Little things mean a lot, and some Cuban voters in Florida, who might otherwise have been leaning towards Obama, may back off if they get a gander of his fellow travelers — Obama campaigners who are loud and proud in their support for Castro-ite Cuba and Che Guavara. There is no indication at all that Obama authorized or even supports what’s going in Texas, but he’d certainly better disassociated himself from it very quickly.
I’ve never been able to read Philip Roth’s novels because I cannot stand his navel gazing (or should I say penis-gazing?) characters. They are, for me, profoundly uninteresting — I find them infantile and narcissistic in their concerns. Perhaps my
the problem with his writing is his thinking. Why do I say this? Because Roth unloads about politics in Spiegel interview, and pretty much highlights everything that’s infantile and narcissistic about liberal thinking with regard to the Bush administration and the upcoming elections:
Roth: Unfortunately, yeah. I didn’t, until about two weeks ago — until then it wasn’t real. Then I watched the New Hampshire primary debates, and the Republicans are so unbelievably impossible. I watched the Democratic ones and became interested in Obama. I think I’ll vote for him.
SPIEGEL: What made you interested in Obama?
Roth: I’m interested in the fact that he’s black. I feel the race issue in this country is more important than the feminist issue. I think that the importance to blacks would be tremendous. He’s an attractive man, he’s smart, he happens to be tremendously articulate. His position in the Democratic Party is more or less okay with me. And I think it would be important to American blacks if he became president.
SPIEGEL: It could change society, couldn’t it?
Roth: Yes, it could. It would say something about this country, and it would be a marvelous thing. I don’t know whether it’s going to happen. I rarely vote for anybody who wins. It’s going to be the kiss of death if you write in your magazine that I’m going to vote for Barack Obama. Then he’s finished!
SPIEGEL: Do you actually believe that Obama could change Washington or could change politics?
Roth: I’m interested in what merely his presence would be. You know, who he is, where he comes from, that is the change. That is the same thing with Hillary Clinton, just who she is would create a gigantic change. As for all that other rhetoric about change, change, change — it’s pure semantics, it doesn’t mean a thing. They’ll respond to particular situations as they arise.
You got that? Republicans should lose because they’re “so unbelievably impossible,” as fatuous a statement about national politics as I’ve ever heard. And Obama should win solely because he’s black and “articulate,” the favorite liberal code word for a black who isn’t an embarrassing representative of his race. Incidentally, my last, italicized phrase is deliberate, and harks back to the acceptance speech Hattie McDaniel made, at the studio’s urging, when she accepted her Oscar for her performance in Gone With The Wind, the first Oscar ever awarded to a black actress:
“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting for one of the awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.” (Emphasis mine.)
You do appreciate, don’t you, the fact that Roth is completely uninterested in Obama’s abilities, background, politic beliefs, political experience, associates, ideology, indeed anything of substance? All that matters to Roth is that Obama is a credit to his race. How utterly embarrassing that our great tradition of democracy should be reduced to this kind of inane banality.
That same absence of deep thinking colors Roth’s commentary about Bush. Keep in mind that Roth, via his “profound” (but humorous) books, is considered one of the great social thinkers of the Baby Boomer generation. That “intellectualism,” however, assuming it actually exists, abandons him when it comes to describing why Bush is bad. He throws in a few conclusory statements about the war and global warming, but he just can’t get a handle on substance. (As an aside, we’ll assume, just to be nice, that this interview was recorded before recent news that the Greenies’ purported remedies are actually speeding global warming. Of course, that may not be a problem, because we’re possibly entering a period of solar induced global cooling. But let me undigress.) What you really have to do is just take Roth’s word for it that Bush is bad, really, really, really bad. Really bad.
SPIEGEL: What will remain of the current president, George W. Bush? Could he be forgotten once he leaves office?
Roth: He was too horrendous to be forgotten. There will be an awful lot written about this. And there’s a lot to be written about the war. There’s a lot to be written about what he did with Reaganism, since he went much further than Reagan. So he won’t be forgotten. Someone has said he’s the worst American president we’ve ever had. I think that’s true.
Roth: Well, the biggest thing would be the war, the deceptions surrounding the entrance into the war. The absolute cynicism that surrounds the deception. The cost of the war, the Treasury and the lives of the Americans. It’s hideous. There is nothing quite like it. The next thing would be the attitude towards global warming, which is a global crisis, and they were utterly indifferent, if not hostile, to any attempt to address it. And so on and so on and so on and so on. So he’s done a lot of harm.
Of course, it’s not all Bush’s fault he’s so appalling. It’s your fault and my fault too. That’s because we’re brutal. Did you know that?
SPIEGEL: Since your book is set in that week during the 2004 elections, can you explain why Americans voted for Bush once again?
Roth: I suspect it was the business of being in a war and not wanting to change, and political stupidity. Why does anybody elect anybody? I thought highly of John Kerry when he began, but he couldn’t stand up against Bush. The Democrats aren’t brutes, which is too bad, because the Republicans are brutes. Brutes win.
Funnily enough, a lot of the brutal behavior, lately, seems to be coming from the rank and file Democrats, not the Republicans. An easy example is the fact that Democratic speakers on the circuit don’t need to hire bodyguards. Republicans do. That’s because Republicans get physicall attacked when they speak on college campuses. Ann Coulter was attacked. College Republican student organizations are attacked. Condi Rice was threatened by a Code Pink loony tunes who got within inches of her. The list goes on and on and on. You can add your own, but you’ll be hard put to find corollaries on the other side; that is, conservatives attacking liberals. But back to Roth….
“Brutes.” “Hideous.” “There is nothing quite like it.” This man, this spokesman for a generation, clearly hasn’t thought beyond the Democratic parties’ last list of talking points. He’s got all the nasty conclusions of the kindergarten set, but with a more sophisticated vocabulary:
“Mommy, I hate Tommy.”
“Because he’s a meanie.”
“But what makes him a meanie?”
“He does mean things.”
“What mean things does he do, darling?”
“He’s mean to me.”
And so on, ad nauseum. It’s tolerable in a child because you know they’ll attain reason and leave that phrase behind. It’s intolerable in a literary lion, a spokesman for his generation, who has never been able to emerge from his prolonged and clearly debilitating adolescence.
I’ve vented my spleen, so I’m going to leave the last words to that great philosopher, Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon. What a nincowpoop.”
UPDATE: Just to keep things on the up and up, I edited the first paragraph to reflect some accurate criticism a reader made in a comment at my old blog site, regarding an ambiguity in my writing.
My personal feeling is that, while Obama may one day turn into a something, right now he’s pretty much a nothing: a very intelligent, but as yet untried man, with limited experience, and superficial views. What I’m gathering, though, is that on the Left, this very blankness is what makes him so appealing. He becomes a projection of everyone’s beliefs, hopes and desires. He’s a charming, smart, living version of Jerzy Kosinksi’s Chance the Gardener, in Being There. (Emphasis added.)
On February8, 2008, Joel Stein got a big column in the LA Times to write a pop culture laden critique of the increasingly creepy Obamamania, which includes this observation:
My mom, a passionate Hillary Clinton supporter, immediately attacked Obamamania. “Some part of me wants to say, ‘People wake up. He has no plans.’ I get frustrated listening to his speeches after awhile,” she said. She also said that the new vacation house in Key West is really great and her vertigo hasn’t been acting up.
I started to feel a little more grounded again. Did I want to be some dreamer hippie loser, or a person who understands that change emerges from hard work and conflict? “People are projecting an awful lot onto him,” Mom said. “Almost like what was that movie with, oh, the movie, oh God. That English actor, he practically said nothing. Oh shoot. He was the butler and everybody loved him and what he was thinking and feeling. Do you know the movie I’m talking about? You don’t.” Hers, of course, is the demographic most likely to vote.
But she’s right. Obama is Peter Sellers in “Being There.” (Emphasis added.)
I’m patting my own back at my prescience in recognizing Obama’s charm for the average, self-involved Democratic voter: they project on him their own desires. He’s the ultimate candidate for the narcissistic voter.
John McWhorter, who supports Obama, has pointed out what he sees as a profound problem with the Obama campaign, which is the way identity politics has made it impossible to treat Obama as an adult, rather than a child, for fear of being called “racist”:
Yet there is an element of surprise, a tincture of dismay, in how many view the sliming of Mr. Obama. If Grover Cleveland or John Kerry got slimed, what do you expect? But if Mr. Obama gets slimed, well.
There is a tacit sense that decent people would make an exception for him. Otherwise, why would so many think of it as news that the Clintons or anyone else would get nasty in trying to push past him?
Let’s face facts: People see this commonplace phenomenon as news because of a tacit idea that as a black man, Mr. Obama should be treated with kid gloves.
Lawrence Bobo, professor of sociology at Harvard, gives it away comparing the Clintons’ attacks on Mr. Obama to, specifically, the Willie Horton ad and the 2000 vote count. That is, events traditionally classified as “racist” — as if Republicans have not sought to best Democrats in ways disconnected to race. Upon which the Swift-boat thing is germane. Mr. Bobo appends that to his list, too — but misses that the guiding theme is not racism but hardball.
Welcome to reality: being judged by the content of our character means that we black people will not be exempt from hardball. We should not be seduced by the fantasy that we must pretend to be fragile.
Well, yes. This is what I’ve been saying all along. I recently wrote a post saying that one of my fears about Obama as a candidate is that it would be impossible to run against him in the ordinary rough and tumble way we’ve come to expect in a Democracy. Any negative comment would be deemed “racist,” and the Republican candidates, all carefully groomed and controlled by their handlers, wouldn’t even want to get near that.
It did occur to me, though, that McCain might be the candidate who would stand up to Obama, who would not fear being called a racist. He is a man confident and feisty enough to get into a fight on its merits, and not pull his punches for fear of collateral damage. I don’t know how well those qualities would serve in the increasingly surreal world of the White House, but it might be just what is needed to level the playing field against America’s first black presidential candidate (something that would be more fair to Obama, too, since it would treat him like an adult and not a child or a half wit).
I’ve read often, especially from liberals, and especially when they’re in a down cycle in elections, that America ought to have a parliamentary style democracy, where the representatives appear in proportion to their votes, as opposed to the American “winner take all” system. The thing with the winner take all system, though, is that it provides a marvelous stability. We have open elections, we have checks and balances, and we have winner takes it all. In this way, we avoid the chaos, the collapsed governments, and the power brokering that plagues so many other countries (with England and Israel easily springing to mind).
I just got a another reminder of the virtues of the winner takes all system when I read the Captain’s post about the problem that will face the Democrats if Hillary and Obama are not able to pull away from each other in the coming weeks. As you may recall, the Dems divvy up delegates, a la the European parliamentary style, while the Republicans assign whole states to a delegate, in the way of an American election:
For months, the media speculated that the Republicans might have to deal with a brokered convention, but their primaries are designed to avoid it. John McCain has likely taken a commanding lead in the race, and unless Mitt Romney can start churning out 3-1 wins in the remaining proportional states, he won’t have much hope in a convention fight, let alone an outright win.
Democrats have 4,049 delegate that will attend the convention, but 796 of these are superdelegates. That leaves 3,253 elected delegates, of which 1,291 have already been assigned to one of the candidates. That leaves 1,961 delegates left, and the winner has to have 2,025 to gain the nomination. Both Hillary and Obama would need almost 1,400 of them to win — or 69%.
One of them would have to start winning all the proportionally-allocated states by more than a 2-1 margin the rest of the way through the calendar, at least if they wanted to win without the superdelegates. That looks like a complete impossibility. The Democrats will have to either broker a deal between Hillary and Obama to avoid a floor fight, or they will have to have the party establishment pick the winner. And the closer the two candidates are at the end of the process, the more divisive that outcome will be.
Those kinds of headaches I, as a voter, can live without.
Now that McCain looks inevitable, I’m becoming sanguine. More than that, I’m hunting for his good points, and they are many:
1. He’s a hawk.
2. He will almost certainly nominate strict constructionist Supreme Court justices — and certainly more conservative than anyone Hillary or Obama would nominate.
3. He’s a hawk.
4. He claims to support lower, not higher taxes — unlike Obama and Hillary, who explicitly support higher taxes.
5. He’s a hawk.
6. He supports the Second Amendment — which Hillary and Obama most emphatically will not support.
7. He’s a hawk.
8. He’s pro-life, which is not a huge issue to me, but which is for many others — and Hillary and Obama are not.
9. He’s a hawk.
I’m going to ignore, because the above strengths are so important, his bad history and bad advisors when it comes to border control (and you know that’s a problem for me), because he’ll still be better than Hillary and Obama; as well as his dismal history on free speech, because he’ll still be better than Hillary and Obama.
Most importantly, give his real strengths, I’m going to focus on the fact that McCain can win. I can’t find the link now, but I definitely recall reading a week or so ago that, if the Presidential election were held right now, McCain would win. Certainly I know that Mr. Bookworm, staunch liberal though he may be, would vote for McCain over Obama. He’s terrified of Obama and would cross the aisle to vote against him. And given Hillary’s negatives, a lot of people would also cross the aisle.
I refuse to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. McCain is very much not perfect, but the good of America will not be served by seeing conservatives get into a snit and turn their back on the un-Hillary or un-Obama candidate. After all, this is how democracy works. Unlike other countries, where candidates are selected, we have the luxury of joining with our fellow citizens to select our own candidates. And if our fellow citizens, in their collective wisdom, select a centrist Republican rather than a conservative Republican, that’s our blessing and we have to live with it and optimize it.
One last thing: if McCain is inevitable, it does not behoove conservatives to alienate him. If top conservatives are too terrible to him and if, God willing, he beats Hillary/Obama, he may ending up feeling so hostile to his fellow conservative that he gets his revenge by closing the doors on them and turning to liberals for succor and advice.
UPDATE: Here’s a comment that Mike Devx left at another post on this blog, and I think he’s absolutely right:
The level of hatred and vituperation against McCain is simply astonishing to me. Politics is a rough-and-tumble business, but this level of divisiveness seems profoundly harmful to me. I’d be personally comfortable with any of McCain, Romney, or Huckabee as the candidate, so I’m perhaps a terrible judge of this.
A few points:
McCain is staunchly pro-life and has promised to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. For abortion voters, what else could be more important? Consider that Reagan had a less than stellar record on Supreme Court appointments.
McCain carried the water for George Bush on the Shamnesty bill. This was George Bush’s baby too. Yet all the criticism goes to McCain. Hardly fair, and there is more than whiff of hypocrisy. Bush was more than ready to sign the bill had it passed. And Bush signed McCain-Feingold with nary a protest, too, of any sort. And then there’s the Reagan Shamnesty…
McCain is NOT a higher-taxes politician. He demands spending cuts in concert with tax cuts. A tax cut without a spending cut amounts to little more than printing free money and saddling future generations with more debt. Cuts in taxes do increase revenue, but there’s a limit.
The antagonism appears to be related entirely to the fact that he’s got no respect for the evangelical wing of the Republican party. On all the issues themselves, it’s hardly clear to me that there’s a good reason for the level of hate when other Republicans, including President Bush, hardly come in for anything near that level of criticism.
If you want a Reaganism, here’s one: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” The Slick Willie response to that is to declare the McCain is not a Republican. I’m ashamed of that kind of facile, Clintonesque response at avoiding responsibility.
My 5th grader came home from school and told me that all the kids were saying that people should vote for Obama because he’s black.
I asked, “Do they know anything else about him?”
“No,” she replied. “They’re just saying [read: their parents are just saying] that people should vote for him because he’s black.”
My next question: “Should people vote against him because he’s black?”
“Oh, no,” she answered. “That’s racist.”
“Then why,” I asked, “is it any less racist to vote for him simply because of the color of his skin? Any decision we make about someone solely because of their skin color is racist. People should be voting for him based on his experience, skill, and beliefs, not because of his skin color.”
Either because she’s smart, or because she’s a “yes” girl when it comes to her own mother, my daughter agreed that I had a point. That’s good. What’s sad is that it seems as if a substantial number of kids in her school are being taught that the only thing that matters is a person’s race. Martin Luther King is rolling in his grave at this inversion of his Dream.
Once reticent Michelle Obama is big campaign asset
Michelle Obama’s fiery campaign style belies the fact that she was hesitant at first about getting involved in her husband Barack’s bid to become U.S. president.
Obama says she never expected to be on stage extolling her husband’s virtues, but she is revving up crowds as she tells them he is the Democratic candidate who offers the best option for change in the United States.
“I am very passionate about change in the country and that’s what you see,” the 44-year-old Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer from Chicago told Reuters in an interview last year.
I’m in the midst of a project right now, so I’m no going to spend my time using Google as a “way back machine,” but I have a distinct memory that Mrs. Kerry was presented in precisely the same way. What say you?
It’s okay to have eclectic, even wacky friends — but if you have friends such as this, you’d better explicitly disavow their wackier beliefs — not just in vague generalities, but specifically. Otherwise, you risk getting tarred with that same brush. And so it goes with Obama’s beloved mentor, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., who is a long-standing socialist, anti-American, black supremacist, antisemite — as John Perazzo carefully documents in this article. This isn’t news to you, my readers, but what’s disheartening is that it would undoubtedly be news to American voters, if only they could have this information brought to the forefront of their brains.
What was news to me, though, since I don’t watch TV, is what Wright looks like. When it comes to objective complexion, he’s practically white, which I find ironically amusing considering that this is a man so deeply invested in black supremacist thought. He reminds me of those pathetic Jews who tout antisemitism. There’s something deeply wrong with the psychology of a man who essentially attacks himself:
I’ve noted before, based on instinct that, when it comes to substance, nothing distinguishes Obama and Clinton from each other, in that they’re each extremely liberal. That, I said, is why they’ve had to fall back so frantically on their racial and sexual identities. It’s not just the “identity politics” chickens coming home to roost; it’s also the only way you can tell the two apart. My instinct regarding this matter is right on the money: according to the National Journal’s nonpartisan rating of Congress people, both are to the far left politically. In addition, “‘The policy differences between Clinton and Obama are so slight they are almost nonexistent to the average voter,’ said Richard Lau, a Rutgers University political scientist.”
Also according to the National Journal, McCain has a lifetime rating as a conservative, although he’s grown less conservative with the passage of time. He is something of a centrist which means, ironically, that if he’s elected, he could be the uniter, which is the mantle Obama currently claims for himself. That is, Obama speaks unity, but operates at the fringe. McCain really does seem to function out of the center.
Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters
You all know that I’ve been singularly unimpressed with Barack Obama’s rhetorical gifts. To me, he is just throws out platitudes — and he does that in an increasingly condescending manner. John Derbyshire is as unimpressed as I am, and has taken some time to dissect Obama’s language (h/t Paragraph Farmer):
I dunno, I must be missing a gene or two. Everybody, including even some conservatives, is telling me what a fine uplifting orator Barack Obama is. All I see is great gusts of hot air. When he says something that actually has any semantic content, either it is just false, or else it is naked socialism.
I was just looking through Obama’s latest oratorical masterpiece. It strikes me as obnoxious, where it is not just flatulent.
… we’ve got young people all across this country who have never had a reason to participate until now.
The “reason to participate,” for people of any age, is the sense of citizenly duty. This sense didn’t exist before Obama showed up?
We’re up against the belief that it’s all right for lobbyists to dominate our government, that they are just part of the system in Washington.
But lobbyists are part of the system in Washington. It says so in the First Amendment: “… to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Obama wants to repeal the First Amendment?
We’re up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as president comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House.
That’s the conventional thinking? So how did Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush get elected President? None of them had any “longevity in Washington” — not even as much as you, Senator. Sure, I understand, this is throwing some of Hillary’s stuff back at her, but it’s still nonsense.
… real leadership is about … the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose, a higher purpose.
Not just cant, but Leninist cant. We are a republic of free people, not the tools of some “leader” pursuing a historical “purpose.” What is your “higher purpose,” Senator? And what happens to those of us who decline to rally around it?
You should read the rest of Derbyshire’s dissection here.
Interestingly, DQ and I were just talking about Obama’s speech making the other day, and it tracked somewhat along what Derbyshire was saying. DQ harked back to a childhood in the Southeast when people believed that it was okay to be proud to be an American. That viewpoint has vanished from much American discourse, especially on the Left. He thinks that Obama is telling people that they can feel good about themselves. DQ thinks that this means that they can feel good about being Americans.
I think DQ is being altogether too generous. Obama is spouting the same Leftist stuff as always: Capitalism (the American system) = bad. The War in Iraq (America’s active line of defense against Islamic terrorism) = bad. Lobbyists (the American medium of free speech in Washington) = bad. And so on. Dig into what Obama is really saying, and you’ll realize that he wants to change everything and model us on some semi-failed European system. So, when he voices vague phrases about feeling good, he doesn’t sound to me like a patriot; he sounds to me like a cross between Dr. Phil and Oprah. It’s all about meaningless self-esteem cant, with no substance to support it.
The whole thing reminds me strongly of the self-esteem movement in American education, a movement so silly that even Gary Trudeau lampooned it in his comic strip. If I remember the details correctly, California started the whole thing off when it decided to spend lots of money at schools to encourage kids to feel good about themselves. Understand that this did not mean actually teaching students skills that would justify their feeling good about themselves. Instead, it was a fortune in tax payer money to teach kids the Stuart Smalley mantra: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and, doggone it, people like me!” Other school systems quickly followed suit, and now these affirmatives are a constant diet for American students. If you doubt me, just visit any American school and read the posters on the walls.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to discover that, when someone actually looked at the hard benefits of this approach, there were none. The students raised on this constant diet of meaningless affirmations thought extremely well of themselves, functioned badly, and could not deal with adversity. Frankly, it seems like a bad political model to me, but it’s about the only thing Obama has to offer that sets him about from Hillary (aside from his race, as compared to her sex). But don’t worry. When we’re all completely dysfunctional — but feeling really good about ourselves – the government will be there to help.
Compared to Romney, I don’t like McCain. Compared to Obama or Hillary, I adore McCain and would happily vote for him — heck, if I were voting in Chicago (home turf for both Obama and Hillary), I’d vote for him twice, and have my ancestors vote for him too. You dance with them whut brung ya’, and it looks as if McCain may be the Republican dance partner in the 2008 Presidential election.
So, if you’re one of those conservatives who who thinks McCain is too liberal (and, compared to your candidate of choice, whoever he is, I’m sure you’re right), or who worries about the Gang of 14 (although reading this may allay some of your concerns), or who hasn’t forgiven him for McCain-Feingold, or who just plain doesn’t like him — get over it! He may not be the perfect Republican candidate, but he’s so much better than either Hillary or Obama that it really doesn’t matter. If you believe in conservative principles and fear the fall-out from Democratic policies, you have what amounts to a moral obligation to get out there in November and vote for him. Do not, I repeat, do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Also, if it makes you feel better about casting your vote, there are some indications that he is truly a winning candidate. That is, you won’t be compromising your principles with a vote that is ultimately wasted. A Rasmussen poll that the Captain discusses has him beating out both Obama and Hillary if an election were held today. Now, that may change when one of the Dems emerges victorious from the primary process, in which case more voters may coalesce around the winner, but it’s still good news for those who feel that it’s as important for a Democrat to lose as for a Republican to win.
And if you think I’m being exceptionally vindictive in devoutly wishing for a Democratic loss, here’s my defense: While I think we as a nation are a robust enough to fix any economic messes the Democrats may cause, I also think that we have a one shot deal to remain ascendant when it comes to the World War that the Islamists are waging against us. If we have a Democrat in the White House, especially Obama who can’t get out of Iraq fast enough, we’ll have wasted that shot.
(I have to admit I’m not pleased with Michelle Malkin for hinting that she’d rather see Hillary win than help out McCain. Hmmm….)
UPDATE: Big Lizards has a very compelling post about McCain’s charisma — an important intangible we often overlook. I have to say that, when I catch McCain’s speeches on the radio, I enjoy listening, which is not something I can say about any other politician’s speeches, including those of my man Romney.
I caught a minute of Mike Gallagher today, and he was talking about the fact that Republicans are more critical of Republican candidates than Democrats are critical of Democratic candidates. It occurred to me that, at least in this election cycle, that may be because there are real, substantive differences between the Republican candidates. We’ve got Ron Paul, who is a pure libertarian and possible white supremacist; John McCain, who is strong on defense, but weak on free speech, and spineless to environmental extremists; Mitt Romney, who has positioned himself as a traditional conservative who is for strong borders, a strong national defense, pro-life, etc., with a sound grasp of economic issues; Mike Huckabee, who is loudly Christian, a social conservative, and a big government liberal; and Rudy Giuliani, who is a social liberal and a hawk. With the exception of Ron Paul, all have had leadership experience, but of a very different type: McCain was in the military; Romney ran businesses and the Massachusetts government; Huckabee governed Arkansas; and Giuliani ran huge criminal prosecutions and New York. So, just as there are differences in their approach to conservative politics (and all are more conservative than not), there are also significant differences in their practical experience. Republicans have a real choice, and real choice begets real debate.
It’s different with the Dems. For one thing, none of them have any managerial experience. They’ve all been Senators, which means working with a group of 99 other people. None have them has taken the lead in the Senate, so they can’t even point to leadership experience in those august chambers. John Edwards has a bit more private sector experience than the other two but I can tell you that even the most successful lawyer cannot be compared to a manager. Managing a case is not the same as manager a system — whether that system is a business or a government. Obama was an academic, which is the antithesis of management, and Hillary was, well, Hillary managed Bill, I guess. They’re all good at manipulating people, Edwards because he’s a trial lawyer, and Obama and Hillary because they’re Alinsky disciples, but that’s not leadership or management. So, they’re pretty much the same looked at from that point of view.
In terms of politics, they’re peas in a pod: they want out of Iraq, they deny that Islamists pose a threat to America, they like open borders, and they want more government involvement in everything (parenting, health care, education, managing people’s money, controlling businesses, etc), which means more taxes on people they decide are “rich.”
The fact that Edwards, Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable on paper may explain why identity politics has become so important. It’s not just Hillary’s dirty politics and it’s not just that the “identity politics” chickens are coming home to roost. The preeminence of racial or sexual identity in this race has become the only way you can tell one Democratic candidate from another. And poor Edwards, distinguished by being white and male, is precluded by political correctness from trumpeting that fact. In other words, identity, by being the only difference between the candidates, is also the only area of debate left for the Democrats. And it’s no surprise that it is in this area — the substance-free area that will have absolutely nothing to do with the way in which a Democrat, if victorious, will govern — that the Democratic debate has become most heated.
So, I guess I’m happy that Republicans are focused on substance, and using their free speech rights to hammer out important issues that will have a lasting effect on America (if a Republican wins). And I’m desperately sad that the cookie-cutter Democrats, in order to have a debate and distinguish themselves in the eyes of the voters, have almost completely backed off from any substantive issues (as to which they have no meaningful differences), and devolved into childish racial and gender name calling. If Americans elect one of them, the Country will deserve what it gets.
UPDATE: Regarding the enthusiasm gap the media professes to find between Dems and Republicans, if one does indeed exist, I suspect that has more to do with the enthusiasm Democratic voters have for a shot at the White House than with anything else. That is, I think that, even more than feeling excitement about their own candidates, Democrats are simply excited about a possible chance to defeat Republicans.
UPDATE II: For another reason why there might be an “enthusiasm gap,” keep in mind that, while Bush’s presidency is almost over, Bush Derangement Syndrome continues in full force. Indeed, with the inevitable end of his presidency drawing near, Bush haters seem to be drawing on after burners for some new energy.
The mantra for Obama is change. I admit he’s a new face and a new color, but can anyone clue me in on how, politically, he is different from the other candidates? I mean this as a serious question, and I’d appreciate serious answers. So far, Teddy Kennedy seems representative of those who flock to the Obama standard, in that they’re mesmerized by what he’s not — he’s not a Republican, he’s not Clinton, and he’s not white — but no one seems to articulate what he is. And as a voter, since I think there’s a good chance I’ll be stuck with him as my President, I’d like a strong handle on what he actually stands for.
His website, by the way, does not help. I’ve gone to his issues page and discovered a few things that indicate that he’s almost identical to every other Democrat, except in the area of Iraq, where he’s not just a fool, but a damned fool.
First off, to the extent he has a little quotation at the top of his web page, what the heck does it mean? “I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington . . . I’m asking you to believe in yours.” My what? My believing in belief? My personal ability, as a Mom in Marin to change Washington? I keep thinking of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, with that theory going along the lines of “If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.” This supports my belief that he’s a master of meaningless platitudes, a demogogue who says nothing but who, like Chance the Gardener, enables people to attach their own meanings to his banal statements.
But back to his issues page. As far as I can see, when it comes to the economy, he’s promising to expand the government, which strikes me as same old, same old Democratic stuff. He’s going to give a large rebate to those who pay the least in taxes (which means he’s going to raise taxes against everyone else). He’s going to force government preschools, something that was tried in California and that, thank goodness, failed. There aren’t a whole lot of details, but there are promises: I’ll make schools better; I’ll be a tough negotiator, I’ll sneak a national health care plan in under the guise of benefitting small businesses. And on and on. It sounds like a typical Democratic plan for more government involvement in people’s lives and finances. No change here.
On Iraq, he opens by announcing that yeah, well, the Surge worked, but it didn’t work well enough to suit Obama’s high standards (whatever the heck they are when it comes to Iraq). Obama does assure us that he knows what he’s doing in Iraq, not because he’s studied military strategy, or the political situation in Iraq, or Islamic fundamentalism, or the Middle East, but because he voted against the war. Even if I agreed with his “no” vote, which I don’t, I’d feel compelled to add that even a stopped watch is right twice a day. It doesn’t mean Obama has any understanding of the complex situation in Iraq. Also, to the extent someone is whispering in his ear, I’m not thrilled about the radical pro-Palestinian whisperer he’s chosen. Since Obama has professed that his only qualification to deal with Iraq is his “NO, NO, NO” stance it’s scarcely surprising that his entire Iraq strategy is to bring all Americans home ASAP. It didn’t work in Vietnam, when it paved the way for the Killing Fields, and I’m quite sure that, if Obama succeeds in this plan, Vietnam and Cambodia will look positively benign compared to what happens in Iraq when he whistles the troops home. Oh, and by the way, once he’s removed the iron hand, Obama assures us that he’ll use his empty velvet glove to really, seriously, pretty-please ask the Iraqis to get along with each other. I’m sure that will work. I lost heart about here and couldn’t make myself read the rest of his Iraq page. The man is a lightweight. He’ll certainly change things in Iraq, but only for the worse.
On homeland security, which marches hand in hand with Iraq, Obama makes a few obvious promises, none of which are harbingers of change: he’ll guard chemical plants and water supplies, help families unite in emergencies, and track nuclear waste. Laudable goals all and, as far as I know, they’re already part of national homeland policy. Obama makes no reference whatsoever to the reason why we might need homeland security, something that was not on the political agenda ten years ago. Apparently we’re protecting these things against chimerical beings, without form or identity. Change? For a Democrat with a head buried deeply in the sands of denial, I don’t think so.
Healthcare? He’ll nationalize it, an idea that’s old (think Hillarycare), so I’m still looking for change.
On faith, Obama assures us he has it, but I have to admit to being a bit worried about the company he keeps, given that his minister is an outspoken antisemite and black supremacist. Kind of makes you wonder about Obama’s own deeply held beliefs. This really isn’t a change issue, unless you think it’s a change to have a closet antisemite, black supremacist in the White House.
And how about the judiciary? Well, Obama doesn’t really say. That is, he has no tab for “judiciary,” so you kind of have to guess. Considering that he supports unlimited abortion rights, and considering that, whether you support abortion or not, you have to concede (if you’re honest) that it’s not a right hidden in the Constitution, one has to assume that he will advance judges who believe in creative Constitutional interpretation. As you know, I am someone who forces myself to be honest here, because I’m ambivalent about abortion. I’ve grown up believing in it, and I think there is a narrow place for it (which doesn’t mean it’s an alternative for birth control), and would hate to see it vanish entirely. I’m enough of a Constitutional purist, though, that I believe we should arrive at abortion rights (whatever they end up being) either through appropriate states’ rights action or through a national Constitutional amendment. The Supreme Court’s cheating in 1973 cheapened the Courts and the Constitution.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on for such a long time about Obama, but I truly don’t see any “change” in him, aside from the fact that his election, if it occurred, would change us over from a Republican to a Democratic administration, with all the accompanying ideological changes that would inevitably occur with such a shift. As far as I can see, the only differences he has from Hillary are that he’s black and she’s white; he’s male and she’s female; and he’s an idiot when it comes to Iraq, while she’s a pragmatist. Oh, and he’s quite possibly a closet black supremacist and antisemite, neither of which are labels I like to see near an American president.
So, if you can offer concrete reasons why Obama is a genuine agent for real change (as opposed to snarky comments or meaningless adulation), please use my comments section for that purpose. Otherwise, I still think Obama’s a stuffed shirt, with little to offer in any significant areas of government, except for a real chance to be profoundly, dangerously stupid when it comes to America’s security. And if you can’t offer any reasons, can you explain to me why everyone is jumping on the Obama bandwagon when he’s precisely the same as the other candidates, only with even less experience than Hillary (who at least knows how to find her way around the West Wing). God knows, I never thought I’d promote Hillary’s candidacy but, compared to the others, she looks less scary.
UPDATE: Mitt Romney offers a bit more substance when it comes to (a) acknowledging the terrorism against us and (b) having a plan.
Okay, this is my third try at this post, because WordPress has eaten the previous two attempts (which accounts for the low level of blogging this morning).
I was listening to Dennis Prager yesterday, and he was fulminating about the calls for “unity” that are echoing through the Democratic side of the spectrum, especially with reference to Obama. As Prager has pointed out before, and as I have blogged about before, “unity” is Democratic code for “agree with me or else.” There is no evidence that the Democrats have any desire to find common ground, and it’s questionable whether there is common ground on such contentious issues as Iraq and abortion. Likewise, the hope that Democrats will “end dogma” is equally laughable. Do the Dems and their sycophants in the media really want to end all fixed doctrine? Fine, I guess we no longer have to hew to such dogmatic ideas as “all people are created equal,” “equal pay for equal work,” or “no taxation without representation.”
Listening to these vapid platitudes, it occurred to me that I could do better — or come up with something at least as good as what’s currently emanating from the Dems. You too should feel free to join in:
“Now more than ever!”
“Peace through harmony!”
“Prosperity through wealth!”
And as you think about those slogans, take a minute to read this Spiegel article proposing a Clinton-Obama ticket for ’08. The author thinks it would be a fantastic ticket, not because of any harmony of ideas or style, but because it would neatly tag all identity politic demographics. It envisions the perfect election cycle for Democrats, where they don’t have to address the issues at all — they can just stand there and be. (What’s really scary is I heard precisely this idea voiced with great approval at my bus stop a couple of months ago. The neighborhood consensus was that this was a ticket they could go for.)
It’s not surprising that Fred has dropped out. Even though conservatives purists rightly liked him, he just never caught fire. As you may have gathered from my posts, he never worked for me either. His folksy charm passed me by entirely, and while I agreed with his stand on issues and his thoughtful take on myriad important subjects, I found him a dull, ponderous speaker — which would have been death on the national campaign trail, especially if he was facing Obama, the man annointed as the “powerful orator” (although I find him dull and and vapid). I can still see Fred being a powerful vice-presidential candidate, so I hope he doesn’t vanish from the scene entirely.
UPDATE: Pardon me. Obama is not a “powerful orator.” How silly of me. He’s “profoundly eloquent.” So many things just seem to pass me by.
Christopher Hitchens is totally right when he notes that Mike Huckabee’s defense of the Confederate flag harmonizes perfectly with racist views. That is, a person could argue that the defense of the flag is all about States’ rights, but the fact is that the Confederate flag is so inextricably intertwined with the KKK and Jim Crow that such an argument is stupid or disingenuous at best, and fraudulent at worst. Hitchens is also right that the press gave Huckabee a pass for this nasty remark. Assuming that the pass was deliberate, and that the Huckabee story didn’t simply get swamped by the infinitely more fascinating fight between Clinton and Obama, one has to ask why the press was so passive. Hitchens thinks it’s because it was afraid of offending racist Southern rednecks:
But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media falls oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.
I actually don’t think that’s the case. Just as I’d prefer Hillary to win the Democratic primaries because I think she’ll be easier to beat than Obama, the press would prefer that Huckabee win the Republican primaries, because they know he’ll go down in flames in the Presidential election. That’s why they’ve handled him with something approaching TLC — he’s their favored candidate because he’ll lose.
Speaking of different press approaches to the different parties and their candidates, Patrick, my favorite Paragraph Farmer, has an elegantly written article up at the American Spectator examining the way in which reporters delve deep into Romney’s and Huckabee’s theological beliefs (something that may be fair game because their beliefs stand out), while treating with kid gloves rather unusual theological revelations from candidates on the left. Even if one pulls back from specific theological peculiarities, there is no doubt that the press has carefully ignored Hillary’s politically activist Methodism, which has more to do with socialism than God, and Obama’s truly unfortunate, and very strong, ties to a black supremacist church. Likewise, a speech from a pulpit is non-news if you’re on the Left, and a threat to the separation of church and state if you’re on the right. Double standards, anybody?
Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:
Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”
So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.
This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.
You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.
UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):
The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”
The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.
As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.
Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.
I’ve got a deadline, so I thought I’d just give you a few links to things that interested me this morning:
Rick Moran highlights Zimbabwe’s insane inflation, another horrible indictment of Mugabe, who took one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations and reduced it to abject poverty.
An Iraq War widow, trying to help others, was scammed out of $57,000, and now needs help.
I don’t know if Jonas E. Alexis is a good writer or not, but he’s certainly written what sounds like my kind of book: In the Name of Education: How Weird Ideologies Corrupt our Public Schools, Politics, the Media, Higher Institutions, and History. You can read an interview with him here and see if it sounds like your kind of book too.
Chavez the coke-head — it explains so much, including the paranoia and megalomania.
About three years after the rest of us, NPR is finally catching on to the fact that there is a problem integrating Islamists into Western culture, especially when it comes to the subjugation of Muslim women.
Laer does a fantastic post about Israel’s decision to cut of power to Gaza. I would be more impressed if it weren’t for the fact that I know that, in a day or two, when Palestinian shrieking reaches fever pitch, the UN, Europe and the US will gang up on Israel and demand that she act in a more humanitarian way. And Israel, instead of sticking to her guns and refusing to provide supplies to those trying to destroy her and every one of her citizens, will yield — and the Palestinians will be heartened once again.
I blogged yesterday about the problem with Obama’s race, and it’s not that he’s black, it’s that the Left cares deeply that he’s black. Apparently (and unsurprisingly), I’m not the only one who has figured this out. Slate is running excerpts from what promises to be an interesting book: Richard Thompson Ford’s The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. Given the nature of the publishing industry, this book was obviously written before Obama and Hillary dove into the cesspool of racism, so its presence on the market right now is serendipitous.
That great curmudgeon Pat Condell takes on Canadian dhimmitude.
UPDATE: Hah! What did I tell you? Two days and Israel’s already started caving. I can also guarantee you that the Palestinians are not thanking the Israeli’s for their munificence. Instead, they’re gloatingly thinking “weak, weak, weak” — and they’re right.
The problem with Obama’s race is that you’re not allowed to dislike him simply because you don’t like him. From my point of view, irrespective of skin color, I find Obama boring and platitudinous, I dislike and distrust his friends, I find appalling his lack of practical experience, and I disagree with him from top to bottom when it comes to his political positions. He is, to me, an utterly undesirable candidate. However, in the world of identity politics, all of this is clearly a front for my unspoken racism. It is impossible for those on the Left to believe that, if someone is in a politically correct minority, he can be disliked for reasons other than his minority status. Cynthia Tucker, a liberal columnist, is upfront about this belief:
After a recent column describing Barack Obama as “a presidential candidate who happens to be black — not a black presidential candidate,” I received countless responses from readers, a handful of them odd. That odd handful declared they take no notice of superficial traits such as skin color, and they took me to task for making any reference to Obama’s race.
“I thought of (Obama) as a person. I did not see black or white or Hispanic or that he was a man — I saw a person! If people really, truly want racial equality, then the first step has to be to STOP looking at skin color,” wrote one reader.
“When I look at a person, the last thing I think about is skin color or heritage,” wrote another.
Sorry, but I’m not buying it. While I am sympathetic to any desire to get past dated and useless habits of mind — especially the contentious politics of the color line — that’s just nonsense. None of us, black, white or brown, is colorblind. (Emphasis mine.)
Sorry, Cynthia, but I’m not buying that. I refuse to be denied the right to dislike someone based upon the content of their character. More to the point, given Obama’s church, his verbal vapidity, and what’s emerging about his somewhat checkered Chicago political past, I’m not even sure precisely how much character the man has. And that is entirely separate, of course, from my disliking his political positions.
Nor do I think I’m deluding myself about my innate racism. The fact is, I’ve never seen Obama speak. I get my news through the written word. Or, if I’m getting my news through the spoken word, I hear it on the radio. I never watch the candidates on TV, ever. That is, my impressions of Obama are purely cerebral. And I still don’t like him.
Hillary, interestingly, doesn’t have quite the same protection Obama does. People have gotten so used over the years to finding her entirely dislikeable that it’s pretty darn hard to attribute negative feelings to her sex, rather than her personality. With Obama, though, we don’t have a past history with him to justify broad dislike. That is, while Obama has a personal history (which I don’t think holds up to scrutiny), there hasn’t been a long-term relationship between the man and the American public that could lay the groundwork for disliking him without a concurrent charge of racism. For example, we don’t hear too many cries of racism if we dislike Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom have shown themselves to be completely disreputable personally and politically for too many years to be entirely immune from attack (although we may well be accused of being racists for not supporting their race-based political agenda). That is, most people, left or right, seem to concede that the guys lack broad personal appeal.
It will be interesting, assuming Obama continues in politics for a while (whether as a 2008 presidential candidate or a 2012 candidate), to see if we’re allowed to dislike him without being tarred with the racist brush. It will also be interesting if, God forbid, he wins the 2008 presidential primaries, to see if the press will be able to make itself write anything even slightly negative about him. And considering the horror with which Hillary’s attacks against him are being greeted, will the Republican candidate be able to say anything negative, no matter how substantive, without being tarred with the racist brush? The one thing I can promise you is that, if Obama loses, it won’t be because he’s boring, antisemitic (or, at least, his friends are), uninformed, unexperienced and a leftist. In the eyes of the MSM, whose opinion will be disseminated around the world, he can lose only because he’s black. And that’s the problem with Obama’s race.
Okay, I promise that this will be the last post today in which I mention the name Jonah Goldberg, but I simply can’t resist sharing with you his take on the problem with Obama’s candidacy:
Obama’s whole campaign is based on some of the most noble and inspiring sentiments in political life: hope, togetherness, bipartisanship. As he proclaimed last February at a Democratic National Committee meeting: “There are those who don’t believe in talking about hope. They say, ‘Well, we want specifics, we want details, and we want white papers, and we want plans.’ We’ve had a lot of plans, Democrats. What we’ve had is a shortage of hope. And over the next year, over the next two years, that will be my call to you.”
He’s stayed true to that pledge. Not only does he talk about hope — a lot — he talks about the importance of talking about hope. He talks about how he hopes to talk more about talking about the importance of talking about hope. Hopefully.
He touts unity the same way. If we all buy into his “message of hope,” he explains, then everybody — blacks and whites, men and women, Republicans and Democrats, lions and gnus, bears and park rangers, Superman and Lex Luthor — will be united!
But united toward what end, exactly? Or does it all boil down to being united about being hopeful and hopeful about being united?
Obama’s fairy tale is the idea that we can get beyond disagreement. But Democracy is about disagreement, not agreement. We have real arguments in this country, and the political arena exists for us to hash them out peacefully. Obama’s — and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s — “post-partisan” snake oil promises to take the disagreement out of democracy. You can’t do that.
What if you disagree with Obama’s ideas? Are you suddenly against hope? Given recent events, it seems that if you’re not with the Obama program, you’re fair game for tarring as a crypto-racist. And that’s what Obama supporters are willing to say about the Clintons! (Of course, I can barely scrape together two molecules of sympathy for the Clintons. They’ve been playing games with race for years, using the same tactics against their enemies that the Obamans are now using on them.) If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, imagine what hairballs will be coughed up at the Republicans.
Unity around an issue — war, health care, education — is a legitimate appeal. But you can’t defend America with hope; you can’t heal people with unity. Further, it is morally antithetical to democratic values to demand unity for unity’s sake. And it is quite literally impossible to govern that way.
If you’re a liberal Jewish voter, and tremendously excited about Obama’s candidacy as the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, slow down, Pardner. Jews have always assumed that, because they supported the civil rights movement with enthusiasm and hard work, there would be a quid pro quo by which blacks, recognizing Jews as fellow victims, would be equally supportive of Jewish issues. Jews have held to this viewpoint despite regularly occurring proof of the fact that African-Americans, perhaps resentful of having to share the “victim” limelight with the Jews, are not supportive of Jews or Jewish causes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Obama himself, a man who has aligned himself with anti-Semitic churches and causes his entire adult life. If you think this will change when he reaches the White House, I would suggest that you think again. And if you believe that Israel, a small island of democracy surrounded by hostile tyrannical nations should exist without anyone questioning her legitimacy, you may not want to vote for Obama. (Of course, if Israel’s security matters to you, you also might want to rethink any vote for Hillary, either — not just because she mouths the usual liberal pieties about a Palestinian state, but because she kissed Suha Arafat immediately after the latter spouted vicious antisemitic lies.)
I’m still enjoying every page of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and I thought I’d share with you a few more points that I thought either summed up perfectly something most of us have already figured out or explained why I’d been suffering from cognitive dissonance for so long trying to understand the liberal historic paradigms offered up in college and beyond.
I think Goldberg has summed up as well as anyone can the liberal view of race, and the liberal view of conservatives vis a vis race. Here is his summary of liberals and race:
Even on the liberal left [as opposed to the black supremacist left, which speaks in terms surprisingly reminiscent of Nazi racial ideology], where the poisonous notions are far more diluted, it is axiomatic that there is something inherently and distinctly good about blacks. How so? Well, it must be so. If you buy into the various doctrines of multiculturalism and identity politics you already believe that blackness is distinct, immutable, and unchanging. Once you accept this logic — and the left obviously does — you are then left with a fairly simple choice. If race is not neutral, if “race matters,” as Cornell West says, then how does it matter? Given the choice between assigning a positive value or a negative value, liberals opt for the positive. (p. 278.)
Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to believe race is a matter of skin color. They keep in mind two important historic phrases: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” and “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This is what Goldberg calls “race neutrality.” How is it that an outlook that says race doesn’t matter routinely gets transformed into cries of “racist”? Jonah answers that question too:
There are only three basic positions. There is the racism of the left, which seeks to use the state to help favored minorities that it regards as morally superior. There is racial neutrality, which is, or has become, the conservative position. And then there is some form of “classical racism” — that is, seeing blacks as inferior in some way. According to the left, only one of these positions isn’t racist. Race neutrality is racist. Racism is racist. So what’s left? Nothing except liberalism. In other words, agree with liberals and you’re not racist. Of course, if you adopt color blindness as a policy, many fair-minded liberals will tell you that while you’re not personally racist, your views “perpetuate” racism. And some liberals will stand by the fascist motto: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Either way, there are no safe harbors from liberal ideology. Hence, when it comes to race, liberalism has become a kind of soft totalitarianism and multiculturalism the mechanism for a liberal Gleichschaltung. If you fall outside the liberal consensus, you are either evil or an abettor of evil. This is the logic of the Volksgemeinschaft in politicaly correct jargon. (p. 283.)
Goldberg also explains why I’ve always suffered from cognitive dissonance when being told that the Nazis were capitalist fat cats, so that people who believe in capitalism, and don’t view corporations as enemies, are fascists. This clashed head on with a few things I knew about Nazis: they hated capitalism, which is part of why they loathed Jews; they were socialists; they semi-nationalized most industries; and they were a populist movement that started with the Volk in Munich. As to this last, they were very hostile to aristocrats (who created the group that came up with the plot to assassinate Hitler) and industrialists. Those aristos and industrialists who became ardent Nazis did so because they shared its antisemitism and its Aryan racism, or because they saw that the Nazi nation was a profitable entity, with a good government trough. All that being the case, why did Nazism, and therefore “fascism,” get tied up with capitalism? Here’s why:
Doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism defined fascism as “the most reactionary and openly terrorist form of the dictatorship of finance capital, established by the imperialistic bourgeoisie to break the resistance of the working class and all the progressive elements of society.” Trotsky, an admirer of Mussolini’s, conceded that fascism was a “plebian movement in origin” but that it was always “directed and financed by big capitalist powers.” This interpretation was foreordained because by the 1920s communists were convinced that they were witnessing capitalism’s long overdue collapse. Marxist prophecy held that the capitalists would fight back to protect their interests rather than face extinction in the new socialist era. [The Marxist version of the "left behind" theory, I guess.] When fascism succeeded in Italy, communist seers simply declared, “This is it!” At the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922, less than a month after the March on Rome — long before Mussolini consolidated power — the assembled communists settled on this interpretation with little debate over the actual facts on the ground. (p. 286-287.)
In other words, because Marxism assumed that there would be a last gasp of capitalism before the inevitable communist take-over, and because fascism appeared when the Marxist chronology had dictated that this last gasp would occur, therefore fascism was the last gasp of capitalism — a false syllogism if I ever heard one. It sure does explain, though, why I never could make head nor tail of the line taught me at Berkeley — namely, that fascism is simply capitalism carried to the extreme.
And my last Goldberg point for now has to do with a rather charming irony. Do you remember liberal outrage that Cheney sat down with industry leaders to draft rules governing the industry? (And for the life of me, sitting here this morning, I can’t remember which industry it was that Cheney had the termerity to meet with.) It turns out that the close relationship between big industry and government is a long and honorable progressive tradition, one that began even before Wilson’s ultimate progressive WWI government. Goldberg explains that big industry originally encouraged government regulation for an anticompetitive purpose — it knew that small players couldn’t afford to keep up with government requirements. For example, when Upton Sinclair wrote his famous 1906 muckraking book The Jungle, about the meatpacking industry, he was being just a bit disingenuous:
The problem is that it’s [the liberal myth that progressive government forced unwilling corporations to become humane] totally untrue, a fact Sinclair freely acknowledged. “The Federal inspection of meat was, historically, established at the packers’ request,” Sinclair wrote in 1906. “It is maintained and paid for by the people of the United States for the benefit of the packers.” (p. 291.)
Originally, government was hostile to this kind of thing, because it was meant for anti-competitive purposes. However, when Wilson, the first progressive took the White House and was able to use WWI to begin his experiments, he immediately set about controlling big business — and big business went along with it, believing that it would drive out competition and increase profits:
Big business and the Wilson administration formed the Council of National Defense, or CND, according to Wilson, for the purpose of redesigning “the whole industrial mechanism . . . in the most effective way.” “It is our hope,” Hudson Motor Car Company’s Howard Coffin explained in a letter to the Du Ponts “that we may lay the foundation for that closely knit structure, industrial, civil, and military, which every thinking American has come to realize is vital to the future life of this country, in peace and in commence, no less than in possible war.”
When the war broke out, the CND was largely folded into the War Industries Board, or WIB. Run by the “dollar-a-year-men” from the world of finance and business, the WIB set prices, trade quotas, wages, and, of course, profits. Trade associations were formed along vaguely syndicalist lines. “Business willed its own domination, forged its bonds, and policed its own subjection,” wrote Grosvenor Clarkson, a WIBer and historian of the effort. The aim was for the “concentration of commerce, industry and all the powers of government.” “Historians have generally concluded,” writes Robert Higgs, “that these businessmen-turned-bureaucrats used their positions to establish and enforce what amounted to cartel arrangements for the various industries.” (p. 293.)
As Goldberg repeatedly states throughout his book, when Roosevelt’s New Deal came along, there was nothing “new” about it. Almost without exception, its policies simply resurrected the policies that Wilson had put into place during WWI. One of these policies should remind you of the infamous Cheney/industry meeting:
The propaganda of the New Deal — “malefactors of great wealth” and all that — to the contrary, FDR simply endeavored to re-create the corporatism of the last war. The New Dealers invited one industry after another to wrote the codes under which they would be regulated (as they had been begging to do in many case). (p. 293; emphasis mine.)
In other words, Cheney was doing nothing more or less than aping the Left’s idol — FDR.
If you can get a hold of a copy of Goldberg’s book, I really urge you to read it. As I noted before, it will explain how liberals ended up where they are, and why it’s the conservatives who wrongly get the pejorative label “fascist.”
UPDATE: It seemed appropriate to include in this post three links to good discussions about Obama and the race card, since it seems very likely that, if Obama is the Democratic candidate, anyone who does not vote for him will be castigated as a racist and, if he loses, the entire nation will be called to account for that “shame.” Article 1 is at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Article 2 is at Commentary Magazine’s blog, and Article 3 is Charles Sykes, writing at American Thinker.
In the same vein, I had an interesting conversation with my mother, who gets her news solely from MSM television. She agreed with me that Obama lacks any meaningful experience, that he’s untried, and that he’s basically an empty shirt. She also agreed that his political positions do not represent the view of all Americans — and possibly represent the views of fewer than half of all Americans. Nevertheless, she then announced that if Obama loses, it will be because Middle America is racist and will not vote for a black. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a map of the US with me, because I think she forgot where Iowa is. My Mom is an intelligent, humane woman with a lot of common sense. Her take on Barack Obama, though, shows how even the best mind can start showing signs of cognitive dissonance if it is exposed to nothing more than the MSM.
UPDATE II: I read the Charles Sykes (American Thinker) article after I’d had the conversation with my mother and after I’d written about the conversation, above. I think Sykes must have been eavesdropping on my conversation, though, or looking over my shoulder as I blogged:
A central tenet of modern liberalism, after all, is the unshakeable conviction that white American is deeply and irredeemably racist. For three decades, America’s white liberals have invested in the belief that American is so incapable of racial fairness that society needs a panoply of laws, preferences, quotas, set-asides, and remedial programs to ensure that black people are treated fairly.
All of those policies are fundamentally based on the belief that America is deeply racist, that their fellow Americans are personally biased and institutionally prejudiced — consciously and unconsciously, intentionally and structurally; racist in history and practice.
It follows that many race-holding liberals will be among the last to believe that America will ever elect an African-American as president.
White liberals face this cognitive dissonance: if they decide that America is ready for a black president and back Obama they would also be forced to surrender or at least modify decades of convictions about American bias.
I just have to share with you a few more gems from Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, and then I really, really have to buckle down and get some paying work done.
First, regarding the constant calls for unity that we’re hearing from the Democratic side of the primaries:
[Howard] Dean, speaking for many, paints the 1960s as a time of great unity. “People my age really felt that way.” But this is patent nonsense. “People” didn’t feel that way. The people Howard Dean knew felt that way — or at least their nostalgia causes them to think they did. It’s bizarre how many people remember the 1960s as a time of “unity” and “hope” when it was in reality a time of rampant domestic terrorism, campus tumult, assassinations, and riots. [Which is how I, an unpoliticized small child during that era, remember it.] Nostalgia for their own youth can’t explain this myopia, since liberals also pine for the 1930s as a time when “we were all in it together.” This, too, is a gross distortion. The United States was not unified in the 1930s; it was torn by political unrest, intense labor violence, and the fear that one totalitarianism or another lay just around the corner. If unity alone was the issue, the left would pine for the 1950s or even the 1920s. But the left didn’t thrive in these decades, so any unity enjoyed by Americans was illegitimate.
In other words, it is not unity the left longs for but victory; unity on terms not their own (such as the “staid conformity” of the 1950s) is false and misleading. In the 1930s and 1960s, the left’s popular front approach yielded real power — and that is the true object of liberal nostalgia; nothing more, nothing less. (pp. 171-172.)
Immediately following the above words, but in a new subchapter, Goldberg expands on the left’s obsession with unity — solely on its own terms, of course:
The elevation of unity as the highest social value is a core tenet of fascism and all leftist ideologies. Mussolini adopted the socialist symbol of the fasces [bundle] to convey that his movement valued unity over the liberal democratic fetish of debate and discussion. That clanking unrhymed chant we hear at protect rallies today — “The people united will never be defeated!” — is a perfectly fascist refrain. Perhaps it is true that “the people united will never be defeated,” but that doesn’t mean the people are right (as Calvin Coolidge liked to say, “One with the law on his side is a majority”). We tend to forget that unity is, at best, morally neutral and often a source of irrationality and groupthink. Rampaging mobs are unified. The Mafia is unified. Marauding barbarians bent on rape and pillage are unified. Meanwhile, civilized people have disagreements, and small-d democrats have arguments. Classical liberalism is based on this fundamental insight, which is why fascism was always antiliberal. Liberalism rejected the idea that unity is more valuable than individuality. For fascists and other leftists, meaning and authenticity are found in collection enterprises — of class, nation, or race — and the state is there to enforce that meaning on everyone without the hindrance of debate. (p. 172.)
If the above sounds familiar to you, it may be because you read Dennis Prager last week in which he reflected on the practical implications of the Democratic obsession with unity:
Virtually all calls for unity — whether national, international or religious (as in calls for Christian unity) — do not tell the whole truth.
If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: “I want everyone to unite — behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine.”
It is fascinating how little introspection Sen. Obama’s “unity” supporters engage in — they are usually the very people who most forcefully advocate multiculturalism, who scoff at the idea of an American melting pot and who oppose something as basic to American unity as declaring English the country’s national language. Their advocacy of multiculturalism and opposition to declaring English the national language are proof that the calls of the left-wing supporters of Barack Obama for American unity are one or more of three things: 1. A call for all Americans to agree with them and become fellow leftists. 2. A nice-sounding cover for their left-wing policies. 3. A way to further their demonizing of the Bush administration as “divisive.”
Given what Sen. Obama’s calls for unity really mean — let’s all go left — it is no wonder he and his calls for unity are enthusiastically embraced by the liberal media.
For nearly eight years the media and Democrats have labeled President Bush’s policies “divisive” simply because they don’t agree with them. They are not one whit more divisive than Sen. Obama’s positions. A question for Democrats, the media and other Obama supporters: How exactly are Mr. Obama’s left-wing political positions any less “divisive” than President Bush’s right-wing positions?
Second, the craving for unity is frequently childish. As we mature we understand that decent people will differ politically and theologically. The mature yearn for unity only on a handful of fundamental values, such as: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Beyond such basics, we yearn for civil discourse and tolerance, not unity.
A byproduct of the obsessive need for unity is the fact that truth becomes unnecessary. As long as everybody can be brought around to believing the same mythology, truth can actually be a liability. After discussing a phony cross burning incident that was used to justify the student takeover at Cornell University, Goldberg points out that the fakery behind the cross burning was unexceptional on the left:
As the cross-burning incident at Cornell demonstrated, this preference for arousing passions at the expense of truth and reason defined the agenda for those fighting in [the 1960s Leftist] trenches. The practice of “lying for justice” — always acceptable on the communist left — was infused into the American New Left with potency. The catch-phrase at the Columbia uprising was “the issue is not the issue.” No wonder, since the actual “issue” — building a gym in adjacent Harlem — was such small beer. For most of the activists, deceit wasn’t the point. The point was passion, mobilization, action. As one SDS member proclaimed after he and his colleagues seized a building and kidnapped a dean, “We’ve got something going on here and now we’ve just got to find out what it is.” (p. 179.)
Just for fun, see if you can think up some fakeries used by the liberals and their fellow travelers at home and abroad in the last few years alone to incite mobs. My first thought is Rathergate. There, even though the media was eventually forced to conclude that the documents were probably forged, that didn’t matter because they were “fake but accurate.” Other examples abroad including the Jenin Massacre that wasn’t; the fake death of Muhammad al-Durah; and the Temple Mount lies. There are more, but that’s a start. For the Left, whether fascist or communist, truth is an irrelevancy that gets in the way of power politics. You have to pity the right (whether Christian or otherwise), which is inconveniently burdened by Christ’s injunction that “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.
As someone who has always disliked Oprah’s touchy-feely, anti-intellectual approach, which I think has seriously lowered the tone of American discourse, I applaud this letter that the American Thinker published, especially the first two paragraphs. (I’m not sure if I agree with the third, since I think part of her attraction to Obama’s candidacy is definitely racial, but part of it is the same touchy-feely, ignorant anti-intellectualism I just decried.)
Much of what is wrong with Western Civilization today can be summed up in two words—Oprah Winfrey. With Oprah, facts, reality and logic mean nothing, it is only how you feel about a matter that is important. She was an evil John the Baptist who prepared the way for Bill Clinton and his “I feel your pain” nonsense; and today she is operating as a female Rasputin in her relationship with Obama, whose only qualification for being President is the emotional effect he has on his followers.
Our next President will face the hard realities of a world in crisis. Our next President must lead us against vicious enemies who are unmoved by anyone’s personal charisma; enemies who honor only the emotions of hatred. The last thing we need in such a time is the Oprah and Obama feel-good fantasy falsehood.
In refusing access to her very influential show to all candidates except Obama, Oprah is also revealing her racist inclinations. She built her media empire by manipulating and mesmerizing millions of Caucasian women, but now her prejudices against them have come to light. Oprah is a sign of the times. We must wake up, take her influence seriously, and sound an alarm.