April 27, 2011

Could Lolo Soetoro have been President Barry Soetoro's dad?

No, I'm not suggesting a new paternity theory to go along with all the wacky ones we already have. Instead, I'm suggesting a thought experiment to assess the impact that being able to self-identify as black has had on our President's career.

My contention has been: "Obama is President for the same dumb reason as the last guy was President: because of who his daddy was."

This is not a respectable view on either side of the aisle. It's not even a respectable view in the more fever swampish realms of anti-Obama theories. As I pointed out in 2008, the common denominator of everything from Obamamania to birtherism is "a widespread desire among whites of all political stripes to not think about race anymore, and to imagine that Obama doesn’t either." We're all past such crude, outdated ideas as race, right? Ancestry and family ties don't mean anything to anybody anymore.

Except that we're not, which is why Obama is President, and why Obama was even considered Presidential timber.

Yet, how can we test my theory that the common denominator of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama being considered Presidential timber is who their fathers were?

Fortunately, it's easy to perform a thought experiment on the previous President. If George W. Bush had been born George W. Rush, would he have become President? You can even assume the hypothetical Rushes were as materially prosperous as the real Bushes. The only difference in our thought experiment is that George W. Rush's father wasn't President Rush and his grandfather wasn't Senator Rush.

So, would George W. Rush have become President of the United States? Would he have been considered Presidential timber?

Of course not. He might have become, say, national sales manager of some corporation. But that's about it.

Note that this is not a question of whether George W. Rush would have beaten Al Gore and John F. Kerry. Maybe, knowing the deficiencies of those candidates, George W. Rush might have. Instead, this is a question of whether George W. Rush would have, out of 300 million people, ever been imagined to be President by anybody outside his own brain? I think most would agree the answer is: no. (George W. Bush would have lost a Presidential election if the only voters were his parents and his only opponent his brother Jeb.)

What about Obama? Would he have ever been considered for the Presidency if his father hadn't been black?

The current President would seem to have a much more unique background that would make it difficult to plug him into this kind of thought experiment. Yet, Ann Dunham's propensity for marrying U. of Hawaii students from politically well-connected families with a history of anti-colonial activism in their tropical homelands, who then return to their Third World countries and get jobs with American oil companies makes our conceptual task surprisingly easier.

Would our current President have become President in an alternative universe in which he was not Barack Obama, the son of Ann Dunham's Kenyan first husband, but (permanently) Barry Soetoro, the son of her Indonesian second husband? 

After all, Lolo spent more time and money on little Barry than Barack Sr. ever did. Barack Sr.'s contribution was limited to a few letters, one visit, a basketball, his genes, and as a role model of a black political leader in Ann's (highly fictionalized) lectures to her son about her romantic first husband's ambitions for his people (in sharp contrast to her increasingly unsatisfactory second husband's ambitions to provide for her and little Barry).

The question of "What If Obama Were Half-Asian" would sound less crazy to Obama than it does to most Americans since Obama has a half-Asian half-sister, Maya Soetoro.

Assume, for the purposes of this thought experiment, that the conventional wisdom that race doesn't exist is right, and that Barry Soetoro would have turned out exactly the same in all ways being Lolo's genetic son as Barack Obama Jr. did being Bararck Sr.'s genetic son, except that he wouldn't have had any justification to self-identify as black, which is, as we all know, purely a cultural construct.

Alternatively, assume that Lolo and Ann had never mentioned to Barry that Lolo wasn't his genetic father and, because race doesn't exist, therefore nobody else noticed either.

Minus the racial angle, that's roughly the story of Gerald Ford's upbringing -- he only spent 15 minutes in his life talking to his biological father. Likewise, nobody is all that sure who Bill Clinton's biological father really was.

If Ford and Clinton had self-identified with different fathers, would that have permanently banished them from ever being even considered as Presidential timber? Maybe, but maybe not. In their quite different ways -- Ford was an All-American athlete, a male model before he went bald, and a Yale Law School grad, while Clinton was a political ball of fire and a Yale Law School grad -- they were early on recognized as guys with a lot of political potential. Their unusual yet mundane family backgrounds didn't seem to play a huge role in their careers, one way or another.

So, is Obama more like George W. Bush or like Ford and Clinton? Assume everything else about his upbringing through age 18 was the same, except that instead of Barack Obama then going through life as a Potential First Black President, Barry Soetoro then went through life as, theoretically, a Potential First Half-Asian President. 

How far would an equally talented, equally ambitious half-Asian half-white Barry Soetoro have gotten in American life?

Being half-black, Barack Obama was the one we were waiting for.

But, as far as I can tell, not many Americans are particularly waiting around for the First Half-Asian Whatever. Would Barry Soetoro have gotten a six-figure advance to write the autobiography of the first half-Asian editor of the Harvard Law Review? Would Barry Soetoro have been elected editor of the Harvard Law Review? Would Barry Soetoro even have been been admitted to Harvard Law? (Barack Obama said, while he was at Harvard, that he had been the beneficiary of affirmative action, so it's certainly legitimate to wonder.) Would the U. of Chicago Law School have offered Barry Soetoro tenure despite publishing no legal articles?

Would Barry Soetoro have even been able to get Barack Obama's community organizer job?

No. Byron York reported:
So [Jerry] Kellman set out to find a black organizer. He ran an ad in some trade publications, and Obama responded. But at first Kellman wasn’t sure Obama was right for the job. “My wife was Japanese-American,” Kellman recalled. “I showed her the résumé, with the background in Hawaii. The name’s Obama, so I asked, ‘Could this be Japanese?’ She said, ‘Sure, it could be.’” It was only when Kellman talked to Obama on the phone, and Obama “expressed interest in something African-American culturally,” that a relieved Kellman offered Obama the job.

Overall, how far would Barry Soetoro have gotten?

Head of the admissions office at Occidental? Chief newsletter editor at Business International? Head of the New York chapter of Ralph Nader's Public Interest Research Group? State Senator from Evanston, IL? Magna cum laude graduate of the U. of Hawaii law school?

Everything I know about the man suggests that, all else being equal, if he weren't able to self-identify as black, he would have carved out for himself a comfortable, respectable, and worthy life and made a positive social contribution. He would certainly have ranked among the top several million people in America.

But, President Barry Soetoro?

Really?

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe running an Indonesian satay stand or restaurant in Honolulu?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I just want to find out those great Hawaiian wits who decided to name their son/daughter "U K L Lee."

robert61 said...

Obama appeals as a mythic uniter. The relevant tribes are black and white in our nation, so Soetoro is a non-starter. A more relevant hypothetical is, what if Frank Marshall Davis were Obama's father? Obama would still retain his blood-based claim to being a black-white uniter. The story gets a little muckier (not just an older man but a much older man) and you lose the exoticism of the African prince (BO, Sr), but otherwise it's just as good, no?

Anonymous said...

This is a stupid post because an Obama with a different father is a completely different person. Would a Bill Gates with a different white father still be the head of Microsoft. Would a George W. Bush with a different father be a President. Heck, consider the different life outcomes for people that have the same parents!! Geez, leave this cuckoo bird talk alone and go back to the issues.

Formerly.JP98 said...

He'd have a good job. College professor in the humanities, white-shoe commercial lawyer, middle management in a large company. Just another guy living his life and pulling his weight. Maybe he'd be involved in local politics, too.

Anonymous said...

If Obama was half Asian, he wouldn't have done well with black voters in the 2008 primary, which was key to Obama's victory.

I think a half-Asian Obama likely would've ended up being a state school law professor or some other type of upper middle class professional. This compares well to George W Bush, who likely would've ended up as a homeless shelter resident if his father was not HW Bush.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a better question is...... if Barack Obama Sr was the father of one of us.... where would we be today?

Anonymous said...

...Obama would be a famous golfer.

Anonymous said...

Wrong hypothetical. The true hypothetical is, if George W. Rush had become, say, vice-CFO of a middling car-rental company, and not an absurdly destructive Half-Wit Prince / US president who devoted eight solid years to destroying this nation with his imbecile policies both foreign and domestic, then there would have been no appetite for even the real BHO, even with a real black-Obama Sr. bloodline as W. Rush's successor.

No Bush, no Bammy.

No housing bubble/stupid Iraq war/open borders perma-fiesta/failure to respond correctly to Asian mercantilism/embarrassing the US internationally/evil Darth-Cheney meme/hewer of wood for the neocons... then no Bammy.

No "Stupid in a Can" in 2000 brings you no Son of Stan in '08.

Anonymous said...

I love you, Steve.

God, I wish you could debate the ninnies who populate the Washington and NY and LA social circles.

Steve Wood said...

This is a stupid post because an Obama with a different father is a completely different person.

Yes. That's why it's called a hypothetical question. What-if scenarios always work this way. If I asked, "what would have happened if the South had won the Civil War," I wouldn't be looking for the real-world answer (which is that I wouldn't be alive to ask the question in the first place because my father is from what would have been the CSA and my mother from the Union).

Anyway, even more interesting questions:

1. What if Obama's father had been an American black? In particular a well-educated, middle-class "Sidney Poitier" black.

2. What if Obama had grown up not in Hawaii, where he had little chance to develop a racial identity as a child, but in, say, Chicago, where he would not have had to search for a racial identity ... it would have been made obvious to him from the beginning.

3. What if his father had been Hispanic? Not a Cuban emigre - that's too easy - but, say, a Mexican activist a la Cesar Chavez. He would still get plenty of AA help, but would being the the first Latino!President have been enough to get him elected? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

This compares well to George W Bush, who likely would've ended up as a homeless shelter resident if his father was not HW Bush.

Don't let your hate blind you. Bush seems to have an IQ of about 120, more then high enough to avoid living in a homeless shelter.

Anonymous said...

"This is a stupid post because an Obama with a different father is a completely different person.'

You idiot. Can't you read? If he had grown up thinking he was white and Asian, he wouldn't BE President. Got it?

Think he would have gotten all the AA rides to schools when he didn't know he was part black, didn't identify as black but rather as White-Asian?

And EVEN IF he had gone into politics as the son of a white mother and Asian father, think all those college kids would have spent over a year organizing in the frozen tundra of Iowa, working their little tushies off to beat Hilary? Of course not. They worked as hard as they did to show the world that America was redeemed of her past and beneficient enough to elect a black President. They want the world to love us.

They are young and stupid enough to not yet know that geopolitics has nothing to do with love of any kind.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have been all bad. No need for Michelle for a start.
Gilbert Pinfold

Anonymous said...

"No housing bubble/stupid Iraq war/open borders perma-fiesta/failure to respond correctly to Asian mercantilism/embarrassing the US internationally/evil Darth-Cheney meme/hewer of wood for the neocons... then no Bammy."

I think you need to reconsider. Hate to tell you this but we would have had all of those things regardless, except MAYBE the Iraq War. Hell the housing bubble and our trade deficit with China started way before he was in office.

Open borders, open trade, globalism, bad risk mortgages to minorities that can't afford it, those are all positions of faith for our elites.

Harry Baldwin said...

Anonymous said...This compares well to George W Bush, who likely would've ended up as a homeless shelter resident if his father was not HW Bush.

I see him as top salesman at a Texas car dealership or maybe a high school baseball coach.

Anonymous said...

David Rubenstein, co-founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group had this to say about George W. Bush:

Let me talk about a bad deal. At the beginning of Carlyle - early - we didn't have any funds. We didn't have any dedicated funds. And we had a deal that seemed like it would be the greatest deal since sliced bread. It was handed to us. Marriott said to us, look, we're going to sell our airline catering business [Caterair].It's number one in the world. Management team has been there for 10 years. We dominate all the markets and we're not going to do an auction. We're going to sell it to you guys 'cause some of our people [Carlyle co-founders Steve Norris and Dan D'Aniello and Bush crony Fred Malek] used to work at Marriott. You know, what could be better?

So the financing was there. And we thought, this is an easy business. So they're going to give us a company. Number one in the world. Gold plated. Got all the equipment you need. Good management team.

Well, then the Gulf War came. And all of a sudden people stopped flying. And then those who were flying realized that they weren't going to be getting the food that they thought they were going to get. . . . So no matter how good you think a company can be something can go wrong. We couldn't anticipate the Gulf War. So the airline catering business has gone this way.

I mention this because it reminds us all the time we shouldn't have hubris. You know no matter how smart we think we are or how good we are, something can go wrong. And if something seems too good in life to be true, it usually is. In this case, the only interesting thing about the deal--and we lost all our money in it. Our money and our investors' money in it. In that deal.

But when we were putting the board together, somebody [Fred Malek] came to me and said, look there is a guy who would like to be on the board. He's kind of down on his luck a bit. Needs a job. Needs a board position. Needs some board positions. Could you put him on the board? Pay him a salary and he'll be a good board member and be a loyal vote for the management and so forth.

I said well we're not usually in that business. But okay, let me meet the guy. I met the guy. I said I don't think he adds that much value. We'll put him on the board because - you know - we'll do a favor for this guy; he's done a favor for us.

We put him on the board and [he] spent three years. Came to all the meetings. Told a lot of jokes. Not that many clean ones. And after a while I kind of said to him, after about three years - you know, I'm not sure this is really for you. Maybe you should do something else. Because I don't think you're adding that much value to the board. You don't know that much about the company.

He said, well I think I'm getting out of this business anyway. And I don't really like it that much. So I'm probably going to resign from the board.

And I said, thanks - didn't think I'd ever see him again. His name is George W. Bush. He became President of the United States. So you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category. So you never know. Anyway, I haven't been invited to the White House for any things.

stari_momak said...

Man Steve, tour de force.

If I could make a suggestion, you might be interested in the epistemology behind the method you arrived (I supposed) at naturally here, just to firm things up.

Fearon, James D. 1991. “Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science.” World Politics 43(2):

fall fashion trends said...

nice

Anonymous said...

tour de force? Sailer utterly fails to acknowledge that his bullshit speculation (a few posts down) about the birth certificate was complete nonsense, and instead goes off on a tangent about "what if Obama was Asian?" Next month, perhaps we'll get the fascinating hypotheticals: "What if Obama was a woman?" "What if Obama was legally blind?"

Anonymous said...

"He'd have a good job. College professor in the humanities, white-shoe commercial lawyer, middle management in a large company."

He wouldn't even get to these positions. There are smart people who don't have these jobs.

Kolya said...

I can easily imagine a white Obama getting into Harvard Law and becoming a congressman, maybe Governor of Hawaii. American politics is stuffed with moderately intelligent, charming lawyers.

Is a hypothetical white Obama really *that* much less impressive than Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Michael Dukakis, Tim Pawlenty, Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Bob Dole or Dan Quayle?

Becoming President isn't like winning a Nobel Prize for physics or an Olympic gold medal. It's far less competitive, and there's a huge slab of luck involved.

Camlost said...

If Obama didn't have the goal of running for President he'd be married to a white woman.

It is pretty clear that he only abandoned dating white women when he came to the realization that a black man married to a white woman can only progress so far in American politics. I doubt that he dated a single black woman before Michelle.

Anonymous said...

URGENT!!!

This new assault deserves its own thread at iSteve:


Birtherist response highlights racial undertones of 'debate'
By Rachel Rose Hartman
Wed Apr 27, 5:34 pm ET
news.yahoo.com

..."There is a real deep-seated and vicious racism at work here in terms of trying to de-legitimate the president," Peniel Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, told The Ticket.

"This is more than just a conspiracy," Peniel added. "I think this is fundamentally connected to white supremacism in this country"...

Anonymous said...

Lots of black folks aren't charismatic like Obama. Some Asians are. I'm thinking of what every slicky boy East of Suez wants to grow up to be: ultra-suave, uberrich, a Lord of Singapore. Haven't met any in person. I'm getting this from Leslie Charteris's old Saint stories.

What if Obama was a Simon Templar? What would stay the same? Sharp dresser, same. Cleans up good, same. Smartest guy in the room, or fakes it till he makes it, same.

Different? Well, Asians can clumsy thru an Affirmative Action spiel, but- smoothly? No. Blood-loyalty of 10% of US voters? No. Gets votes by dishonoring white grandma with anecdote about her being scared of triad gangsters? No. Leftist press scared to backstab him? No.

Steve Sailer said...

Let's compare what Barry Soetoro would have had going for him relative to your list of Presidential contenders

Jimmy Carter -- nuclear submarine officer

Gerald Ford -- All American football player, male model, ridiculously healthy -- always viewed as the epitome of steady and reliable

John Kerry -- volunteered for Vietnam, became famous antiwar spokesman because of that

Joe Lieberman -- I guess you are right on this one. Clearly, Lieberman is as unaffiliated with anybody important or influential as Barry Soetoro would have been. Indeed, the Indonesian-American community would have given Soetoro a bigger boost than Lieberman has enjoyed.

John Edwards -- outstanding personal injury lawyer, good hair

Michael Dukakis -- maybe a good comparison for Barry Soetoro

Tim Pawlenty -- I don't know anything about him

Al Gore -- son of a U.S. Senator, descendant, like his cousin Gore Vidal, of a famous governor

Bill Bradley -- college basketball player of the year, famous Rhodes Scholar who sat out two NBA seasons to go to Oxford, starter on two NBA champions

Bob Dole -- war hero, survived four years in hospital for horrifying wounds

Dan Quayle -- son of a very rich and influential guy

I'd say that Barry Soetoro would have been at a big disadvantage relative to most of these guys.

Steve Sailer said...

Becoming Presidential Timber is mostly either a multi-generational process, or it can be jumpstarted by military service, sports stardom, getting rich, or something like that. For every Michael Dukakis who gets pretty close to the brass ring without many other advantages, there are a huge number of talented people who don't.

Anonymous said...

"I see him as top salesman at a Texas car dealership or maybe a high school baseball coach."

I second the high school coach suggestion.

Truth said...

"What about Obama? Would he have ever been considered for the Presidency if his father hadn't been black?"

No Steve, the question is, would Obama have been considered for the president if his mother hadn't been white. I think the answer is fairly obvious.

"Maybe a better question is...... if Barack Obama Sr was the father of one of us.... where would we be today?"

According to statistics, exactly where you are now, with less money, power, and influence. Which is to say, nowhere.

"Don't let your hate blind you. Bush seems to have an IQ of about 120"

You believe anything the mass media tells you, don't you?

"Becoming President isn't like winning a Nobel Prize for physics or an Olympic gold medal. It's far less competitive, and there's a huge slab of luck involved."

Less competition for being president than winning a Nobel, huh? How often are Nobels given out?

"f Obama didn't have the goal of running for President he'd be married to a white woman.

It is pretty clear that he only abandoned dating white women when he came to the realization that a black man married to a white woman can only progress so far in American politics. I doubt that he dated a single black woman before Michelle."

Great, two more psychics.

Anonymous said...

People forget another reason why O became POTUS, the utter lameness of the Democrat Presidential candidates. You had Edwards - a fraud and a fool, Hillary - 4 more years of the Clintons?! - and...

The Democrats have pretty much ethnically cleansed every substantial white Christan male from their leadership. Even Dukakais might have won if he hadn't been such a wimp and extreme social liberal.

Anonymous said...

"Is a hypothetical white Obama really *that* much less impressive than Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Michael Dukakis, Tim Pawlenty, Al Gore, Bill Bradley, Bob Dole or Dan Quayle?"

Most of these are more ambitious, more driven than Obama. Edwards and Quayle are far more attractive. A for intelligence, Mr. O is probably in the middle of the pack in the above list.

Anonymous said...

Another fascinating post on Obama. Lolo Soetoro reminds me of Joe and his father, whoever he may be. And it does matter who Obama considers to be his father. After all, he named his first book "Dreams from my Father." I'm becoming more convinced that, to Obama, his father is a composite of the men who were important to him in his formative years: Obama Sr, Stanley Dunham, Frank Marshall Davis, Harold Washington, Bill Ayers (perhaps), and, yes, the often forgotten Lolo Soetoro. If you don't understand the powerful influence an adoptive father has on a young man's development, then read Great Expectations. After Pip is orphaned, he's goes to live with his adult sister, an impossible shrew, and her husband, Joe Gargery, a humble blacksmith, who never complained of anything "but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart." I guess Joe would be slammed today as a "beta provider." But he's not that at all. He's a good, decent man who is happy with his lot in life and doesn't make a fool out of himself chasing after the approval of women, unlike Pip, who becomes the fool of Miss Haversham and Estella. Dickens' view of women in Great Expectations borders on contempt. The same could be said about Obama's view of women in Dreams from my Father. It's easy to understand why: his grandfather chills out at the bar all day while his grandmother rides the bus to work every day, his father impregnates his mother and then abandons her, while poor Lolo Soetoro works his ass off to provde for his wife and bastard son, only to have her repay his devotion by endlessly longing for the man who "pumped and dumped" her (Miss Haversham, too, was dumped by a suave ne'er-do-well, which is her motivation for her hatred of men).

A composite father figure for Obama poses a challenge in the Sailersphere since it's accepted here that biology is destiny and Obama's alleged biological father ended in his life a drunk loser in a ditch somewhere in Kenya.

Truth said...

Jimmy Carter -- nuclear submarine officer

Yes, officer, Steve, not engineer. I'm glad we got that one right.

Gerald Ford -- All American football player, male model, ridiculously healthy -- always viewed as the epitome of steady and reliable.

He wasn't no model when he got elected, and if he was so healthy and steady, why was he such a clumsy oaf?

John Kerry -- volunteered for Vietnam, became famous antiwar spokesman because of that

You've forgotten your people's Swiftboat campaign already?

Joe Lieberman -- I guess you are right on this one. Clearly, Lieberman is as unaffiliated with anybody important or influential as Barry Soetoro would have been. Indeed, the Indonesian-American community would have given Soetoro a bigger boost than Lieberman has enjoyed.

John Edwards -- outstanding personal injury lawyer, good hair

A sheister with good hair, wow, how could he not be president?

Michael Dukakis -- maybe a good comparison for Barry Soetoro

Tim Pawlenty -- I don't know anything about him

Al Gore -- son of a U.S. Senator, descendant, like his cousin Gore Vidal, of a famous governor

Bill Bradley -- college basketball player of the year, famous Rhodes Scholar who sat out two NBA seasons to go to Oxford, starter on two NBA champions

Also, possibly the most boring man alive.

Bob Dole -- war hero, survived four years in hospital for horrifying wounds

Dan Quayle -- son of a very rich and influential guy

I'd say that Barry Soetoro would have been at a big disadvantage relative to most of these guys.

Truth said...

"For every Michael Dukakis who gets pretty close to the brass ring without many other advantages, there are a huge number of talented people who don't."

The successful ones put in 10,000 hours.

Anonymous said...

Lolo Soetoro was basically a beta chump suckered into serving the alpha male's offspring.

K(yle) said...

This is essentially the same discussion that took place during the Presidential race and Democrat primary.

Is being black beneficial for Barack Obama? Could a person of any other race have done what Obama did? For anyone honest the answer is probably not.

Even a theoretical self-identified Asian Barry Soetoro that went on to achieve everything Barack Obama did sans winning the Presidency probably wouldn't have recieved any real traction.

At the crux of the issue is the idea of Institutional Racism holding back black people at all levels of society. Clearly we have an example now of a black man that was catapulted to the head of the pack by Institutional Anti-Racism.

Anonymous said...

George W. Bush had a serious problem with alcohol until he was 40. Serious enough that his wife almost left him and he did very little career wise. If Bush was born to a poorer man, it's a real possibility that he would've ended up temporarily homeless at some point. I've known a number of reasonably bright alcoholics and substance abusers that did stints in homeless shelters. For a kid without any real family and a bad drinking habit, homelessness is not unusual at all.

I do think at some point, Bush would've turned it around and become a high school coach or maybe done something in sales.

Of course, it's entirely possible that growing up rich killed W's enthusiasm to work hard and be responsible. Maybe if he grew up in a more modest family, he would've better use of his talents.

Anonymous said...

Trumps people found the real certificate:

http://i.imgur.com/UNIK2.gif

Steve Sailer said...

"Sailer utterly fails to acknowledge that his bullshit speculation (a few posts down) about the birth certificate was complete nonsense"

Huh?

none of the above said...

Steve,

ISTM that both Bushes, Gore, and Hillary Clinton (and to some extent Kerry and McCain) fit the model of being in position to run for president based on their families. (Though the older Bush had the resume for the job, and both Gore and Kerry were plausibly qualified.) That contrasts with Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan, who had to climb all the way up the greased pole themselves.

The way it looks to me, Obama got a boost from being black, but that's not an easy thing to get a boost from--you can see that, because no other black guy has come anywhere close to becoming president. (I think Colin Powell could have made a run at it, and may have thought he would have a good shot after being Secretary of State under Bush.) I think Obama's key talent is something else you've pointed out before--he's very good at becoming a kind of screen onto which different people can project their hoped-for message. That's what made being black (or half black) a benefit for him.

Anonymous said...

Lolo Soetoro was basically a beta chump suckered into serving the alpha male's offspring.

Careful there - change one vowel and the Thought Police are gonna be all over your hide.

Dr. Phil said...

If Obama was identified as white-Asian he would face much higher expectations rather than much lower expectations in entrance exams, academic performance, work throughput, quality, results, etc.

As Obama's personality is today, he would be a total failure as any other ethnic.

* His strongest point, stagemanged and teleprompted speechifying, would come across as boring, flat and condescending. Obama's kindergartden teacher spin on the Gore/Kerry school of public speaking is only an asset for someone black - a drawback for every other group.

* His intellectual laziness about anything other than race (eg economics, budgets, geopolitics, etc) would make him utterly unqualified for POTUS. Hell, the guy didn't even bother to learn any Indonesian in the years he spent there as a child. Sadly, Obama's only apparent passions outside race seem to be basketball and golf (which he has indulged in more than any other POTUS in history).

* His naked narcissim, humourless self-regard and fragile ego would doom him in front of any reasonably questioning press (which instead shealters and propagandizes for the One while viciously attacking any percieved threats). Nixon had thicker skin than Obama who appears to have dropped out at least twice after personal setbacks (Bobby Rush and Columbia)

* His terrible work ethic and life history of non-production would never be tolerated and certainly he wouldn't have been consistently kicked upstairs (no achievements like academic papers or books as Harvard Law Review Editor, UChi Law Prof, in the private sector, as a Community Activist, as a IL State Rep or US Senator,...)

* The Obama MO of voting present and generally being a cipher (eg all personal records locked up by his lawyers) to present a blank screen. Elite backers and SWPL project their hopes and deams upon Obama's hidden and empty life record, but this doesn't work for any other ethnicity. Elites don't give a pass and eagerly try to promote any group like they do blacks - and they try to minimize competition from Asians.

Whatever his ethnicity, Obama's irresponsible mother would've left an unhealthy mark upon his psyche. The rest of his family, especially grandad, were also kind of nutty extremist that left him too fringe for a politician of any ethnicity save for black.

However, without the crutch of AA and elite fantasies about blacks, Obama's character may have been more broadly functional and productive. His exposure to the corresive effects of the pervasive reverse-racism of low expectations and extraordinary exceptions for blacks certainly has a large part of aggravating the weakest part of Obama's character today.

Steve Sailer said...

Let's consider some other recent Presidential contenders:

John McCain: war hero; son of famous war-time admiral; grandson of famous war-time admiral

Mitt Romney: son of governor, cabinet secretary, one-time GOP frontrunner and popular president of automobile company

Hillary Clinton: wife of President

Howard Dean: from affluent background, but, as far as I can tell, nothing special. Perhaps that lack of specific privilege explains why everybody got so mad at him when it looked like his consistent antiwar stance would get him the Democratic nomination

Colin Powell -- running neck and neck with Bob Dole among GOP voters in fall 1995, before announcing he wouldn't run -- war hero

Jerry Brown (won Democratic primaries in three different Presidential campaigns): son of governor of California

Ross Perot -- self made billionaire

Pat Buchanan -- self made writer, one of the outstanding controversialists of his era

Mario Cuomo -- self made politician

Rudy Guiliani -- self made politician

Richard Nixon -- self made politician

LBJ -- self made politician

JFK -- self make politician (note: better check Wikipedia on that before hitting "Publish Your Comment")

Mike Huckabee -- self made?

Dwight Eisenhower -- war hero

Robert Taft -- son of President and Supreme Court Justice

My rough estimate is that it's getting harder to become a Presidential possible in just one generation. WWII shook up the social structure, allowing talent to percolate upward faster. Now, society is more stable and it's harder to get to the top on your own.

Anonymous said...

"Joe Lieberman -- I guess you are right on this one. Clearly, Lieberman is as unaffiliated with anybody important or influential as Barry Soetoro would have been. Indeed, the Indonesian-American community would have given Soetoro a bigger boost than Lieberman has enjoyed."

Ah, good. Very droll. For a moment there I thought you were serious.

Half Sigma said...

"Their unusual yet mundane family backgrounds didn't seem to play a huge role in their careers, one way or another."

Actually, I would say that their backgrounds helped them connect with regular people. Romney's privileged background turns people off, because he doesn't look like the guy you work with, he looks like the guy who fired the guy you work with.

headache said...

I' amused at Steve's contortions about Obummer having to be half black coz half of America is now non-white. As a white South African this all strikes me as so yesterday.

In about 10 years time you people are going to be told by the media how come your next prez. has to be full black coz the majority is black (code for non-white), and how there will never be a white person as prez. ever again. They will be gleeful as the media is in South Africa.

Whatever the current reasoning, the marching orders in most western countries is towards increasing non-whiteness, whereas in the countries of the order givers, such as India and Israel, the opposite direction is being taken. Maybe I'm too suspicious but I think there is a reason for all this.

nosul said...

Shit, whenever there's a post about Obummer "Truth" has to be all over it. I'm sure the guy is being paid by some Obummer PAC to sit on this site and jump-start like the Duracell rabbit whenever the word "Obama" flashes on the screen.

catperson said...

If Obama weren't black, he probably wouldn't have got into Harvard law (he himself said that he benefited from affirmative action at least in academia)but did he really need Harvard to become president of the U.S.? Some studies suggest that going to Harvard plays no causal role in future success. So affirmative action helped him in school, but did it help him in life?

If Obama weren't black, he possibly would never have been endorsed by Oprah and 2 economists at the Univeristy of Maryland proved that without Oprah's support, Obama would have lost the Democratic primary to Hillary by about a million votes.

So no, if Obama weren't black, he wouldn't be president, but if Hillary weren't a woman and a Clinton, she wouldn't be Secretary of State. If Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter weren't Southerners, they probably wouldn't have been president either. If any of these men had been too short or too fat or too muscular or bald or ugly, they wouldn't be president. No one reaches the pinacle of political success without some physical/demographic selling point. Obama's just happened to be race. Those were the cards he was dealt and he played them brilliantly.

catperson said...

The way it looks to me, Obama got a boost from being black, but that's not an easy thing to get a boost from--you can see that, because no other black guy has come anywhere close to becoming president.

On the other hand few other black guys have had Obama's unique form of blackness. Not only is he nearly 50% white, but the black half of his ancestry is elegant, tall thin graceful East African, as opposed to the robust, muscular broad-featured prognathous West African genes that dominate most African Americans. I suspect that an elegant East African appearance gave Obama a huge competetive advantage over most American blacks, especially when combined with white genes.

I've sometimes thought that East Africans are the missing link as modern humans evolved from negroids to caucasoids. Either way, Obama is really cool looking. Very dignified and presidential.

TomV said...

Truth:

No Steve, the question is, would Obama have been considered for the president if his mother hadn't been white. I think the answer is fairly obvious.

Obviously yes, that is. Having two black parents didn't keep Colin Powell from being considered presidential timbre. Being black, on the other hand, helped him to a position of prominence and then gave him and the public presidential imagination not commonly associated with even people in that position. Likewise, Obama.

You're losing it, Truth.

Anonymous said...

"JFK -- self make politician (note: better check Wikipedia on that before hitting "Publish Your Comment")"

His father was one of the richest men in the country and a former ambassador and head of the SEC.

TomV said...

It's amusing how Truth is now degrading an entire field of former Democratic presidential candidates in order to... do what, not sure, but blood is thicker than water.

Relax, old sport. Steve was assessing the advantages that got those clowns to be presidential candidates, not evaluating their fitness to be president.

Steve's already talked at length about Obama, but here's a shorter version to go with the rest:

"Obama - Black, way more polished than Jesse Jackson."

catperson said...

Obviously yes, that is. Having two black parents didn't keep Colin Powell from being considered presidential timbre.

Actually Powell didn't have any black parents. Both his parents are Afro-multiracial who probably have more white ancestry than Obama. There's no way Powell would have been considered a viable candidate for president had he been a dark skinned man.

AMac said...

"JFK -- self make politician (note: better check Wikipedia on that before hitting "Publish Your Comment")"

Also quite droll.

silly girl said...

"No "Stupid in a Can" in 2000 brings you no Son of Stan in '08."

Ha, I love it. From now on he is "Son of Stanley" in my book.

Grigori Antonin said...
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Grigori Antonin said...
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spahnie said...

JP98: just so you know, in the law trade, "commercial law" means debt collection, so "white shoe commercial lawyer" is a non-sequitur.

ro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
catperson said...

There are ~40 million 'blacks' in the USA. Out of a 40 million sample, Obama is the most successful black.

I would say America's most successful black is Oprah. She's a thousand times richer than Obama, and almost as powerful, after all, she played the pivotal role in electing him. Without Oprah, there's no doubt Hillary would have won the Democratic nomination, as she was even winning the black vote & the media was calling her inevitable & declaring her the winner of every debate until Oprah campaigned. Oprah's been impacting the world for a quarter century, Obama's influence has only lasted three, and even if his longterm influence lasts much longer, part of that counts as Oprah's influence since she elected him.

Truth said...

"So no, if Obama weren't black, he wouldn't be president, but if Hillary weren't a woman and a Clinton, she wouldn't be Secretary of State. If Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter weren't Southerners, they probably wouldn't have been president either. If any of these men had been too short or too fat or too muscular or bald or ugly, they wouldn't be president. No one reaches the pinacle of political success without some physical/demographic selling point. Obama's just happened to be race. Those were the cards he was dealt and he played them brilliantly."

Now that's a brilliant post...

"Actually Powell didn't have any black parents. Both his parents are Afro-multiracial who probably have more white ancestry than Obama. There's no way Powell would have been considered a viable candidate for president had he been a dark skinned man."

And that's another one...dang, you're on a roll, maybe you should be an administrator here.

TomV said...

Catperson:

Actually Powell didn't have any black parents. Both his parents are Afro-multiracial who probably have more white ancestry than Obama.

To ask Truth's favorite question, since he apparently forgot: What race would you consider Powell's parents to be if they were dating your daughter (or son)?

Sure the white admixture matters, because looks and manners matter. That's what people mean when they say a candidate "looks presidential." A dark-skinned man with African features and Sharptonian demeanor represents the opposite of that ideal.

Truth did not appear to be talking about this in his first comment, though. He made it sound as if a black man with no identifiable white forebear would be unelectable because of some kind of metaphysical racism. This is simply false, as shown by my Powell counterexample. Metaphysical blackness helps, not hurts.

Perhaps Truth was trying to see what he could get away with. He bristled at the idea that being (identified as) black helped Obama early in the thread, but now he's agreeing with your post, which says precisely that. What a buffoon.

Anonymous said...

Not only is he nearly 50% white, but the black half of his ancestry is elegant, tall thin graceful East African, as opposed to the robust, muscular broad-featured prognathous West African genes that dominate most African Americans.

No offence, but have you actually *seen* Obama's family?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/10798333@N07/2283910885/sizes/m/in/photostream/

http://www.proliberty.com/observer/obamablackfamily.jpg

Not exactly like the more gracile and more semi Caucasoid (not necessarily correlated traits) amongst the Maasai, Ethiopians, Somalians or even Sudanese.

Howard Hughes said...

"My rough estimate is that it's getting harder to become a Presidential possible in just one generation. WWII shook up the social structure, allowing talent to percolate upward faster. Now, society is more stable and it's harder to get to the top on your own."
Decades ago the underclass, especially in rural areas, contained a lot more talented people with potential to climb the social ladder. Partly a reason.

Obviously the odds are on Barry Soetoro not becoming president if he was half-Asian instead. Then again, if you change something important - like race or social background - for Bush, Carter, Reagan, et cetera there probably is less of a chance for them to become POTS, too. Extraordinary positions require more luck and training.

I'm curious about JFK: in what way was he a 'self maked' (spelling error, by the way?)politician? I looked at Wikipedia, but couldn't understand what you meant...

Rev. Pflueger said...

And that's another one...dang, you're on a roll,...

I've never heard a black guy ever use the term "dang" in real life. Nor "gosh", "gee whiz" or "golly geez" either.

That only happens in movies and sit coms written by white gay men who grew up shealtered in the Midwest.

Truth needs to join a radical Rev. Wright congregation to get some black authenticity or he's going to lose the black vote on iSteve.

Truth said...

" A dark-skinned man with African features and Sharptonian demeanor represents the opposite of that ideal."

What about a dark-skinned man with African American features and a Gingrichian demeanor...like Alan Keyes? He is the ultimate right-wing, non-interventionist anti A.A. conservative Republican. He is more Ron Paul than Ron Paul, and I'm sure he got your vote, right?

(crickets)

And by the way Tom, Colin Powell never ran for president. A few people approached him about the idea of running for president, and he was quite forthright and honest about the racial implications. Do your research.

Anonymous said...

Genes confer more than skin color and racial phenotype. Genes confer, if in complex and interactive ways, personality traits/dispositions. A significant fact of life for evaluating BHO is the degree of psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies by both his maternal grandfather and his putative father, as well as the borderline schizo characteristics of his mother. In fairness, Stanley Armour Dunham, the grandfather, seemed to have his demons under harness pretty well. Not so with the putative father, whose personal biography reads like a case history of a psychopath and in particular of a manipulative "verbal engineer" who sought to define himself and everything else by a breezy verbosity within a larger manipulative core. Genes need not be destiny but they do confront each of us with the challenges against which our own choices can be directed. There is little indication that our soft-bellied, cigarette-addicted President has ever struggled to define himself vis a vis the genetic and doctrinal determinants visited upon him. I sometimes find myself referring to him as "Oed Obama". He is the least "real" person to hold the Presidency in a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

As to the President's mother--it appears a bit euphemistic to use terms with reference to her like "romantic" and "fictionalized". There is hint that she was a schizo from at least her middle school ( junior high) years. She appears to have "gotten a life" via activist involvements but there is scant information about just what merely elective social interactions she ever had after giving birth to BHO. All her social interactions appear to have been mediated by the jobs she held or from activist undertakings she was devoted to.
BHO increasingly perceived their relationship as mother-centered and insisted upon escaping her by going to live with her parents, Madelyn Payne Dunham and Madelyn's husband.

corvinus said...

I've sometimes thought that East Africans are the missing link as modern humans evolved from negroids to caucasoids. Either way, Obama is really cool looking. Very dignified and presidential.

Caucasians are genetically more closely related to East Africans than West Africans. There have been times I've mistaken Ethiopians for South Indians or vice versa. Easy enough mistake.

Not only is he nearly 50% white, but the black half of his ancestry is elegant, tall thin graceful East African, as opposed to the robust, muscular broad-featured prognathous West African genes that dominate most African Americans.

West Africans actually can be thin and graceful too (their obesity rates aren't nearly as bad as African Americans), but they have the "punched-in nose" look.

Nevertheless, based both on personal observation and statistics, it appears that African immigrant women (whether West or East African) do not seem to have a problem snagging white men, unlike their African American counterparts.

none of the above said...

I seem to recall reading that Powell explicitly didn't run for president because of his wife's fears that he would be assassinated by racists. I don't know whether that's true, or if it is true whether it was a reasonable thing to fear. But given his background and connections, he would be in a better position to evaluate those risks than I am.

As far as the skin color gravitas argument, I wonder if this is very important to most whites. Obama is strikingly unusual compared to American blacks, so maybe that makes a difference. But I usually think of the difference between light vs dark skinned blacks as mattering a lot more among blacks than among whites.

catperson said...

Caucasians are genetically more closely related to East Africans than West Africans. There have been times I've mistaken Ethiopians for South Indians or vice versa. Easy enough mistake.

Ethiopians are a bad example because they're actually a hybrid of East Africans and non-white caucasians (West Asians). But my point is that even pure East Africans are more caucasoid in their skull & facial morphology, probably because modern humans lived in East Africa right before they branched out into the middle east to evolve into caucasoids. I feel negroids were the original race and only later did humans evolve into caucasoids with East Africans being the missing link. After evolving into caucasoids, we humans eventually evolved into the new & improved mongoloids (with Native Americans being the missing link)

Vain Saints said...

It's amazing that Steve would consider wacky anyone who would think it appropriate to inquire about the origins of a man who's mother spent her entire life in CIA hotspots, who himself spent his early 20s in Pakistan when citizens were prohibited from going there, who in Pakistan worked for the Business International Corporaton, which has been acknowledged to have been a CIA front, while traveling on an Indonesian passport under the name Barry Soetoro and staying with a high level Pakistani official Muhammadmian Soomo.

And he still thinks that Obama's main deal is race.

Whatever he has done in the Affirmative Action arena is dwarfed by his escalation of foreign wars, torture, kleptocracy, and presidential usurpation of war powers. He is the first president not to even consult congress before launching an open (not covert) military action.

And Steve still thinks Obama's main deal is race??

Obama has never been about race. He has been in the Company his entire life, probably since he was conceived by the woman who was shopped around by her father to critical figures in Cold War battleground states. Race is Sailer's obsession, not Obama's.

In the state of affairs in the world today, race has taken a backseat to economic warfare in the field of urgent issues. The US is about to be asset-stripped in the same way various Third-World countries have been since the 80s. When this happens, Steve will see the limitations (to put it mildly) of racial determinism and IQ determinism to function as the root of historical agency.

The powers that be have an interest in diverting attention from the robbing of their country to bickering about race. I am not going to impugn Steve's motives, but the CIA would have to invent Steve if he didn't exist.

charlotte said...

'Obama appeals as a mythic uniter. The relevant tribes are black and white in our nation, so...'

The above is one reason I keep reading this blog. I never know if the comments are for laughs or are meant to be serious. Figuring it out keeps me sharp.

yes Obama luvs me, yes Obama luvs me, yes Obama luvs me, cus the MSM tells me so.

Truth said...

"but the CIA would have to invent Steve if he didn't exist."

Maybe it did.