March 22, 2008

Obama needs some jokewriters, fast

Obama's humorlessness about race is starting to cause him real problems. For example, on an AM radio sports talk show, of all places, he got asked about his Throw Grandma from the Train speech ("a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street "), and bumbled:

The point I was making was not that grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t.

But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, you know, there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that’s just the nature of race in our society.

We have to break through it, and what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little less like that, and that’s powerful stuff.

When you find yourself in a hole, Barack, stop digging.

Race is one of those topics that's more hopeless than serious, but Obama's supporters like him being pompous and getting all furrow-browed.

Another problem for Obama is that his personal identity is all tied up with "race and inheritance," and he's too serious about himself to not be serious about race.

He needs to get some jokewriters, then go on the Jay Leno show and laugh it off. Make fun of himself, call himself "Barry Half-White" and "H. Rap Beige."

(By the way, Gerald Ford's head speechwriter when he was President was Bob Orben, whose previous experience was being one of the top gagwriters in the comedy business -- he wrote for Dick Gregory, Red Skelton, and Jack Paar and published a long line of joke books sold in magic shops that were used by many stand-ups. That's why Ford had some good one-liners, like, "If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave.")

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

35 comments:

benn franklyn said...

Folks, we need to start sending checks to Steve earmarked "fair and balanced." I am ambivalent about Obama myself, but too much anti- writing makes me want to reevaluate him.

To be fair to Obama, he did say that people have fear bred into their experiences. What was he referring to? Maybe the reality of black male crime.

He does bring these things up. He discusses people who abuse the welfare system, black men who do not pull their weight for their family. He is aware of these things.

I bet one reason he did not denounce Wright in whole is that he intends to weigh the strong feelings that have accumulated in both blacks and whites.

By the way, did anyone see the Spike Lee joint "Confederate States of America"? 2005 alternate history mockumentary, what if the south won the Civil War.

Black Sea said...

Obama's comments sound particuarly vacillating and ambiguous because he's trying to simulataneously say to a white audience that his grandmother, a typical white person, is apprehensive about aggressive panhandlers, and this apprehension "sometimes comes out in the wrong way," while saying to a black audience that his grandmother, a typical white person, is an unreconstructed racist; she just doesn't know it. He's walking a rhetorical tightrope, and it shows.

Maybe he should just say that his grandmother is a loveable old coot with some crazy ideas from the past, and that he can't disown her anymore than he can disown the white community, and hope it all goes away.

Anonymous said...

What would be of far more relevance and, dare say, importance, would be for Obama (or any politician for that matter) to honestly address the failings of blacks with respect to cultural/familial issues. Who will honestly confront the black man, who recklessly and willingly abandons his woman and children? Who will call out the likes of B.B. King, who has fathered fifteen children from fifteen different women? Who will demand black men behave as responsible adults toward their women? Who will demand they disavow rap and other culturally degrading aspects of their culture? Who will step up and say Enough! with respect to the abhorrent behavior of black men?

Who will call out black women and demand they stop whoring themselves? Who will tell black women to quit sleeping with every black man who crosses her door step? Who will demand black women marry, and raise their children, instead of fobbing them off on their grandmother? Who will insist black women behave responsibly and respectfully? Barack Obama? No, he will continue to insist that most white people will cross the street...

Muswell Hillbilly said...

I've agreed with most if not all of your Obama commentary, but I think you're wrong about this one, Steve.

First off, having not actually heard the show and just looking at the bare text of his response, that strikes me as the sort of reasonable-sounding, soothing rhetoric on race that Obama has always sold to his white audiences, and the very type of stuff that has carried him to this point. It's now his persona to utter deep-sounding but empty nonsense that makes people see him as the post-racial messiah. Jesus was not a jokester.

Grizzlie Antagonist said...

Not a prediction, necessarily, but a possible scenario:

I would have said and HAVE been saying until recently that George W. Bush had done so much harm to the country and to the Republican Party that it would be impossible for the GOP nominee to win this November.

But while Obama's speech may stand him in good stead with the pundits, it's likely to get him into trouble with the segment of benighted white voters that he's counting on to win in November.

A large portion of them consist of "soccer mom" types that Clinton I had in the palm of his hand and that GWB found a way to reach during the last two election cycles -- women who, in fact, fear black men who pass them by on the street.

McCain's operatives will find a subtle way to remind these voters of Obama's willingness to use his grandmother as an illustration of "what's wrong with white America".

McCain himself might find a subtle way to use it against Obama -- maybe -- oh let's say -- by promising to do his part as executive to bring to justice all those who would prey on innocent women whoever they are and wherever they might be -- 1968 Nixonian rhetoric coupled with a promise of a Clinton I-type anti-crime package.

And the voters will vote against Obama. They won't really be able to explain to anyone -- probably not even themselves -- as to what motivated them to vote against such a nice articulate black candidate -- but that will be the reason, of course.

They may not even try to explain it to anyone. Many of the ones who are polled will say "Obama" to the pollsters while secretly and shamefacedly voting for McCain in private.

The final results then would be more favorable to McCain than the polls would otherwise indicate.

To some extent, this will lead to Florida-like claims of fraudulent disenfranchisement of racial minorities.

And to another extent, this will be used as proof that a black man just "can't make it" by working within the system -- no matter how intelligent and articulate, no matter how hard he tries to address white concerns.

And the discussion of race in America will continue to plummet downward. Obama, regarded before as the great racial healer, will actually have done his part to open up the wound a little more.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, when was the last time you heard a Lib crack a joke?

Or even a heartfelt smile, for that matter?

PS: Did you catch the Hillary-Obama debate on the Britney episode of South Park the other night?

Anonymous said...

Obama's "throwing his grandma under the train" is all the more invidious when one realizes that she wasn't displaying a "stereotypical" fear of all or most black men or even a "stereotypical fear" of black males who looked and acted like stereotypical criminals. She was simply afraid of one man who objectively threatened her.

gendergappers said...

And a little truth and humility wouldn't hurt - yo're losing us.

It’s time to take a moth-eaten myth out and give it a shakeup. The old chestnut that women will bite the bullet and vote for BO because of abortion, and because the Dem Party bosses support him is DOA.

Nothing has show women how ineffective, weak and unconcerned our Dem elected lawmakers are in supporting women’s right to choose. For that matter, even after attaining a majority, they mostly sat back and let the minority Republicans have their way in everything. One of Speaker Nancy’s first moves was to take impeachment off the table - Free ride for Bush/Cheney.

Early on when Roberts and Alito were proposed for the Supremes, most Dem Senators went along and voted for them with hardly a murmur. Even Pat Leahy of Vermont, who claimed he was a champ for women’s rights, when he was running for reelection, bent over and spread them.

Women mostly get bupkiss from the Dems, yet women have been the most loyal voting bloc, the hardest workers and are still largely unrepresented. Events in this presidential primary have more than proven how the DNC has been the moving force to defeat HRC’s bid to become the Dem nominee by promoting BO’s campaign of misogyny and sexism.

Women have noted how many of the Dem leaders have done nothing to correct media reporting they know to be false. They have also noted how many of them actually pile on to criticize the Clinton campaign, echoing the media.

Enough! There is a limit to being constantly nice and dependable patsies. As more and more women and their supporters become aware of what is being chucked down their throats they are determined that since fairness does not prevail, they will vote McCain 19% or stay home 13%.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/03/keystone-democr.html

And this doesn’t even count the number of disenfranchised voters who went out and voted for HRC in Florida and Michigan. BO has declared these votes to be null and void, with the dithering, idiotic backing of the DNC. They know BO has prevented any re-voting too.

While declaring that the Super Delegates must vote for the winners in their states, the DNC and BO campaign find it A- OK when NM Gov. Richardson, Senator Ted Kennedy and others ignore the vote of their states to support BO.

Plenty of women just are not going to vote for someone who has divided this country into little pieces: by gender, by age, by race, by religion and by claiming that all whites are typical and racists. Bye, bye DNC Party bosses – keep your penis rulz and false promises for the GE and McCain. You have no credibility left. You’ve let women down to often.

Anonymous said...

These two typical white women walk into a bar ...

Undercover Black Man said...

Here's a good one. Obama could say:

"This is a historic election cycle. I'm mixed-race, and Hillary is mixed-gender!"

Anonymous said...

Ah, yet another post about Obama. One would think you have a secret crush on Obama considering how many articles, blog posts, etc. you have written about him.

Is Obama the only thing you can think about?

Jums24 said...

Ah, yet another "Ah, yet another post about Obama" post. Do you people think of anything other than Steve's alleged overfocus on the probably next President of the most powerful country in human history?

Freaks.

grizzlie antagonist said...

OK, I'm going to feel like the dupe in a vaudeville joke, but I'll bite.

Give me an example of how Obama's campaign is one based on "misogyny and sexism".

I'm warning you, in advance, though that if you can prove that Obama is a misogynist and a sexist, you'll be winning my vote for him.

Truth said...

Hey good news!

If you look down to the Sail-O-meter on the bottom right-hand side of the home page, you will see that Obama now ranks third among frequency of topics on this blog.

That's pretty amazing if you think about it because it trails only Politics and immigration. Two subjects that have at least a 50,000 year head start.

Anonymous said...

Instead of isteve, maybe this blog should be called "ONN" all Obama, all the time.

Yawn

Ben Franklin said...

OK, Obama gives a “big speech” to save his own ass, and in it he throws his grandmother who raised him (cause his African father ran off after knocking Obama junior’s mother) under the bus for uttering “stereotypical comments that made” Saint Obama “cringe.”

And then in explanation, with time to realize what a mistake that was, thus with malice a forethought, Obama describes his own grandmother/surrogate mother, as a “typical white woman.”

Not only has Obama used a stereotype that should make Obama cringe, but now he has rather coldly described his own sacrificing grandmother (as a “typical” white woman). In other words, it looks like he has dumped on his own grandmother twice. Three times if you count the contradictory account in Obama’s first autobiography. Maybe Obama thinks that losing the white woman vote will help him with white men!

I’d say Obama doesn’t need any joke writers as his whole campaign looks like one big fact joke to me.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama is on to something. Let us all try to describe an individual(s)that we know or who is well known and use Obama's phrase for his own grandmother. Here are a few...with fill in the blanks.

Eliot Spitzer is a typical _________ .

Hillary Clinton is a typical _______ .

Ted Kennedy is a typical _______ .

Bill Richardson is a typical _______ .

Anderson Cooper is a typical _______ .

Chris Matthews is a typical ________ .

Kieth Olbermann is a typical _______ .

(Pick any Neocon) is a typical _______ .

Jesse Jackson is a typical _______ .

Al Sharpton is a typical _______ .

The Jean Six are typical _______ .

Glaivester said...

How about identiying his race as "Halfrican-American."

One thing you would like about him, Steve, is that he said in a speech that we ought to judge teachers based on kids' improvement over the year rather than their absolute test scores, which is the same thing as your "value-added" system.

For those of you who think Steve is obsessed:

Steve writes primarily about race and race-related issues. Obama is the first black man running for President with a serious chance of success. This is the most prominent story about race in the news for more than a year. Why wouldn't he spend most of his time writing about it?

Danindc said...

Haven't the other candidates been in the public eye 20 plus years? Maybe that's why Steve focuses on Obama- it's interesting. Don't see what the problem is. When I read Whitewater or keating 5 I nod off to sleep.

Anonymous said...

I think if you're a student at Duke, Auburn or Chapel Hill, you have a legitimate reason to be a bit fearful of young black men…

Grizzlie Antagonist said...

***** Maybe Obama thinks that losing the white woman vote will help him with white men! ****

With me, his calculation would be spot on.

But I doubt that I'm typical of white men.

tommy said...

It's insightful commentary like this that keeps bringing me back to Steve's blog:

Instead of isteve, maybe this blog should be called "ONN" all Obama, all the time.

Yawn


and

Ah, yet another post about Obama. One would think you have a secret crush on Obama considering how many articles, blog posts, etc. you have written about him.

Is Obama the only thing you can think about?


and don't forget

Ah, yet another "Ah, yet another post about Obama" post. Do you people think of anything other than Steve's alleged overfocus on the probably next President of the most powerful country in human history?

Freaks.


Do Obama's supporters, so "tired" of any post from Sailer reflecting negatively on Obama or his admirers, have any better retorts than tiresome ad hominem? Do they know what ad hominem is and why it doesn't constitute a valid argument? Were they equally tired of the shallow, slavish media adulation Obama received for months upon months up until a week or two ago? And how many of Obama's supporters who claim to be tired of reading posts about Obama actually visited this blog before the Wright controversy broke? Will they remain here after the furor dies down? Will they return to the nether reaches of Daily Kos? Inquiring minds want to know.

Dedalus said...

"But she is a typical white person"
Yeah, she’s wary of the typical black person.
"there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences"
Yeah, it’s called various things; like self-preservation, self-defense, or more simply, SURVIVAL! The most fundamental impulse of existence for any living creature; and it’s something you want to remove from us through a relentless process of psychological conditioning, for a reason! Though, of course, you won’t say what that reason is; and guys like Alter will pretend that “reason” doesn’t exist.
"that don’t go away" – FOR A REASON. Again, that “reason”, in this case, is called “Survival.” "and that sometimes come out in the wrong way." Yes!, Like, for example, when Whites foolishly trust Blacks against all personal experience, common sense, and in your face crime statistics, so as to avoid being accused of racism. "and that’s just the nature of race in our society." Well, yes, thanks to the tireless work of people like Jonathan Alter and yourself and countless others (c. above comment on Psychological conditioning).
I am sorry for him that he is the product of two extremely selfish people. I know what that is like. But the work I had to do to right the wrong of being the deposit of two irresponsible adult-children; the respect I gained for Family-Systems Psychology; the whole breakdown/breakthrough of Original Pain Work; has made it impossible for me not to see, not only how relevant and useful it is for so many people; but just badly a man like Obama was damaged by his own experience. This person is in desperate need of some serious counciling. Now. He is the Poster Adult-Child of Codependency, Personally, Politically, and Culturally.
The ONLY hope for him is to separate, long enough to individuate. But in between the two (serpation and individuation) comes the bottom one invaribably hits as they move away from dependency of the environment, to self-reliance. But, of course, barring a miracle, that will never happen. Instead of facing him self his entire life has turned into one protracted and elaborate ego-defense. It’s so big now that if he should ever have a breakdown, well, everybody’s gonna know about it.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Meet the Press and it was nearly an hour long commercial for the Obama campaign. The only other thing they did was talk about the economic melt down that is ongoing.

All the pro-Obama guests (and there weren’t any critics of Obama on the show) have some official job with NBC (including MSNBC).

That tells us that it is NBC policy to be pro-Obama, as if that wasn’t obvious from the rest of NBC’s coverage.

Perhaps they should rename the “Must see TV” network, the Nothing Bad About Barack Company: NBABC.

We need some balance and Steve is providing the best coverage of what the real Obama is about on the internet.

gendergappers said...

Grizzlie wrote: "Give me an example of how Obama's campaign is one based on "misogyny and sexism".

If you'd been paying attention you wouldn't have to ask, but start with his books and then just recently how he derrogated his grandmother and Ferraro in his futile attempt to lift up his minister which just resulted in more lies. Then read the Newsweek article -- open your mind.

The young fogey said...

What matters are principles not race but Obama is interesting culturally and psychologically.

I think I've got it: except when he's courting the black vote (when he puts on a Southern accent and tells jokes) he's Mr Spock, biracial trying to identify entirely with one side and usually humourless about the whole thing.

You're right: if he could loosen up with white audiences and laugh about race it'd help him a lot.

Jeff said...

When you find yourself in a hole, Barack, stop digging.

LOL, but that's not what performance artists do! You can't just stop awkwardly, the audience paid to see a show. No, actors just switch to another schtick, try on a different persona, etc.

Dedalus said...

“But she is a typical white person”
Yeah, she’s wary of the typical black person.
“there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences”
Yeah, it’s called various things; like self-preservation, self-defense, or more simply, SURVIVAL! The most fundamental impulse of existence for any living creature; and it’s something you want to remove from us through a relentless process of psychological conditioning, for a reason! Though, of course, you won’t say what that reason is; and guys like Alter will pretend that “reason” doesn’t exist.
“that don’t go away” – FOR A REASON. Again, that “reason”, in this case, is called - Survival. “and that sometimes come out in the wrong way,” Yes!, Like, for example, when Whites foolishly trust Blacks against all personal experience, common sense, and in your face crime statistics, so as to avoid being accused of racism. “and that’s just the nature of race in our society.” Well, yes, thanks to the tireless work of people like Jonathan Alter and yourself and countless others (c. above comment on Psychological conditioning).
I am sorry for him that he is the product of two extremely selfish people. I know what that is like. But the work I had to do to right the wrong of being the deposit of two irresponsible adult-children; the respect I gained for Family-Systems Psychology; the whole breakdown/breakthrough of Original Pain Work; has made it impossible for me not to see, not only how relevant and useful it is for so many people; but just badly a man like Obama was damaged by his own experience. This person is in desperate need of some serious counciling. Now. He is the Poster Adult-Child of Codependency, Personally, and Politically, and Culturally.
The ONLY hope for him is to separate, and individuate, as they say. But in between the two (serpation and individuation) comes the bottom one invaribably hits as they move away from dependency on the environment, meaning - enablers, to self-reliance. THAT is what is meant by, “moving on.”
But, of course, barring a miracle, that will never happen. Instead of facing him self his entire life has turned into one protracted and elaborate ego-defense. It’s so big now that if he should ever have a breakdown, well, everybody’s gonna know about it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with glaivester that there should be more discussion of the fact that Obama is more "African" than other African-Americans.

If Obama is elected, immigration reform will be a big issue during his administration, with many people wanting to get rid of the diversity visa lottery that has been letting in immigrants from previously underrepresented countries, including Kenya.

Every 10th cousin of Obama's back in Kenya would no doubt LOVE to immigrate to the USA. Is Obama going to make it happen for them? Is he going to open the gate for millions of Africans to compensate for the many decades during which Africans were not allowed to immigrate to the U.S.?

It is important for Obama to be pinned down NOW on the specifics of immigration reform.

David said...

Jesus was not a jokester.

Yes he was. Bob Wallace on the J-man:

http://home.att.net/~bob.wallace/jesus1.html

grizzlie antagonist said...

*****Grizzlie wrote: "Give me an example of how Obama's campaign is one based on "misogyny and sexism".

If you'd been paying attention you wouldn't have to ask, but start with his books*****


Haven't read 'em. Give me a very brief synopsis of the misogynistic parts.


***** and then just recently how he derrogated his grandmother and Ferraro*****


Wasn't it Ferraro who "derrogated" him?

*****in his futile attempt to lift up his minister which
just resulted in more lies.*****


But that doesn't make him a misogynist.


*****Then read the Newsweek article -- open your mind.*****


My mind IS open. Because of that, I learned the truth about women a long time ago.

But I think that you are just calling Obama a "misogynist" because he's beating the Clintons at their own game of triangulation -- triangulation of the race issue in particular. At least among Democratic voters, he is. I'm not so sure that it will play that way in the fall.

And I think that you're calling Obama a "misogynist" because he's successfully competing against a woman.

David said...

the young fogey said:

What matters are principles not race but [if] Obama could loosen up with white audiences and laugh about race it'd help him a lot.

I wonder why he can't do this. Could it be that, unlike you, he thinks it's race that matters and not principles - or, to be exact, that race is a fundamental principle? We're talking about Barry "Barack Hussein" Obama's mindset, and my question is this: is he a racist? If no, then why, for example, can't he loosen up (or at least fake it, as most politicians do) in the way you endorse? The guy strikes me as a humorless prig bent on race, race, and more race. He is constantly talking about how we need to stop talking about race BUT "typical white people" need to "change" while he won't ("I can no more disown him than" etc.).

Feh. I can name five blacks off the cuff who would make a serviceable president. He isn't one of them.

Felix said...

Agreed - Obama should tell a few jokes.

But the problem with Senator O is that you can only tell jokes if you've got some sort of humor.

And that tends to go with not taking yourself too seriously.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's clearer if you think of him as Spock. Also you can think of McCain as a rather more aggressive Klingon. As for Hillary, it takes a collective to raise a child.

-- Zen Redneck

gendergappers said...

Here'a joke for Barry [BO] revised from GW Bush.

Speaking to the American Press Association, BO said, "the public may call you the media, but I call you my base."