Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mrs. Obama

What struck me about Michelle Obama's prepared statement that 'this is the first time in my adult life that I am proud of my country" was the reaction (or lack thereof) of the crowd. Had a Republican said such a thing I imagine a collective gasp from the crowd, not nodding heads and polite cheers.

The moment I heard that Princeton wasn't going to release Michelle Obama's sociology thesis, I immediately knew it was on race. Having read a couple blurbs, I can't say I was surprised by her take. I can say I was deeply disappointed. National Review's John Derbyshire says it well:

Mrs. Obama's Thesis

O.K., I read Mrs Obama's senior sociology thesis, "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community". What effect, if any, will it have on the presidential campaign? I'd say a moderate positive, offset by a slight negative.

The positive comes from the Obama people having released the thing. It makes them look open and transparent, and highlights (or low-darks) Mrs. Clinton's not having released her tax returns.

The slight negative is slight because this is a candidate's wife. Nobody's asking you to vote for her. Ronald Reagan's enemies, who were very numerous and unprincipled, might have had a lot of fun with Nancy's Smith College senior papers, but nobody seems to have thought of it. A candidate's wife's college term papers just aren't consequential.

On the other hand, the slight negative is negative because the thesis reveals a cast of mind that most voters find deeply unattractive. Plainly Mrs. Obama had that cast of mind in 1985. Recent remarks suggest she still has it. The fact that Barack Obama chose her as a wife and seems to get on well with her, indicates that he shares it. It's that deeply, unrelentingly critical way of thinking about the U.S.A., and about most of our citizens, that characterizes the "victicrat" — the person who has been taught, or who has taught herself, that she is a pitiful figure buffeted by hostile forces, whose only hope for survival is to return the hostility, and to band together with others like herself ("the Black community") for mutual aid, all of them in a hostile posture to the out-group.

Most Americans don't see our country like that, and have a low opinion of people who do. Millions of white — or, as Mrs. Obama writes, "White" — Americans would love to have had the breaks Mrs. Obama had, and resent the fact that they didn't have them because they don't belong to a designated victim group. They resent the ease with which two beneficiaries of those breaks can parlay their victim status into two six-digit salaries and a seven-digit house, without ever doing any kind of work that adds to the nation's wealth or security. And they especially resent that people who have attained those heights of success, with the assistance of those breaks, seem to nurse nothing but hostile emotions towards the country that made it possible for them.

Net-net, I doubt it will make much difference, or should. The thesis itself is pretty dire; but then, so are most of the college productions of 21-year-olds. I got my degree by solving differential equations and the like — no prose required, for which I am very grateful.

Kudos to Mr. Derbyshire for acknowledging that a candidate's wife's college term paper shouldn't be terribly consequential in choosing a president. He is probably correct noting that someone could have had fun with Nancy Reagan's writings as a 20 year old, if only they had thought of it.

I do have two disagreements. The first (and I think Mr. Derbyshire would agree in hindsight) is lumping Mrs. Obama with the kind of people who "seem to nurse nothing but hostile emotions towards the country that made it possible for them". Undoubtedly, she harbors some negative feelings towards America, in addition to projecting herself as a victim of some sorts. Nonetheless, he should have made it more clear that he was not referring to her in that sentence.

The second disagreement is I think this will have a little more impact than Mr. Derbyshire thinks. This is precisely the type of mentality on our country, race and fairness that makes ordinary American's recoil. Obama's entire appeal to many is the hope he will take us beyond such thinking. The fact she still holds these beliefs to some extent will not be lost on many people. The thesis helps confirms what she is thinking when she says she is "proud of her country for the first time as an adult" some 20 years later.

What was left unsaid is how pervalant such sentiments are among certain segments of our society. Let's face it; nearly all such people are on the Left. That explains the polite cheers.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


It is nice when events reaffirm your core beliefs. Obama-mania is such an event. The comparisons of Obama to JFK were inevitable. Young, good-looking, beautiful wife, fine orator...Democrat. All of this is serving to reaffirm one of my principle beliefs about the way most conservatives and liberals think. Not what they think - how they think.

Liberalism subsists on imagery.

JFK is an icon to Liberals much the same way that Reagan is an icon to Conservatives. Reagan served two full terms as president, revitalized the conservative movement, won two presidential elections in landslides and had a whole host of accomplishments. Kennedy won a single contested election and served only 3 years. Kennedy's accomplishments in those three years included cutting taxes, invading Cuba and escalating our involvement in Vietnam exponentially. Not exactly a legacy Liberals have embraced since.

It is not Kennedy's record that makes Liberals swoon. It is his image - Camelot.

Compare Kennedy's inaugural address to Obama's speeches today.

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

Does this sound like Obama? That is the polar opposite of the message from Obama and Democrats (perfectly illustrated in Hillary Clinton's Christmas ad showing Hillary wrapping the "gifts" of universal health care, universal pre-kindergarten and alternative energy that she was going to give Americans. Gifts you pay for!) . The message from Obama and the Democrats today is "we will have the government give you more gifts than the Republicans".
"...we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty".

Forget about supporting any friend, opposing any foe and the survival and success of liberty for Iraqis. To Obama even "preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there".

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it".
No images of Obama springing up in your mind? The only defending of freedom I can see from the Democrats lately is the defending of trial lawyer's rights to sue telecom companies that cooperate with catching terrorists.

Of course, Obama avoids these real comparisons of himself and JFK in his speeches by talking about...nothing. By nothing, I mean evoking "hope", "unity", "change", "yes, we can"...without context is meaningless. Hope for what? Unify behind what? Change to what? Yes, we can do what?

Last week it was discovered that an Obama volunteer office in Texas had a Cuban flag with the image of Che Guevara hanging on the wall. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe said it well:
IN 1963, John F. Kennedy was murdered in Texas by a fervent admirer of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. In 2008, a large Cuban flag emblazoned with the image of Che Guevara, Castro's brutal henchman, is prominently displayed in a Barack Obama campaign volunteer office in Houston.

In December 1962, Kennedy offered a blunt summary of the Castro/Che record. "The Cuban people were promised by the revolution political liberty, social justice, intellectual freedom, land for the campesinos, and an end to economic exploitation," he said. "They have received a police state, the elimination of the dignity of land ownership, the destruction of free speech and a free press, and the complete subjugation of individual human welfare."

Were he alive today, it's hard to imagine JFK feeling anything but contempt for those who extol a dictatorship that has been crushing freedom and human beings for nearly 50 years. And it would surely pain him that so many of the cheerleaders are members of his own party.
He concludes:
The lionizing of Che, a sociopath who relished killing and acclaimed "the pedagogy of the firing squad," is not just "inappropriate." It is vile.
But Che sure cuts a romantic revolutionary image in that famous photograph.

John Lennon's "All we are saying is give peace a chance" is a catchy tune and a lovely image. It is not a policy for the defense of our country. Perhaps that is why the Obama speeches are now being put to music. His lyrics are equally meaningless.