The women in Obama’s life and their effect on his personality and politics

Spengler, writing at Asia Times Online, has one of the more fascinating attacks I’ve seen on Barack Obama, and one that exposes some Obama history about which I was blissfully unaware. I knew that Michelle Obama, in her role as candidate’s wife, has forced herself to speak positively about America, to the point where she even grudgingly admitted that, given the positive response to Obama, she’s actually (and for the first time ever) proud of her country, although in a very limited way. I knew, too, that she likes to put him down in public, speaking denigratingly of his ineptitude at home and his morning breath, points that were perhaps meant to humanize him but that, in fact, just make her look angry.

What I didn’t know, though, was that Obama’s mother comes from the far, far Left, and raised him in a deeply anti-American environment:

Friends describe her [Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother] as a “fellow traveler”, that is, a communist sympathizer, from her youth, according to a March 27, 2007, Chicago Tribune report. Many Americans harbor leftist views, but not many marry into them, twice. Ann Dunham met and married the Kenyan economics student Barack Obama, Sr, at the University of Hawaii in 1960, and in 1967 married the Indonesian student Lolo Soetero. It is unclear why Soetero’s student visa was revoked in 1967 – the fact but not the cause are noted in press accounts. But it is probable that the change in government in Indonesia in 1967, in which the leftist leader Sukarno was deposed, was the motivation.

Soetero had been sponsored as a graduate student by one of the most radical of all Third World governments. Sukarno had founded the so-called Non-Aligned Movement as an anti-colonialist turn at the 1955 Bandung Conference in Indonesia. Before deposing him in 1967, Indonesia’s military slaughtered 500,000 communists (or unfortunates who were mistaken for communists). When Ann Dunham chose to follow Lolo Soetero to Indonesia in 1967, she brought the six-year-old Barack into the kitchen of anti-colonialist outrage, immediate following one of the worst episodes of civil violence in post-war history.


Barack Obama received at least some instruction in the Islamic faith of his father and went with him to the mosque, but the importance of this experience is vastly overstated by conservative commentators who seek to portray Obama as a Muslim of sorts. Radical anti-Americanism, rather than Islam, was the reigning faith in the Dunham household. In the Muslim world of the 1960s, nationalism rather than radical Islam was the ideology of choice among the enraged. Radical Islam did not emerge as a major political force until the nationalism of a Gamal Abdel Nasser or a Sukarno failed.

I’m not arguing that the sins of the father should be visited on the children. As I’ve frequently discussed here, my father was raised as a Communist although he was a solid Democrat during my life. He would never have voted Communist, but he did carry with him the anger and pessimism that characterized Communism, and he was really incapable of seeing America’s virtues, which he always viewed as instruments of oppression. However, I am not my father. I have explicitly disavowed those viewpoints and, indeed, I never did support his more Leftist leanings. I loved him dearly and respected him greatly, but I did not agree with his more radical political beliefs.  Further, to the extent that I’ve left my own generic Democratic past, I have attempted to explain where I feel that the Democratic party changed (abandoning me), and where I have changed (abandoning the Democratic party).

Significantly, Obama has never done what I have done; namely, rejected explicitly the more distasteful views of his family and associates.  With regard to Obama’s careful silence on these hot topics, Spengler makes a rather stunning point about Obama’s personality and techniques:

Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother’s milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career. He shares the resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.

There is nothing mysterious about Obama’s methods. “A demagogue tries to sound as stupid as his audience so that they will think they are as clever as he is,” wrote Karl Krauss. Americans are the world’s biggest suckers, and laugh at this weakness in their popular culture. Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis’ cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone Power’s portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley. The latter is available for instant viewing at Netflix, and highly recommended as an antidote to having felt uplifted by an Obama speech.

America has the great misfortune to have encountered Obama at the peak of his powers at its worst moment of vulnerability in a generation. With malice aforethought, he has sought out their sore point.

Spengler’s language is even stronger than that which I’ve used (I’ve repeatedly called Obama a demagogue, but never a sociopathic), but fundamentally there is nothing in there with which I disagree.  I believe that Obama is a very scary political figure, and I devoutly hope that Americans will look at John McCain’s ebullient energy, his positiveness, if you will, and reject the scarily empty rhetoric that masks Obama’s deep dislike for America and its political and economic systems.

Hat tip: El Gordo

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  • Ymarsakar

    Democracy and republics are always dependent upon the sanity and wellness of the people. If the people become unwell, then there is no magic pill to make us better.

    The danger of demagogues were well known by the Founders, if only because they saw what happened to the French Revolution. The French wanted to change to a Republic out of a monarchy. What they got was endless blood in the streets and the rise of Napoleon.

    The problem of the human condition has been a political challenge for all of human history, recorded or not. For those that cared about the fate of their people more than they cared about the fate of their own personal ambitions and lives, the challenge was to overcome human weakness through pooling human strengths. You gathered subordinates to you that you could trust and that you knew could do the job of making things better for your people, the people under your care. And thus the loyalty of any leader, including an aristocrat in feudal times, to the people was repaid by the dedication and willingness of the people to sacrifice for the goals of the leader.

    The situation is very different for a political leader that seeks his own power over and beyond what is best for the people. Hitler would rather have the German people be totally destroyed and defeated than to have Hitler be defeated or surrender. That is the kind of megalomania we are dealing with here when I speak of demagogues The Democrat party has already proven that it eagerly sacrificed millions in Vietnam for their ambitions. They have already proven that they will sacrifice all those in the military for political benefits such as balancing the budget, the so called Peace Dividend. The fact that Republicans also bought into it is just a demonstration that power over humanity does not exclude power over the leaders of humanity.

    The challenges faced by megalomaniacs is how to acquire power legally and how to legally silence your critics. McCain-Feingold was such an obstacle to political freedom of speech because it was a legal method of silencing dissent and disagreement. It is very hard to argue that Republicans have the freedom to speak back on the same level as MoveOn, when George Soros and partners are pouring many more millions into 401s than Republicans. For all the Democrat and fake liberal focus on fairness, they understand implicitly that to get what they want, first they must be unfair and unjust. The ends will justify their means.

    And that’s the kind of thinking that is anathema to the health and prosperity of any people or nation. It is the supreme challenge of the good to prevent the evil from destroying all that there is to destroy, simply based upon the justification that the goal is so good and perfect that it justifies any crime against humanity.

    What has changed now for us is very little, but such little changes bring great consequences. For one thing, we no longer see demonstrations of leadership as was classically accepted in Roman, feudal, and Spartan government. The Romans saw leadership was being he who brings us victories against the enemies of Rome and who gives out free festivals paid on his dime to the people and his army. Romans, themselves, knew the power of welfare and bribery. The feudal governments were built upon personal allegiance to a liege lord that exists to protect the people from outside and inside threats. Thus the proof of a feudal lord’s ability to lead was his ability to fight in battles, his courage, and his political maneuvering skills. The people could see their lords directly, even if human hierarchy demanded that they be seen as aristocrats, above the commoner. Now in America, we no longer see our leaders directly. Our President is only seen on a television screen, almost never in person. Our leaders are petitioned more by the concerns of those in power and who want more power, than they are from the people that their laws and actions will affect. The Spartans, represented by the best king, Leonidas, had their own methods of ensuring that leadership was good and the government stable. Methods which we no longer use, if we ever have. The closest we probably came was before the war of 1812, where duels to the death were fought on honor, something that the Spartans held up as a virtue.

    To make a long story short, we longer have political leaders that go with the army on war. Thus we cannot judge our President on his ability to lead his forces to victory, because the President is no longer is personally directing forces or armies. He is too important to the political stability of the nation to risk, just like Prince Harry… or not. Yet, if there is no need for us to see our leaders in combat, fighting and slaughtering our enemies, then how could the Democrats exploit the human desire to see their leaders in battle with the propaganda attacks against Bush that he was sending people to die in a war he wasn’t willing to personally sacrifice for? How could the Democrats have made political use of Bush’s not serving in Vietnam? Because the basic human instinct, born of our genes, to see our leaders in battle slaughtering and killing our enemies is still there. That’s what exists beneath our veneer of civilization, and it is something the Democrats are not afraid to exploit and bring to the surface.

    The President, in the form of Bush, is also not feudalistic. He does not give personal loyalty and protection to people that serve under him. What I mean by that is that he, unlike Clinton, does not use the powers of his position to pardon his political supporters. But the Democrats do, they aren’t afraid to protect their little feudal system from invasion by commoners. That’s not, however, how the US system was set up or designed to operate under. Corruption was assumed, but not the use of the powers of the Executive, Judicial, and Legislature to set up one man or party’s little feudal empire that was loyal only to the self-selected leaders of the Democrats. Last time that happened, the US had a Civil War about it.

    This is demonstrated by the fact that even though the military is loyal to Bush and has done everything Bush has desired of them, unlike State and the other bureaucracies, Bush will still not personally pardon the Marines and Soldiers that the Left decided to destroy in order to erode Bush’s power and status. This is because Bush seems to believe in the Constitution than any personal obligation he has to the people under his command. Which is also, in a sense, very un-feudalistic, since Bush’s ultimate loyalty is to the United States and its laws, not to the people that serve him.

    The Spartans also had laws concerning leadership qualities and courage requirements. We only have those in the military, not in civilian life. And with the outlawing of handguns and firearms, that trend will continue on, in addition to the dodge ball and recess that has already been banned.

    There is a pattern to all this that is extremely unsettling. For one thing, even though we have ascended to the greatest power and position of stability and prosperity humanity has ever known, we are still vulnerable to the age old human desires of personal combat, courage, honor, and pride. Our people still yearn for a feudal leader that looks out for them, above all else. Our people still yearn for the Roman Emperor to take care of them with games and festivals, paid out of the state’s pockets. Our people still yearn for a leader covering himself with the glories of war and slaughter, i.e. John Kerry.

    And yet, that does not tell the whole story, either. For it is not our people that yearn for these things that they have never seen. For it is not our people that desires courage all the more because they don’t have it, it is the Democrats. For we have seen personal loyalty and the leadership of those in combat, Petraeus and the numerous other members of the US and Iraqi and Afghan military. We know that it exists in the leaders we respect, thus we don’t need to project our own hidden desires unto a Supreme Leader at the top, like Obama or Kerry. We don’t need a President that is a war monger and killer extraordinaire because we have so many in the US military that fulfills that purpose, so long as the President uses them correctly. It would be nice if we had him, but we wouldn’t exchange any vital rights for it in the bargain.

    It is, in the end, the Democrats that are fervently bringing out the good old times of the ancients. The Roman Republic where leadership qualities were assessed by how many slaves (Latinos and victims) you could bring in on a Triumph down Roma. When mob rule was the key to a ruler’s fall or rise. When feudal lords were respected for providing for his people, and nobody else.

    It is unfortunate that human beings tend to de-evolve back to an earlier and vital time, when decadence and prosperity hits. But that’s how the cookie crumbles. For if our nation was less secure and less stable, then the risk of our President personally leading armies could be justified on the basis that leaders, like Prince Harry, would only become better able to lead their people if they experience the fighting that they have ordered their people to do. But we are a prosperous and safe nation, a nation invulnerable to invasion as most Americans believe. So why do we need to risk our President in the throne of battle for benefits we will never use? The obvious answer is that America won’t be as strong in the future, given people’s attempts to bring back the olden days of violence and carnage.

    It has been the predicted behavior of useful idiots that they will bring on the Change they so desire. Only to be slaughtered and executed by those they have brought into power through revolutionary means.