April 29, 2008

One thing I like about Obama ...

... is that he prefers, all else being equal, not to lie.

Some politicians are like Chevy Chase's character in "Fletch." They'd rather make up lies than tell the truth, for the same reason that composers like to make up music -- that's what they're good at.

In contrast, Barack Obama's preferred mode is the intellectual puzzle. He likes to bury the truth in there somewhere under so many dependent clauses, thoughtful nuances, and "I have understood you" gestures that most people give up trying to decipher what he's saying and just make up little fantasies about how he agrees with them. Obama's view seems to be that it's not his fault that the press and public aren't as smart or hard-working as he is. (I can't say I totally disagree with him there ...)

Unfortunately, with his back finally to the wall over Rev. Wright, with Sen. Howard Baker's question during the Watergate hearings -- "What did the [candidate for] President know and when did he know it?" -- coming to the fore, Obama has been reduced to blatant Sgt. Schultz-style denials("I saw nuthink!!!!") about his exposure to Rev. Wright's beliefs.

More interestingly, Obama asserts:
"You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago."

The fascinating question is why Obama insists that the person who has changed is Jeremiah A. Wright, not Barack Obama. Why not just say, "Well, we've both changed over the years, in opposite directions"?

The person Obama has to disown to be elected President is not Rev. Wright but his own younger self, the one who carefully chose Rev. Wright out of the dozens of black South Side ministers he met as a community organizer.

Why won't Obama admit that he's matured into moderation? As I pointed out a week ago, he's going to need to do a speech along the lines of, "Yeah, I used to be a radical, but then ... I had kids!" But he hasn't come close to that yet.

Clearly, part of the problem is that that would demolish his carefully crafted myth that racial moderation is in his "DNA" (as he asserted today).

Another problem Obama has is that he's strongly emphasized his connections with Rev. Wright and Trinity Church in his campaign materials aimed at Christian voters. My guess is that Obama is a secular nonbeliever who just plays up his church membership for political gain and because its racialist aspect fills the hole in his soul left by his father's abandonment of him, helping him feel "black enough." But that's left him in the ridiculous position of asserting that he went to Trinity all the time, just not, through some amazing statistical fluke, on the days when Rev. Wright did what Rev. Wright does.

Yet, there may be other reasons for refusing to disown his own younger self. Perhaps fear of his wife? Mrs. Obama made herself into a social lioness among Chicago's elite, which may help explain the family's inability to build up any savings until very recently, despite averaging over $200,000 income per year from 1997-2004. Perhaps Mrs. Obama, deep down, is worried that she sold out, so Trinity remains a symbol to her that she's still keepin' it real.

Or perhaps it's Obama who is appalled by his own selling out of his youthful radicalism?

That touches on a different question about who Obama is: Is he the cold-blooded political operative who destroyed the career of a beloved elder stateswoman by having her nomination signatures disqualified to win office for the first time in 1996? Or is he the sensitive, self-absorbed literary artiste who recounted the mild buffets that fate has dealt him with so much anguish in his autobiography? Clearly, he's both, but it's hard to get a sense of the balance within him.

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

21 comments:

Peter said...

My guess is that Obama is a secular nonbeliever who just plays up his church membership for political gain

He also has to play up his Christianity in order to deal with the issue of his father's having been born Muslim. Were he not a practicing Christian he'd be facing claims that he's secretly Muslim himself, in fact there are some such claims even now.

Ben Franklin said...

This has all the appearance of a put up job. That Wright went out on a PR campaign that would give Wright more street cred, but in exchange for that he would allow Obama to disown him. Since Wright has engaged in exactly the same kind of behavior for decades, it is hard to see how Obama could have a revelation at this point, other than Wright’s radicalism has threatened his chance at the nomination and election as president.

Will Obama disown Hip hop, one of his favorite “art forms” next? Not likely. And if he likes hip hop, how can he be “outraged” now, at this very late date, over Wright’s latest performance, which was merely more of the same.

Johnson said...

Another problem Obama has is that he's strongly emphasized his connections with Rev. Wright and Trinity Church in his campaign materials aimed at Christian voters.

As a semi-atheist, if there is ONE possible benefit of this, since Obama will have to distance himself from the church, then he looses his religion credentials.

So, would we be seeing the first nonreligious candidate for president? Unless McCain seriously distances himself from the neocons or Hillary capitalizes on this, his secularism would be enough to gain my vote (though reluctantly).

Salty Dog said...

Here's a syllogism for ya -

Major Premise - Wright is "a typical" Black person dressed in Liberation Theology.

Minor Premise - Obama is "a typical" Politician dressed in rhetoric.

Conclusion - Obama is "a typical" Wright in
Political clothing.

Anonymous said...

"Why won't Obama admit that he's matured into moderation?"

Maybe he hasn't become moderate.

simon newman said...

anon:
"Maybe he hasn't become moderate."

And Obama doesn't want to lie about being moderate, when he's not? Makes sense. It would be quite easy for Obama to lie about having moderated his views; surely he'd have to do that to win the Presidential election anyway. But while he's happy to mislead, it does seem that he hates to lie.

Henry Canaday said...

Or, to be completely paranoid, is Obama the Henry Wallace that we were lucky to not have become president at the beginning of the Cold War? Is he basically on the other side, or on no side, in the US-Islamic Terror War and about to become president due, partly, to an economic slowdown that is in turn due, partly, to Arab control of oil prices?

Complete paranoia, as I said. I don't think this is true, in fact I am pretty sure this is not true. But I am not absolutely sure.

I do think that Obama, like Wallace, is eager to regard himself as a uniter across a divide that does not admit such easy uniting. In other words, more arrogant naivite than cynical plotting.

Anonymous said...

""""
Mr. Obama seemed interested in thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Jean-Paul Sartre, whom he studied in a political thought class in his sophomore year.
""""
Nonetheless, some politicians and thinkers continue to esteem the theologian highly. Recently, Sen. Barack Obama cited Niebuhr as "one of his favorite philosophers." Obama told journalist David Brooks, "I take away ... the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away ... the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from na├»ve idealism to bitter realism."
""""

I doubt Obama is an atheist. He is probably some sort of liberal Christian with a strong existentialist bent.

Anonymous said...

You know what blacks say about black men? They never help each other, and are always ready to stab each other in the back for personal advancement.

Looks like Rev Wright was very insulted by Obama comparing him to a crazy uncle. (If Wright is a typical black person in his ideas, does that mean that Obama secretly views most blacks as crazy or foolish relatives?) Now Rev Wright is ready to throw Obama under the train so he can get a few book deals. His new suburban McMansion setting will give him plenty of chances to observe Crackaz in their natural habitat and talk about it.

Liberals try to force unity by causing everyone to stuff their natural impulses and feelings, like Obama does. Everything is hidden under a comfy/smothering blanket of nuance. White Libs long to say, "Gee Mr. Black Man, you really are just like me. Now let's go buy some organic produce together and discuss the plight of the polar bear and stock market options and the wife's plans to build an energy efficient addition to our seaside bungalow."

Wright is not a Lib by any means. He pretty much tells it like it is. He probably hates Obama's subtle nuanced baroque o'blarney routine to the core.

So there are two things going on. There is personal beef between Wright and Obama. But deeper still, there is a difference in approach. Wright is pro-Black. Obama is pro-Blarney.

headache said...

Its all about what the MSM will let you get away with. If the MSM were not so hard on white guys, chances are McCain would not be embracing all those Hispanics. And Hillary would probably be loathing blacks openly, something one can perceive she does in private. The MSM will let a black guy get away with overt racism, so Obama can afford to be honest. But they will turn even remote and trivial comments by white guys into a firestorm sure to sink any white politician. The MSM lay down the iron rules and that's it. So much for the power of the "alternate" media.

When the internet became a business tool, the CEO's had been caught wrong footed by the geeks and their immediate response was to throw money at it. That's what the dotcom boom was all about. But after about 6 months they had figured out how to get back on top and control the geeks: through funding. Its the same with the MSM and the alternate media. It took the MSM about 5 years to figure it out because journalists are dumber than CEO's, but by now they are happily blogging away and dispensing their drivel through the internet, not too bothered about shrinking paper sales or TV viewers. The bottom line is they again control the public debate. And it shows in the manner how they handle Obama. Maybe they are just pushing him through to display their awesome power.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you know what a radical is. Obama was never a black radical! in his book he shared all the racial racial issues and thoughts he had in his childhood and early adulthood. That does not make him a radical.

What has he done that is so radical in his life? He worked as a community organizer to register votes and to get govt funding for inner city jobs in South Chicago. Is this radical?

Did he ever advocate revolution or black separatism? No! He was registering votes and working as a civil rights lawyer. That is not radicalism!

sheesh!

Radical is joining nation of islam, or the black panthers

Concerned said...

"prefers not to lie"

except in his autobiography!

Josh said...

Barry credits his moderation stuff to his childhood in Hawaii and his multi-racial family(I think his 1/2 sister married an Asian guy---those Dunham gals must be allergic to white men!). So its incumbent upon him to demonstrate that "transcending race" comes naturally to him,because he grew up that way. Now if with all his multi-cultural upbringing he turns out to "hate whitey" anyway,and only comes to moderate his rage or whatever he has,after many years of thought and experience,then what hope is there for the rest of us boobs?

Michael said...

Brilliant, shrewd, hilarious. Following your postings on Obama is like reading a great serial novel.

Anonymous said...

Between the three remaining candidates, Obama is less prone to outright lying. This is second nature to Hillary. McCain is a stubborn old coot eternally itching for fights. McCain can't really be held accountable for lies because his superfical thoughts don't go deep enough to admit conflict with truth. Obama’s lying is not outright.

Instead of lying, Obama plays a subtle lawyerly academic game of evasiveness and equivocation. Rev Wright is likely not the same man today as “he was 20yrs ago”. Wright was probably more radical and outspoken given the times and efforts to establish a niche for his church. Write most definitely was the man he was last year when Obama scheduled him to open his presidential campaign in IL (cancelling at the last minute). It’s patently disingenuous for Obama to paint Wright as some overnight convert to racists Black Nationalism of which Obama had no idea about.

When pushed, Obama will outright lie about things like his shock at suddenly discovering his spiritual mentor and pastor of 20yrs is an outspoken racists conspiracy nut, painting his granny as a racists, claiming to first experience racism at the hands of whites after returning to the US (after being often physically assaulted in Indonesia) or his pain growing up in the racists hotbed of Honolulu’s elite prep school. However, the media and elites don’t push Obama like other candidates so Obama can drone on endlessly with uncontroversial empty rhetoric about hope and change.

Obama is very similar to Romney in disliking lying. They are both intellectuals elected in very liberal areas. The difference being that Romney was hated by the MSM, many elites and fundies like Huckabee who solely existed to hound him into two dimensional positions. Obama does not have much experience or success in the real world (outside academia and working the race spoils system a la “community organizer”) and has not been very good when pressed in real time. Obama would have imploded long ago if he faced anything like the hostility that Romney faced.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

Steve, have you ever discussed BO with Andrew Sullivan? The two of you have been far & away the most interesting in blogging about him. You because of your fascination with his background and Sully because he's gone from interest, to admiration, to endorsement, to now free-basing the South Side Kool-Aid - and hilariously refuses to admit he has a problem.

Some kind of structured dialogue between the two of you would be well worth reading.

William said...

McCain can't really be held accountable for lies because his superfical thoughts don't go deep enough to admit conflict with truth.

Very well said and, I happen to think, true.

Sam said...

Oh my goodness. This would all be hilarious if it weren't so dumb!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Obama doesn't like to lie? Look at this:

http://www.politicalgateway.com/main/columns/read.html?col=747

Anonymous said...

Message to Steve:

You've been doing a great job recently on Obama. There is another blog doing some very good work that you really have to check out (if, of course, you don't already know about it). It's actually by a law professor specializing in labor law, which might not sound too promising, but his angle of approach has yielded some good research and insight about Obama, Bill Ayers, and the Chicago political machine that I haven't seen elsewhere. He also doesn't seem to be surreptitiously borrowing your stuff, but is rather an original thinker and a very easy-to-read writer. Please check it out (and no, it's not me or one of my friends or relatives).

Link to a great post about Ayers, Obama, law school, law firms, and Chicago schools:
Who "sent" Obama?

Link to the home page of the blog:
Global Labor and the Global Economy

Martin said...

"Anonymous said...

Did he ever advocate revolution or black separatism? No! He was registering votes and working as a civil rights lawyer. That is not radicalism!"

I agree. Obama was not a radical. He was a political hack, a welfare procurer, and a professional black - not unlike Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton, but more presentable. That's still not much of a pedigree for being President.