Barack Obama As Eric Hebborn
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An excerpt from my new American Conservative article:

How did such a smooth operator as Barack Obama mishandle so ineptly the roadblock that he had to know stood between him and the White House: his intimate two-decade relationship with his far leftist minister, the erudite and articulate Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.? And what, if anything, can he do to repair the damage?

As I asked more than a year ago in, "Why has Obama tied his fate to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a tactless race man who is the living opposite of the myth Obama is trying to project about himself?"

Obama's candidacy is based on encouraging white voters to assume naively that his mixed race ancestry means that he is somehow genetically programmed for racial and political moderation. Indeed, in his long-postponed denunciation of Wright on April 29th, the reeling Obama made explicit the amusingly eugenic thinking implicit in Obamamania:

"That's in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings."

This kind of fantasizing about Obama was embarrassingly widespread before television finally began paying attention to Wright in March. For example, back on December 30, 2007, conservative columnist George Will enthused about how he can just tell that Obama must share Will's views on race:

"Obama seems to understand America's race fatigue, the unbearable boredom occasioned by today's stale politics generally and by the perfunctory theatrics of race especially…The political implications of this transcendence of confining categories are many, profound and encouraging."

Yet, if I could see from reading pp. 274-295 in Obama's 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance that Obama's spiritual mentor would be campaign trouble, why couldn't Obama? You might think that such a cool-headed vivisectionist of other people's political and racial fantasies would have guessed that his surrogate father-figure wouldn't let him get away with misleading the public about the ideological comradeship that led Obama to Wright in the 1980s. Unfortunately, Obama's self-pity keeps him from being as cold-eyed an analyst of himself as he is of others.

Normally, Obama is to the average politician as the great art forger Eric Hebborn was to the run-of-the-mill counterfeiter. Hebborn tried to follow a moral code of his own devising. On 17th Century paper, he would sketch in the style of, say, Rembrandt, but he would not forge Rembrandt's signature. Hebborn's view was that if Sotheby's was foolish and greedy enough to talk themselves into hoping that they were buying a Rembrandt drawing, well, that was their fault, not his.

Similarly, Obama prefers to mislead without lying outright. He likes to obscure the truth under so many thoughtful nuances, dependent clauses, Proustian details, lawyerly evasions, and eloquent summarizations of his opponents' arguments that his audiences ultimately just make up little fantasies about how he must agree with them. Rather like Hebborn, Obama seems to feel that he's not to blame if the press and public want to be fooled.

Sadly, though, Obama has lied repeatedly, and artlessly, about Wright's Youtube sermons, asserting that he had never heard such things and they were being taken out of context. The day after Wright's National Press Club barnburner on April 28 exploded these excuses, Obama pathetically claimed, "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago." ...
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