Kalb notes Obama's apparent chameleon-like qualities, which Sailer's pieces explore in some depth; worth reading, for those whose curiosity has been piqued by all the discussion of Obama.
A commenter on Kalb's blog mentions discussion on Obama from various traditionalist blogs, and although he does not mention Lawrence Auster's VFR, that is the first blog that comes to mind. Auster has been devoting considerable attention to Obama and his qualities as a candidate. I am nonplussed by Auster's seemingly somewhat favorable opinion of Obama; he certainly seems to be 'praising him with faint damns', willing to give him much more credit than I would expect to be given a liberal candidate who seems to be a proponent of multiculturalism and the proposition nation.
I respect Lawrence Auster's judgment on most subjects; his blog is one of the best out there for traditionalists and real conservatives; I trust his opinion on most topics, but I am not at all as favorably impressed with Obama as Auster inexplicably seems to be. I hope in time, Obama will reveal himself beyond doubt as the liberal/leftist/multiculturalist I perceive him to be. The one thing which I see as working considerably to Obama's advantage is his unknownness, the fact that he has very little in the way of a record in his short political life; at the moment, he is something of a blank canvas onto which many people are projecting their own wishes or desires. I do think, however, that the liberals/leftists will recognize in him a kindred spirit, which he is; what they see is what they will get.
I do agree with the opinion Sailer expressed a while back: Obama is benefiting greatly from the 'white guilt' phenomenon, and the almost palpable need that many white people have, to find a black (or at least mixed race, in Obama's case) person with whom they can agree. The neediness of many white people, both Republican and Democrat, to have a non-white they can identify with, is almost pitiable to witness; it's as though they are looking for absolution from the guilt which so many people feel, based on perceived ancestral sins.
We see this play out in the way that many conservative whites fawn over black 'conservatives' like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Thomas Sowell, and now, Moslems or ex-Moslems like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. There is an overcompensating fuss made over any black who is even slightly to the right of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
So Obama will get a free ride in many quarters, unless he commits some huge faux pas or gaffe; I truly don't think anybody, Democrat or Republican, will go after him as harshly as they would a white candidate; nobody will want to face the inevitable accusations of racism and bigotry that would follow any tough scrutiny or criticism. And if anyone raises questions about Obama's Moslem ties, the charge of Islamophobia will inevitably follow.
But here, in an appearance in Des Moines, Obama is giving us a glimpse of his viewpoint on the Middle East.
Obama told the Muscatine-area party activists that he supports relaxing restrictions on aid to the Palestinian people. He said they have suffered the most as a result of stalled peace efforts with Israel.
"Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people," Obama said while on the final leg of his weekend trip to eastern Iowa.
"If we could get some movement among Palestinian leadership, what I'd like to see is a loosening up of some of the restrictions on providing aid directly to the Palestinian people," he added.''
And here is the link to the text of Obama's recent speech in Selma, with some excerpts:
So I just want to talk a little about Moses and Aaron and Joshua, because we are in the presence today of a lot of Moseses. We're in the presence today of giants whose shoulders we stand on, people who battled, not just on behalf of African Americans but on behalf of all of America; that battled for America’s soul, that shed blood , that endured taunts and formant [sic] and in some cases gave -- torment and in some cases gave the full measure of their devotion.
Like Moses, they challenged Pharaoh, the princes, powers who said that some are atop and others are at the bottom, and that's how it's always going to be.
Thank God, He's made us in His image and we reject the notion that we will for the rest of our lives be confined to a station of inferiority, that we can't aspire to the highest of heights, that our talents can't be expressed to their fullest. And so because of what they endured, because of what they marched; they led a people out of bondage.
It's because they marched that we elected councilmen, congressmen. It is because they marched that we have Artur Davis and Keith Ellison. It is because they marched that I got the kind of education I got, a law degree, a seat in the Illinois senate and ultimately in the United States senate.
It is because they marched that i stand before you here today. I was mentioning at the Unity Breakfast this morning, my -- at the Unity Breakfast this morning that my debt is even greater than that because not only is my career the result of the work of the men and women who we honor here today. My very existence might not have been possible had it not been for some of the folks here today. I mentioned at the Unity Breakfast that a lot of people been asking, well, you know, your father was from Africa, your mother, she's a white woman from Kansas. I’m not sure that you have the same experience.
And I tried to explain, you don't understand. You see, my Grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya. Grew up in a small village and all his life, that's all he was -- a cook and a house boy. And that's what they called him, even when he was 60 years old. They called him a house boy. They wouldn't call him by his last name.
He had to carry a passbook around because Africans in their own land, in their own country, at that time, because it was a British colony, could not move about freely. They could only go where they were told to go. They could only work where they were told to work.
Yet something happened back here in Selma, Alabama. Something happened in Birmingham that sent out what Bobby Kennedy called, “Ripples of hope all around the world.” Something happened when a bunch of women decided they were going to walk instead of ride the bus after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry, looking after somebody else's children. When men who had PhD’s decided that's enough and we’re going to stand up for our dignity. That sent a shout across oceans so that my grandfather began to imagine something different for his son. His son, who grew up herding goats in a small village in Africa could suddenly set his sights a little higher and believe that maybe a black man in this world had a chance.
And it reminds us that we still got a lot of work to do, and that the basic enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, the injustice that still exists within our criminal justice system, the disparity in terms of how people are treated in this country continues. It has gotten better. And we should never deny that it's gotten better. But we shouldn't forget that better is not good enough. That until we have absolute equality in this country in terms of people being treated on the basis of their color or their gender, that that is something that we've got to continue to work on and the Joshua generation has a significant task in making that happen.
Third thing -- we've got to recognize that we fought for civil rights, but we've still got a lot of economic rights that have to be dealt with. We've got 46 million people uninsured in this country despite spending more money on health care than any nation on earth. It makes no sense. As a consequence, we've got what's known as a health care disparity in this nation because many of the uninsured are African American or Latino. Life expectancy is lower. Almost every disease is higher within minority communities. The health care gap.
Blacks are less likely in their schools to have adequate funding. We have less-qualified teachers in those schools. We have fewer textbooks in those schools. We got in some schools rats outnumbering computers. That's called the achievement gap. You've got a health care gap and you've got an achievement gap. You've got Katrina still undone. I went down to New Orleans three weeks ago. It still looks bombed out. Still not rebuilt.
There is an empathy gap. There is a gap in terms of sympathizing for the folks in New Orleans. It's not a gap that the American people felt because we saw how they responded. But somehow our government didn't respond with that same sense of compassion, with that same sense of kindness. And here is the worst part, the tragedy in New Orleans happened well before the hurricane struck because many of those communities, there were so many young men in prison, so many kids dropping out, so little hope.
A hope gap. A hope gap that still pervades too many communities all across the country and right here in Alabama. So the question is, then, what are we, the Joshua generation, doing to close those gaps? Are we doing every single thing that we can do in Congress in order to make sure that early education is adequately funded and making sure that we are raising the minimum wage so people can have dignity and respect? ''
And there is much more to the speech in the same vein.
There is an undeniably racial aspect to this speech; he is making clear his identification with black Americans (even though strictly speaking he is not an American black, having a Kenyan immigrant father and a white American mother) and with the Civil Rights movement, in which his family had no part, despite his attempt to link his father to it. And there is the theme of guilt: the idea that disparities are the result of bigotry or malice or 'institutional racism' is implicit, between the lines in his speech. It's subtle, not as in-your-face as Jesse Jackson, but it's there.
I am baffled by the number of otherwise clear-thinking Americans who think Obama is an Everyman, an average American, who despite his exotic background, can identify with all of us. He shows no sign of even recognizing his white ancestry, and in the excerpts from his autobiography that I have seen, he falls back on the victimhood stance: he felt marginalized. How fair and how inclusive can someone be who has absorbed the victimhood mystique, and who resents his having felt 'different' when he was growing up? His childhood was not in the least bit typical of most Americans; he lived part of his childhood in Indonesia, and part of it in multiracial Hawaii. Now, I love Hawaii, but it is the most exotic of all American states. I question whether Obama can identify with the experiences of most of us. Culturally, he is not an average American. His sympathies likely are with immigrants, especially nonwhite immigrants, as opposed to native-born, non-hyphenated Americans. He will perpetuate the racial rhetoric and the divisions which result from that.
And, like any loyal Democrat, he will use the class warfare card, as he did in this speech in 2004 at the Democrat convention:
If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.
If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work.
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America.
There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America -- there is the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states; red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach Little League in the blue states and have gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.''
Yes, I know this is standard political boilerplate; it's the typical stuff that politicians say. But it has a ring of falsity, of more than the average amount of political cynicism about it. It's all too pat, like a by-the-numbers speech, hitting all the expected notes, all very calculated. And rather Orwellian, in a Norman Rockwell kind of way.
Bill Clinton specialized in these kinds of speeches, and to great effect; for whatever reason, people found him charismatic and sympathetic, although I didn't share that impression. From the git-go, I sensed a dishonesty about him, and my gut response was correct. My visceral reactions are usually right, and I have the same reaction to Obama that I had to Bill Clinton.
The late Sam Francis wrote about Obama back in 2004, and addressed the issue of Obama's biracial origins, which supposedly enable him to be transracial, or 'above' race:
His racial identity or supposed lack of it enables him to be both black and non-racial, white and multiracial, at the same time.
When he wants to be black, he can be and is. He calls himself black and the media routinely identify him as a "black" or "African-American."
But he can also be white or not racial at all, which is useful when he's presenting himself as "above" race and appealing to the white voters he'll need if he's going to be elected or when he's denouncing his critics and opponents for playing race cards as he himself of course would never do.
Moreover, while openly racial candidates like Mr. Sharpton or Jesse Jackson helped instigate white racial consciousness—if they can be black, why can't whites be white?—Mr. Obama works against it: If he's neither white nor black, why should you be white?
As Mr. [Jonathan] Tilove notes, Mr. Obama "can argue for policies virtually indistinguishable from Sharpton's in cooler, non-racial terms, while still affirming a message of racial identity and uplift implicit in his very being."
"I think he is talking about race when he's not," Professor Dillard says. "Something about the way he pitches things is perfect for this moment."
And what is "this moment" exactly? It's the moment when America ceases to be a nation defined and characterized by the white racial identity of its founders and historic population and is transformed into the non-white multiracial empire symbolized and led by "people like Obama."
Sam Francis, God rest his soul, was a perceptive man, and I think his assessment of Obama and his potential are accurate.
I think this is part of what I see as unsettling: the idea that an Obama can, via this apparent charisma that many, even some conservatives perceive, push a racial agenda and a political agenda that would be unacceptable if it were advanced by a Sharpton or a Jackson. Obama disarms us with this apparent charm. I think he is potentially a pied piper; I could envision him winning many disaffected 'conservatives' who see him as representing a new type of moderate black, someone we can work with and get along with. Yet I don't see him as a harbinger of any new trend, but as sui generis; he is one of a kind, not a prophet of a new era in race relations, as some believe.
Obama, because of his unique background, will not be held to stringent standards, and will be treated with kid gloves by the media and even his opponents, I think. This gives him a considerable advantage from the get-go, and it puts us, the American voters, at a disadvantage, as Obama will be viewed through the glamor lens of the MSM.