The perils of an affirmative action president *UPDATED*

Jennifer Rubin has a very good post today about the reasons that the “smart” Obama may be struggling so mightily to be a good president.  She offers three basic reasons that may explain Obama’s ineptitude, whether it touches economics, diplomacy, or national security:

First, the punditocracy confused credentials with knowledge or smarts.

[snip]

Second, even intelligent and well-schooled people can be poor managers, bad decision makers, and indecisive leaders.

[snip]

And finally, as Ronald Reagan said, “The trouble with our liberal friends isn’t that they are ignorant; it is that they know so much that isn’t so.”

I agree with everything Rubin says about the gross inefficiencies and thinking errors even smart people can display, except for one thing:  I disagree with her fundamental premise.  I don’t think Obama is smart at all.  I think his reputation for smarts is one of the great cons foisted on the American people, greater even than the con that Gore and Kerry, both of whom were undistinguished college students, as their transcripts show, were smarter than Bush, whose transcripts reveal him to  be a slightly better student than those two “men of genius.”

We have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Obama is smart.  To begin with, we have no evidence at all of his academic abilities.  (And I will concede that, while academic smarts don’t demonstrate functional intelligence, they are still a good yardstick of a brain that operates at a fairly high level.)  We do not know how he did in Indonesia, his high school years are a blur, we do not know what happened during his stint at Occidental, we know nothing about his Columbia years, and the only thing we know about his Harvard years is that he made Law Review.

Liberals like to point to the Columbia and Harvard attendance (let alone the Law Review) as evidence in and of itself that the guy is smart.  After all, only smart people go to those schools.  Au contraire, my friends.  Thanks to the poisonous influence of affirmative action, an influence alive and well during Obama’s entire academic career, only smart whites and Asians go to those schools.  If you’re black and ambitious, you can into and stay in those schools despite less than stellar academic showings.  Columbia and Harvard need black admissions, and neither can afford for those blacks, once they’re in the school, to appear to be failing.

Let me insert here that I very strongly believe that that blacks can qualify for Columbia and Harvard on their own terms.  I am not publishing here a racist disquisition about black intelligence.  Anyone who reads that into what I’m writing here is reading me wrong.

What I am saying, is that if you set the standards lower for one racial group than for others, three things will happen:  First, the race that has the lower hurdles will stop trying as hard.  After all, humans are rational creatures, and people working towards a goal are wise to work only as hard as they need, and no harder.  Why expend energy unnecessarily?

Second, those members of the race who are fully capable of competing without a handicap will also behave rationally and conserve their energy, because it’s the smart thing to do.  This means that the lower hurdles will deprive them of the psychology opportunity stretch and prove themselves.

Third, a lot of people who would not normally have been in the race at all will bob up to the top, thanks to that handicap.  Worse, if there is a critical mass of mediocrity floating along on this tide of affirmative action, those mediocre people will inevitably, through sheer numbers, become representative of the racial group.  In other words, if you give enough mediocre people in a specific racial group a head start so that they win, it looks as if all the winners from that particular racial group are mediocre.

The above realities mean that you end up with two dire situations for the racial group that affirmative action infantilizing:  First, an enormous number of useless people become very poor representatives of their race.  And second, people who are genuinely good and deserving of recognition end up being thrown in the hopper of useless beneficiaries who achieved high status without ability or effort.

My argument is that Barack Obama is one of the number of useless, mediocre people who, thanks to affirmative action, have been elevated to a position far above their natural abilities.  The absence of grades is not the only indication of Obama’s intellectual weakness.  (And believe me, if his grades were good, they’d be published in every paper in America, including the want ads.)

Everything Obama’s turned his hand to — except for using people to advance his career — has failed.  The Annenberg Challenge was a $100 million disaster.  His legal career was, to say that least, undistinguished.  (I should add here that junior associates always have undistinguished careers.  There’s just not that much scope there.)  His tenure as an Illinois State Senator was marked by dithering indecision, coupled with the intelligent strategy, for a stupid person, of simply vanishing when the votes came around.  The same holds true for his career in the United States Senator.  If you examine those two tenures in political office without the gloss of the media love affair, all you’ve got is plenty of nothing.

Obama’s professorship at the U. of Chicago law school was equally undistinguished.  He published nothing.  His disquisitions on the Constitution show he knows nothing.  That is, he doesn’t even have the true intellectual’s excuse of fully understanding, but nevertheless arguing against, the language of the Constitution itself or the standard interpretations of that language.   I pity the students who had his class.

All that the liberals can hang their hat on is that one book:  Dreams.  And even that is proving to be a remarkably weak reed.  Jack Cashill has argued compellingly that Bill Ayers was the book’s principle author.  Cashill has a two pronged attack for this.  He demonstrates first, that Obama’s known prose stylings at the time (wooden, obfuscatory, cant-like), are completely unlike the fluid, artistic prose that gets people so excited about Dreams.  I personally find that argument compelling, because I’ve always been struck by Obama’s ugly language when he’s off a teleprompter.  This is not a man with any love for English.

The stylistic argument is also an easy argument to bat down.  It’s always possible to point to a moment of incredible inspiration, when everything in the brain clicks and things just roll out like magic.  That’s why I have a tab at my blog with an old poem of mine.  I like to have it there because it’s a reminder that when we are inspired, when someone makes incredible demands upon us, we’re all capable of great things.

Cashill, though, is too smart to stop with the “it doesn’t really seem like his writing” argument.  In article after article, he’s demonstrated that, stylistically, the writing is just like Ayers’ writing; that in terms of world view, the writing is just like Ayers’ writing (including all the nautical references that sit so well with Ayers, the former merchant marine); that anecdotally, the narratives precisely track events in Ayers’ life, right down to the description of the lavish mansion in which Ayers’ one-time girlfriend lived.  I won’t summarize everything Cashill writes, but I do urge you to read his whole series of articles on the subject, which you can find here.

Conspiracy theories, of course, are easy.  More than thirty percent of the American public believes that the Bush government brought down the Twin Towers so that Cheney would have an excuse to get government contracts for Halliburton in Iraq.   Never mind the death of 3,000 innocents, never mind the impossibility of keeping such a vast conspiracy absolutely secret, nevermind the fact that Cheney didn’t work for Halliburton, and nevermind that those government contracts were anathema to Halliburton, because it had contracted for them a decade before, in a different economy — to the conspiracy theorists, all of the dots always connect.

For conspiracy theorists, life is always like that scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind, in which the genius gazes at thousands of random newspaper clippings taped to his wall and, in an instant of inspired schizophrenia, sees them all connect in a vast network of relationships.  Except . . . except that Cashill has one weapon in his arsenal that no conspiracy theorist would ever have:  completely independent corroboration of the fact that a panicked Obama, sitting on a $150,000 advance and utterly incapable of writing, high tailed it over to Bill Ayers house, and got all the help he needed.

All of which gets me back to Obama.  None of the apparent indices of brains pan out:  no grades, no job record, no book.  Nothing at all.   His sole talent, and I have to say that it’s a spectacular one, is to be a con man.  He has a deep voice, good looks, and a network of behind the scenes operators who have been deeply invested in his advancement.  The only problem with running a con, as Harold Hill discovered when he had to produce that “boys band,” is that, if you stick around after you’ve run the con, people expect you to perform.  And Obama, who has none of the advertised talents, is utterly trapped.

The great pity for the American people is that, unlike the clever con man in a Broadway show/Hollywood musical, there is no miracle at the end when faith and love suddenly operate to produce the strained tones of the Minuet in G.  All we’re hearing now is silence, a few cricket chirps, and the scary drone of muezzins and nuclear bombers in the background.

UPDATE:  Right on schedule, a link about the genius that is Al Gore.  This is not the only example, of course; just the latest.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

  1. Swede says

    Wow! Great post! I think you’ve hit on Obama’s nature as well as anyone I’ve yet read. I remember saying before the election that, if elected, Obama would be our first affirmative action president – with disasterous results.

  2. says

    Here’s C S Lewis, describing his protagonist (a sociologist) in the novel That Hideous Strength:

    ‘It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific nor classical—merely ‘Modern’. The severities both of abstraction and of high human tradition had passed him by: and he had neither peasant shrewdness nor aristocratic honour to help him. He was a man of straw, a glib examinee in subjects that require no exact knowledge…’ ”

    I think this describes a significant % of our current political, academic, and journalistic classes…

  3. Charles Martel says

    Book, I agree that this is one of your best essays ever. And David, your C.S. Lewis citation is perfect.

    I will confess that affirmative action has made me extremely wary when it comes to black professionals. I have two criteria that help keep me from falling into the hands of hacks who has been passed along from one phony accomplishment to another, thanks to the deeply felt racism that seems endemic among liberals.

    First, I look for older men or women who were educated before the impostion of affirmative action’s unspoken contempt for blacks’ intellectual abilities. I know then that the odds are high they received a genuine, hard-won education, not the Emperor-has-no-clothes sham that Obama did.

    Second, I look to see where a black professional’s diploma is from. If it is from a state university like Berkeley or Michigan, or from an Ivy League or Ivy League wannabe school, I know it’s almost certain that I am dealing with a Potemkin scholar who was awarded his or her degree simply for showing up black. So I look for degrees from less prestigious schools where black students had to work diligently and honestly, like everybody else, to become qualified.

    As an inveterate seeker after silver linings, I think the good thing that will emerge from all of the racial animosity that Obama is generating will be the dismantling of affirmative action. When the best that that misbegotten statist venture can do is install an aliterate, rude, self-absorbed crypto-Marxist in the White House, the writing for its demise is on the wall.

  4. nathan says

    How times have changed since Thomas Sowell went to to Howard and transferred to Harvard.
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MjdkZjczMDM5ZjFkYzAwMmI5NTkyMmNjNmNiMWNkMWY=
    From his column:
    Nobody sugar-coated the facts of racial discrimination. But Prof. Sterling Brown of Howard University, who wrote with eloquent bitterness about racism, nevertheless said to me when I prepared to transfer to Harvard: “Don’t come back here and tell me you didn’t make it ’cause white folks were mean.” He burned my bridges behind me, the way they used to do with armies going into battle, so that they had no place to retreat to, and so had to fight to win.
     

  5. Lulu11 says

    Very good post- you were on fire with this one.
    The question is, what was the con? Wasthe con merely to convince people to elect Obama as an unqualified guyin way over his skill level and pay grade? Charles Krauthammer accurately describes Obama as a “conjurer” in the way he swept the American people and beyond off their feet during the election. Or is the con bigger and more sinister the con that we  thought we were electing someone who had America’s interests at heart and we got a bitter, angry Leftist who prefers dictators to democracies and is dismantling America’s strength piece by piece?

    It is a strange thought to realize that our president does not seem to love his country- he likes it and he loves himself- but I suspect that he would choke if he had to say, “I love the United States. It is the greatest country in the world and a beacon of freedom and liberty to the rest of the world.”

  6. Mike Devx says

    Book, I think you may have just written this week’s winner!
     
    My favorite paragraph:
     
    Everything Obama’s turned his hand to — except for using people to advance his career — has failed.  The Annenberg Challenge was a $100 million disaster.  His legal career was, to say that least, undistinguished.  (I should add here that junior associates always have undistinguished careers.  There’s just not that much scope there.)  His tenure as an Illinois State Senator was marked by dithering indecision, coupled with the intelligent strategy, for a stupid person, of simply vanishing when the votes came around.  The same holds true for his career in the United States Senator.  If you examine those two tenures in political office without the gloss of the media love affair, all you’ve got is plenty of nothing.

    And of course, your conclusion near the end:

    … if you stick around after you’ve run the con, people expect you to perform.  And Obama, who has none of the advertised talents, is utterly trapped.

    A wiser, smarter man would have known he wasn’t ready for the job.

  7. Oldflyer says

    Excellent.  Well said.
    A silly thought popped into my head.  The Wizard of Oz.  The media and other sycophants have provided the curtain, and the megaphone, for Obama.  But, slowly and surely the curtain is being pulled aside and we are glimpsing what it obscured.  Given the power he has within in his grasp, it is a pretty horrifying sight.

  8. suek says

    >>A wiser, smarter man would have known he wasn’t ready for the job.>>
     
    The funny thing is, I think he was intent on becoming the first New World Order president – President of the World!!
    And he might have succeeded if his capabilities had matched his mouth.  Or if he had stayed in the “campaigning” mode for longer and not been pushed to perform…unfortunately for him – but not for us – he cover has been ripped away by contact, and I think that is no longer a possibility.  “Familiarity breeds contempt”  is the operational phrase here, I think.
     
    On the other hand,  a more competent individual would have been an even greater disaster, considering his goals!

  9. Charles Martel says

    The discussion of what if Obama were a smarter, abler and more patient man is interesting because we know that such a man could very well aspire to become the new Napoleon or Alexander.

    It reminds me of a sci-fi book concept I heard about a few years ago. The author has his hero go back in history and assassinate the young Hitler before he begins his rise to power. Mission accomplished, the killer returns to a grotesque present day that is dominated by a murderous fascist Germany. It seems that in taking out Hitler, our hero cleared the way for a much more talented demagogue, a man who did not have Hitler’s defects, especially impatience. He waits until the mid-1940s to amass a sufficient arsenal of  irresistible weapons—including the atomic bomb—and spends years planting hundreds of thousands of agents, quislings and sympathizers among the elites of foreign countries. When he goes to war, no power on earth can stop him.

    So, I am happy that Obama is a buffoon. This is not to discount the immense damage that this pathetic man is going to visit on America. But he’s so inept that most people—with the exception of the Mr. Books of the world—are starting to catch on.

    Thank you affirmative action for sending us your best and brightest!

Trackbacks

  1. The Month Before Christmas…

    *Twas the month before Christmas* *When all through our land,* *Not a Christian was praying* *Nor taking a stand.* *See the PC Police had taken away,* *The reason for Christmas – no one could say.* *The children were told by……

  2. Submitted 11/19/09…

    Here are this week’s Watcher’s Council submissions: Council Submissions Soccer Dad – I am not a schnook Joshuapundit – The Afghan Shuffle Right Truth- When Muslims AttackBookworm Room – The perils of an affirmative action presidentThe Provocateur – T…

  3. Watcher’s Council results…

    First place in the Council category was Bookworm Room with The Perils Of An Affirmative Action President. First place in the non-Council category was The Rosistance with The lawyer in the White House and the spy in federal prison giving……

  4. Council speak 11/22/09…

    This week’s council winners are up. Here are the winners and runners. For the complete list check here. Council SubmissionsFirst place with 2 2/3 points! – Bookworm Room – The Perils Of An Affirmative Action PresidentSecond place with 2 points – The R…

  5. Watcher’s Council Results — November 20, 2009…

    Council Submissions First place with 2 2/3 points! – Bookworm Room – The Perils Of An Affirmative Action President Second place with 2 points – The Razor – The Ignorance of the Obama Administration Third place with 1 1/3 point……

Leave a Reply