You can blame winter for the slow erosion of Senator Barack Obama’s image.
As I’ve been noting going back to my January VDARE.com article on Obama, much of what you hear about the fashionable Presidential candidate ranges from wishful thinking to sheer ignorance to outright distortion.
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’s Identity 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.
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 facade.
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 state where 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, near Punahou, 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 made it 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 and Inheritance"—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 Father after the man he worshiped 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.
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 on the 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 the invocation. 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]Indeed.
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 mainstream media’s strong suit.
That’s what VDARE.com is, among much else, for!