier political campaigns than previously known, gathering as much as $250,000 for the first threeoffices he sought.”[Obama: I trusted Rezko, By David Jackson, March 15, 2008]

Hilariously, Obama told the Tribune that he never dreamt that Rezko would ever ask him for a favor in return for all the favors he had done for him:

“Trying to put his past with Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko behind him, presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday said he never thought the now-indicted Chicago businessman would try to take advantage of him because his old friend had never asked for a political favor.”

That reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer has the local mob boss, (named Fat Tony, coincidentally enough) drive out Marge Simpson’s competition in the pretzel business. Inevitably, Fat Tony (whose voice is provided by Chicago actor Joe Mantegna) later asks Homer for a favor in return:

Fat Tony: Now, Homer, as you no doubt recall, you were done a favor by our, uh, how shall I say… Mafia Crime Syndicate. Homer: Oh yeah. Fat Tony: Now the time has come for you to do us a favor. Homer [Self-righteously appalled]: You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return? …[Heartbroken] Oh, Fat Tony! … [Sternly] I will say good day to you, sir! Fat Tony [Meekly]: OK. I will go. [Fat Tony walks away in shame]Fat Tony: [Realizing what just happened] Wait a minute!

Keep in mind that the Obama-Rezko connection is likely penny ante-scale stuff compared to what Mr. and Mrs. Clinton appear to have been up to since 2001. My guesstimate is that the complicated real estate deal that Obama and Rezko carried out in 2005 was worth about $70,000 to Obama. Bill Clinton charges private interests like CitiGroup three or four times that amount just for a speech.

To figure out what really was going on with the purchase of Obama’s stately Chicago home, however, you’d have to study Chicago’s zoning regulations and the role of the Chicago Landmarks Commission, on which Michelle Obama sat. And who has time for that kind of tedium?

The secret behind the Chicago Way is that it endures because most of the corruption is too boring for the citizens to get terribly worked up over. The taxpayers get nickeled and dimed by the players, but, as Mayor Richard J. Daley taught Chicago’s insiders a half century ago, as long as the pols don’t get too greedy or too outrageous, the public will more or less put up with it because the only alternative is for them to dive into this big barrel of boredom themselves to try to figure out how they are being cheated.

What’s the common denominator between these two characteristic Chicagoans: the radical Wright and the glad-handing Rezko? How can Obama be so closely linked to both?

Similarly, when his fiancée washed out of her corporate law career, why did the seemingly high-minded Obama encourage Michelle to take a job as a fixer with the Daley Machine?

A little noticed 2007 New Republic article by Ryan Lizza,The Agitator, offers a way to understand these twosides of Obama: the leftist Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), author of Rules for Radicals.

Lizza notes:

“In Dreams, Obama spent some 150 pages on his four years in Chicago working as an organizer, but there’s little discussion of the theory that undergirded his work and informed that of his teachers. Alinsky is the missing layer of his account.”

Lizza explains:

“In 1985, Barack Obama traveled halfway across the country to take a job that he didn’t fully understand. But, while he knew little about his new vocation—community organizer—it still had a romantic ring, at least to his 24-year-old ears. … ‘Change won’t come from the top, I would say. Change will come from amobilized grass roots. That’s what I’ll do. I’llorganize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.’”

Obama’s bosses were three white leftists (Gerald Kellman, Mike Kruglik and Gregory Galluzzo,)

“schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago-trained social scientist… While Obama was in search of an authentic African American experience, Kellman was simply in search of an authentic African American.”

LBJ’s Great Society had incorporated Alinskyism. Tom Wolfe‘s brilliant Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers explains how poverty programs were set up to only give out grants to “authentic” inner city groups, their “authenticity”being measured by how well they could intimidate (Mau-Mau) the bureaucrats (flak catchers). As Wolfe gleefully documents, self-interested hucksters immediately organized their own protest groups to grab the handouts.

Lizza points out that Obama’s indoctrination in Alinskyism has endured:

“Obama’s self-conception as an organizer isn’t just a campaign gimmick. … In the 13 years between Obama’s return to Chicago from law school and his Senate campaign, he was deeply involved with the city’sconstellation of community-organizing groups… He taught Alinsky’s concepts and methods in workshops.”

Indeed, here’s a chapter that Obama wrote for the 1990 book After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois,

a rare example of Obama leaving a paper trail.

It’s important to grasp that Alinsky was not a dreamy idealist. As his 1970 Time profile shows, he was a conscious Machiavellian for whom the ends justified themeans.

Lizza adds:

“Alinsky had prowled the same neighborhoods that Obama now worked and internalized many of the same lessons. As a University of Chicago criminology graduate student, heingratiated himself with Al Capone’s mobsters to learn all he could about the dynamics of the city’s underworld, an experience that helped foster a lifelong appreciation for seeing theworld as it actually exists, rather than through the academic’s idealized prism.”

Making nice with Tony Rezko on Monday after you hear a Jeremiah Wright rant on Sunday—hey, Alinsky would have had no problem with that.

Alinsky’s eyes were always on the prize:

“The first and most fundamental lesson Obama learned was … ‘You want to organize for power!’ … The other fundamental lesson Obama was taught is Alinsky’s maxim that self-interest is the only principle around which to organize people.”

Obama has since figured out a key breakthrough—that many white people are motivated heavily by status striving against other whites. And that’s a competition in which conspicuous favoritism toward blacks, such as, say,an underprivileged Presidential candidate, cay pay off.

By nature, Alinsky was an agitator who loved a face-to-face argument. As Hillary Clinton pointed out in her Wellesley senior thesis (long blockaded, by another amusing coincidence —just like Michelle Obama’s), Alinsky’s street-theatre approach was both a strength and weakness at achieving their mutual leftist goals. Bill Dedman of MSNBC summarizes:

“In the end, [Hillary] judged that Alinsky’s’power/conflict model is rendered inapplicable by existing social conflicts’—overriding national issues such as racial tension and segregation. Alinsky had nosuccess in forming an effective national movement, she said, referring dismissively to “the anachronistic nature of small autonomous conflict.” [Reading Hillary Rodham's hidden thesis, May 9, 2007]

In 2008, the two old students of Alinsky are competing for national power. Amusingly, Obama, the professional Alinskyite, has seriously out-organized Hillary, perhaps because she turned down a job offer from Alinsky, choosing instead to attend Yale Law School.

(By the way, in case you are wondering about the comparative prose style of the similarly locked-up theses of Hillary versus Michelle Obama, Hillary’s arch but fluent and slightly witty writing wins easily over Michelle’s whiny and artless maunderings.)

Despite the difference in personality between Alinsky and Obama—Alinsky was an annoying Lenny Bruce, Obama is a reassuring Sidney Poitier—Hillary’s 1969 criticism also applies to Obama’s four years as a full-time Alinskyite. By his own account, Obama’s only accomplishment was mau-mauing the black bureaucrats at the Chicago Housing Authority into removing some asbestos from public housing; a worthy task, but a solution to a problem that ranks comically low on any list of troubles besetting black slum dwellers.

In summary, Obama came to the Chicago to do good, but ended up doing well.

It’s, the story of his life. Obama takes jobs ostensibly to help blacks—community organizer, discrimination lawyer, politician—but they mostly just help fuel his amazing ascent to the White House. The fundamental flaw in Obama’s career is that each job is to help poor blacks get more goodies out of the government, but government handouts undermine black moral fiber, leaving the community worse off than before the Great Society.

Sadly, as a half-white preppie from paradise, Obama has never felt “black enough” to effectively challenge theleftist orthodoxy in which a Jeremiah Wright is considered by other blacks to be part of the black mainstream.

If Obama had wanted to improve tangibly the lives of Chicago inner city blacks, but didn’t care about attaining power and fame for himself, he could have become, say, a high school teacher, perhaps at Providence-St. Mel, the famous all-black Catholic school on the West Side that’s renown for straightening out young fellows. With his charisma, he could have been a great teacher and role model

But, for better or worse, he chose a different path—one of overweening personal ambition.

[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

Real estate is a preoccupation of most American adults in their private lives. Yet it is almost ignored in our public discourse… at least until it becomes unavoidable, as during the current subprime mortgage meltdown, which is endangering the entire economy.

Real estate is famously all about “location, location, location”, which generally means “neighbors, neighbors, neighbors”. In our era of cheap electronic playthings, the worst aspect of being poor is not that you can’t buy enough stuff—it’s that you have to l ive next to other poor people.

In urban America, “location” is in large part about race. Thus, our elites, when choosing where to live and where to send their children toschool, exhibit the same race realism in their personal affairs that they persecute when a James Watson displays it in public.

Fortunately, a book by sociologists William Julius Wilson and Richard P. Taub, There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America, bridges the gaping Real Estate Chasm in American intellectual life by profiling in detail four unfashionable neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago. It’s based on field observations conducted by nine grad students from 1993 through 1995. (No explanation is given for why they waited so long before publishing their results.)

Having lived in Chicago for 18 years, I find There Goes the Neighborhood rings true to me. But it tends to slide over the underlyingexplanations, which I’ll try to supply from my family history at the end of this article.

Although he moved from the University of Chicago to Harvard in 1996, William Julius Wilson is the prime representative today of the most famous tradition of academic sociology in America: the Chicago School. In fact, University of Chicago sociologists defined the 77 neighborhoods of Chicago back in the 1920s.

Wilson, who is black, first became prominent with his 1978 book The Declining Significance of Race. It argued that class is becoming more important than race in the workplace.

Amusingly, that book made Wilson the bête noire of Senator Barack Obama’s spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.. He told the young community organizer in the late 1980s:

“These miseducated brothers, like that sociologist at the University of Chicago, talking about ‘the declining significance of race.’ Now, what country is he living in?”

(P. 283 of Obama’s autobiography Dreams From My Father).

And, judging from Wilson’s latest book, Obama’s Rev. Dr. has a point, at least when it comes to housing. (Indeed, one of the side benefits of There Goes the Neighborhood is that it offers a perspective that the Main Stream Media has been reluctant to share with you about where the supposedly “postracial” Democratic Presidential contender from the South Side is actually coming from.)

Wilson and Taub conclude:

“Indeed, many citizens still cling to the notion that the residential desegregation of neighborhoods is achievable. The research conducted for this book, however, strongly suggests that neighborhoods in urban America, especially in largemetropolitan areas like Chicago, are likely to remain divided, racially and culturally.”

In these four neighborhoods, each of which was virtually all white in 1960, race remains an obsession. Homeowners who get along OK with people of other races in the workplace do not want theircolleagues moving onto their street.

Wilson and Taub give pseudonyms to the four neighborhoods profiled in the book. According to Google, nobody has previously broken their code. It’s easy to do, however, just by entering each district’sreported population from the 2000 Census into a search engine. For the benefit of Chicagoans, I’ll use the real names of the neighborhoods.

  • First, the book’s “Beltway” is actually the Clearing neighborhood on the far Southwestern border of Chicago, out beyond Midway Airport.

As of the 2000 Census, Clearing is 76 percent white and 21 percent Latino, but less than 1 percent black—and the residents intend to keep it that way. The authors comment:

“Residents felt that Beltway [Clearing] was one of the last places where white working-class Chicagoans could live among people whom they felt shared their backgrounds, experiences, and values.”

The white Clearingites have built an impressive collection of institutions to put on events such as block parties, church festivals, picnics, andparades. The implicit goal is to make Clearing a friendly, effective community … for the people who already live there. Homeowners work hard to foster local pride and make sure that everybody keeps their property up, instantly painting over graffiti so that the forces of disorder and decay cannot undermine property values and allow in less house-proud people, which could set off a vicious cycle that might turn Clearing into a slum.

The Wilson-Taub team’s observations confirm the finding of prominent Harvard political scientist Robert D. Putnam, the author of the bestseller Bowling Alone on the decline of social capital, that ethnic diversity (especially immigration) undermines trust. In 2006, Putnam blurted out (to his subsequent regret):

“In the presence of diversity, we hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined.”

  • Second, “Dover” is Brighton Park, a closer-in Southwesternneighborhood that was once the Bohemian capital of Chicago.

(That’s Bohemian with a capital “B”, as in Good King Wenceslas—the small “b” bohemians congregate in Wicker Park and Bucktown, the hipster havens made notorious by alternative rocker Liz Phair’s 1993 album Exile in Guyville.)

In contrast to Clearing, where whites were still holding on as the majority, in Brighton by 2000 an influx of Hispanics had left thedemographic balance Park almost exactly the reverse of Clearing.Latinos were dominant.

Brighton Park is lacking in the kind of community spirit found inClearing. Most non-religious organizations, such as Kiwanis, are dying because Hispanics don’t volunteer much.

Wilson and Taub note:

“However, whites and Latinos in Dover

[Brighton Park] did find common ground in their response to African Americans. Latinos in Dover—even the recent immigrants—were no more open to living with black Americans than were the white residents.”

Mexican-Americans and the remaining whites of Brighton Park didcome together—to protest their kids being bused from Brighton Park’s over-crowded schools to schools in Chicago’s black neighborhoods.

Of course, the reason Brighton Park’s public schools are overcrowded is because so many Mexicans with large families have moved in. But many are second generation, and they have started to assimilate toward American norms, such as playing the race card to avoid takingresponsibility. A local Latino newspaper framed the overcrowding as the result of … anti-Hispanic discrimination. It editorialized:

“We have 40 to 50 kids in a classroom. Next year they’ll be taking the library and the computer room. This is how they discriminate against our kids.”

It’s worth noting that the Mexicans didn’t themselves start crying “discrimination!” White liberals, such as a local school principal,introduced the idea to them. Having heard it, Hispanics hoping to build ethnic activist careers for themselves took it from there.

  • Third, Wilson’s “Archer Park” is actually South Lawndale, which is perhaps better known as Little Village.

Whatever you want to call it, Little Village shows the likely future of Brighton Park … and Clearing, too, if Clearing’s residents let down theirguard. This chapter in the book is entitled “A Taste of Mexico in Chicago”.

Little Village is virtually all-Hispanic except for a few elderly whites too poor to move; and an all-black strip along its north edge. It suffers from “extreme overcrowding” and is so depressing that, the authorsremark, “it was not a neighborhood that held even the Mexican residents”. If the residents of Little Village could get organized enough to agree on a neighborhood motto, it would be “Sal Si Puedes“—“Leave If You Can”.

But they can’t get organized. Little Village has almost nothing in the way of community associations. In a footnote, Wilson and Taub admit,“Residents of Archer Park [Little Village] do not tend to organize outside of kinship…”

Government officials’ attempts to get residents to take some responsibility for their own community have been a complete bust. Indeed,

“Even when people were giving things away, though, organized activity came from the top down and did not necessarily draw a crowd. In a telling example, a city government-organized neighborhood festival at a local park served hamburgers and hotdogs instead of Mexican food. The few neighborhood people who attended brought their own tacos, tamales, and the like with them.”

While Clearing bustles with get-togethers of local groups, the coordinating meetings for Little Village’s social services organizations were held in downtown Chicago on the top floor of the skyscraper of the First Chicago Bank (which was trying to win pro-minority Brownie points with federal bank regulators):

“The people who seemed most concerned about the community were … service providers who did not live there, but were there in their professional roles rather than as concerned citizens. Meetings could be held downtown at the start of the working day because, in effect, people were being paid to attend them.”

  • Fourth, “Groveland” is Avalon Park on the Southeast Side, a small, pleasant, all-black lower-middle class neighborhood.

Avalon Park is a photographic negative of Clearing. It features manycommunity organizations that are also intended to keep poor blacks out. While Clearing’s clubs are have a covert racial agenda, Avalon Park’s are overtly so, even though nobody except other blacks is threatening to move in. (Judging from the Afrocentrist attitudes expressed in the book, I would guess that more than a few AvalonPark residents attend Rev. Dr. Wright’s megachurch on 95th St.)

Both Clearing and Avalon Park benefit from Chicago’s law requiring municipal employees to live in the city. These two places are about assuburban as you can get within Chicago, so government workers comprise 21 percent of the workforce in white Clearing and 27 percent in black Avalon Park.

Civil servants tend to make good, stable neighbors. They have to pass tests to get their jobs, so they can’t be really stupid. They don’t get fired, so they can put down roots in one place. Many don’t work long hours, so they have time to volunteer.

Ironically, the two decent neighborhoods in the study, Clearing and Avalon Park, have been preserved because Chicago’s countless badneighborhoods need so many government workers to babysit their dysfunctions. For instance, There Goes the Neighborhood explains that in heavily immigrant Little Village:

“There was a vast array of paid service providers in theneighborhood. … There was a school for at-risk youth, and clubs … for youth not particularly at risk.”

The book goes on to list some of the other taxpayer-supported programs in this neighborhood full of illegal immigrants: programs for pregnant women, for parents, for AIDS patients, for people who don’t yet have AIDS, for sick people, for the mentally ill, for gang-prevention, for seniors, for high school graduates, for high school dropouts, and for people who never went to high school and want to learn English so they can vote.

Not many of the Mexican immigrants do become voters, though. So it’s easy to see why white and black politicians want more of them, no matter how much the general citizenry doesn’t. Illegal immigrants and their descendents provide countless jobs for politically well-connected white and black civil servants, while only very slowly grabbing political power themselves.

Keep in mind that Chicago is, compared to, say, Detroit or Cleveland, a successful city. Under the Daley Dynasty‘s crooked but sensible leadership, Chicago has been able to hang on to many tax-generatingbig corporations and tax-consuming but neighborhood-preserving civil servants.

In the long run, though—which might prove to be arriving shortly—this tax gold mine is going to run out. Wilson and Taub warn:

“Moreover, with minorities, notably Latinos, displacing whites as a growing share of the population, the implications for urban tax bases are profound.”

Still, as refreshing as There Goes the Neighborhood is in an intellectual culture starved of clear thinking (or any thinking, for that matter) about real estate, it could be even more explicit about the underlying logic.

So, let me tell you some personal real estate stories to illustrate how the world really works.

To begin: Why, besides alliteration, does Lakefront and Liberal always go together in Chicago?

Home prices are so high near Chicago’s main asset, Lake Michigan, that only upper-middle class people can afford to live there. Thus, race doesn’t much matter. In lower rent districts, however, race trumps class. As many Chicagoans testify in There Goes the Neighborhood, among working class people the traits that make a good neighbor—such as having children who don’t commit crimes and who aren’t disruptive in school—are most often found among whites, followed by Latinos, followed by African-Americans. (Asians would probably come in first, but they don’t live in these four areas.) And whites are distributed higher on the class spectrum on average.

When my wife and I bought a condominium in Chicago in 1988, we picked highly diverse Uptown on the northern lakefront by following the “value investing” logic devised by Warren Buffett’s mentor Benjamin Graham: look for stocks that are underpriced relative to their intrinsic value. If the people running the company currently are no good, theyare likely to be replaced.

Similarly, we reasoned that Chicago’s foremost intrinsic asset is its magnificent lakefront, with parks running for 18 miles along LakeMichigan. In Uptown we could buy a condo on the first block in from the waterfront park, just a ten minute stroll to two beaches, for a small fraction of what we’d pay three miles to the south in stylish Lincoln Park.

The downside was that our neighborhood hadn’t been “discovered”yet. So we’d have to put up with a lot of dicey neighbors just a block or two away, until the whole neighborhood was inevitably gentrified.

That was our thinking. But for ten long years the price of condos in the neighborhood was almost dead flat. We kept telling ourselves that themarket was wrong, that the intrinsic appeal of living 90 seconds from Lake Shore Drive, with its 20 minute commute to the Loop, would eventually overrule faddish whims that were propelling prices in innately crummy neighborhoods like Bucktown into the stratosphere.

Finally, in the late 1990s, the world suddenly came to agree with us, and we sold out in 2000 at a decent profit.

On the other hand, even in 1988, we still had to pay far more per square foot in Uptown than in Wilson and Taub’s four neighborhoods. So we were assured of genteel neighbors, whatever their race. One of the two black owners of units in our six-flat had an MBA from the University of Chicago and the other was a CPA from Trinidad.

Away from the lake, though, there are fewer intrinsic assets to distinguish one area from another other than the people who live there and the strength of their will to stay there.

The architectural quality of the housing stock only matters in extreme cases. The now-poorer South Side often has better-designed vintagebuildings than the now-richer North Side.

Yet, there’s one place in the Chicago area where architecture really did make a difference. When I moved to Chicago to take a job in 1982, my father wanted to visit his old house in Oak Park, the first suburb west of the worst ghettos of Chicago, which he had lived in until his family moved to California in 1929. I tried to talk him out of it,assuming that his neighborhood in Oak Park would now be a slum.

Yet when we arrived at 1028 Superior St., the sidewalk was full of tourists snapping photographs—not of his house, although it was beautifully preserved, but of the one next door at 333 Forest. This Moore-Dugal House was originally designed by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1895 as a large Tudor cottage. After it burned in a Christmas Day fire 85 years ago that my father still remembers, Wright rebuilt it for the Moores as an immense Anglo-Japanese curiosity. There are a dozen other Wright-designed homes, including Wright’s own house, within two blocks.

Oak Park, where Wright invented his Prairie Style, survived the racial changes of the 1960s and 1970s, when much of adjacent Chicago, including the Austin neighborhood right across the street, turned into a giant slum.

Why? Because, with a total of 25 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings as well as many other superb structures, it has the most architecturally significant housing stock in America.

Oak Park homeowners, with so much to lose, successfully resisted tipping to all black by instituting “a black a block” program in which real estate agents were only allowed to sell one home per block to blacks. It was flagrantly illegal under the 1968 Fair Housing Act, but it did save America’s most aesthetically important neighborhood.[Reconsidering The Oak Park Strategy: The Conundrums Of Integration, by Evan McKenzie and Jay Ruby, (PDF)]

In contrast, Chicago’s working class Austin neighborhood, just to the east of Oak Park, didn’t have any epochal architecture. So it wasn’t as lucky. There, my in-laws suffered the dire consequences of rapid ethnic change.

My late father-in-law was a classical musician and union leader and my late mother-in-law, who may have been an even better musician but who suffered too much stage fright to play concerts, was a public school special education teacher. As late as 1966, Austin was all-white, with so little crime that my future wife walked a mile to first grade with her third grade sister every day. After school, the sidewalks of this neighborhood of three story condominiums were packed with children out playing while their mothers made dinner. (These days, when kids are chauffeured everywhere by their parents, the old Austin sounds like it was a paradise for both children and parents.)

After World War One, most blacks in Chicago had been restricted bychicanery and violence to living in a small, densely populated district on the South Side. This complete segregation broke down in the late 1950s. And then the increase in welfare payments in the progressive Illinois of the 1960s brought up from the rural South a lower class of blacks.

When Austin started to integrate around 1966, many of my in-laws’ friends told them to sell out as soon as possible, before the neighborhood went all black.

But, as good liberals, my in-laws stood up for integration. And the first blacks moving in were middle class. So, they joined an anti-tippingliberal group of neighborhood home-owners started by fellow musician Father Edward McKenna—a composer who has written a couple of Irish-themed operas with librettos by Father Andrew Greeley. Members swore to each other they wouldn’t sell no matter how black the neighborhood got.

Well, the crime rate, which had been non-existent when the neighborhood was all white, started to soar. Housing prices fell, and soon the middle class blacks were selling out because underclassblacks were moving in. The members of the pro-integration group started to break their promises and move out. My in-laws stuck with their vows. But, then in 1968, rioters looted all the stores in the neighborhood after Martin Luther King was murdered. (My future wife called her mother to the window: “Hey, Mom! Look—free TVs! Let’s get some!” Her mother sent her to her room). And their small children, my future wife included, were mugged three times on their street.

So, my in-laws finally sold, losing about half of their life savings. They bought a farm 65 miles out of town, where they didn’t have indoorplumbing for their first two years of fixing it up.

The last time I visited Austin—in the 1990s, three decades later—it looked like a war zone, with about one third of the houses abandoned or torn down.

Today, immigration causes similar, although perhaps generally not quite as tumultuous, disruptions in the lives of American citizens.

It has been exhaustively demonstrated that there is no economic rationale for the post-1965 influx.

Why do we need the aggravation?

[Steve Sailer (email him) is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Economics • Tags: Barack Obama 
🔊 Listen RSS

You can blame winter for the slow erosion of Senator Barack Obama’s image.

As I’ve been noting going back to my January article on Obama, much of what you hear about the fashionable Presidential candidate ranges from wishful thinking to sheer ignorance to outrightdistortion.

More recently, I wrote in The American Conservative one of the first detailed analyses of Obama’s 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father that takes seriously his absolutely accurate subtitle: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Rather than being the racial healer of media legend, Obama has,—according to his own account—conducted a lifelong love affair with racial resentment and self-pity. [Obama'sIdentity Crisis, March 26, 2007]

The response from liberals like David Brock and Matthew Yglesias was that it was not the politician who is running for President of the United States whose personality should be examined, but the journalist’s who dares question Obama.

Baloney. Obama’s vague, feel good, bring-us-together campaign as the half black-half white candidate who will enable America to ” transcend” race is absolutely dependent on continued journalistic negligence regarding what Obama has actually written about race.

We elected a pig in a poke as President in 2000 and are paying the price today. But with George W. Bush, we at least had the excuse for not making the effort to understand him that he turns out to be not very interesting to understand—he’s Peter Sellers’ Chauncey Gardiner from Being There with a mean streak.

Obama, on the other hand, is a more intriguing individual, a man of parts, a fine writer and speaker. We don’t have the excuse of boredom for not putting in the work to understand the passionately ethnocentric candidate’s race obsession.

While few in the media appear to have read Obama’s bestselling memoir all the way through, his press coverage has gotten less rapturous in recent weeks.

Why? Winter.

To flee it, numerous big city reporters have convinced their editors to send them on expense-account junkets to Obama’s old tropical haunts in Hawaii and Indonesia. The articles they wrote to justify their trips have begun to undermine Obama’s carefully crafted façade.

The next credibility problem for Obama’s persona: Chicago is a great place to visit once the snow stops falling. As spring arrives, more investigative reporters will head to the Windy City to find out more about Obama’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah T. Wright Jr., who was one of the organizers of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s 1994 Million Man March.

In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, Kirsten Scharnberg and Kim Barker report from Honolulu and Jakarta, where Obama spent his first 18 years:

“More than 40 interviews with former classmates, teachers, friends and neighbors in his childhood homes of Hawaii and Indonesia, as well as a review of public records, show … several of his oft-recited stories may not have happened in the way he has recounted them, sometimes making him look better in the retelling, and sometimes skipping over some of the most painful, private moments of his life.”[ The Not So Simple Story of Barack Obama's Youth, March 25, 2007]

Obama described Indonesia in the late 1960s as idyllic for a small mixed-race boy, while Hawaii in the 1970s was a nightmare of racism.

The Tribune reporters found the opposite was closer to the truth.

They interviewed Southeast Asians from his Jakarta neighborhoods:

“All say he was teased more than any other kid in the neighborhood–primarily because he was so different in appearance.” He was frequently attacked by three Indonesian kids at once, and one time they threw him in a swamp.“Luckily he could swim.”

Conversely, Obama’s account of his supposedly oppressed and angry 5th-12th grade years (at Honolulu’s most prestigious prep school) make Hawaii sound like Alabama in the 1950s—rather than a statewhere whites didn’t hold any of the top three elective posts at the time. However, the Tribune correspondents note,

“Much time is devoted in Obama’s book to exploring his outsider status at Punahou. But any struggles he was experiencing were obscured by the fact that he had a racially diverse group of friends–many of whom often would crowd into his grandparents’ apartment, nearPunahou, after school let out.”

Obama exploits his typical reader’s ignorance of Hawaii’s very different racial rules. For instance:

“Obama described having long, heated conversations about racism with another black student, ‘Ray,’ who once railed: ‘Tell me we wouldn’t be treated different if we was white. Or Japanese. Or Hawaiian.’ The real Ray, located by the Tribune, is actually half black and half Japanese. And according to a close friend from high school, that young man was perceived and treated as one of Punahou’s many mixed-race students.”

In his Honolulu classmates’ recollections, the young Obama wasn’t the lonely, alienated victim depicted in his book. Instead, he was much as he is now: a naturally gifted politician with a knack for making himself popular. CBS reported:

“Most classmates and teachers recall an easygoing, slightly chunky young man, with the same infectious smile he sports today. Yet many say they have trouble reconciling their nearly 30-year-old memories with Obama’s more recent descriptions of himself as a brooding and sometimes angry adolescent…”

I particularly like how Obama rationalized his preppie drug use as “something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind . . .” His classmates, in contrast, in these articles seemed to find his explanation puzzlingly gratuitous. Many of them smoked dope on the beach, too, but they didn’t need a racial identity crisis caused by the white power structure to justify their getting high. It was, like, Hawaii in the 1970s, you know? Maui Wowie, dude!

While Dreams from My Father may not be the most accurate of autobiographies ( Random House should have encouraged him to write an autobiographical novel, for which his talents are more suited), it should not be dismissed. Artistically, it is a minor masterpiece, although of a rather depressing sort.

While Obama’s aptitude as a prose stylist doesn’t necessarily mean he’d make a competent Chief Executive, it might be refreshing to have a President who was at least good at something.

One reason few have finished Obama’s autobiography, even though it has been on the bestseller list for over a year, is because of the stubborn relentlessness with which he refused to recount any incidents in his life just because they were entertaining or educational or edifying. It’s clearly not ghostwritten—any professional hack would have madeit less forbiddingly literary, more reader-friendly.

The aesthetic (as opposed to factual) integrity of Dreams is extraordinary. The discipline with which Obama stuck to his one and only theme—his racial identity, his “Story of Race andInheritance”—for 442 pages is rare among autobiographies…fortunately for readers. Despite my professional interest in his topic, I had trouble finishing his book because it is so lacking in anecdotes.

In contrast, in the extremely unlikely event that I ever wrote my autobiography, I would make sure to put in, say, a funny story about the time I sat around in a bar drinking with Margaret Thatcher. I wouldn’t include the anecdote because it was a crucial to understanding the development of my personality, but because any sane reader would be more interested in hearing about a historic figure

like Mrs. Thatcher than about me.

But Obama’s solipsistic self-obsession won’t allow his readers the cheap thrills of his even trying to appeal to their interests rather than his own.

Why has Obama tied his fate to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a tactless race man who is the living opposite of the myth Obama is trying to project about himself?

It’s not exactly a secret that Obama, like George W. Bush, has Daddy Issues. The great curse of our current President’s life is that his father was an all-around pretty good guy whose biggest failure was not winning a second term as President. The President’s awareness that he is palpably inferior to his dad has transformed the younger Bush from a mere mediocrity into a twisted mediocrity.

In contrast, Obama entitled his autobiography Dreams from My Fatherafter the man he worshipped from afar because he had abandoned little Barack Jr. at age 2. When Obama went to Kenya to in the late 1980s to learn more about his late father, the brilliant scholar and national leader turned out to be an egomaniacal alcoholic impoverished bigamist. One might surmise that Obama’s father’s abandonment of him and this disappointment of his fantasies about his heritage have left a hole in his soul that he hopes to fill by becoming President of the United States.

This may seem like a rather elaborate form of therapy. But such motivations are hardly uncommon among politicians, including some great ones. Sir Winston Churchill, for example, was spurred on by the bitter knowledge that his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had risen to be Chancellor of the Exchequer and Leader of the House of Commons by the age of 37, only to see his career collapse in the most humiliatingly public way, slowly going mad ( reputedly from syphilis) on the floor of the House of Commons.

Just as Obama spent only one month as a boy with his father, who died in a drunken car crash in Kenya in 1982, Churchill bitterly regretted that his father had seen fit to hold merely a few substantial conversations with him.

Less obvious are the Mommy Issues that provoked both Churchill and Obama into excessively idolizing their unworthy fathers.

Sir Winston’s mother, Jennie, was an adventuress more interested in men than the little boy she dumped at boarding school when he was seven.

While not as irresponsible as his Kenyan father, Obama’s white mother twice dumped the lad upon her parents in Hawaii so that she could do whatever it was that was so important for her to do in Indonesia. In both episodes, in a sort of Sophie’s Choice, she left Obama and took his younger half-sister with her. In his 2004 preface to the reissue of his memoirs, Obama, in effect, apologizes to his late mother for his cool-hearted treatment of her in his autobiography.

The closest Obama has come to finding a surrogate for the father he desperately missed is his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah T. Wright Jr., longtime leader of the Trinity United Christian Church on 95th Street onthe South Side of Chicago. The title of Obama’s second book, the current bestseller The Audacity of Hope is lifted from one of Wright’s sermons

That Obama is a “devout Christian” is a big part of his political appeal. But Wright’s black church, which Obama joined in the mid-1980s, turns out to be almost as racialist and political in its own way as the Boers’ old Dutch Reformed Church was in apartheid South Africa.

Obama now realizes he has to keep the Rev. Wright covered up, which is why the day before his nationally televised campaign kickoff in Springfield, Illinois, Obama rescinded his invitation to Wright to give theinvocation. Wright, however, is a loose cannon. He explained to the New York Times why he was “disinvited”:

“When [Obama's] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli [in Libya]“ to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Mr.Wright recalled, “with [Black Muslim leader Louis]Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell.” [March 6, 2007 Disinvitation by Obama Is Criticized By Jodi Kantor]


Obama’s “spiritual mentor” just won’t shut up because the man of God is also a man of wrath. The New York Times article about his disinviting had largely disappeared down the memory hole. But then the Rev. Wright released a long, angry letter denouncing the Times for, well, for quoting him correctly.

None of this is to say that Obama shouldn’t be President. That’s up to the voters to decide. What the public needs, however, are the facts about the candidates.

Unfortunately, honest inquiries into race are not the mainstreammedia’s strong suit.

That’s what is, among much else, for!

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Barack Obama 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

The evidence is clear — but often ignored
The unspoken statistical reality of urban crime over the last quarter century.
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
What Was John McCain's True Wartime Record in Vietnam?