December 25, 2007

My review of Shelby Steele's "A Bound Man"

America's newest holiday tradition is enjoying a book review on newsprint by me, as exemplified by my 12/25/05 review of Tim Harford's Undercover Economist in the New York Post, my 7/03/07 review of John Lott's Freedomnomics in the Washington Times, and my 12/25/07 review of Shelby Steele's A Bound Man in the W. Times.

Here's the opening:

The rise of Obama

December 25, 2007

By Steve Sailer - One Democratic presidential contender has an inherently fascinating family history: Not only does our largest minority group furnish most of his ancestry, but he was also raised in the capital of a foreign country of enormous importance to America.

And yet, little attention is paid to the stalled campaign of Bill Richardson, even though the governor of New Mexico is three-fourths Hispanic and grew up in Mexico City. Instead, Barack Obama, who, as he made sure to tell us in the opening words of his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, is half-Kenyan and half-white, has cornered the market on Ethnic Electricity.

Whether pro or con, white Americans are simply more interested in blacks than in Latinos. And, over the decades, white sentiment has grown increasingly favorable. Indeed, Mr. Obama has a plausible shot at riding strong early showings in virtually all-white Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomination.

Of course, Mr. Obama is also a more intriguing personality than the mundane Mr. Richardson. The senator's 1995 autobiography, "Dreams from my Father," displays more artistic merit than perhaps any other book written by a recent presidential hopeful.

Thus, the timing is perfect for Hoover Institution literary critic Shelby Steele's terse but remarkably insightful "A Bound Man."

The horse-race forecast in the subtitle isn't what's important. Instead, the former English professor, who, like Mr. Obama, has a black father and a white mother, delivers an intimate and authoritative analysis of how the polite Mr. Obama appeals to white Democrats in the same fashion as Sidney Poitier, the gentlemanly 1960s movie star, and why black voters are less enthusiastic. [More]

Here's a Time essay by Steele summarizing his book.

And here's my much-denounced article on Obama from the March 26, 2007 issue of The American Conservative, "Obama's Identity Crisis," which reached conclusions virtually identical to Steele's.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

11 comments:

ben said...

I'm voting for Obama because he was against the Iraq War from the start.

Black Mombasa said...

"I'm voting for Obama because he was against the Iraq War from the start."

So was Dennis Kucinich, so why aren't you voting for him?

Mark said...

I'm voting for Obama because he was against the Iraq War from the start.

Me too.

I'm voting for Obama because he called "tails" when a coin was flipped and it came up "tails." Oh and opposing a war was such a tough decision for a leftist to make. So unlike them. They never do stuff like that.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: The horse-race forecast in the subtitle isn't what's important. Instead, the former English professor, who, like Mr. Obama, has a black father and a white mother, delivers an intimate and authoritative analysis of how the polite Mr. Obama appeals to white Democrats in the same fashion as Sidney Poitier, the gentlemanly 1960s movie star, and why black voters are less enthusiastic.

I was going to add exactly this comment to another recent thread, in which I was pointing out that Obama has, hands down, the sorriest resume of any major ["serious"] presidential candidate in our lifetimes [to include even JFK, who at least was forced to eat coconuts on an atoll for a few weeks, with the very real possibility that he might end up dead, or in a POW camp, or both].

Anyway, this is what I was going to say on that thread [but then Christmas intervened]: Given that Obama's only qualifications for president are that he's black [or at least looks black] and that he can speak standard [i.e. "white"] English, then why aren't we pushing Sidney Poitier or Bill Cosby for president?

Heck, in Bill Cosby, you've got a real resume of accomplishment: He lettered in track & football at Temple [at least I believe he lettered in them], he's had hit shows spanning four decades, appealing to vastly different audience sensibilities ["I Spy" in the 1960's, "Fat Albert" in the 1970's, the Huxtable gig in the 1980's & 1990's], he never succombed to the temptation to go vulgar in his comedy routines [cf Richard Pryor & Eddie Murphy], and he had the gonads to stick his neck on the line and tell black people that they need to get up off their lazy asses and improve their own damned lives [and to quit blaming all of their problems on whitey].

Besides, we haven't had a president with an honest, heartfelt sense of humor - who could honestly & sincerely ridicule his own foibles and imperfections - since The Gipper was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

ben said...

So was Dennis Kucinich, so why aren't you voting for him?

1) Because he has no chance of winning. 2) Because I disagree greatly with his positions outside of the war.

David said...

Your boy's not too solid on Israel, Ben. Better look. Read the whole thing.

ben said...

David,

Not sure why we're jumping to the subject of Israel, but while we're at it...

He's pro-Israel, like every other candidate with a chance of winning. That article seems to mainly deal with his friends' views, not his.

Also, I think that the Bush admin has helped make the region worse for Israel, not better, over the years.

David said...

"Solid" is not an adjective that comes readily to mind when one thinks of Obama, is it?

I wonder if Obama's foreign policy will be stalwart if push comes to shove about Israel.

As to "jumping to" the subject of Israel, Israel is always the subject; all else is digression.

ben said...

I wonder if Obama's foreign policy will be stalwart if push comes to shove about Israel.

And I wonder what effects an ultra neo-conservative Giuliani policy would have on the region...

none of the above said...

Obama does have a seriously thin resume. He's got a real chance of winning, though, for three reasons:

a. He's the kind of black guy everyone white with goodwill toward blacks wants to see in the world--someone who's smart and disciplined and accomplished, speaks good English, and is clearly able to make it into the top tier of US society without any quotas or similar nonsense.

b. The other candidates are all really unappealing; the Democrats with a chance to win are almost as inexperienced as Obama, while the Republicans with a chance to win all seem to me to be nuttier than a big warehouse full of fruitcakes.

c. The current administration has screwed so many things up, that anything that looks like change from the current bunch in power is very appealing. Experience in government might even look like a negative. Neither Colin Powell nor Condoleeza Rice (both also very smart, accomplished, well-spoken blacks, with much more relevant experience) could have a prayer of being elected president, given how they're associated with the Iraq disaster.

Frankly, Obama strikes me as one of the least unpleasant of the folks we might get, though I'm afraid that's pretty faint praise. I suspect Romney would be a better president, but I see no reason to think Huckabee or Guliani or Hillary would be, and returning power to the Republicans after the last eight years isn't too appealing.

David said...

is clearly able to make it into the top tier of US society without any quotas or similar nonsense

The power of wishful thinking is alive and well.

Read about Obama's life, unless you don't want to be confused by the facts.