May 23, 2009 - May 16, 2009
With all the back and forth in the Democratic campaign over the
past few days, people are losing their perspective and getting things
wrong. Specifically, they're being swept up in the amount of ink being
lavished on individual events and failing to see the difference between
a grenade and a bunker-buster. Today, Glenn Reynolds (who also made an
erroneous snap judgment of his own this morning) cited The
Anchoress as a wise perspective on what's going on:
Her point seems to be that we
are at fault if we experience any kind of emotional response to the
exchange of revelations between opposing campaigns. This time, The
Anchoress is wrong.
So is the lede of the USA Today piece linked by HotAir.com.
What could be...? USA
Today is wrong.
And Glenn Reynolds offered the following post, reproduced here word for word:
Glenn Reynolds is wrong. However they surfaced -- which was inevitable
despite The Anchoress's uncharacteristically irrelevant concern with how they surfaced -- the video
excerpts from the sermons of Jeremiah Wright are the only significant
revelation that occurred this week. (Ferraro's faux-pas will be as
insignificant as she is in two weeks time.) They are also fatal to
Obama's chances of winning the presidency. They are probably equally
fatal to Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the presidency. It's up
to the Democrat Party to figure out how to deal with the catastrophe,
but catastrophe it is, and there are multiple reasons why.
Everyone has been bending over backwards to give Obama the benefit of every doubt, including all Democrats, the fawning MSM, and the many many conservatives who would also like to enter a post-racial era of politics. That's the prime reason for The Anchoress's rare lapse of good judgment. Citizens in the electorate who perceive, emotionally or intellectually, that they are conceived of as "the enemy" by a presidential candidate can't be accused of "not making any sense" if they suddenly become intensely skeptical of that candidate. They have every right -- an infinitely greater right, in fact, than any candidate for the highest office in the land has to an unlimited benefit of the doubt about the sincerity of his rhetoric. The candidate's prime mission is to convince voters that he (or she) is not serving some narrow slice of the electorate at the expense of all others. If he fails to do this, he has not earned the office. Period.
For a variety of reasons, we all know very little about Barack Obama. His life has been much like his campaign persona, featuring some point of contact for all people. If you're poor and black, he at least is black. If you're white and highly educated, he at least is highly educated. If you're a struggling single mother, he at least was raised by a single mother. If you're a Catholic or a Methodist or a Presbyterian or a Baptist, he at least belongs to a nominally Christian church. If you're anybody who believes in the American Dream, he is at least, regardless of policy differences, a living embodiment of the American Dream. He has a finger in every pie. His speeches have been analogous. He wants things to be better. He wants less rancorous partisanship. He wants less conflict between America and the rest of the world. And he asserts his confidence, ever so believably, that all these utopian goals can be achieved because he is all of us, in one way or another.
But we don't know very much about him because the part of him to which any of us can relate is only a sliver. Hardly any of us had a white American college professor for a mother and a Kenyan muslim for a father. Hardly any of us spent large chunks of our youth living in non-European foreign countries. Hardly any of us went to the Harvard Law School. Hardly anyone in American history has been propelled to the summit of national politics with such frighteningly scant experience. He is the promising stranger who seems too good to be true. But he is a stranger, even to the 91 percent of genuine African-Americans who support him knowing that he shares none of their ancestry of slavery. And he is too good to be true.
The truth is, he is none of us. Which is absolutely fine for any individual citizen of the United States. But not for someone who aspires to be president of the United States. Ultimately, we all require some connection that goes beyond lofty phrases in speeches read off a teleprompter. The damage that will simmer and ultimately explode out of the Jeremiah Wright association is that Obama is a phony, no matter how he chooses to respond. Whether he defends his racist, anti-American pastor of 20 years or repudiates him with extreme prejudice. In his heart of hearts Obama understands nothing and no one, because he has never belonged anywhere or truly participated in anything. Which is why he has consistently gone overboard in trying to belong everywhere he's ever been. In the process, he has initiated a chain reaction that will do in his party, his rivals, the people he claims to want to serve, and himself.
He seems to present a forest of contradictions. His classmates at Harvard Law School, including his close associates at the Harvard Law Review, seem to remember him as a great guy, tolerant, friendly, and fair. Yet he chooses to be a member of a church that foments a continuous and deeply counter-productive racial rage. He forms a friendship with an over-privileged Vietnam-era radical terrorist whose knowledge of how to play "the system" is so advanced that he can cop a plea for bombing the U.S. Capitol and emerge from prison into a professorship without ever expressing a moment's remorse. Yet he marries a middle-class African-American woman who has had every conceivable advantage and who now, on the verge of becoming First Lady of the nation, publicly voices a churlish disrespect not only for her country but for white people. men generally, and even the husband who has opened up the golden path to power. He prospers politically through a murky relationship with a Chicago operator who has relationships with multiple dubious moneymen from the Wahabbi middle east that have benefited him politcally and personally. Yet he slams his female presidential rival for releasing a photo of him in muslim dress and objects to the speaking out loud of his own middle name.
Who is Barack Obama? There is only one thread of consistency in all these contradictions -- his distance from everyone in his life, save possibly the mother he chose to ignore in an autobiography focused on his distant, abandoning father. Barack Obama is whoever he happens to be around, whoever the emotionally strong people in his life choose to surround him with, whoever it serves him to be at the moment.
The argument is being made that Obama must hate America because he went to Jeremiah Wright's church, got married there, had his children baptized there, and contributed $20K to it in 2006. That's wrong, too. It's Michelle Obama who hates America, who believes the vile propaganda of yet anothe rich, phony, one-church Pope, who wanted to be married in a Farrakhan-esque cult denomination, and have her children baptized there. Obama was just reflecting her wishes because she was authentic African-American and he was merely determined to belong. She knows this. That's why she can barely conceal her contempt for him.
There is no Barack Obama. Everyone who meets him makes up their own version of him. He is an outstanding orator becaue he has learned to read the desire of those around him about who they want him to be and then to reflect and fulfill that desire. It has worked for him every step of the way until now. Be the ball? He is the words he says. When he says them. That's his whole identity, the wave of affirmation that flows back from the crowd when he has been a clear enough mirror.
He has been too many things to too many different people. But all those people expect to see what they're expecting to see every time, and it's no longer possible in the simultaneous pressures of a presidential campaign. Even he doesn't know how different he is from venue to venue and person to person. That's why he doesn't know how to recognize the urgency of repudiating Jeremiah Wright in absolute and unforgiving terms. There's a part of him that believes in the AIDS conspiracy, just as there's a part of him that believes in the fundamental decency of all the guilty liberals who admired and promoted him at the Harvard Business School.
All of this could possibly be overcome if he had any feel for the deep diversity of the American electorate. But he doesn't. From first to last, he's always been an outsider. He doesn't understand at all -- and neither does USA Today's eager young reporter -- that African-Americans have been on a deadly collision course with feminists since the mid-seventies. These two apparent and frequently avowed allies have been competing for the same finite pool of extra privileges all along, and because there are more women and more of the women are white, it is the feminists who have done more to slow the de-racialization of America than any other force. The feminists' anti-male propaganda has inevitably done far more damage to African-American males and their role in families than it has done to white men. The feminists' gradual achievement of female hegemony over child ownership, child-rearing, and abortion decisions has done more to destroy the black family and promote the epidemic of children born out of wedlock than any conspiracy Jeremiah Wright could ever dream up. The resistance -- in the virulent form of hip-hop hatred of women -- has made racism and sexism into the two supposedly allied causes that were destined to go finally and horribly to war with one another.
Regardless of how the campaign war turns out, both sides have been crippled. Obama cannot win because there is no one inside the gauzy, unreal image to battle through the contradictions to a mandate based on character rather than a mosaic of sliver identities. His white vote will shrivel as ordinary Americans discover they can't determine where his allegiance lies, unless it's to himself only. Women will sit on their hands because they've seen enough of the slick young operator who waltzes in at the last moment and swipes the opportunity from the deserving veteran female (and being half-white doesn't help him in this respect). But Hillary can't win, either, because of the one-drop rule. Even though Obama is not and never was an African-American, he has always been black enough to benefit from the superannuated slave culture that forgives every corruption and hypocrisy in those who have any claim on being black. If Hillary is the nominee, African-Americans will stay home in significant numbers. Unlike Jeremiah Wright, John McCain is the irascible uncle we'd go to for help in a pinch, not hide from because of the revolver he keeps in a cigar box.
At the end of the day, Reverend Wright is a self-fulfilling prophecy, the poison in the well. Like Moses, he can never accompany his chosen ones to the promised land When his people finally learn to stop following his like, they will find what they seek, as if by magic. But for now, the horse he groomed for them is scratched at the gate.
If you think we're wrong, you do not yet understand the power of YouTube.
It will "never stop, never stop, never stop..."
UPDATE. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link. I owe him an apology. When he didn't link this post quickly enough to suit me, I sent him a cranky email. InstaPunk's customary arrogance is a persona that's a useful tool on a satirical website but has no place in other kinds of correspondence. Glenn has proved he's a fairer man than I am. We'll see if I can do better in future.