July 6, 2008

Obama: Failure is always a resume-enhancing option

The NYT runs a long article by Serge Kovaleski on Obama's storied three years as a "community organizer" in Chicago, which sure did more for Obama than it did for the community. The NYT summarizes its article:

"Barack Obama’s time as an organizer in Chicago has figured prominently in his life story, though it is clear that the benefit of those years to Mr. Obama dwarfs what he accomplished."

There's nothing in it too new to iSteve readers (e.g., it was an Alinskyite organization, although the NYT avoids using Saul Alinsky's favorite word, "radical"; this is where Obama finally felt black enough; and he mined the people he met for literary ore, turning them into characters in unpublished short stories he carefully crafted).

But it does reinforce the little-understood point that Obama's career largely consists of failing upwards. At various points in his life, he undertakes to help the black race, fails to accomplish much of anything significant in that overwhelming undertaking, but is rewarded by white people with a promotion anyway.

The article concludes by recounting the biggest meeting he organized, involving the issue of asbestos removal (a comically low priority problem in the ghetto):

Meanwhile, the residents’ meeting with the housing authority’s executive director was a debacle, an illustration of the setbacks faced by Mr. Obama and other organizers.

The crowd of about 700 residents grew irritable in the stifling heat and booed the director when he arrived an hour and 15 minutes late, according to people who were there, as well as newspaper accounts.

The meeting became even more raucous after the director indicated that the agency still did not have a plan to remove the asbestos. The director abruptly left 15 minutes into the meeting after a resident wrestled with him for the microphone. Angry tenants followed him out the door, chanting, “No more rent!”

Later that night, Mr. Obama called Johnnie Owens, whom he would hire as a community organizer. Never had Mr. Obama sounded so downcast or frustrated, Mr. Owens said.

“Barack basically talked about how tough it was to generate real results through organizing and that it was embarrassing to him to have the residents out of control,” he recounted.

“He wondered if he had done a good enough job preparing them for the meeting,” Mr. Owens said. “He sounded angry at himself. He was questioning the whole methodology.”

Mr. Obama had risen to executive director of the Developing Communities group, but the demanding hours, small victories and low pay took a toll on him, and he decided to leave.

He left for Harvard Law School, of course. Quitters always prosper in the one-man Obamaverse.

Some of the interesting questions somebody might get around to asking Obama someday include whether he blames himself for his recurrent failures to do much that's meaningful to help the black community? Or did he just lack sufficient power in all the earlier jobs he's sprinted through on his way to supreme power? Or is what ails the black community beyond the help of any political leader, so his failures at that impossible job shouldn't reflect badly on him?

I suspect that this last might be how Obama now really feels. It's not an unreasonable position. (Interestingly, Obama's aide Valerie Jarret's great-uncle Vernon Jordan, the Washington fixer to whom Bill Clinton delegated the task of finding Monica Lewinsky a job, sometimes seems to come close to expressing that position, in that he publicly states that he's not a civil rights leader anymore, he's now a Clark Clifford-style Washington insider.)

But does Obama really feel that way -- has he just given up on blacks as unworthy of his efforts? -- or does he have Unresolved Issues. His protracted waltz with Trinity United Church of Christ suggests he has U.I. But who knows?

I can't imagine anybody will ask the candidate such impertinent questions before the election (that kind of thing is just not done in modern America -- Presidential candidates are much too fine and noble to be subjected to such indignities by commoners), but some historian might want to ask him those questions when he is an ex-President.

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

43 comments:

EL Jefe said...

"Mr. Obama had risen to executive director of the Developing Communities group, but the demanding hours, small victories and low pay took a toll on him, and he decided to leave."

Oh yeah baby, I smell Carter 2.0.

"He left for Harvard Law School, of course."

Where, as editor of HLR, the Glorious One wrote no articles at all for the journal.

Again, Obama has "Carter: Part II" written all over him. I wonder who will play the role of Reagan in 2012 - assuming the US isn't a complete lost cause by that time...

William said...

Oh yeah baby, I smell Carter 2

That's why I don't much care if he wins - at least an Obama victory will mean Republicans could retake Congress in 2010 or 2012. In a President McCain scenario the conservatives will get blamed for all the mess, even though McCain, like both Bush's, isn't a conservative.

Somehow I suspect that the only way that a politician could do anything to help the black community*, at least psychically, is by hurting the white community.

* Besides doing things they don't want, like ending welfare or throwing more black criminals in jail.

dmytro kornilov said...

"Or is what ails the black community beyond the help of any political leader, so his failures at that impossible job shouldn't reflect badly on him?"

Bingo

headache said...

Basically all the "freedom fighter" movements in southern Africa were a failure both in military terms and in terms of what they wrought once in power. Mugabe and his ZANU are just the most obvious item. Whilst in exile the Rhodesian Security Forces trashed his organization, but Britain awarded his military failure by handing him the presidency of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Once in power he set about destroying a once functioning country, but instead of causing him to be vilified he got a number of honorary degrees from UMass, Oxford and other joints and a knighthood from the Queen. This was after he had massacred 30000 people in Matabeleland, i.e. it was on record that he had committed "Crimes against humanity". For blacks it pays to behave as thugs and fail all the way, as long as they have a dumb white-ass to take the slack. That's the essential criterion. Being a failure in Darfour or the Congo pays no dividends. But if you can be a failure against the Afrikaners in South Africa, or the Rhodesians or the white Americans, and have the NYT notice you, the dividends are huge.

Anonymous said...

Someone recently said that living in Obama's old district in Chicago is more dangerous than being a US soldier in Iraq now.

Any ideas where I can find murder rates just for his district?

dearieme said...

Mind you, I'm not sure that getting your jet shot down counts as success.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, as Greg Cochran says, McCain is one of our modern "heroes of suffering," as opposed to old-fashioned "heroes of accomplishment" like Eisenhower.

Anonymous said...

[Vernon Jordan] publicly states that he's not a civil rights leader anymore, he's now a Clark Clifford-style Washington insider.

Or, as he untactfully put it some years ago, "I left the civil rights business for just business."

Anonymous said...

Any ideas where I can find murder rates just for his district?

Not sure about that, but I imagine the numbers are through the roof. I did read that the shooting over the weekend that killed four people in Milwaukee was attributed to a Chicago gang. Chicago is like a disease and it's spreading.

Lucius Vorenus said...

EL Jefe: in 2012 - assuming the US isn't a complete lost cause by that time...

That's a pretty bad assumption to be making.

It's still only 2008, and the USA has already been a lost cause for decades now:

Senior benefit costs rise 24% since 2000
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
2008-02-13
usatoday.com

The cost of government benefits for seniors soared to a record $27,289 per senior in 2007, according to a USA TODAY analysis...

The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Immigrants to the U.S. Taxpayer
by Robert E. Rector and Christine Kim
May 21, 2007
heritage.org

...When the costs of direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services are counted, the average low-skill household had a fiscal deficit of $19,588 (expenditures of $30,160 minus $10,573 in taxes)...

Of U.S. Children Under 5, Nearly Half Are Minorities
washingtonpost.com

Statistical Abstract of the United States
Section 1, Population
[see especially Table 8 & Table 9, pages 11-13]
PDF FILE: pop.pdf

U.S. Fertility
corner.nationalreview.com
johnderbyshire.com

Concord Coalition Plausible Budget Outlook
concordcoalition.org
PDF FILE: 080123-plausible-baseline.pdf

By 2018, the baseline surplus of $223 billion becomes a deficit of $954 billion.

Concerned said...

He has a lot of Unresolved Issues but in his heart of hearts he knows its hopeless.

I wonder if anyone has done, or will do, polling on how popular Obama is amongst black women, and black men. My impression is he's more popular amongst black women, who are pathetically grateful he married one of them.

Anonymous said...

The article concludes by recounting the biggest meeting he organized, involving the issue of asbestos removal (a comically low priority problem in the ghetto):

lung cancer is just fucking hilarious, Steve.

David said...

Obama is a likable enough guy (probably with race issues that are fading but for Michelle/Lady Macbeth). But not qualified for the presidency (McCain is qualified on paper but is mentally unstable in my opinion).

Obama's handlers grabbed him and groomed him to be America's "magic negro," a political Will Smith. Who are these handlers? We know about Rezko and about "Jane Dystel, a gravelly-voiced literary agent" who got Obama (a 28-year-old law student) a $40,000 advance to write his memoirs (!!!). There may be others. He is their creation; they are the real power behind Obama.

J. said...

Steve, Allow me to point out that Obama was not a failure as a DCP field agent. He was a success: with Obama in the neighborhood, there was hope and a feeling of going somewhere, while nothing changed. Not even the asbestos pipe. No authentic political grass-root organizer had a chance while Obama was in the neighborhood. He was doing an excellent, no, outstanding work for his financial backers, such as US Bancorp. Therefore he was promoted to State Senator and to Presidential Candidate. As DCP people say, they have been searching for an authentic black American to fill this role, and they found Obama through a newpaper ad. Authentic he is not, but plays the role very effectively. The Democratic Party has been searching for a person like him for a long time, and when he presented himself, he was embraced and pushed forward. The banks and the plutocracy can look forward with hope to Obama's presidency.

kurt said...

"...it was embarrassing to him to have the residents out of control.."

This comment suggests that he was more concerned with looking good (resume style) than in achieving real results.

Obama is definitely Carter 2.0. However, that may not be such a bad thing. If he gets elected, then spends his time doing lots of state visits and doing nothing else at all, such would not be a bad thing at all. Both candidates are essentially socialists on economic policy. If we are to have a socialist as president, I would much prefer one who does nothing over one who actually tries to do something, thus creating damage.

Also consider that Obama is more anti-war than McCain (who is essentially a neo-con on foreign intervention). This is certainly a plus as well.

Chief Seattle said...

Fail upward - at least he failed into Harvard Law rather than a Viet Cong prison camp. Or into the arms of a beer heiress. Seriously, you could do a lot worse than Obama.

Big Bill said...

I'm tellin' ya: get your hands on his admissions essay for his law school application.

This whole "community organizer" "tortured man on the outside trying to discover who he is" shtick is the Big Myth.

It got him into HLS. It formed the core of his books. It is the subject of every Obama speech about Obama. It is The Story that will carry him, willy-nilly, to the Presidency.

He'll keep dusting it off and repackaging it until the cows come home. Hey! It works!

Lucille said...

Chicago crime, by neighborhood:

http://chicago.everyblock.com/crime/locations/neighborhoods/

Which neighborhood did he live in?

testing99 said...

Steve, you are being unfair to McCain.

He does have indeed one big accomplishment, backing the Surge and making GWB change course and implement the Surge. When Dems like Reid, Pelosi, and Obama pronounced the Surge DOA, McCain backed it at considerable political risk.

It worked. It's an accomplishment.

Eric said...

You're being pretty unfair on the hero thing. Getting shot down isn't a great addition to the resume. But refusing release until your fellow captives are also released, and doing so in the face of ongoing torture is "achievement" enough for me. McCain could have taken the offer, and who could blame him?

Just getting shot down, or shot, doesn't make you a hero. It's what he did later that earns my respect.

As a candidate I can't stand him, but he's better than Urkel.

Anonymous said...

"lung cancer is just fucking hilarious, Steve."

Erm. Lung cancer ain't funny. But considering that few black men LIVE LONG ENOUGH for asbestos-related lung cancer to get 'em, it is hilarious to see the keystone-kops-type wasted effort combatting such a non-problem.

Death from drug overdose and murder at the hands of other black men, now there's a problem.

travis said...

The director Billy Ray has made a couple of interesting movies about men raised in Chicago: Shattered Glass about Stephen Glass, the reporter who fabricated stories for the New Republic back in the 90's, and Breech about Robert Hanssen, the most notorious spy in US history. Ray would be the perfect choice to direct the screen version of Dreams from My Father, making it the final installment in his Chicago hucksters trilogy.

American Goy said...

"But it does reinforce the little-understood point that Obama's career largely consists of failing upwards."

This reminds me of someone...

Hmmm baseball and Sammy Sosa comes to mind...

Then bankrupting his own oil company in Texas (probably the only oil company that failed at that time) and being bailed out with Saudi royals money.

Most vacation days as US president, and then 9/11 happens on his watch.

Then flying the bin Laden family out of the USA so that those pesky, nasty FBI men (meanies!) couldn't interrogate them.

G...GW... GWB... what's this guy's name again?

Anonymous said...

"Some of the interesting questions somebody might get around to asking Obama someday include whether he blames himself for his recurrent failures to do much that's meaningful to help the black community? "

No. Obama never blames himself. That's not even in his vocabulary.

"Or did he just lack sufficient power in all the earlier jobs he's sprinted through on his way to supreme power?"

Yes, this is his excuse. He has the vision. He needs the power.

"Or is what ails the black community beyond the help of any political leader, so his failures at that impossible job shouldn't reflect badly on him?"

No, he has faith in the black community and when they elect him he will make it all known to them.

Obama's a user, pure and simple. He craves the adoration of the crowd. But Michelle conned the con. He thought marrying her would get him over. But instead it got him under. He's a weak sister and she's running him. But they're both being run by big money, including Soros who has a fatal case of BDS.

That's why I think that Obama will self-destruct. November is a long way off. I don't think that he can stand the pressure.

So put the pressure on him. Better that he folds now than when he's (omg, please no) President.

TGGP said...

Isn't asbestos not even a problem UNTIL it's moved?

What has the surge accomplished? I thought the Iraqis were supposed to have moved forward politically so that they could stand up as we moved out later. But all I hear is that we can't possibly leave or there will be civil war. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

Anonymous said...

Who are these handlers?

Dystel is AJ:

www.ajrsem.org/uploads/docs/AJRInvitation.pdf

Few other key people to find out:

1) Who was the judge who ordered Jack and Jeri Ryan's sealed divorce records to be released over both of their protests in the middle of the campaign, causing the election to go to Obama?

2) Who was the Democrat responsible for giving Obama the 2004 convention speech?

3) Why did Jake Tapper at ABC, alone among the networks, decide to push the Rev. Wright story?

4) The true story may never come out, but I bet it had something to do with this article by Dana Milbank. Some great quotes in there:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/17/AR2008031702440_pf.html


Jews, a small but influential group in Democratic politics, had been worried about Obama even before last week's preacher problem. It seems recent divisions between African Americans and Jews were aggravated by matters such as Obama's sympathy for the Palestinians, and his willingness to take advice from Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former Carter administration official who calls U.S. Middle East policy "morally hypocritical."...

Security guards with Israeli accents turned away people at the door as the room overflowed. McCain's representative and Clinton's representative struck up a conversation on stage, leaving Obama's man to his own thoughts. As moderator William Daroff introduced Kurtzer "on the far left" of the stage, Eagleburger interrupted.

...The others used their time to raise doubts about Obama's fealty to Israel....

Next question to Kurtzer: Obama's assertion that he needn't have a "Likud view" -- that of Israel's right-wing party -- to be pro-Israel. Kurtzer explained that Obama wanted to see a "plurality of views." Silence in the room.

To that, Lewis retorted: "The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel. It is not up to us to pick and choose from among the political parties." The audience members applauded.


Interesting. Worth comparing to Dana Milbank's earlier article on Walt/Mearsheimer only 18 months ago

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/28/AR2006082801178.html


Such gaffes would be trivial -- if Mearsheimer weren't claiming to be an authority on Washington and how power is wielded here....Whatever motivated the performance, the result wasn't exactly scholarly...This line of argument could be considered a precarious one for two blue-eyed men with Germanic surnames.

Anonymous said...

Big Bill said "failed...into the arms of a beer heiress."

You make it sound like a bad thing.

Loads of cash, access to free beer, Im just not seeing any drawbacks at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh, sorry it was Chief Seattle, not Big Bill.

PA said...

Isn't asbestos not even a problem UNTIL it's moved?

Correct. The asbestos is most likely in vinyl asbestos floor tiles tiles, completely harmless unless you grind the tile and inhale it. There may also be some in pipe insulation, but that's probably hidden.

If you lived in a dorm that was built before the 1970s and it had 9" floor tiles, you probably walked on asbestos for four years.

tommy said...

So we have heroes of accomplishment, heroes of suffering, and now we have heroes of good intent.

none of the above said...

Rallies, protests, and lawsuits are really bad at prioritizing problems for solution--as witness our stupid fear of nuclear power and the continuing expansion of vaccineophobia. I'd guess that in bad neighborhoods in Chicago, lead exposure is probably a bigger health risk than asbestos, but one thing is certain--this kind of public advocacy isn't going to do that kind of weighing. It's more likely to go for media coverage and/or deep pockets.

Anonymous said...

Asbestos is featured in the most expensive serch terms:

http://www.cwire.org/highest-paying-search-terms/

Anonymous said...

3) Why did Jake Tapper at ABC, alone among the networks, decide to push the Rev. Wright story?

I believe it was actually Brian Ross of ABC who "broke" the story, even though Sean Hannity and Steve were discussing the Rev Wright and his extreme beliefs long before the ABC report, which may answer your question as to why it took so long for a major network to push the story.

For all the credit/disdain the Clintons are given for their Machiavellian instincts, they blew it when they failed to make Jeremiah Wright an issue prior to the Iowa caucas. Had they done so, we would not be having this discussion.

Anonymous said...

American Goy said:
"Hmmm baseball and Sammy Sosa comes to mind..."

Point well taken about GWB's shortcommings, but Sosa is one thing you can't blame him for. The Sosa he traded was a 165-pounder that hit something like 37 HRs combined in his first four seasons. The man the Cubs got returned from a 4 month off-season weighing 225 lbs. and pounding out 60+ dingers a year. Amazing what juice and a corked bat can do!

turkey said...

"Fail upward - at least he failed into Harvard Law rather than a Viet Cong prison camp. Or into the arms of a beer heiress. Seriously, you could do a lot worse than Obama."

I'd like to ask the right questions and raise the correct points to get the press to force Obama into a tactical space where he can only function as a neoliberal-technocrat dove Harvard Man, no matter how many black radicals call him an Uncle Tom or how achingly worshipful the Sullivans of the world become.

Steve's conducive to that.

Anonymous said...

As a former teacher in an inner city school, I'd say lead paint and cockroaches are the biggest environmental hazards for inner city blacks. I guess it doesn't have the same profile as asbestos, with all the lawsuits and dramatic cases of mesothelioma.

But lead based paint is everywhere in old neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it's in the soil and gets blown around in the dust. It seriously stunts mental development and causes fetal abnormalities. Cockroaches are a likely cause of the epidemic levels of asthma.

Obama is a fake. If he really cared, he would have instantly spotted the black community's biggest need: positive male role models. He doesn't mention considering a teacher's position, or a youth activity or tutor position. He recently gave lip-service to this in his father's day speech. It struck me as hollow.

RKU said...

lead paint and cockroaches are the biggest environmental hazards for inner city blacks

Well, the figures I've seen are that almost 40% of all young urban black males are already dead or in prison.

By contrast, the Black Death in Europe only wiped out 1/3 of the population.

Unless lead paint and cockroaches are a whole lot more dangerous than I'd ever realized, I'm not sure they're really the best hazards to be focusing on.

Anonymous said...

I don't think murder is an environmental hazard, like asbestos, lead paint, or cockroach allergens.

Can you see the difference between murder and an environmental hazard? I suppose that Obama could have made a crusade against murderous black males in Chicago, but how successful would that have been? Or how politically profitable would it have been for him?

Anonymous said...

"We know about Rezko and about "Jane Dystel, a gravelly-voiced literary agent" who got Obama (a 28-year-old law student) a $40,000 advance to write his memoirs (!!!). There may be others. He is their creation; they are the real power behind Obama."

If that's what you know, you need to know more. Zbigniew Brzezinski & Co. (including many from the disastrous Carter admin) plus hundreds of hired bloggers are controlling Obama, who is a deeply compromised candidate. That is one reason why they chose him. He succeeds only as long as the MSM chooses to ignore what it ignore.

http://www.deepjournal.com/p/7/a/en/1497.html

Ronduck said...

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, as Greg Cochran says, McCain is one of our modern "heroes of suffering," as opposed to old-fashioned "heroes of accomplishment" like Eisenhower.

Heroes of Accomplishment are heroes, but heroes of suffering are martyrs, not heroes. Do we need to start teaching "English as a Foreign Language?" EFL?

headache said...

Anon,
From your link [http://www.deepjournal.com/p/7/a/en/1497.html] it says:
Brzezinsky would say: "‘What you have to do first of all is kick the Chinese out of Africa. ... You've got the campaign against Mugabe."


Ha ha ha ha, if it is true, it is so backwards, . It was Carter at the behest of Brzezinsky who kicked Ian Smith out, forced the Portuguese out of Angola and Mocambique, and helped end Apartheid. The vacuum created by the lack of white rule in southern Africa was a major factor for drawing in the Chinese. Looks like this Brzezinsky acts like a guy who empties his rubbish bin, makes a loud fuss about it, and then organises a crowd to help clean up the mess again. These people defy logic.

J. said...

Several points that would be obvious to well-educated people:

• Asbestos exposure is a big problem in deteriorating older housing stock because the deterioration brings people into contact with the asbestos.

• Young Obama wasn't in Chicago as a community organizer to solve the deep problems of his constituency. He was there to help, particularly in establishing job training and finding new jobs for laid off factory workers. His actual goals were achieved.

• No one 'fails' into Harvard Law School.

• Law review editors do not write law review articles. The position is managerial and editorial. Editors spend most of their time reading, selecting, rejecting and editing submissions.

• Obama has excelled in achieving elected, not appointed, postions. So, it is foolish to say he was 'given' roles from Harvard Law Review editor to senator. There were competitions and he succeeded in winning.

• Sen. Obama realizes all Americans are effected by problems such as inadequate healthcare, uneven and often unsuccessful education, a shrinking middle class, a criminal justice system that does not address the systemic aspects of crime, etc. To imply that a president should limit his plans for reform by ethnicity is to fail to understand both the role of the president and the interrelated reality of all Americans.

Last, but not least, it is perversely amusing to see as big a failure as Steve Sailer claiming the next president of the United States has earned that epithet instead of himself.

Canadian Cincinnatus said...

Another example of somebody who made a career of screwing up is former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. First he worked for Ford Motor Company on the Edsel (which in fairness he did try to kill), then as SecDef, on the Pentagon's version of the Edsel - the Vietnam War, and then, when things got tough in Southeast Asia, he moved over to the World Bank, where his free loaning ways helped precipitate the third world debt crisis.