Skip to comments.The Great Sales Pitch From Obama
Posted on 03/17/2008 8:36:25 AM PDT by jdm
I recently found this long review of Obamas first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. It was written a year ago by Steve Sailer and its a review of a book in which much is revealed on what makes Obama tick, and why he would be so dangerous as President of our country:
Why havent many grasped the books essence? First, Obamas elegant, carefully wrought prose style makes Dreams a frustratingly slow read, which may explain why the book was remaindered in 1995, and why so few of the many who have purchased it following his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention appear to have read much of it.
Second, the plot isnt that interesting: his first three decades are too lacking in incident to make a page-turning story. Obama has led a fairly pleasant existence, with most of its suffering and conflict taking place within his own head as he tries to turn himself into an authentic angry black man.
Third, there is the confusing contrast between the confident, suave master politician we see on television and the tormented narrator of Dreams, who is an updated Black Pride version of the old tragic mulatto stereotype found in Show Boat and Imitation of Life.
Which Obama is real? Or is that a naïve question to ask of such a formidable identity artist? William Finnegan wrote in the New Yorker of Obamas campaigning: it was possible to see him slipping subtly into the idiom of his interlocutorthe blushing, polysyllabic grad student, the hefty black church-pillar lady, the hip-hop autoshop guy. Like Madonna or David Bowie, he has spent his life trying on different personalities, but while theirs are, in Camille Paglias phrase, sexual personae, his specialty is racial personae.
Fourth, his is a story of race and inheritance, two closely linked topics upon which American elites have intellectually disarmed themselves. In an era when fashionable thinkers claim that race is just a social construct, Obamas subtitle is subversive. Although his expensive educationprep school, an Ivy League bachelors degree, and then a Harvard professional diplomahas not equipped him with a conceptual vocabulary adequate for articulating the meaning behind his lifes story, the details deliver a message that white intellectuals have all but forgotten: the many-faceted importance of who your relatives are.
A racial group is a large extended family, and Obamas book is primarily about his rejection of his supportive white maternal extended family in favor of his unknown black paternal extended family.
For the few willing to read all 442 pages, he offers important testimony about the enduring glamour of anti-white anger. Its a bitter counterweight to the sunny hopes so widely invested in his candidacy as the man whose election as president would somehow help America finally transcend race.
In reality, Obama provides a disturbing test of the best-case scenario of whether America can indeed move beyond race. He inherited his fathers penetrating intelligence; was raised mostly by his loving liberal white grandparents in multiracial, laid-back Hawaii, where Americas normal race rules never applied; and received a superb private school education. And yet, at least through age 33 when he wrote Dreams from My Father, he found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mothers race.
Even his celebrated acceptance of Christianity in his mid-20s turns out to be an affirmation of African-American emotional separatism. As I was reading Dreams, I assumed that his ending would be adapted from the favorite book of his youth, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which climaxes with Malcolms visit to Mecca and heartwarming conversion from the racism of the Black Muslims to the universalism of orthodox Islam. I expected that Obama would analogously forgive whites and ask forgiveness for his own racial antagonism as he accepts Jesus.
Instead, Obama falls under the spell of a leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A. Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites. Reverend Wright remains a major influence on the presidential candidate. (The title of Obamas second book, The Audacity of Hope, is borrowed from one of Wrights sermons.) Ben Wallace-Wells notes in Rolling Stone: This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr.
The happy ending to Dreams is that Obamas hard-drinking half-brother RoyActually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritageconverts to teetotaling Islam.
Although the biracial Obama is frequently lumped with the multiracial golfer Tiger Woods as evidence of the socially healing power of interracial marriage, their attitudes are quite different. Woods turned down Nikes suggestion that because African-American celebrities are so popular today, he should identify himself solely as black. He didnt want to disown his mother. Woods instead calls himself black and Thai, or, at times, Caublinasian, in tribute to his Caucasian, black, American Indian, and Asian ancestors.
From the age of ten onward, though, Obama desperately wants to be black: I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant. Honolulus paucity of African-Americans means he has to learn to be black from the media: TV, movies, the radio; those were places to start. Pop culture was color-coded, after all, an arcade of images from which you could cop a walk, a talk, a step, a style.
He cherishes every cause for complaint he can discern against white folks. He is constantly distressed at being half-white. Obama says he ceased to advertise my mothers race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites, even though he surely realizes that his media-sensation status stems from how much white people love highly accomplished blacks who speak with white accents. He wouldnt be a serious candidate for president at age 45 if he werent part black.
Obamas teenage self-consciousness is perpetually crucified by contact with stereotypes about blacks. When his grandmother wants a ride to work because the day before, while awaiting the bus, she was threatened by a black panhandler, he is outragedat his grandparents. And yet I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears. In high school, he gets upset when a white girl mentioned in the middle of conversation how much she liked Stevie Wonder; or when a woman in the supermarket asked me if I played basketball; or when the school principal told me I was cool.
The great irony of the book is that so many of the stereotypes about African-Americans and Africans turn out, in his troubling experience, to be truewhich doesnt make Obama happy at all: I did like Stevie Wonder, I did love basketball, and I tried my best to be cool at all times. So why did such comments always set me on edge? (When he moves to the South Side of Chicago, he eventually discovers that, like his grandmother, hes sometimes scared of black males on the street, too.)
This explains much. Could it be any clearer why he marginalized and ignored the white grandmother who raised and educated him from the age of 9 or 10 through high school. He decided it was to his advantage to be black, instead of white. Like the writer says, instead of embracing both of his cultures he chose one over the other and never looked back.
But now he wants to unite us? When he couldnt even unite with his own family?
Back in Hawaii, Obamas grandparents enrolled the fifth grader in the famous Punahou prep school (current tuition $14,725). With 3,750 students from K-12, it enrolls a high proportion of all the young elites in Hawaii. Illustrative of its financial resources, Sports Illustrated ranks it as having the fourth-best high-school sports program in America.
In Obamas book, Punahou was a nightmare of racial insensitivity, with one of his fellow students even asking to touch his hair. What he doesnt reveal is that Punahou was quite possibly the most racially diverse prep school in America. It officially opened its doors to all races in 1851. Sun Yat-sen, the first president of China, attended it in the 1880s.
In Obamas eighth grade class picture, at least seven and perhaps as many as ten of the 21 students are non-white. Brian Charlton of the AP threw some cold water on Obamas adolescent alienation fantasies: He was known as Barry Obama, and with his dark complexion and mini-Afro, he was one of the few blacks at the privileged Hawaiian school overlooking the Pacific. Yet that hardly made him stand out. Diversity was the norm at the Punahou School, one of the states top private schools. His classmates say he was a popular and cheerful figure, the opposite of the tortured personality described in Dreams, in which he rationalizes his teenage drug use as something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind . . .
When Barack was in high school in the later 1970s, no whites held Hawaiis top elected jobs as U.S. senator or governor. Indeed, as his father pointed out in a 1963 newspaper interview, whites were sometimes the victims of discrimination in Hawaii. Obama also fails to note the charming local custom of calling the last day of school Kill Haole Day.
Like Obama, many Hawaiian residents are the products of mixed marriages: in 1956-57, interracial marriage rates ranged from 22.0 percent for professionals to 43.5 percent for farm workers. Theres not much of a one-drop-of-blood rule for defining racial membership in Hawaii that mandated that Obama call himself black and only black.
Why was Obama so insistent upon rejecting the white race?
Perhaps because we all (especially young men) want to belong to something we see as bigger and stronger than us, a winning team. And conquest, who rules whom, is the ultimate team sport.
From adolescence onward, Obama wanted a race to belong to, a team whose accomplishments would reflect well upon him. Of course, it was unthinkable in his liberal white family to take pride in the achievements of his mothers race, so Obama gloried in being part of his absent fathers race.
Isnt that ironic. Due to the liberal nature of his white family he ostracized that very same part of his heritage. What a endorsement for liberals.
After graduation, he moved to Chicago in 1983, finally finding a home where at least some whites reciprocated his antagonism. He worked as an ethnic activist, helping the impoverished black community wring more money and services from the government. That government money was wrecking the morals of the housing-project residents seems obvious from his book, but Obama never comes out and says it. Numerous white moderates assume that a man of Obamas superlative intelligence must be kidding when he espouses his cast-iron liberalism on race-related policies, but they dont understand the emotional imperative of racial loyalty to him.
Even his one triumph, mau-mauing lazy Chicago Housing Authority bureaucrats into removing asbestos from Altgeld Gardens, is tinged with irony. The timeservers at the CHA are all black, and asbestos would fall comically low on any list of problems plaguing inner city African-Americans.
After four years there, the South Side is worse than ever, with youth violence ratcheting upwards. Obama applies to Harvard Law School (and eventually becomes a discrimination lawyer). Upon acceptance, he makes his first visit to Kenya, where Dreams from My Father finally achieves a frankness worthy of its artistry.
Obama immediately appreciates the sweetness of African life in the bosom of his newfound familyFor family seemed to be everywhere all of them fussing and fretting over Obamas long-lost sonbut soon discovers its discontents, including how polygamy generates convoluted conflicts too intricate for even the longest-running soap opera. The rival families of his late fatherwho died in a drunken car crash a half decade beforeare still suing each other over his meager estate.
He begins to notice that the intense family ties hed longed for are not an unmixed blessing for Kenya since they corrupt its culture.
In Obamas account of race and inheritance, the continuities between Africa and African-America are clear. Kenya seems like an incipient Chicago housing project, preserved only by its inability to afford the welfare state that has ruined the inner city. His aunts Nairobi home is just like the apartments in Altgeld, I realized. The same chain of mothers and daughters and children. The same absence of men.
Unless they can bribe their way into a prestigious office job, most of Obamas male relatives work as little as possible, relying on their womenfolk for food and shelter. And the women are looking for what the authors grandfather and uncle Sayid both call a big man to ease their burdens with funds extracted from the government. Obamas father, it turns out, had grabbed for the brass ring but wound up a failed Big Man, undone by President Jomo Kenyattas discrimination against his Luo tribe and by his own alcoholism. Even when impoverished, Obama Sr. pathetically kept playing the Big Man, dispensing gifts he couldnt afford to his relatives and hangers-on.
Now, Obama Jr. is running for the biggest job of all.
There is much more to the review and should be read in its entirety. As I finished it I couldnt help think about how people in sales, or even us cops conduct themselves when interviewing either suspects or a potential client. We mirror the target, we get into their head and become one with them. We understand them you see ..
While the book obviously shows there has been much inner turmoil I cant help but think this has been one of the biggest sales pitches in many many years
You left off what Ferraro got beat up for stating.
Damn. Liberals are so...liberated. Aren't they? /sarcasm>
The first time that I ever heard of Obama was just before the Democrat convention in 2004. I was curious to see and hear this young Black man that the media was touting so highly. I was drawn to the TV set immediately by the elegant, well spoken, sound of the man’s voice and his broad smile. I didn’t have to listen very long, though, before I recognized the cadence and the use of emotional buzz words that are common in the southern tent preacher style. I noticed also, that the crowd was reacting in the same way as in a revival meeting. I thought, this guy good, too good, he’s as slick as Marjoe. I even wondered if he had studied Marjoe’s style and read his book. Little did I know that Barack Obama has his own private crowd control tutor.
Yeah I know. It was the author’s comments though, right? I figured I didn’t need to give them more ammunition.
But from what they say he says about being basically ashamed of mom’s “whiteness”, well, then, not much more need be said. And it sounds like those are from Obama’s words.
No wonder NOI Louis Farrakhan is on board with him.
Or with his own self.
“For the few willing to read all 442 pages, he offers important testimony about the enduring glamour of anti-white anger. Its a bitter counterweight to the sunny hopes so widely invested in his candidacy as the man whose election as president would somehow help America finally transcend race.”
Reading this, I got an image of a Tuxedoed Maitre’D mixing white vinegar and maple syrup, then drizzling it over a bed of fresh green okra and arugula.
Wow....stunning word picture. You had to dip your "rapier pen" at least twice for that one!!
What I take from Obama’s public acceptance of his father’s blackness and his African inheritance along with the implied, tacit rejection of his mother’s whiteness and inheritance is the the utter recognition that he, the mix of this mating, inherited only the loneliness and self-alienation of the two.
Lauding the one while ignoring the other is, in some perverse way, a punishment enacted on both, and by extension the sins of the cultures they represent.
As though he is showing the world the one true way to live.
“Of course, it was unthinkable in his liberal white family to take pride in the achievements of his mothers race, so Obama gloried in being part of his absent fathers race.”
This is resoundingly true of the liberal ‘white guilt’ trip.
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