1,. The utility of Obama’s books
2. Shaping the past
3. Obama’s genetic inheritance
4. Nurture – the context of Obama’s upbringing
5. Obama’s racial fixation
6. Obama’s ethnic interests
7. Black adversaries
8. Obama’s inability to handle white criticism
9. Non-racial insecurities
10. The Obama intellect
11. The peculiarity of Obama’s election
1. The utility of Obama’s books
This appraisal of Obama’s character is based on his two books Dreams from My Father (DMF) and The Audacity of Hope (AOH). The advantage of relying solely on these sources that they are not only Obama’s own words but his considered words. That being so, he cannot claim that what he has written was written hastily and without due consideration. In addition, Obama agreed to the re-publication of DMF in 2004 when he was already an established politician. This means his views in DMF cannot be written off as something which do not represent his present views. It is also worth bearing in mind that DMF was written when he was a family man in his mid-thirties. Hence, they were his mature views not those of a giddy teenager. To guard further against claims of being taken out of context I have quoted at some length in most instances.
There is a further advantage in using the books: they give you Obama before he had started his political career (DMF) and Obama when he was established in that career (AOH) .
2. Shaping the past
On opening either book the reader is presented with reams of what appears to be at first glance great swathes of reported speech,. These are ostensibly conversations from his early childhood onwards. (Readers will get the flavour of this from the examples I give as the article progresses.) In the case of DMF, a casual reader could easily imagine that he or she has picked up a novel.
Obama says coyly in the introduction to DMF ”Although much of my book is based on contemporaneous journals or the oral histories of my family, the dialogue is necessarily an approximation of what was actually said or relayed to me.”
Approximation is putting it mildly because Obama “recalls” such vast tracks of dialogue from all stages of his life that he makes Nelly Dean, the housekeeper in Wuthering Heights, seem positively amnesiacal when it comes to the power of narrative recall. Pages of almost continuous dialogue are frequent and when he meets his Kenyan half-sister Auma for the first time we get a monologue which covers almost seven pages (DMF pp212-219.). As for contemporaneous journals, nowhere does Obama mention keeping such records himself or give details of journals kept by others. As he is the protagonist in almost all the dialogue, presumably he is relying almost entirely on “oral history”, his own and that of others, a notoriously unreliable source of information as everyone can testify from their own experience.
The fictive nature of what he is writing is further developed by Obama because “For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology”. (The narrative is frequently vague about exactly or even approximately when an event occurred.). Obama then tops all this imprecision by telling the reader that “With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures, the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of their privacy.” An uncharitable soul might interpret that as a device to make sure that awkward questions are not asked by nosey journalists or objections raised by those he writes about .
The use of invented dialogue, fictional names, composite characters and a vague chronology means we cannot directly judge whether Obama is putting his own views into other characters’ mouths or whether they represent the views of others. For example, take this rant against supposed white oppression he puts into the mouth of an old black friend from his childhood called Frank :
“Leaving your race at the door” he said. “Leaving your people behind.” He studied me over the top of his reading glasses. “Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained. They’ll train you to want what you don’t need. They’ll train you to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore. They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know. They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that shit. They’ll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you’re a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and then they’ll yank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the Same.” (DMF p97).
Is that Obama talking or Frank? Who knows, although it is a fact that when Obama creates dialogue which is nakedly anti-white – and there is a good deal of it in DMF – he either does not condemn it outright as racist or even treat it as being unsavoury or dangerous. The most he ever does is pose arguments against such views in a quiet voice and so wrapped in qualifications that one can never be certain exactly what is his position. Moreover, his toleration for more than 20 years of Jermiah Wright’s views is a pretty strong hint that much of the anti-white racism he reports in the mouths of others is not entirely uncongenial to him. (More on the Rev Wright later). Obama also gives us dialogue in which he himself expresses anti-white feelings. Here he is as a student talking about Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:
“[Obama] It‘s a racist book. The way Conrad sees it, Africa‘s a cesspool of the world, black folks are savages, and any contact with them breeds infection.”
‘Regina blew on her coffee. “So why are you reading it?”
“Because it’s assigned,” I paused, not sure if I should go on. “And because -”
“And because the book teaches me things.,” I said. “About white people, I mean. See, the book’s not really about Africa. Or black people. It’s about the man who wrote it. The European. The American. A particular way of looking at the world. If you can keep your distance, it’s all there, in what’s said and what’s left unsaid. So I read the book to help me understand just what makes white folks so afraid. Their demons. The way ideas get twisted around. It helps me understand how people learn to hate. “ ‘(DMF p 103).
How do we generally judge the veracity of what Obama is writing? A strong pointer to a general lack of objective truth is the fact that the tone of the dialogue is uniform. Whether he is a speaking as a boy, college student, married family man or senator he is much the same. Here he is supposedly speaking, as a boy of less then ten , with his Indonesian step-father Lolo (Lolo struck me as the one person in either book who was firmly attached to reality) :
“Have you ever seen a man killed?” I asked him.
He glanced down, surprised by the question.
“Have you?” I asked again.
“Yes,” he said.
“Was it bloody?”
I thought for a moment. “Why was the man killed? The one you saw?”
“Because he was weak.”
Lob shrugged and rolled his pant leg back down. “That’s usually enough. Men take advantage of weakness in other men. They’re like countries in that way. The strong man takes the weak man’s land. He makes the weak man work in his fields. If the weak man’s woman is pretty, the strong man will take her.” He paused to take another sip of water, then asked, “Which would you rather be?” (DMF p40)
There you have both the implausible power of recollection and the adult style of speech by the young child Obama.
This uniformity of style strongly suggests that all we are hearing is Obama as the man he was when he wrote either book, not what he was at various points in his life. That in itself is dishonest because he is presenting the dialogue as a good approximation of what was said. To that can be added the fact that the dialogue invariably serves a purpose which benefits Obama , for the supposedly real-life people are invariably manipulated in the way a novelist manipulates his characters, to fit the story which they wish to tell. Obama wants to display black victimhood, up pops a character to say how hard done by blacks are and always have been. He wants to agonise about his racial heritage, along comes someone to say exactly what he needs to start the self-examination off. He wishes to expand upon his political policies and philosophy, up pops someone with exactly the right peg on which to hang his disquisition. Here is Obama using a white English doctor he calls Wilkerson who is working in Malawi:
‘I asked him why he thought he had come back to Africa and he answered without a pause, as if he’d heard the question many times.
“It’s my home, I suppose. The people, the land. . .“ He took off his glasses and wiped them with a handkerchief. “It’s funny, you know. Once you’ve lived here for a time, the life in England seems terribly cramped. The British have so much more, but seem to enjoy things less. I felt a foreigner there.”
He put his glasses back on and shrugged. “Of course, I know that in the long run I need to be replaced. That’s part of my job—making myself unnecessary. The Malawian doctors I work with are excellent, really. Competent. Dedicated. If we could just build a training hospital, some decent facilities, we could triple their number in no time.
He turned toward the campfire, and I thought his voice began to waver. “Perhaps I can never call this place home,” he said. “Sins of the father, you know. I’ve learned to accept that.” He paused for a moment, then looked at me. ‘ (DMF p355)
The passage neatly allows Obama to promote the idea of white guilt, the subordination of white interests to that of African, white contempt for their own society and white longing for Africa, although it is a longing which they can never satisfy because they do not belong there.
All of this suggests that what Obama is giving us is no more than his heavily edited version of the past at best and pure fantasy at worst.
What does his choice of this form of narrative tell us about Obama? .It suggests he is a man who is abnormally determined to make reality shape to his own idea of himself . Why should he do this? Well, as we shall see there is plenty in the books to suggest that he is a very insecure personality, someone who both cannot deal with criticism and constantly fretting over how he is perceived by others. Highly neurotic would not be too harsh a judgement. A plausible explanation for why he writes in this manner is that he wishes to control the world because he fears exposure of what he secretly perceives to be his inadequacy.
It really is very odd behaviour for anyone let alone someone aspiring to be a politician. I cannot think of any other leading politician who has used the pseudo-novelistic approach to tell his life story.
3. Obama’s genetic inheritance
If it is allowed that genes play a strong role in determining character both directly through qualities such as IQ and indirectly through specific abilities which affect behaviour , for example, the possession of a special talent for music, what can we learn from his ancestry?
On the bare facts, his father behaved in a way which, apart from the fact that he got himself an education, matches the modern stereotype of the black male. He goes from one woman to another breeding, incontinently, hence, Obama’s various half brothers and sisters. He leaves Obama’s mother when Obama is still a toddler and subsequently appears rarely in Obama’s life From Obama’s account he provided Obama’s mother with no money whatsoever to support his son and back in Africa Obama senior variously abandons and neglects his other women and children, becomes a drunk and ruins his job prospects by recklessly insulting influential people. Here is Obama’s account of his half sister Auma describing his father’s behaviour towards members of the Kenyan elite:
“When he was passed up for a promotion, he complained loudly. ‘How can you be my senior,’ he would say to one of the ministers, ‘and yet I am teaching you how to do your job properly?” (DMF p215)
Obama’s mother, Anna, a white woman from middle America, marries first an African then an Indonesian, neither of which marriage lasts. (For someone of her background to marry one person of a different race and culture might be put down to love; marrying two begins to look like a political statement. ) She takes Obama to Indonesia then sends him back to the USA (Hawaii) after several years to live with his maternal grandparents. Eventually she returns to the USA and takes an anthropology degree during which time Obama lives with her. Having completed her degree, she leaves Obama once more while he is a child, depositing him again with his maternal grandparents as she goes abroad to undertake anthropological fieldwork
Obama’s description of his mother portrays her as a type of Margaret Mead anthropological naif , forever searching for the right-on approach to non-white, non-American people while ironically insisting for most of the time that Obama be brought up as an American. Here is Obama describing her attitude towards blacks:
‘Every black man was Thurgood Marshall or Sidney Poitier ; every black woman Fannie Lou Hamer or Lena Horne. To be black was to be the beneficiary of a great inheritance, a special destiny, glorious burdens that only we were strong enough to bear..
‘Burdens we were to carry with style. More than once, my mother would point out “:Harry Belafonte is the best-looking man on the planet.” (DMF p51)
Those are the parents. To their behaviour can be added Obama’s description of the background of his mother’s parents, the grandparents who played a large part in his upbringing. If Obama is to be believed, his grandfather was a restless undisciplined man who never made much of a success of anything., flitting from place to place and job to job until he finally settled in Hawaii. The grandmother, despite Obama’s attempt to paint her as a feminist trailblazer as the first female vice-president of a local Hawaiian bank, comes over as curiously colourless for someone Obama claims loomed very large in his emotional life..
The bare facts of tell us that Obama’s parents were unusually selfish and egotistical, far more concerned with the satisfaction of their own wants than those of other people, even those of their children. Obama’s description of their personalities, both through his own reputed recollection and that of others , paints a picture of parents who were congenitally reckless, self-centred and lacking in application. . His maternal grandfather, if Obama is to be believed, is someone who never quite fitted in, a man who never stuck at anything from choice for any great length of time.
4. Nurture – the context of Obama’s upbringing
Obama’s mother is white. He was raised, apart from five years in Indonesia with his Indonesian step-father, by whites. For most of his childhood he lived in the State (Hawaii) which , because of its very varied population including a non-white indigenous people who came late under the US banner , probably gave him the least opportunity of any part of the USA to experience racial segregation or racism.
His schooling when he returned to the USA was at an exclusive school which contained only one other black pupil in his grade – Obama doesn’t say so explicitly but the implication is that the school was predominantly white. Afterwards he moves to a good university (Occidental) which is predominantly white. When he forsakes his community work amongst blacks he opts to go to the white dominated Harvard Law School and having graduated spends much of his working life (including his time in the white dominated Illinois legislature) until he is elected to the very white Senate lecturing in constitutional law in white dominated universities.
Having such an upbringing it might be thought that Obama would feel at the least comfortable about both his racial mix and with white society . In fact, the reverse is true. Obama was unlucky enough to have parents who both deserted him. That alone makes for an insecure personality and could account for his lack of a sense of place. . But interestingly his ostensible insecurity is not based on his childhood parental desertion but on his racial background. The man is utterly obsessed with the fact that he is between two worlds, the black and the white.
5. Obama’s racial fixation
Obama signals this obsession with his sub title to DMF “A story of race and inheritance”
To see how extraordinary this is in modern America, just imagine a book written by a white man had that subtitle. The unfortunate writer would be banished to David Duke-land before you could say knife. Any thought of a maintsream political career would be out of the question. The fact that Obama agreed to such a subtitle, both in the original and in its re-issue in 2004, signals what becomes painfully evident once the reader is inside the books, namely, here is a man is pathologically obsessed by race and stuffed to the gills with black victimhood, Indeed, Obama unselfconsciously recognises this in AOH:
“I have recorded in a previous book the ways in which my early work in Chicago helped me grow into my manhood – how my work with pastors and laypeople there deepened my resolve to lead a public life, how they fortified my racial identity…” (AOH p 206).
Once he starts writing DMF Obama loses no time in getting down to the mixed race nitty gritty by diving into it in the introduction to DMF::
“When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began suspect that I was ingratiating myself with whites), I see the split -second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am. Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose – the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the mulatto trapped between two worlds.” (The introduction to DMF p XV).
This childhood mistrust of whites and the wish to be unambiguously one of the brothers (Obama unselfconsciously refers to blacks as the brothers and the sisters in DMF) causes him to be aggressive to any mixed race person who does not play the same game, viz:
‘She was a good-looking woman, – Joyce was, with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips. We
lived in the same dorm my freshman year, and all the brothers were after her. One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ us on cam- Association meeting. She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.
“I’m not black,” Joyce said. “I’m multiracial.” Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part
African and part French and part Native American and part something else. “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me. Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making. me choose. Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person. No—it’s black people who always have to make everything racial. They’re the ones making me choose. They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am…”
They, they, they. That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people. It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street. The minority assimilated the majority culture, not the other way around. Only white culture could be neutral and objective. Only white culture could be non-racial, willing to adopt the occasional exotic into its ranks. Only white culture had individuals. ’ (DMF pp99/100)
Or take Obama’s conversation with Mark, a half brother by Obama senior’s second white wife and a physicist working in the US, whom Obama met during his first trip to Kenya:
‘”You don’t ever think of settling here?”
Mark took a sip of his Coke. “No,” he said. “I mean, there’s not much work for a physicist, is there, in a country where the average person doesn’t have a telephone.”
I should have stopped then, but something – the certainty in this brother’s voice, maybe, or our rough resemblance, like looking at a foggy mirror—made me want to push harder. I asked, “Don’t you
ever feel like you might be losing something?”
Mark put down his knife and fork, and for the first time that afternoon his eyes looked straight into mine. “I understand what you are getting at,” he said flatly. “You think that somehow I’m cut off from my roots, that sort of thing.” He wiped his mouth and dropped the napkin onto his plate. “Well, you’re right. At a certain point, I made a decision not to think who my real father was. He was dead to me even when he was alive. I knew that he was a drunk and showed no concern for his wife or children. That was enough.”
“It made you mad?” –
“Not mad. Just numb.”
“And that doesn’t bother you? Being numb, I mean?”
“Towards him, no. Other things move me. Beethoven’s symphonies. Shakespeare’s sonnets. I know—it’s not what an African is supposed to care about. But who’s to tell me what I should and shouldn’t care about? Understand, I’m not ashamed of being, Kenyan. I just don’t ask myself a lot of questions about what means. About who I really am.” He shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I should. I can acknowledge the possibility that if I looked more fully at myself, I would…”
For the briefest moment I sensed Mark hesitate, like a climber losing his footing. Then, almost immediately, he regained his composure and waved for the check.
“Who knows?” he said. “What’s certain is that I don’t need the stress. Life’s hard enough without all that excess baggage.” ’ (DMF pp 343-344)
Obama allows his racial agonising to enter his love-life. Here he is talking to his half-sister Auma:
‘“Well. . . there was a woman in York that I loved. She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime. We saw each other for almost a year. On the weekends, mostly. Sometimes in her apartment, sometimes in mine. You know how you can fall into your own private world? Just two people, hidden and warm. Your own language. Your own customs. That’s how it was.
“Anyway, one weekend she invited me to her family’s country house. The parents were there, and they were very nice, very gracious. It was autumn, beautiful, with woods all around us, and we paddled a canoe across this round, icy lake full of small gold leaves that collected along the shore. The family knew every inch of the land. They know how the hills had formed, how the glacial drifts had created the la the names of the earliest white settlers—their ancestors-—and before that, the names of the Indians who’d once hunted the land. The house was very old, her grandfather’s house. He had inherited it from his grandfather. The library was filled with old books and pictures of the grandfather with famous people he had known—presidents, diplomats, industrialists. There was this tremendous gravity to the room.
Standing in that room, I realized that our two worlds, my friend’s and mine, were as distant from each other as Kenya is from Germany. And I knew that if we stayed together I’d eventually live in hers. After all, I’d been doing it most of my life. Between the two of us, I was the one who knew how to live as an outsider.”
“So what happened.”
I shrugged. “I pushed her away. We started to fight. We started thinking about the future, and it pressed in on our warm little world. One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a
I very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remembered the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough.”’
DMF pp 210/211)
Despite his insistence that he cares deeply about his white mother and grandparents, Obama’s attitude towards them is deeply mistrustful. He constantly views them through the prism of their whiteness and their, to his mind, incomprehension of what it is to be other than white. (The obverse of this is that Obama never considers his inability to understand what it is to be other than black., an omission of which he appears completely unconscious) Here is Obama being more than a little dismayed by his mother’s attitude towards blacks as they are depicted in a film called Black Orpheus:
“The film, a groundbreaker of sorts due to its mostly black, Brazilian cast, had been made in the fifties. The story line was simple: the myth of the ill-fated lovers Orpheus and Eurydice set in the Favelas of Rio during Carnival. In Technicolor splendour, set against scenic green hills, the black and brown Brazilians sang and danced and strummed guitars like carefree birds in colourful plumage. About halfway through the movie I decided that I had seen enough, and turned to my mother to see if she might be ready to go But her face, lit by the blue glow of the screen, was set in a wistful gaze. At that moment, I felt as if I were being given a window into her heart, the unreflective heart of her youth. I suddenly realised that the depiction of childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen, the reverse images of Conrad‘s dark savages, was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white, middle-class girl from Kansa, the promise of another life : warm, sensual, exotic different. I turned away, embarrassed for her….” (DMF pp123-124).
Exhibit two concerns his grandmother “Toots” who is approached by a black man asking for money. Obama depicts his white grandfather Stanley as being outraged by this and refusing to give her a lift to work:
“I [Obama] took her into the other room and asked her what happened. “A man asked me for money yesterday. While I was waiting for the bus.”
Her lips pursed with irritation. “He was very aggressive, Barry. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn’t come, I think he might have hit me over the head.
I returned to the kitchen. Gramps was rinsing his cup, his back turned to me. . “Listen,” I said, “why don’t you just give her a ride . She seems pretty upset.”
“By a panhandler?”
“Yeah, I know—but it’s probably a little scary for a big man block her way. It’s really no big deal.”
He turned around and I saw now that he was shaking. “It is a big deal. It’s a big deal to me. She’s been bothered by men before. You t 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’s right.”
The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure. In my steadiest voice, I told him that such an attitude bothered me too….” (DMF pp 88/89)
There you have classic Obama the writer, painting his white middle America grandfather as a neurotically aware anti-racist , his grandmother as a covert racist and himself as traumatised by such shocking behaviour. Sadly, his grandfather’s putative anti-racism does not save him from suspicion for Obama concludes after this episode that however well his grandparents behaved towards him he still knew “that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.” (DMF p89).
Obama refers to the physical appearance of blacks frequently. His descriptions are normally positive. for example, “Linda, with her dark, striking beauty…” (DMF p234), “An African woman emerging from behind the customs gate, moving with graceful steps,….” (DMF p207), “They [Masai] were quiet, handsome men, their cheekbones accentuated by the fire…” (DMF p353)
Conversely, when Obama describes the appearance of whites he is normally unflattering – the exception is the white girlfriend mentioned above, but of course in that instance Obama had to say he had a beautiful girlfriend. to preserve his own ego. . Here he is describing Marty Kaufman, the man who gives him his job as a community organiser:
“His appearance didn’t inspire much confidence. He was a white man of medium height wearing a rumpled suit over a pudgy frame. His face was heavy with two-day whiskers ; behind a pair of thick, wire-rimmed glasses, his eyes seemed set in a perpetual squint” DMF p141/142
And here are a couple of examples of him describing white strangers:
“I flew out of Heathrow Airport under stormy skies. A group of young British men dressed in ill-fitting blazers filled the back of the plane., and one of them – a pale, gangly youth, still troubled with acne – took the seat beside me.” DMF p299
“He was a slight, soft-spoken man with round glasses and pasty blond hair..” (p354) This applied to a white English doctor working in Malawi., a man he calls Wilkerson.
When he goes to Kenya for the first time he is “going home”. When he gets there he finds that he is free because almost everyone about him looks like him (well, sort of):
‘…a steady procession of black faces passed before your eyes, the round faces of babies and the chipped, worn faces of the old; beautiful faces that made me understand the transformation that Asante and other black Americans claimed to have undergone after their first visit to Africa. For a span of weeks or months, you could experience the freedom that comes from not feeling watched, the freedom of believing that your hair grows as it’s supposed to grow and that your rump sways the way a rump is supposed to sway. You could see a man talking to himself as just plain crazy, or read about the criminal on the front page of the daily paper and ponder the corruption of the human heart, without having to think about whether the criminal or lunatic said something about your own fate. Here the world was black, and so you were just you; you could discover all those things that were unique to your life without living a lie or committing betrayal. ‘ (DMF p311).
Not that the man’s paranoid or anything. Interestingly, Obama does not consider the possibility, as well he might have done, that all races, including whites, might feel the same way about preferring a society in which they did not have to think about race because it is a homogeneous society. His view of race is hermetically one-eyed.
Sadly, Obama found Kenya to be not all he wanted it to be with its flagrant corruption and tribalism. But the politically correct reader can relax because this is not the fault of black Kenyans but down to white colonialism“ “when the lives of whites in foreign lands rested comfortably on the backs of darker races“ (DMF p 314) , which left a legacy of psychological subordination in Kenyans. Obama personifies this by taking the case of a black waiter who ignored Obama and his half sister while serving white tourists:
‘Did the waiter know that black rule had come? Did it mean anything to him? Maybe once, I thought to myself. He would be old enough to remember independence, the shouts of “Uhuru!“ and the raising of new flags. But such memories may seem almost fantastic to him now, distant and naïve. He learned that the same people who controlled the land before independence still controlled the land , that he still cannot eat in the restaurants or stay in the same hotels that the white man built. He sees the money of the city swirling above his head, the technology which spits out goods from its robot mouth. If he’s ambitious he will do his best to learn the white man’s language use the white man’s machines, trying to make ends meet the same way the computer repairman in Newark or the bus driver back in Chicago does, with alternating spurts of enthusiasm or frustration but mostly with resignation. And if you say to him that he’s serving the interests of neocolonialism or some other such thing, he will reply that yes, he will serve if that is what’s required. It is the lucky ones who serve; the unlucky ones drift into the murky tide of hustles and odd jobs; many will drown. ‘ (DMF pp314-315).
The same people controlling the land now as during colonial times Mr Obama? How about the post-colonial black elite? Did they decide to hide away during your visit and put hordes of actors playing white Happy Valley characters on show instead?
Obama’s recent insulting treatment of the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when he returned a bust of Churchill which had been in the Oval Office for much of his predecessor’s presidency, gave Brown an insulting gift of 25 DVDs of Hollywood films and did not arrange a joint press conference may not be a hundred miles away from his view of British rule in Kenya and Africa generally.
Obama is very revealing when he writes generally about race. For example, he introduces us to his decision to become a “community organizer with “That’s what I’ll do, I’ll organise black folks. At the grass roots. For change.” (DMF p133) .(Imagine a white man deciding to “organize white folks”. ) Or take the fact that Chapter 7 of AOH is entitled race. If a white politician had dared to have such a chapter heading – rather improbable in the present pc terror circumstances – it would have had to be a crawling apology for all the supposed wrongs done to blacks by whites from the date the first black slave arrived in the earliest English colonies. For Obama the chapter title is simply a hook on which to hang yet more black victimhood and puffing of the black cause, viz:
‘Few Africa American entrepreneurs have either the inherited wealth or the angel investors to help launch their business or cushion them from a sudden economic downturn. Few doubt that if they were white they would be further along in reaching their goals.’ (AOH p241).
Perhaps the most damming passage on race in either book occurs in DMF where Obama considers the case for black nationalism aka black separatism:
‘In talking to self—professed nationalists like Rafiq [a follower of the unashamed black racist Louis Farrakhan‘s Nation of Islam], though, I came to see how the blanket indictment of everything white served a central function in their message of uplift; how, psychologically, at least, one depended on the other. For when the nationalist spoke of a reawakening of values as the only solution to black poverty expressing an implicit, if not explicit, criticism to black I listeners: that we did not have to live as we did. And while there were those who could take such an unadorned message and use it to hew life for themselves—those with the stolid dispositions that Booker T Washington had once demanded from his followers—in the ears of many blacks such talk smacked of the explanations that whites had always offered for black poverty: that we continued to suffer, if not genetic inferiority; then cultural weakness. It was a message that ignored causality or fault, a message outside history, without a script or plot that might insist on progression. For a people stripped of their history, a people often ill equipped to retrieve that history in any form other than what fluttered across the television screen, the testimony of what we saw every day seemed firm our worst suspicions about ourselves.
Nationalism provided that history, an unambiguous morality that was easily communicated and easily grasped. A steady attack on the white race, the constant recitation of black people experience in this country, served as the ballast that could prevent the ideas of personal and communal responsibility from tipping into an ocean of despair. Yes, the nationalist would say, whites are responsible for your sorry state, not any inherent flaws in you. In fact, whites are so heartless and devious that we can no longer expect anything from them. The self-loathing you feel, what keeps you drinking or thieving is planted by them. Rid them from your mind and find your true . power liberated. Rise up, ye mighty race!
This process of displacement, this means of engaging in selfcriticism while removing ourselves from the object of criticism, helped explain the much-admired success of the Nation of Islam in turning around the lives of drug addicts and criminals. But if it was especially well suited to those at the bottom rungs of American life, it also spoke to all the continuing doubts of the lawyer who had run hard for the gold ring yet still experienced the awkward silence when walking into the clubhouse; those young college students who warily measured the distance between them and life on Chicago’s mean streets, with the danger that distance implied; all the black people who, it turned out, shared with me a voice that whispered inside them—”You don’t really belong here.”
In a sense, then, Rafiq was right when he insisted that, deep down, all blacks were potential nationalists. The anger was there, bottled up and often turned inward. And as I thought about Ruby and her blue eyes, the teenagers calling each other “nigger” and worse, I wondered whether, for now at least, Rafiq wasn’t also right in preferring that that anger be redirected; whether a black politics that suppressed rage toward whites generally, or one that failed to elevate race loyalty above all else, was a politics inadequate to the task.
It was a painful thought to consider, as painful now as it had been years ago. It contradicted the morality my mother had taught me, a morality of subtle distinctions—between individuals of goodwill and those who wished me ill, between active malice and ignorance or indifference. I had a personal stake in that moral framework; I’d dis4covered that I couldn’t escape it if I tried. And yet perhaps it was a framework that blacks in this country could no longer afford; perhaps it weakened black resolve, encouraged confusion within the ranks. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and for many blacks, times were chronically desperate. If nationalism could create as and effective insularity, deliver on its promise of self-respect, the hurt it might cause well-meaning whites, or the inner turmoil it caused people like me, would be of little consequence.
If nationalism could deliver. As it turned out, questions of effectiveness, and not sentiment, caused most of my quarrels with Rafiq…” AOH pp 198-200)
So there you have it, Obama had no absolute moral objection to black nationalism, only a practical one. As for the interest of whites, even white liberals, well, they could just go hang. The passage is also a first rate example of Obama’s Oprah-style self-examination and agonising. It is also noteworthy that shortly after that passage Obama refers to “Minister Farrakhan” (AOH p 201) and criticises him only for his ineffectiveness as an organiser not for his racist views.
Even if we did not have the direct evidence of Obama’s own words, his association with the likes of Jeremiah Wright and members of the Nation of Islam speak volumes. The Nation of Islam apart from being black separatists also view whites as devils intent on oppressing black, while the Rev Wright has some distinctly interesting views on both whites and America. For example:
“The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color….”
(Sermon “Confusing God and Government”, delivered on April 13, 2003.)
“The government gives them [blacks] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.” (ibid)
Who could sit listening to the views of the likes of Wright for 20 years without being in sympathy with them to a large degree? Who would allow such a man to marry him and baptise his children without feeling warmly towards the person? Imagine a white politician who attended for twenty years an all white church with a pastor saying equivalent things about blacks. He would have be condemned automatically as a racist. It is also worth asking why a self declared inclusive politician would want to belong to a black church rather than an integrated one and why someone who has a white mother, was brought up by whites and attended schools which were overwhelmingly white, would wish to immerse himself so deeply in black society unless he is at heart a racist..
It is telling that after leaving the Jeremiah Wright’s congregation and condemning some of his most inflammatory statements (but only some), Obama then took as his spiritual advisers men (this pc icon did not choose a single woman) who are in the main anything but in the liberal mainstream. The five are Bishop T Jakes (black), Kirbyjon Caldwell (black), Otis Moss (black), Jim Wallis (white, Joel Hunter (White). (How interesting that in a nation in which blacks form less than 15% of the population, three of the five are black).
Of these five, four – Otis Moss (an old associate of Martin Luther King) is the odd man out – are anti-gay. to one degree or another. Hunter and Wallis oppose abortion. (All details taken from Sunday Telegraph 22 3 2009 – Obama replaces one fiery pastor with five – Tim Shipman). This is of interest because Obama tries throughout AOH to come down on the “right on “liberal side on such issues, although always writing with his usual Guardian leader equivocation. How odd that he should choose such men without any balancing liberal voice now that he is President. There are two possible explanations: that despite his liberal posturing, his private views are somewhat different or he is simply playing to his black constituency. The latter I suspect is the case because throughout both books Obama gives the impression that he views his religion as a political vehicle rather than as a profound act of faith.
Obama’s current view of race is probably best expressed in this passage from AOH (pp 232-233):
‘To say that we are one people is not to suggest that race no longer matters—that the fight for equality has been won, that the problems that minorities face in this country today are largely self-inflicted. We know the statistics: On almost every single socioeconomic indicator, from infant mortality to life expectancy to employment to home ownership, black and Latino Americans in particular continue to lag far behind their white counterparts. In corporate boardrooms across America, minorities are grossly underrepresented; in the United States Senate there are only three Latinos and two Asian members (both from Hawaii), and as I write today I am the chamber’s sole African American. To suggest that our racial attitudes play no part in these disparities is to turn a blind eye to both our history and our experience—and to relieve ourselves of the responsibility to make things right.
Moreover, while my own upbringing hardly typifies the African American experience—and although, largely through luck and circumstance, I now occupy a position that insulates me from most of the bumps and bruises that the average black man must endure—I can recite the usual litany of petty slights that during my forty-five years have been directed my way: security guards tailing me as I shop in department stores, white couples who toss
me their car keys as I stand outside a restaurant waiting for the – valet, police cars pulling me over for no apparent reason. I know what it’s like to have people tell me I can’t do something because of my color, and I know the bitter swill of swallowed-back anger. I know as well that Michelle and I must be continually vigilant against some of the debilitating story lines that our daughters may absorb—from TV and music and friends and the streets— about who the world thinks they are, and what the world imagines they should be.’
Try to imagine a white man so paranoid about their racial circumstances being elected president.
The kindest view of Obama’s racial opinions is that he is seriously infected with the victimhood mentality. The unkindest is that he a black racist with separatist leanings. For those wanting more of his utterances on the subject, I recommend acomprehensive dissection of his publicly stated views on race and how they have conveniently changed over his political life has been made by Steve Sailor and can be found at http://www.vdare.com/half-blood_prince/
6. Ethnic interests
Obama’s concern for the interests of ethnic groups is selective. . He is greatly concerned with what he frequently calls the “brothers and sisters” but shows little concern for any other group. Latinos get some small mention but always in the context of how they have linked their cause to that of blacks. There are a few token waves at various types of Asians .
The one group whose ethnic interest is never considered is that of whites ,whom Obama tends to treat as a single entity. Obama seemingly does not seem to have any consciousness that they have any ethnic interest, or at least not any which they should have the temerity to defend. Early on in AOH (pp36/7) he makes this astonishing claim:
“The victories that the sixties generation brought about – the admission of minorities and women into full citizenship, the strengthening of individual liberties and the healthy willingness to question authority—have made America a far better place for all its citizens. But what has been lost in the process, and has yet to be replaced, are those shared assumptions—that quality of trust and fellow feeling—that bring us together as Americans. “
Better for all Mr Obama? Better for the mass of whites who have lost their position of dominance through discriminatory immigration rules which favour those from ethnic minorities and the lax attitude towards the enforcement of what immigration controls there are? Better for the whites who have been denied opportunities through affirmative action? Better for the whites (especially men) who have had to bow the knee to the ruthless imposition of political correctness, an ideology whose penalties are rarely if ever exacted against those who belong to the pc approved groups (ethnic minorities, women and gays) when they engage in behaviour equivalent to that which would cause a white person to be convicted of a pc crime? How exactly has that resulted in ”the strengthening of individual liberties and the healthy willingness to question authority” ? Whether or not white advantage is seen as right or wrong, to claim that whites have benefited from what has happened over the past 40 years is simply a denial of reality.
But it is not merely a question of whether whites in the US have been disadvantaged over the past 40 years which makes Obama’s statement risible. The bigger question is whether the policies followed since the 1960s have benefited Americans generally. As Obama constantly mentions, the black middleclass may have expanded its members and improved its general condition, but blacks outside that group do not at best live lives which are significantly improved from what they were fifty years ago and at worst are actually diminished because the sense of community within the still largely segregated black districts has greatly diminished. What applies to blacks applies to other substantial minorities, most particularly Latinos.
It is also difficult to see how the loss of “ those shared assumptions—that quality of trust and fellow feeling—that bring us together as Americans. “ can have done anything but weaken and tarnish American society. A strong society is one in which its members have fellow feeling: a weak one in which competing groups engage in a never ending internecine struggle for their special interest. Fractious societies are unpleasant and dangerous societies to live in and the most fractious societies are invariably those which do not share a common history and sense of unity.
One more example of how Obama ostensibly flies in the face of reality. Here he is on the choice of him to be the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention: “The process by which I was selected as the keynote speaker remains something of a mystery to me.” (AOH p354).
A mystery Mr Obama? There you were, a newly elected senator selected to make the highest public profile speech a senator could make. Did it not occur to you that you were chosen because you were that great rarity, a black senator?
Does Obama actually believe what he writes about race? If he does he must have an amazing streak of credulity. If he does not, then he is a master cynic, using race simply as a tool to power.
7. Black adversaries
There is one unintentionally hilarious passage in AOH . It concerns Obama’s campaign for the Senate. The Republicans decided to put up a black candidate, Alan Keyes, to oppose Obama. Why did the Republicans do this? Well, Obama claims that “ One Republican colleague of mine in the state senate provided me with a blunt explanation of their strategy: “We got our own Harvard-educated conservative black guy to go up against the Harvard-educated liberal black guy. He may not win, but at least he can knock that halo off your head.” (AOH p209).
Whether or not that was the strategy it certainly worked at the level of severely flustering Obama. To begin with he cannot play the race card. Secondly, he has an opponent who is not afraid to attack him personally. Here is a sample:
‘Beyond the Senate’s genteel confines, though, any discussion of religion and its role in politics can turn a bit less civil. Take my Republican opponent in 2004, Ambassador Alan Keyes, who deployed a novel
argument for attracting voters in the waning days of the campaign.. “Christ would not vote for Barack Obama,” Mr. Keyes proclaimed, “because Brack Obama has voted to behave in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.”’ (AOH p209)
Most cruelly Keyes accused Obama of not being a genuine African American, an inverse race card as it were:
‘There was no doubt that the man could talk. At the drop of a hat Mr. Keyes could deliver a grammatically flawless disquisition on virtually any topic. On the stump, he could wind himself into a He accused me of taking a “slaveholder’s position” in my defense of abortion rights and called me a core, academic Marxist” for my support of universal health and other social programs —and then added for good measure added that because I was not the descendant of slaves I was not really African American. At one point he even managed to alienate conservative Republicans who recruited him to Illinois by commending — perhaps in a play for black votes — Reparations in the form of a complete abolition of the income tax for all blackswith slave ancestry. (“This is a disaster!” sputtered one comment*posted on the discussion board of Illinois’s hard-right website,the Illinois Leader. “WHAT ABOUT THE WHITE GUYS!!!”) ‘(AOH p210)
Obama simply did not know how to respond. Having spent several pages pouring vitriol over Keyes he concludes: :
‘In other words, Alan Keyes was an ideal opponent; all I had to do was keep my mouth shut and start planning my swearing-in ceremony. And yet, as the campaign progressed, I found him getting under my skin in a way that few people ever have. When our paths crossed during the campaign, I often had to suppress the rather uncharitable urge to either taunt him or wring his neck. Once, when we bumped into each other at an Indian Independence Day parade, I poked him in the chest while making a point, a bit of alpha-male behavior that I hadn’t engaged in since high school and which an observant news crew
gamely captured; the moment was replayed in slow motion on TV that evening. In the three debates that were held before the election, I was frequently tongue-tied, irritable, and uncharacteristically tense— a
fact that the public (having by that point written Mr. Keyes off) largely missed, but one that caused no small bit of distress to some of my supporters. “Why are you letting this guy give you fits?” they would
ask me. For them, Mr. Keyes was a kook, an extremist, his arguments not even worth entertaining. ‘(AOH p211)
Faced with someone who challenged him, the Obama mask of cool detachment drops to reveal a petulant child and , interestingly, someone none too quick on his mental feet in debate. I will expand upon Obama’s supposed superior intellect later.
This political pantomime of putting up a black to fight a black does have its comical side and I suspect that Obama will let himself be rattled again by Michael Steele, the newly appointed first black leader of the Republican Party, or any other black person in a public position who challenges him. But it is also a sinister thing that political correctness has gained such a stranglehold on the States that no white mainstream politician will tackle Obama honestly. If they did they would find him a very easy opponent to deal with because he is both a chronically neurotic individual who is unable to deal with criticism and a very thin skin which has not been toughened by his political career because he has been given a remarkably smooth ride by the mainstream media and politicians throughout his political career.
8. Obama’s inability to handle white criticism
Obama has rarely met with mainstream political or media criticism. (Of his campaign for the Senate he writes: “Political observers would note that in a field of seven Democratic Primary candidates, not one of us had run a negative TV ad.” – AOH p18) . But when he does meet it he responds badly, if not in quite such an intemperate manner as he responded to Keyes. Here he reacting to the criticism he received after making a speech about free expression which implied that Obama might not be entirely unsympathetic to some form of unofficial censorship – see the Obama Intellect section for further details:
“You would have thought I was Cotton Mather. In response to my speech, one newspaper editorial intoned that the government had no business regulating protected speech, despite the fact that I hadn’t called for regulation. Reporters suggested that I was cynically tacking to the center in preparation for a national race. More than a few supporters wrote our office, complaining that they had voted for me to beat back the Bush agenda, not to act as the town scold.” (AOH p61)
Nor does Obama take kindly to being placed under close physical scrutiny: Here he is complaining about a young man called Justin who was employed by his Republican opponent to record all his public appearances on a video camera during his Senate campaign. Obama admits this is frequently done in political campaigns but claims that it amounted to stalking:
‘I strolled into the press office of the state capitol building and asked some of the reporters who were having lunch to gather round.
“Hey, guys,” I said, “I want to introduce you to Justin. Justin her’es been assigned by the Ryan campaign to stalk me wherever I go. “
As I explained the situation, Justin stood there, continuing to film. The reporters turned on him and started peppering him with questions.
“You follow him into the restroom?”
“Are you this close to him all the time?”
Soon several news crews arrived with their cameras to film Justin filming me. Like a prisoner of war, Justin kept repeating his name, his rank, and the telephone number of his candidate’s campaign headquarters. By six o’clock, the story of Justin was on most local broadcasts. The story ended up blanketing the state for a week—cartoons, editorials, and sports radio chatter. After several days of defiance, my opponent succumbed to the pressure, asked Justin to back up a few feet, and issued an apology. Still, the damage to his campaign was done. People might not have understood our contrasting views on Medicare or Middle East diplomacy. But they knew that my opponent’s campaign had violated a value—civil behavior—that they considered important.” ‘(AOH p65)
.9. Non-racial insecurities
The word “I” appears with inordinate frequency in both books . Add in interminable Oprah-style displays of angst and a startling political naivety and you have a good outline of the man‘s general character.
A prime example of his childlike egotism and political naivety occurred in 2005. In April of that year he wrote an article for Time Magazine in which he likened himself to Lincoln:
“In Lincoln’s rise from poverty, I mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal
loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat—in all this, he reminded me not just of my own struggles.” (AOH pp122-123)
He is then amazed that a journalist picks this up as an example of hubris:
‘No sooner had the essay appeared than Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, weighed in. Under the title “Conceit of Government,” she wrote: “This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time Magazine and explaining that he’s a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better.” She went on to say, “There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama’s resume, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it is also a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.” (AOH p 123)
Obama’s descriptions of his relationships with others are curiously bloodless even when describing circumstances of high emotion. It would be very interesting to know exactly how popular he is generally. Consider this:
‘…during the entire time that I was growing up, I attended exactly two birthday parties, both of which involved five or six kids, cone hats, and a cake.’ (AOH P349).
Bear in m mind that Obama spent most of his childhood in a privileged middle class world, it really is very odd that he only attended two children’s parties. Could it be that he was far from popular? As a child and this fed his feeling of exclusion from white society? As to his general popularity, his descriptions of his relations with others during his college days and his time a community organiser are frequently fractious, especially with other black males (vide Keyes again). Could it be that he is not generally liked at the personal level?
In view of his wife’s frequent put downs of him, it is interesting that Obama has a persistent habit of reporting how women found him attractive. He does this in both DMF and AOH:
‘“You really don’t,” the older woman next to Angela said. I offered the woman my hand, and she smiled to show off a gold front tooth. “I’m sorry,” she said, taking my hand, “I’m Shirley.” She gestured toward the last woman, dark and heavyset. “This is Mona. Don’t he look clean-cut, Mona?”
“Sure does,” Mona said with a laugh‘. DMF p151
‘Michelle would tell me that she had been pleasantly surprised when I walked into her office; the drugstore snapshot for the firm directory made my nose look a little big (even more enormous than usual, she might say), and she had beeen sceptical when the secretaries who’d seen me during my
interview to her I was cute:’ AOH p 328
He is also determined that not only he but the entire world thinks that the woman he as chosen for his wife is not only beautiful but amazing in every way:
“MOST PEOPLE WHO meet my wife quickly conclude that she is remarkable. They are right about this—she is smart, funny, and roughly charming. She is also very beautiful, although not in way that men find intimidating or women find off-putting; it is he lived-in beauty of the mother and busy professional rather ian the touched-up image we see on the cover of glossy magazines. Often, after hearing her speak at some function or working with her on a project, people will approach me and say something to the effect of “You know I think the world of you, Barack, but your wife. . . wow!” (AOH pP327)
“…her employers loved her, and everyone remarked on what a good mother she was….” (AOH p341).
The subtext is “Look at me, I’m so attractive and wonderful I can get the most amazingly beautiful and talented woman”.
Obama devotes chapter 9 of AOH to his family. In this he seems more than ordinarily keen to acknowledge his wife’s support as a wife and mother. Page after page is filled with Obama going on in minute detail about how Michelle organises the house, arranges children’s parties and such forth. In the chapter he tries heavy, self-deprecation (a form of disguised boasting which says, hey, look at me. I’m so successful and secure I can make fun of myself). Here is a sample of both the self-deprecation and the minutely tedious rendition of the mundane from Obama‘s life: :
‘When I can, I volunteer to help, which Michelle appreciates, although she is careful to limit my responsibilities. The day before Sasha’s birthday party this past June, I was told to procure twenty balloons, enough cheese pizza to feed twenty kids, and ice. This seemed manageable, so when Michelle told me that she was going to get goody bags to hand out at the end of the party, I suggested that I do that as well. She laughed.
“You can’t handle goody bags,” she said. “Let me explain the goody bag thing. You have to go into the party store and choose the bags. Then you have to choose what to put in the bags, and what is in the boys’ bags has to be different from what is in the girls’ bags. You’d walk in there and wander around the aisles for an hour, and then your head would explode.”
[Feeling less confident, I got on the Internet. I found a place that sold balloons near the gymnastics studio where the party would be held, and a pizza place that promised delivery at 3:45 p.m. By the time the guests showed up the next day, the balloons were in place and the juice boxes were on ice. I sat with the other parents, catching up and watching twenty or so five-year-olds run . and jump and bounce on the equipment like a band of merry elves. I had a slight scare when at 3:50 the pizzas had not yet arrived but the delivery person got there ten minutes before the children were scheduled to eat. Michelle’s brother, Craig, knowing the pressure I was under, gave me a high five. Michelle looked from putting pizza on paper plates and smiled.
As a grand finale, after all the pizza was eaten and the juice boxes drunk, after we had sung “Happy Birthday” and eaten some cake, the gymnastics instructor gathered all the kids around an old, multicolored parachute and told Sasha to sit at its center…..”’(AOH pp 349-350)
There is a kind of Blairite masochism about his wish to humiliate himself in that passage and unfortunately for Obama the picture rings all too true from what we know of his attitude towards him from her public utterances., I rather suspect Michelle wears the trousers in their relationship., just as Cherie Blair does in that of the Blairs. What such behaviour does suggest is that Obama is essentially a subordinate personality, just as Blair is. Subordinate characters in positions of power are a disaster waiting to happen because they are inherently weak and prone to both making no decision when one is needed and being pushed into reckless decisions because of a lack of will.
10. The Obama intellect
Obama is portrayed by the mainstream media as a highly intelligent intellectual . This quality is not readily apparent from his books.
DMF is essentially a prolonged retailing of racial anxiety and victimhood. These are not subjects which test the intellect being essentially expressions of emotion , of taking a political or social stance. There is little about Obama’s views on strictly non-racial matters. AOH is a different matter. Here Obama does address matters of political policy along with a fair bit of DMF-style agonising. The problem is that when Obama deals with a matter of serious political concern he trots out cliché after cliché and frequently fails to come to any definitive conclusion. Reading AOH is like being locked into an interminable Guardian leader (the Guardian is the leading liberal left paper in Britain), on the one hand this, on the other hand that, on the third hand this. Here is a good example of this trait in a speech he gave on a subject supposedly dear to the heart of an admirer of the Constitutional, namely, freedom of expression.:
“I recently gave a speech at the Kaiser Foundation after they released a study showing that the amount of sex on television had doubled in recent years. Now, I enjoy HBO as much as the next guy, and I generally don’t care what adults watch in the privacy of their homes. In the case of children, I think it’s primarily the duty of parents to monitor what they are watching on television, and in my speech I even suggested that everyone would benefit if parents—heaven forbid—simply turned off the TV and tried to strike up a conversation with their kids.
Having said all that, I indicated that I wasn’t too happy with ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs popping up every fifteen minutes whenever I watched a football game with my daughters in the room. I offered the further observation that a popular show targeted at teens, in which young people with no visible means of support spend several months getting drunk and jumping naked into hot tubs with strangers, was not “the real world.” I ended by suggesting that the broadcast and cable industries should adopt better standards and technology to help parents control what streamed into their homes. (AOH) pp60-61)
This type of flaccid waffling is classic Obama. He does not defend free expression forthrightly nor advocate official censorship. Instead he offers the in practice non-solution of self-policing. Nor can you be sure where he stands on free expression generally because he offers only the qualified statement “ I generally don’t care what adults watch in the privacy of their homes” , which could mean he might censor any particular thing and might censor much outside the privacy of the home.
But, I can hear Obama supporting voices saying, what about his work as a Constitutional expert and practising attorney, how could he have done that .without having a fine intellect? How could he have won scholarships to the likes of Occidental and Harvard Law School? The first thing to note is that a subject like Constitutional Law is not a high IQ subject. It is, as political positions are, a very subjective business as the political wrangles over Supreme Court Justices and blatant distortions of the Constitution such as Roe v Wade (the judgement which legalised abortion) show. High intelligence is not needed to determine matters such as abortion or civil rights, merely emotional responses to the subjects. Even US Constitutional history is not the proverbial rocket science. Someone with a moderately respectable IQ and diligence in study could master the subject well enough to get by , especially if, like Obama, you take what might be described as the imaginative approach to the Constitution:
“…when we get in a tussle about abortion or flag burning, we appeal to a higher authority—the Founding Fathers and the Constitution’s ratifiers—to give us more direction. Some, like Justice Scalia, conclude that the original understanding must be followed and that if we strictly obey this rule, then democracy is respected.
Others, like Justice Breyer, don’t dispute that the original meaning of constitutional provisions matters. But they insist that sometimes the original understanding can take you only so far— that on the truly hard cases, the truly big arguments, we have to take context, history, and the practical outcomes of a decision into account. According to this view, the Founding Fathers and original ratifiers have told us how to think but are no longer around to tell us what to think. We are on our own, and have only our own reason and our judgment to rely on.” (AOHp89) “
There you have Obama doing his on the one hand this, on the other hand that routine. He concludes after a few hundred more words in which he fulsomely praises the Founding Fathers – “Moreover, I understand the strict constructionists’ reverence for the Founders; indeed, I’ve often wondered whether the Founders themselves recognized at the time the scope of their accomplishment…“ – that Ultimately, though, I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution – that it is not a static but rather a living document and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.” (AOH p90).
In other words, Obama wants the Constitution to mean whatever he thinks it should mean. Doubtless we could all be constitutional experts if we were allowed to make it up as we went along.
Obama also has the considerable additional advantage of being an educated black. Every since affirmative action arrived , being black in the US has been an immense advantage to those blacks who have aspired to higher education. So desperate have US universities been to have the “right” number of blacks (and other minorities) that even where their SAT scores (the tests used by US universities to guide the choice of candidates for entry to higher education) have been much lower than for candidates from non-PC favoured groups such as whites and Asians from places such as Japan, it has got them into college, got them scholarships, got them into graduate school and when they came to enter the jobs market the same imperative to have ethnic minorities on the staff has got them good jobs . In the Bell Cure, Murray and Herrstein report:
“We have obtained SAT data on classes entering twenty-six of the nation’s top colleges and universities. In 1975, most of the nation’s elite private colleges and universities formed the Consortium on financing Higher Education (COHFHE, which amongst other things, compiles and shares information on the students at member institutions, including SAT scores. We have obtained these data for the classes entering in 1991 and 1992… In addition, the figure includes data on the University of Virginia and the University of California at Berkeley in 1988.
“The difference between black and white scores was less than 100 points at only one school, Harvard. It exceeded 200 points at nine schools, reaching its highest at Berkeley (288 points). Overall, the media difference between the black and white mean was 180 SAT points, or conservatively estimated, about 1.3 standard deviations.” (The Bell Curve p451)
For US graduate schools Murray and Herrstein found that in Law school only 7 per cent of blacks had scores above the white mean. The figures for medical schools were similar to those of the Law schools, while the arts and sciences were slightly stronger. (The Bell Curve pp455-8).
The import of what Murray and Herrstein found is simple: many blacks with moderate academic attainment are in high status jobs. Obama may well be one of them. How do they survive once they are in them? They will be protected by political correctness. Moreover, in an area such as constitutional law it is so much a matter of opinion that there is no one to say this is absolutely right or wrong. It is the sort of area where you can bluff your way through., especially when you are black and whites will be terrified of criticising you too strongly for fear of being called a racist.
Political correctness can also account for Obama’s work as an attorney. Despite his frequent boasting about other aspects of his life he is curiously reticent about his legal career. So it is not clear how successful he was. However, he does make clear that his work as an attorney was directed at what might be called black victimhood cases, suing companies and public bodies for compensation for breaches of black civil rights. Those, of course, are just the sort of cases which will be favoured by judges and juries because of the politically correct circumstances of latterday America..
Obama’s performance during his inaugural ceremony was interesting. This supposed expert on the Constitution, who presumably had rehearsed the inauguration ceremony a number of times, was thrown by the Chief Justice making an error when he moved a word from the beginning to the end of a sentence. Was that just nerves on Obama’s part? Or was it evidence that this a man who cannot think on his feet, evidence of someone who needs to work from a script in his head rather than extemporise? The intelligent of course do the latter. Think back to his inability to debate with his black opponent Keyes. Was that also a reflection of his lack of intellect?
Of course there is far more to intellect than IQ, for example, psychological and sociological insight are two qualities which a politician needs. Obama shows precious little of that. For example, he re-took the oath in the White House without cameras being present and did not take the oath on the Bible. There is no Constitutional requirement to take the oath on the Bible, but for a man who was persistently the subject of claims that he is a covert Muslim ,it was distinctly odd that he would feed the belief. It was also very strange that the ceremony was not recorded and shown to the public. Even odder was the reason given for the absence of a Bible , namely, that one could not be found in the White House. At best it shows a startling naivety about how modern American politics works.
The way a man writes is also a good pointer to the quality of his intellect. I get the distinct impression from his writings that at some point he has either taken a creative writing course or has read a book on the subject because his work is splattered with ponderous self-conscious “fine writing” wordplay . Here are a few examples:
‘Old faces and young faces all glow like jack-o-lanterns in the shifting lamplight…’ (DMF p389)
‘Perhaps I just find the ways of the heart too various, and my own life too imperfect, to believe myself qualified to serve as anyone’s moral arbiter. (AOH p336)
“I know that tucking in my daughters that night, I grasped a little bit of Heaven.” (AOH p226)
Whatever else he is, Obama is not a natural writer, but someone who gives the impression that he is writing by numbers. Even at the technical level of grammar, punctuation and syntax he is poor with a penchant for dividing sentences unnecessarily – “That’s what I’ll do, I’ll organise black folks. At the grass roots. For change.” (DMF p133) – and a cavalier way with punctuation , which in the case of the comma is so uncertain as to be next to random.
A third way of judging a man’s intellect is to look at what he has actually achieved. Obama has been immensely successful in gaining positions but once in them he has done nothing considerable. Let me quote again the passage relating to his brash egotism in comparing himself to Lincoln: ’ No sooner had the essay appeared than Peggy Noonan, former Reagan speechwriter and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, weighed in. Under the title “Conceit of Government,” she wrote: “This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time Magazine and explaining that he’s a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better.” She went on to say, “There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama’s resume, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it is also a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.” ’ (AOH p 123)
That sums up Obama’s working career in general. His interminable description of his few years as a community organiser is a litany of failure. According to his own account, Obama is constantly engaged in initiatives which fail. He organises meetings to which few people come; his attempts to deal with local politicians and bureaucrats bear no fruit; even his relationships with the brothers and sisters are far from smooth.
Obama’s second career as an academic and attorney is also curiously lacklustre. He produces no academic work of note nor acts in any significant legal cases.
When Obama gets his foot on the political ladder in the Illinois legislature he is bored with the parochial politics and does nothing of note. His translation to the Senate has also resulted in a national legislative career of stunning banality.
There are two other points to note about Obama’s working life. First, prior to the presidency he has never held an executive position of political substance. Second, he has not been in any of his jobs for very long – his longest stint being as a part time academic. That is strongly reminiscent of the behaviour of his maternal grandfather and his father, men who were not willing stickers at anything.
11. The peculiarity of Obama’s election
To understand how odd Obama’s election was all that needs to be done is to imagine that a white man had expressed equivalent views about blacks .to the views Obama has expressed about whites. He would not have managed to get into the political mainstream let alone got elected to any public office.
What would be the white equivalent of Obama? It is a little difficult to give a precise comparison because whites have been and still are the demographic and culturally dominant force in the USA. But it is possible in broad terms to envisage a white Obama doppelganger , an anti-Obama as it were. It would be a man who mistrusted blacks to the point of paranoia and held that whites had been disadvantaged ever since LBJ’s Great Society legislation was passed in the 1960s. He would seek not only the end of affirmative action for blacks but affirmative action for whites to compensate them for the disadvantage they have experienced in the past 40 odd years. He would believe that blacks were generally as they are caricatured, welfare dependent and feckless, with black men procreating incontinently before abandoning their children and black women having children by multiple fathers before going onto welfare. He would advocate the reduction of welfare to blacks and an increase of welfare to whites. He would press for the end of multiculturalism institutions such as Black History Month and the unashamed promotion of white history and celebrities. He would seek to reverse the present assumption that only whites can be racist and develop a new form of political correctness which harried anyone who attempted to be racist towards whites using the absurdly broad definition of racist developed by latterday liberals , that is, any reference to racial difference which offends the politically correct approved group.
I suspect there is not a living soul who will have an imagination powerful enough to translate the idea of such a being into the position of president. But what the imaginations of what is still the large majority of Americans (whites) will be able to do is envisage what a man who is deeply suspicious and resentful of whites will do if it is within his presidential power. They will see him at best ignoring their interests and at worst further disadvantaging them to both weaken their ethnic dominance and to promote the interest of ethnic minorities, most especially the interests of blacks.
Obama’s racial paranoia and deep-dyed sense of victimhood should be enough to have disqualified him from holding the post of President, but DMF and AOH also provide ample evidence of general character defects which make him a very dangerous choice of President.
To begin with the man is generally insecure. Obama is constantly self-consciously scrutinising his behaviour and evaluating it in the context of how others respond to him. A man who is constantly navel gazing is unlikely to be an effective executive. A corollary of this indeterminate state of mind is his constant wavering over where he stands on just about every important policy area.
Obama’s insecurity is also seen in his worrying adolescent trait of boasting about his abilities and accomplishment, nowhere more embarrassingly than in his desire to be seen as widely attractive to women and his puffing of the physical attractions and moral qualities of his wife.
In the emotionally chaotic anarchic world of politics, Obama has frequently been very easily rattled by both criticism and scrutiny, especially scrutiny of his day-to-day behaviour. He has also shown frequently bad judgement in his choice of candidates for senior government posts, with a string of them withdrawing as some blot on their copybook appears.
To Obama’s general insecurity and lack of judgement of people can be added doubts about his intellectual capacity, in particular of his understanding of economics and finance. I defy anyone to find a passage in either DMF or AOH which gives evidence of a mind which is either first rate or given to thinking for itself when it comes to matters of intellectual substance. . The books are filled with three things: Obama’s novelistic re-constructions or imaginings (take your choice), his racial paranoia and a thoroughly pedestrian retailing of received opinion.
His grasp of economics seems to be more or less non-existent, with his solutions to social problems being almost invariably to spend more taxpayers money without giving any serious thought to how the money might be found and no thought at all to outcome of providing public money for similar projects in the past.
An emotionally insecure president who doesn’t really understand political realities, especially economic ones, represents a tremendous danger to both America and the rest of the world in our present perilous circumstances. The fact that his approval ratings have already dropped to below those of George W Bush at the same stage of his presidency suggests that the penny has begun to drop with many of those who voted for him. The problem is America and the rest of the world is saddled with him for another 46 months. His election is best seen as an example of mass hysteria.