September 26, 2011

Obama, Kennedy, Oprah, and a pack of Marlboros

In VDARE, I review the new book on Obama by a leading black expert on Obama's professional specialty (discrimination law), Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency. As usual, I do a close reading of the footnotes, parenthetical clauses, and other obscure parts of the text, in which Kennedy, a strong supporter of Obama, reveals his opinions of Obama's claim to have been shocked to find out what Rev. Wright had been saying, to be a Christian, to have delivered a great speech on race in response to the Wright revelations, and much else. I add in from other sources why Obama dropped Kennedy's class on affirmative action at HLS after one day, how I met Oprah, and my theory of why Obama persisted in smoking long after it became hugely unfashionable. Read the whole thing there.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

For whom did Kennedy write this book for and why? His main audience seems to be white liberals. He seems to be saying, "I appreciate how you white folks go out of your way to put a black person on the pedestal, but this is hampering real action in the case of Obama because white people are more obsessed about what they wanna see than what he is really is; and he is obsessed more with how he looks than what he should really do."

It mattered less with Oprah since she was in showbiz and all about popularity. But as president, Obama has to make real decisions, and this means he has to come out one day and admit he's not everything to everybody but a specific politician with a set agenda.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Obama smokes because nicotine is a potent mood stabilizer and appetite suppressant and it gives him something to do. Bottom line, it's fun, relaxing and still has a cool cachet.

The downside is you can't work out, you feel like shit every morning and you get lots of respiratory infections. It is also very difficult for most people to stay below 10-15 cigarettes/day, and that's enough to end up with COPD which is a bad way to go.

If it weren't for the downside, I'd be smoking my beloved American Spirits right now.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama still smokes to maintain the image of himself as 'not square'. He wants to be the guy on the side of the good but who still does his own stuff. We see this in Westerns. The hero sides with decent townfolks but he stands out among them; he has the edge. He will do the good or right thing, but he's not howdy doody goodie two-shoes.
Guys like Paul Newman, though sensitively agreeing with the left on every issue, went out of their way to show that they were MAN-MAN, not some wussy man.

Obama's smoking also says something about his relation to capitalism. He's ideologically hostile to it, but he knows it's the cash cow that pays for the public sector, the domain of guys like him. So, when he smokes, he's less an addict of tobacco companies and more a lord over the tobacco companies. After all, big tobacco agreed in the 90s to get down on its knees and pay more in sales taxes and other penalty taxes. It's a bitch to the government.

Whitey Whiteman III said...

Perhaps, if I, a mere commenter, may be so bold as to say, most commas in a sentence, ever, by God.

Anonymous said...

To Steve: I did try and check your hypothesis that wealthy Indians donate a fair bit to their alma matres. It seems you are correct. In the last 1 year we have:

The largest donation in BU's history:

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/allston_brighton/2011/09/alum_pledges_25m_to_boston_uni.html


A 50 million dollar donation to Harvard Business School:

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/10/hbs_gift/


A 10 million dollar donation to Harvard:


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703735804575535622456801034.html

A couple more donors are mentioned in those articles.

This is a classic case of browns emulating white behavior for status reasons.

Anonymous said...

Not that it matters, but I had some interaction with Randall Kennedy in the mid-90s. He was one of the most normal, un-phony, un-self-important Ivy law profs I've ever met.

He's also the whitest black person I've ever met. Not in skin color or facial features, but in his voice, manner, and way of expressing himself.

Carol said...

I'd be smoking my beloved American Spirits right now.

Thanks for the sermon..I was thinking the same thing. I never got hooked but loved to daytrip a little. Would 3/day hurt ya?

Anyway, that part made Obama somewhat likeable for me.

Anonymous said...

>> Indeed, I suspect one reason Obama kept up his unfashionable smoking habit for all these years is that the legal persecution of smokers gave him an excuse to disappear from the smoke-unfilled rooms of today's political life and go out in the alley by himself for his Alone Time.

Picture Obama at some political meeting gesturing vaguely toward the Exit sign with his pack of Marlboros: "It's not that I'm sick of your company and have to get away from all of you before I scream, it's ... it's just the Law!" <<

Brilliant! I hadn't thought of that, but now, I figure that it must be true. It fits so well.

I think that you may have made a major contribution to figuring out what makes the President tick.

Perhaps a substantial number of smokers continue to do so for the same reason.

~Risto

Grumpy Old Man said...

Very clever and insightful review.

When I worked in a big office, I started taking "non-smoking breaks," just to go down the elevator, get a little sun, and escape the monotony.

On a Chris Christie-related topic, does being fat or being a smoker make one more of a pariah these days?

Anonymous said...

Here's a quote from the Suskind book that strikes me as remarkable:

"[Summers and Romer] were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought the high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy. Summers and Romer were startled. 'What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient aggregate demand,' Romer said. 'We wondered where this could have been coming from. We both tried to convince him otherwise. He wouldn't budge.' Summers had been focused intently on how to spur demand, and on what might drive a meaningful recovery.... [W]ithout a rise in demand, in Summers's view, nothing else would work.... But productivity?... If Obama felt that 10 percent unemployment was the product of sound, productivity-driven decisions by American business, then short-term government measures to spur hiring were not only futile but unwise. The two economists strained their memory... had they said something he'd misconstrued?... After a month, frustration turned to resignation. 'The president seems to have developed his own view,' Romer said."

Consider. Obama has never in his entire life had any training in economics. Obama hires Summers and Romer to advise him, presumably regarding them as the best economists around who share his overall point of view. These advisers STRONGLY argue against some idea on economics -- and a highly technical one at that -- which Obama got into his head from God knows where.

Does Obama back down from the idea?

Not on your life.

It's really, really hard to read this account without calling to mind that statement of Obama's -- which should be, but isn't, notorious -- in which he basically claimed he knows more than any of his advisers.

The guy apparently really believes it.

Anonymous said...

Joe Obamel. He is a cartoon character of sorts. He's 50 but looks 5.

Anonymous said...

Hey, when Obama smokes, does he have to stand 10 ft away from the White House?

Anonymous said...

Tell Baloo to do Joe Obamel.

Anonymous said...

You express annoyance with people who think or write about race but did it ever occur to you that race is very much what you do too?

You're just on the other side

swingslow said...

Oprah was sitting in first class ...

Hey Steve, a Saudi guy named Aziz in Berkeley once told me this story: it was 1969 and he was working as a steward for Western Airlines (forerunner of Southwest). He's at the top of the stairs taking tickets, when Warren Beatty comes in, presents a coach ticket, and proceeds to turn left. Aziz says, "excuse me sir, it'll be an extra $14 for first class." Beatty goes, "Aziz, do you know who I am?"

"yes sir Mr. Beatty, I know who you are but I'm afraid I have to ask for you to pay the upgrade."

Beatty pays, but says, "the president of this airline is a friend of mine, and I'm going to see to it that I get your job."

A few days later Aziz is called in, and the Prez says, "Aziz, next time just let the man sit where he wants, OK?"

Baloo said...

Bingo, Steve. While reading it, I thought of an analogy and put it up with an appropriate illustration here at Ex-Army,.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that he declined to participate in a sort of freewheeling debate that the discrimination law class was likely to have. That seems to be an Obama trademark--avoidance of direct and open conflict, with him taking a side.

He was apparently a gunner in class, but of the pontificating variety. He seems adverse to open conflict, unless he's in control of the venue, as when he invited Ryan to an event and then denounced him from the podium, dissed the Supremes in the SotU, etc.

Carlos said...

"Does Obama back down from the idea?

Not on your life."


Good for Obama. Too bad he eventually got intimidated by those economists, because what Obama's point was a perfectly valid one: increased productivity, all else equal, reduces demand for workers.

Obama should have asked Summers and Romer to explain why that wasn't true, despite all evidence to the contrary. It would have been instructive for Obama to hear the answer, which would have probably been something that was true in economic theory but not in reality.

In economic theory, higher productivity allows for higher wages for remaining workers, which those workers can then spend, creating new jobs with their demand. Sounds great in theory -- and it might even be true in a closed system -- but not in our globalized system. Competition from off-shoring and immigration keeps down wages, and most jobs created by the spending of higher paid workers are created in factories in China.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

"[Summers and Romer] were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought the high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy. Summers and Romer were startled. 'What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient aggregate demand,' Romer said.

We are royally f***ed when economic policy debate boils down to Luddite vs. Keynesian.

ziel said...

"[Summers and Romer] were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought the high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy.

Sounds like he might lean more towards the Tyler Cowen crowd than the neo-Keynesians. (Cowen basically argues that the 9% unemployment represents people whose marginal product is essentially zero). But of course he could never have hired Cowen. So he just appoints the people he's supposed to appoint, ignores them, and reads Marginal Revolution.

I think he's more right than Summers/Romer. Of course it's not because productivity has gone up so much - the debt bubbles masked what was really happening, and distorted - along with everything else - the value of labor. So now reality has set in, and several million people - who seemed perfectly productive a few years ago - are now unable to contribute positively to the economy.

Svigor said...

President Obama’s rather startling reproof of his black critics at the Congressional Black Caucus’ dinner on Saturday night might or might not work.

The CBC SAF isn't likely to take it well, if that's what you mean. Ever seen Mo' Money? The scene in the restaurant with the dude who looks like Obama?

How could open discussion of his legal privileges benefit him? He merely wanted to continue to enjoy unequal protection without having to attempt to justify it to skeptics.

It's not like we're not all familiar with this; the left despises talking about their sacred cows with anyone who doesn't revere them. Their standard method of dealing with heretics is to send up a tsunami of flack (mostly feminine shaming language) while their experts around back to work in the back-stab (harass, protest, intimidate, pressure, ban, silence, legislate).

Leftoids (liberals, moderates, most conservatives, etc.) are scumbags. Moderate leftoid scumbags support the radical leftoid scumbags, innocent leftoid scumbags turn a blind eye to the skullduggerous leftoid scumbags, know-nothing leftoid scumbags shout down opponents of the malicious leftoid scumbags, etc. At best, they're the "don't know, don't wanna know" crowd.

They're demonstrably scumbags. It's one thing to be ignorant. That's forgivable. But leftoids are militantly and actively ignorant; if you try to enlighten them, they will do their best to destroy you or drive you from the field. Or they tolerate all this from their fellows. That's not forgivable.

There comes a point where "good intentions" stops sounding plausible. Leftoids are long past that, and well into "willful negligence." At some point people have to start being held accountable for what they're doing, mens rea be damned.

a vivid example of Obamamania

Why don't people spell it "Obamania"? It rolls off the tongue, unlike the tongue-twisting "Obamamania." I'm the guy who thought "Obamatons" would catch on though, so what do I know.

He likes crowds chanting his name, but meeting people wears him down.

I.e., an introvert.

That's why a favorite weekend activity of his when he was back in Hyde Park was to browse alone in a bookstore for hours.

Definitely an introvert. If he wins in 2012 he's probably going to de facto abdicate, delegating everything but a pared-down teleprompter schedule.

Indeed, I suspect one reason Obama kept up his unfashionable smoking habit for all these years is that the legal persecution of smokers gave him an excuse to disappear from the smoke-unfilled rooms of today's political life and go out in the alley by himself for his Alone Time.

Picture Obama at some political meeting gesturing vaguely toward the Exit sign with his pack of Marlboros: "It's not that I'm sick of your company and have to get away from all of you before I scream, it's ... it's just the Law!"


Not bad.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

When I smoked, the draw of reducing overstimulation - especially by other humans - was indeed as important as the nicotine-to-the-forebrain loveliness.

As others have noted, it's the one thing that I warm to about Obama.

Anonymous said...

I quit smoking 16 years ago the hardest thing i ever had to do.
I remember thinking i would always miss it, now i can't imagine doing it and the thought of doing it is revolting. (i was a pack a day smoker)

I really really hated being controlled by something - craving it on airplanes ect.. on the other hand before smoking bans and before ipods it was a nice way to kill time on an oversees trip.

catperson said...

Steve wrote:

The simplest explanation for this pattern of huge black success in some popularity-driven fields but not in national politics: all else being equal, it's advantageous in 21st Century America to be black; but the quality of black politicians has been low.

I don't think it's an advantage to be black in America. Other than Oprah, what other black talk show host has been a smashing success? Iyanla? Canceled. Marsha Warfield? Canceled. Ananda Lewis? Canceled. Tempestt Bledsoe? Canceled. Rolonda? Canceled. Gayle King? Canceled. Tyra Banks? Canceled. Whoopi? Canceled. Besides Oprah, I can't think of any other black woman in American history to even survive in the insanely competitive field of broadcast TV talk shows, let alone thrive (The View started doing well after Rosie O'Donnel but it's hosted by a multiracial pannel, not a single host) . And Oprah thrived largely because she has the best improvisational social skills Steve has ever witnessed.

I agree that a lot of the elite whites who voted for Obama might have suffered from white guilt (so being black might have been an advantage), but the working class white women who made Oprah the most successful African American of all time did not feel guilty (if anything this class is angry) and had no warm and fuzzy feelings towards blacks. Indeed one Oprah fan was surprised to discover she loved her show because for years she didn't watch, thinking "she's black; what kind of show can she have?"

Indeed one reason Oprah's endorsement was so crucial to Obama's ascent was that Obama was not able to win over working class white Democrats on his own. They were all supporting Hillary before Oprah jumped in. Even after Oprah working class whites still preferred Hillary, but by a smaller margin, which made all the difference in a razor close primary. Prior to Oprah's endorsement, Obama only had the support of educated whites and college kids. Oprah was needed to bring in some working class whites and African Americans (who suddenly embraced Obama in droves after Oprah campaigned for him in South Carolina).

Talk show hosting is a bad example because it's fairly g loaded, but blacks do tend to excel in less cognitively demanding popularity driven fields (rhythm music, sports, dancing, singing) because they are genetically superior at these types of talents.

Anonymous said...

"These advisers STRONGLY argue against some idea on economics -- and a highly technical one at that..."

Uh, economics is not a technical field. It's a BS-laden field. No one knows anything. An intelligent layman's opinions can be as valid as a "specialist's". It's not like physics or chemistry.

I'm not a fan of Obama, I've voted against him once and I'll vote against him again, but I've got to side with him on this. Suskind's sources are self-servingly exaggerating their worth.

Anonymous said...

"Uh, economics is not a technical field. It's a BS-laden field. No one knows anything."

Translation: "I don't know anything, because, geez, math is HARD, so no one must know anything."

Anonymous said...

But don't smokers take smoking breaks to gab with other smokers?

Anonymous said...

Uh, economics is not a technical field. It's a BS-laden field. No one knows anything. An intelligent layman's opinions can be as valid as a "specialist's". It's not like physics or chemistry.

He who knows not and knows not he knows not: he is a fool - shun him. He who knows not and knows he knows not: he is simple - teach him. He who knows and knows not he knows: he is asleep - wake him. He who knows and knows he knows: he is wise - follow him.

Anonymous said...

"He's not a big man"

What's that?

Anonymous said...

???

The ostensibly smartest, bestest economists in the world think the recession is caused by deficient aggregate demand?!?

Srsly?

You gotta love economists.

What did David Byrne say...?

"I
Look out the window,
And I,
I call that education."

TGGP said...

When I read the "rather funny novel" bit, I wasn't expecting a "brick joke".

Kylie said...

"'Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying. We are going to press on. We have work to do." [Obama to Blacks: "Stop Complaining. We Have Work to Do", OpposingViews.com, September 25, 2011]"

First, I listened to the clip and that's not what he said.

He said, "Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marchin' shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. We are gonna press on. We have work to do."

He's back in his black preacher mode, droppin' those g's and using that singsong, he was even doing that hip little bobbing movement in time to his words.

"President Obama’s rather startling reproof of his black critics at the Congressional Black Caucus’ dinner on Saturday night might or might not work."

It might or might not. But I'm betting that it does. Because it wasn't really a startling reproof at all. He wasn't telling his black critics that blacks needed to stay in school or stay off drugs or parent their children or pay child support or jettison any of the well-known pathologies rampant in the black community. No, he specifically said he was going to "press on" for jobs, for equality, for the sake of our[blacks'] children and for "all those families who are strugglin' right now". In other words, he wasn't telling the black community to start helping itself--that really would have been a startling reproof. He was telling them he was going to "press on" to see they got more of what they deserve to get from government help and hand-outs. It was just more of his redistributive scheme, put in terms his black audience could understand. Whites, of course, are free to interpret it as blacks helping themselves, not helping themselves to more goodies and freebies.

You're a smart guy, Steve, don't let him bamboozle you.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anon who posted upthread the quote from the Suskind book.

Some of the responses don't exactly do the Internet proud.

Look, I don't agree with economists of any stripe on certain matters. I think that some of their recommendations have led to awful consequences, and I will certainly believe my own eyes before I believe them. I don't think, for example, that they have any clue as to the downside of globalization or of the terrible toll of income inequality, which seems to arise naturally from the very models they love (true, I think, about economists of any ideology).

But I know that there are important things that they understand pretty well, which I just don't. If an economist whom I myself hired to advise me tells me that the problem in the current economy is insufficient demand, and not some idea I have in my own head as to the supposed impact on unemployment of supposed increased productivity, then, you know what? I'm not going to feel very confident in my idea. I'm going to feel like maybe I'm ignorant, and so would be just another blowhard and crackpot if I insist on my own idea because it happens to fit into my very, very limited knowledge of economics.

Obama obviously has no such qualms. He's as sure of himself as some of the commenters here, and with equal justification.

Let's just say I don't exactly feel comfortable with Obama in charge of the country, any more than I would be if these very random Internet commenters were.

Anonymous said...

Uh, economics is not a technical field. It's a BS-laden field. No one knows anything.

If all ideas are equal I guess that's why the Communist economies were such a roaring success.

Increases in productivity are a Good Thing. Who can complain about getting more good and services per unit of input? It's the underlying mechanism for increasing wages and wealth. If more output isn't created per hour of input, there's less to allocate to the various parties.

Milton Friedman story:

"At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: 'You don't understand. This is a jobs program.' To which Milton replied: 'Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it's jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.'"

Anonymous said...

Beatty pays, but says, "the president of this airline is a friend of mine, and I'm going to see to it that I get your job."

Warren, if thats true and you ever read this, you're a prick. And cheap.

Anonymous said...

A reminder Steve: You're in the Racial Justice business just like the folks you decry.

Like you, they also feel the Other Guy is a blowhard and full of bs.

Anonymous said...

On a Chris Christie-related topic, does being fat or being a smoker make one more of a pariah these days?

If elected president, Christie could single (double?) handedly lower milk prices. We could have free milk for the children. Won't anyone think of the children?

Anonymous said...

Increases in productivity are a Good Thing. Who can complain about getting more good and services per unit of input? It's the underlying mechanism for increasing wages and wealth. If more output isn't created per hour of input, there's less to allocate to the various parties.

You can have increases in productivity and declining wages and wealth. You can create more output per hour of input, and have less to allocate to the various parties if one or few of the parties capture all the gains, leaving none or little for the others.

If it's jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.

This is just stupid. The libertards eat this stuff up though.

The aim is to productively employ a set of labor that isn't being employed and is idle, not to try to create as many jobs as possible.

Peter A said...

"If all ideas are equal I guess that's why the Communist economies were such a roaring success."

Or maybe you are inadvertently demonstrating why we should be leery of "expertise" in the economics field. There were plenty of very smart high IQ people, even in the West, who thought that Marx had it right and that Capitalism was doomed. Even in the 1960s and 70s there were still many many very smart people who thought the command economy gave the Soviets a decisive military advantage over the US, hell, there were even intelligent Conservatives who believed that. Just goes to show that once you leave empiricism behind anyone with the brains to create a coherent story out of random facts can be an "expert".

Peter A said...

What I find ironic is that Steve's portraits of Obama always make the guy seem far more likable than the fawning left wing portraits do. Who wouldn't enjoy playing a round of golf or having a beer with an affable fellow like Obama? It is just crystal clear that the man should never have been elected President.

Anonymous said...

Randall Kennedy, like Thomas Sowell, is a true scholar.

NOTA said...

Anon 11:33:

I cant speak for Steve, but I would be very happy to live in a world where everyone dealing with racial issues was honest and reality based. Guys like Eric Holder and Cornel West and Barack Obama are very smart and have spent a lot of years thinking about this stuff. They spin and soften their message w.r.t. racial issues for political and social reasons all the time. The pundit class of the MSM mostly spread BS through ignorance (theyre overwhelmingly pretty smart and well-educated people, but they have no incentive to get things right and usually a strong incentive not to when it comes to race).

In that world, Steve's comments would be less imoortant and interesting. But we now have a world where there are pretty clear facts (the big black/white IQ difference, the details and effects of affirmative action programs, black underclass social pathology) which are seldom mentioned in respectable places, except to denounce people for mentioning them. On those rare occasions when respctable people do mention them, they are careful to hedge and weasel-word everything.

That isnt because respectable people cant understand this stuff, its because the wont understand it. Open discussion about these issues is career-limiting and social-life-limiting.

One downside of this is that we have these discussions in isolated ideological enclaves, where we're surely missing a lot of detail, maintaining our own blind spots even as we overcome some of the blind spots of our society. I think we have one openly black frequent poster. Its not so hard to see why, but its also not so hard to see how that leaves us ignorant of a lot of importnst details. My sense is that most intelligent discussion of this kind happens in smaller more isolaed communities. A discussion or any racial issue in the New York Times or on NPR is almost guaranteed to be less informative than one here or on TNC's blog, despite the fact that the ideas and starting beliefs are radically different.

One day, this will change. More or less honest discussions on these issues will transition from fringe to mainstream. Steve will be less influential when that happens, but the world will be a much better place.

NOTA said...

Peter A:

Yeah. Economists are generally smart people who are good at math. But given power over policies, its not so clear that they can produce better outcomes than anyone else. For example, there were a lot of these very smart experts who didnt see the housing bubble for what it was, and who believed in the fundamental soundness of the economy even when errors in calculating riskiness of various investments had spread through the financal world like mold through bread. The profession as a whole, filled with bright guys with years of study and hard thinking, was not remotely sounding alarm bells about the housing and asset bubbles or the massive mispricing of risk or the huge suicide-pact-like network of relationships between counterparties via complex derivatives.

This makes their claims of expertise now ring kind of hollow. No doubt Larry Summers and Chris Geithner are really smart guys. But then, Paul Bremmer is a really smart guy, and he presided over a bloody godawful disaster.

Truth said...

"Other than Oprah, what other black talk show host has been a smashing success?"

Uh, Montel Williams?

Anonymous said...

You can't have a generally wealthy or high income nation with low productivity, unless perhaps you're living off of resource extraction, Saudi-style. You don't see high income nations where the main industry is low productivity activities like subsistence farming. To argue otherwise is to argue against arithmetic.

catperson said...

Uh, Montel Williams?

Montel Williams deserves great credit for being the only African American other than Oprah to survive as a broadcast television talk show host, but unlike Oprah he didn't thrive. He just scraped by for a long time with acceptable but not impressive ratings.

Anonymous said...

ref. 9/26 3:36
9/26 4:34

The parsimonious view of the President might very well be that he is, and has been since early adolescence at least, an intensely and skillfully psychopathic personality rather expertly wearing a "Mask of Sanity". His smoking habit appears likely to have evolved from, rather prior to, his very heavy smoking of marijuana in his high school days All the biographical data I've seen lack any assurance as to his having had one or two life-long friends? During high school and in his earlier undergrad years, he appears to have woven into and out of various small groups but has not sustained any known close relationships with one or two best friends anywhere at any time. He appears to pick up on the relationships possible from the immediate settings he's in. This is further indication that manipulating people to his own benefit is the only really sustained interest he may have.
As one post in particular noted, he speaks before Blacks in what appears to be a completely inauthentic Black dialect. It is real in its sounds---the only problem is he never spoke that way at any point in his upbringing. I hope our ("our"?) national security apparatus knows all that can be known about President Obama and can disregard any particular "red flag" element to any of it.

Anonymous said...

When President Obama speaks in front of nearly all-Black audiences on "the campaign trail" he seems to talk Black. But he never did that as a kid. What's with the "play acting"? Who's the drama coach? And where's the real President?

Anonymous said...

One of your best briefs, Steve. This was a perfect explanation for why Obama is now finally losing his Teflon gloss. It was bound to happen, the guy four years before becoming president was nobody state legislator, and now he has the most important political executive job in the world. Obama is like the female lead in the Twilight movies, she provides a perfect vessel for any teenage girl to project herself unto, and Obama provides the same service for SWPL leftists. The difference of course is that the stakes for the country are much higher.

catperson said...

The parsimonious view of the President might very well be that he is, and has been since early adolescence at least, an intensely and skillfully psychopathic personality rather expertly wearing a "Mask of Sanity".

I think all presidents (except for Jimmy Carter) have to be a little psychopathic just because the job requires some cold blooded decisions especially at times of war. But Obama also seems to have an empathetic side which genuine psychopaths lack (i.e. providing health care to millions of Americans). And although Obama's drone attacks in the middle east are far too violent for my tastes, at least he never voted for the invasion of Iraq like Hillary and McCain and John Edwards or executed a mentally impaired black man to prove he was tough on crime as Bill Clinton allegedly did (see Ricky Ray Rector) or was accused of rape by a credible woman (see Juanita Broaddrick's accusation against Bill Clinton) or accused of threatening this alleged rape victim as Hillary was ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KZ8ICvutc0 )or cheated on a wife dying of cancer and allegedly used campaign funds to cover it up (see John Edwards). So if Obama's a psychopath, what does that make other elite politicians?

Indeed the fact that Obama has apparently never cheated on his wife is especially impressive for a good looking alpha male, especially a near-black one given the higher rates of promiscuity among African Americans. I'd say Obama is probably one of the least psychopathic presidents of all time.

Kylie said...

"But Obama also seems to have an empathetic side which genuine psychopaths lack (i.e. providing health care to millions of Americans)."

Empathetic? Hardly. Obama self-identifies as black and nationalized health care would be basically a transfer of wealth from whites to non-whites. Like Eric "My People" Holder, Obama feels not empathy toward others generally but a sense of identity with some specifically. That's not quite the same thing.

When talking about poor whites back East, he snidely referred to them as "clinging bitterly to guns and religion". When talking about his own white grandmother being accosted by an aggressive black panhandler, he characterized her as a "typical white person". He opened his press conference on the Fort Hood massacre with an utterly inappropriate "shout-out" to Native Americans. Etc.

These are not the actions and words of an empathetic man. But you go right on thinking that that's what he is--don't let yourself be confused by the facts.

NOTA said...

Anonymous:

Ive noticed that, too--Obama's black speaking style was learned consciously, the way an actor studies a particular style of talking or moving to convey some desired image.

Interestingly, the same was true of W. I remember reading in the economist about how he lost his first run for governor, and as a result moved his accent south and his vocabulary downmarket.

Its striking sometimes how completely our picture of most politicians is professionally produced and spun and airbrushed, both by the politicians/their PR people, and by media types who quickly come to hammer all reporting into the popular narrative. Thus, Gore was the intellectual candidate and Bush the dummy, even when test scores suggest Bush is probably a little brighter than Gore. Similarly, Bush was the tough guy candidate and Kerry the effete liberal, despite one being a war hero and the other having used his connections to protect his own precious ass from any danger in that war. Obama was the far left liberal socialist even as he was getting massive amounts of money from Wall Street, and he's soft on terror even when he does pretty much the same stuff Bush did. And so on.

The truth is, its very hard to know much about these folks. What we see is so heavily spun, and is reported by people who much prefer spin to facts (it's much less work to dig up!), and our images of them so likely to be filled in by partisan us/them thinking, that they're basically strangers. (This is a reason to understand their incentives and where they get their information and what processes shape them and select for people at their level. Even if I knew him personally, I doubt I could get inside Obama's head enough to figure out what he wants out of, say, the Israel/Palestine conflict or what he really thinks about underclass black social pathology. But maybe I can understand something about his incentives and who filters his information for him and how he got where he is.

Anonymous said...

Re "catperson" 9/27 11:54
I wrote what you quote at outset. I benefit from your remarks. I do
concede that our system requires a certain amount of "psychopathy" to survive within it. An important point not regarded by me. I remain
unpersuaded however about a couple other matters
(a) his passion for health care may be more interlarded with his emotions toward his mother than with the broad-based empathy you
suggest. I don't know, of course. All we are left with at any point in time is varying templates to put over what facts we discuss and point out. I hope you are correct.
(b) his marital faithfulness: My own sense about him is that he is faithful rather more by default--I do not think President Obama has ever been other than homosexual, but, of course,I do not know that.
The "informed conjecture" about this is based on what I've seen regarding the acts and omissions of his high school years. I don't have any beliefs about any of it, but I do try to formulate "likelihoods". I'd say, there's a 65% likelihood he has never been heterosexual. That, of course, does not preclude some "attenuated pleasure" from heterosexuality in many cases. So? I hope the best for the President, but also keep in mind the worst case possibilities. You are correct--the whole system is way off the rails.

Anonymous said...

Is Obama a real smoker-smoker or smoke-n-mirrors-smoker to maintain a cool image?

I have a feeling he doesn't smoke too much but maintains the image to show he's not a total do-goody square. Also, it makes him look more accessible, or human. He's supposed to be the messiah, which is a bit lofty. But smoking makes him 'more like us'.
It's like Bush making a big deal about liking pork rinds.

Anonymous said...

I think Obama's schtick is support the 'good cause' but don't look goodie goodie doing it. Good-bad is more cool, like the Man with No Name in Dollars Trilogy movies.

Anonymous said...

Interesting glimpse into American cultural criticism.

Anonymous said...

9/28 2:14
Smoking is a big negative overall with the general population. If someone for whom votes are vital is throwing some away, it's likely
compulsive--not volitional. Not a good sign in any leader. And if it's a psychopathic insistence on having his own way--all the more perverse. He's too busy to be at his mother's bedside when she passes on. There are so many outcroppings indicating an undisciplined person that it congeals into a real source of uneasiness about the fellow.

NOTA said...

I think national level politics selects for psychopaths. In particular, there is a whole structure of lies you have to tell with a straight face to be a successful politician, and he higher you go, the more you make decisions where you are weighing the lives or livelihoods or well being of thousands or millions of people against your personal political future. People who choose to sacrifice their political benefit for the well being of a bunch of people generally dont advance any further in politics.

The best illustration of this is the war in Iraq. Some very large fraction of the people who voted for it knew or should have known it was a bad idea. But it was a popular bad idea, so they overwhelmingly voted for it. Somethiing between a hundred thousand and a million Iraqis died as a result of that decision, as well as a few thousand American soldiers dead and a hell of a lot more blinded, deafened, without arms, without legs, or brain damaged and unable to care for themselves. But at aniy point, voting to end the war would have been politically costly. Thats true even to the present day, where we still have 50,000 or so soldiers there, and where the Army wont tell the media or public how many attacks there have been on US bases.

Politicians do this kind of thing all the time. Most normal humab beings would have a hard time living with themselves if, say, we had an innocent person killed so we could advance in our careers. For politicians, that decision appears to be easy to make.

Anonymous said...

I'm slow climbing up the knotted rope toward insight about BHO's
being Black. If you see only that I know lots about barbed wire here in West Texas, collect it, show it, etc. I cease to be saliently someone who is interested in barbed wire at the point I get arrested and plea bargain to 15 years for cattle rustling. Not a logically precise analogy, yet it gets at how superficial, if pervasive, is the President's race/ Blackness, etc. The guy is interested in race to the considerable extent it is a means/ a tool/ to his own power and narcissism and psychopathy. It appears utterly gratuitous to assume race is of any more genuine significance to his own inner being than , say, the breastworks on a Civil War battlefield are to a California topless beach.

His biography, not his skin pigmentation, is very much at odds with that of other Presidents--i.e., having lived outside the US for his first 10 years with a mother who resolved in early adulthood to spend as little time in the U.S. as possible since she deemed it "alien territory". The one awesome responsibility and power to know virtually every detail about the President's life inheres in the responsibility of the state security apparatus and especially the counter-espionage/ counter-intelligence functions of the FBI/CIA, etc. to know all the details of his life toward scrutiny of any matters that might be targeted by foreign operations--e.g., homosexuality (is it there?), Marxist affinities (are there any?), etc. Even if it were discovered he'd murdered someone, it would likely not be disclosed. Nor would any conclusive evidence he was born in Canada or Kenya. The sole focus is upon national security and neutralizing/countering/ "turning"/ activities of foreign services (Iran?, Russia? certainly
China, etc. ). Yet, there should be for such a definitive collection of information, some "in camera" access by at least two or three Senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Has there been?

NOTA said...

Anon:

Are you basically proposing giving the security services or a small cabal in the Senate a veto on presidents? I can see the threat youre worried about, but it seems to me that your solution introduces a much bigger problem.

Anonymous said...

Re: NOTA 09/30 11:24 a.m.
I wrote what you message asks about.
I appreciate your question. It clarifies a weakness in what I wrote (pretty hurriedly). No, no veto power at all. My own sense is that in the deeper caverns of national security information, even select members of a congressional intelligence committee should be very very remote. It is just that the people who are charged with being "omniscient" about everything of concern re BHO are
the inner recesses of the national security apparatus. They sure have the direct reach to find out very quickly and definitively the veracity or lack thereof of all the buzz questions and all the accolades surrounding BHO. The voters and about all the elected officials can remain in the dark, but the national security is larger than all that & if foreign powers are also "in the know" --that's what our omniscience is aimed to protect against/ neutralize, etc. It does seem odd about little is known securely about President Obama.

Anonymous said...

The basic matter that most of us do not have reason to consider is that deep within our national security apparatus, these matters of birth location, bisexuality (?), acute
depressive episodes (?) are issues that can be known about definitively without the President's authority or awareness. And they should have been known about a long time ago. It would seem imperative that the national security apparatus would have to indicate to select members of, say, the Senate Intelligence Committee that, yes, a definitive, "omniscient" investigation of primary sources/source material has been done. But utterances would stop at that point of assurance. No information gathered would be released in any way.
But has even this assurance been given within the oversight committees? We may likely never know. THAT is a concern.