February 8, 2008

Mickey Kaus asks ...

On Slate, Mickey writes:
"Remind me again, what is the evidence--in terms of policies, not affect or attitude or negotiating strategy--that Obama is not an unreconstructed lefty (on the American spectrum--a paleoliberal or a bit further left)? For example, would he roll back welfare reform if he could?"

Well, his voting record in the Senate is not extremely far left -- in 2007 he was the most liberal Senator, but the two previous years he was only a little more liberal than Hillary.

His record in the Illinois legislature was fairly technocratic, with him picking and choosing issues on which he could make a consensus with technocratic Republicans.

But, what do we know about what he'll do when he finally gets the top job? For example, who will he nominate to the Supreme Court?

As of the writing of his 1995 book, Obama appears to have been further to the left than about 95% of the public. For example, his concerns in the late 1980s (and repeated with a straight face in his autobiography) about the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.'s church was whether it was not radical enough. Similarly, in Obama's book, there's virtually no criticism of welfare. Indeed, Obama's mission in life when he was a racial activist and then when he became a discrimination lawyer was to get more money out of whites for blacks.

Many people assume that because Obama likes to show that he understands their arguments by paraphrasing them back to them, often better than they made them themselves, that he therefore must agree with them. But it's just conservative egomania to assume that the problem with people who disagree with you is that they don't understand your arguments, and therefore anybody who is smart enough to understand you, like Obama is, must agree with you and have your best interests at heart.

Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

For example, when Charles De Gaulle visited embattled French Algeria in 1958, the first thing he told a vast crowd of worried pied noirs was, "I have understood you." The French-speakers cried in relief because, finally, France had a leader who understood their plight. De Gaulle then proceeded to give their country to their mortal enemies. He understood the French Algerians just fine, as well as they understood themselves. He just didn't care about them as much as they cared about themselves.

Sen. Obama has written a 442 page autobiography in which he took great pains to indicate that A. He cares about his own feelings a vast amount. B. He cares about one segment of the population far more than he cares about the rest.

I could well believe that Obama moderated his feelings at some point since 1995 (perhaps when black voters rejected him for Bobby Rush in 2000). But I would feel a lot more confident about my guess if the media would stop pretending that Dreams from My Father doesn't exist and somebody would sit down with him on camera and say: "According to your autobiography, you were way, way out in left field as recently as 1995. (And if you try to deny that, I'll quote your memoirs page by page.) Have you changed since then? How so? When? Why? How can you prove it?"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

40 comments:

Derek Copold said...

There is a definite improvement in having an opponent who understands your arguments, even if he disagrees. When Obama discusses immigration, for example, he does, as you indicate, show understanding of skeptics' arguments. In fact, he accords them a great deal of respect. How is this not better than most of the McCain-Kennedy crowd, who simply shout "racist"?

Have you read his second book, Steve? I ask out of curiosity. I'm about to start it myself.

Ned said...

"Well, his voting record in the Senate is not extremely far left -- in 2007 he was the most liberal Senator, but the two previous years he was only a little more liberal than Hillary."

2007 - the most liberal Senator
2005-2006 - only slightly more liberal than Hillary.

Whew, what a relief! For a while I thought this guy was a real lefty. Glad to know I was wrong. I feel much better now.

Concerned Netizen said...

Excellent questions, Steve!

What makes you think that reporters won't be asking them in the General Election?

Why ask them now when the prospect of a black candidate for President (narrative, narrative!) is so delicious?

Let him first become the nominee and then ask those questions, is the plan.

I find it reaaallly difficult to believe that the white guys in states with few blacks who are voting for Obama instead of Hillary will vote for Obama in the General against McCain.

Eric said...

I'm not sure upon which planet we'd find such a media. Certainly not this one.

Anonymous said...

But I would feel a lot more confident about my guess if the media would stop pretending that Dreams from My Father doesn't exist and somebody would sit down with him on camera and say: "According to your autobiography, you were way, way out in left field as recently as 1995. (And if you try to deny that, I'll quote your memoirs page by page.) Have you changed since then? How so? When? Why? How can you prove it?"

Rest assured that McCain will eventually do it, for them.

David said...

Obama is obviously obfuscating. Note his "change is coming" - "vote for me if you want the change you've always hoped for" mantra, with "change" left undefined.

His listeners plug into that word "change" whatever they want to hear. Blacks hear whitey on the bottom, us on top. Whites hear blacks will stop terrorizing and milking us and become Cosbys.

When a politician leaves a key term undefined, his intent is dishonest.

Of course, when a politician does anything, his intent...well, you know.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Obama surpassed Hillary on intrade after Super Tuesday.

It is worrying that, if elected President, any traditional system checks to Presidential policies would be enfeebled by MSM / elite uncritical boosterism and fears of the scarlet "R"acism. This greatly magnifies the damage Obama could possibly wreak if the issues with his Afrocentric church and minority spoils mentality are true.

In addition to disliking Hillary, I was less concerned about an Obama presidency and didn't think through the consequences when Obama looked like the longshot. With responsibilites beyond myself and a deterioring economy I'm less enthusiastic about blindly spinning the Presidential wheel again as was done with the last unknown Bush II.

David Davenport said...

Sincere question: How would a “classical” Marxist –economic determinist determinist explain this?


February 8 2008: 9:18 AM

Unusual perks: Goldman Sachs covers sex changes

The investment bank, No. 9 on the Best Companies to Work For list, added the benefit last year as part of a push to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce.

By Althea Chang


Unusual perks: Goldman covers sex changes


NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Wall Street is typically considered a pretty conservative place to work. But the classic white-shoe investment bank is loosening things up by adding health benefits that cover sex-change operations.

Not only is Goldman Sachs ranked No. 9 on Fortune's list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, it also appears on what could be a list of transgendered job-seekers' ideal employers as well.

Goldman added health-insurance coverage of sex reassignment surgery as part of a push last year to attract top talent and recruit and retain a more diverse workforce, the company said.

The surgery alone could cost an individual anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000 if they paid out of pocket, depending on their particular situation, said Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, a group that campaigns for transgender rights. That figure doesn't include hormone and other drug treatments.

Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500)' plan covers the actual surgery, as well as transgender-related prescription drugs, such as testosterone injections, said spokeswoman Gia MorĂ³n. It does not cover electrolysis and other cosmetic treatments, she said.


( Hmmm, sounds like more going from F to M than from M to F. )

The surgery is free under the company's HMO and PPO plans as long as patients are screened and diagnosed with transsexualism and see an in-network doctor. Drugs are subject to regular prescription copays that are typically $5 to $30 a month.

Goldman is not the only financial firm that offers such benefits. Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Deutsche Bank (DB) and Wachovia (WB, Fortune 500) also offer some level of coverage for transgender treatments, according to a poll by the Human Rights Campaign - a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy group. …


http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/08/news/companies/gender.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2008020809

Anonymous said...

Psst... Steve. I think it's pretty clear that Obama is an unreconstructed lefty. That's why a lot of us are supporting him. Not for any kumbaya healing racial wounds reasons, but because he has the potential to be the left's Reagan-- someone who succeeds at selling a fairly extreme ideology to the broad middle of the country using sunny, inspirational language.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be better for Republicans to throw sand in Hillary's gears for her first two years in office and try to get her agenda stuck in the mud and elect a Republican congress in 2010, and hopefully a *real* Republican and not a RINO in 2012. Interdicting Obama and his legislative machinations will be excoriated as racist over and over again by the amen choir in the MSM, and weak-kneed Republicans like Lindsey Graham might cave on some things................................they might even pass a shmnesty just to say they did something together.


I hope some of the Republicans reading this blog consider voting in the democratic primaries in their state for Hillary instead of Obama. She will be easier to villify, and we can dredge up whatever scandals to slow her down. Congressional elections are in a mere two years and we can use the campaigning excuse for doing nothing for the six month congressional campaign season, so its how much damage she can do for a year and a half hopefully.

Johnson said...

The hard look that Obama will get in the general election is a thousand times more rigorous than the look he's getting by the PC left in the primary.

For some reason, your anti-Obama columns are resonating much more now that he is not just another also-ran.

Since he keeps repeating the same refrains over and over again at his speeches (Yes we can! There is one America! Change!), the magic from 2004 and his Iowa speech is almost gone. The temporary loss of logic that resulted from his fiery oratory is starting to subside.

There is only so many times we can hear that the election isn't about black and white while Obama wins +80% of the black vote.

Al Fin said...

As far as I can tell, Steve, you were the first one to pick up on the stealth candidate's past. Keep at it. Eventually, a few members of the press will decide it is too good a story to pass up, then the defections will start.

Obama has the ability to make people believe he "understands their problems" in the same way that Bill Clinton made them think he "felt their pain." There is a deep inner need to be understood. The most savvy career politicians intuitively feed on that human need.

Anonymous said...

To figure where Obama stands just look to the company he keeps. Ted Kennedy and Stephen Spielberg have decided he's a great guy, so we know where he must be.

Modern liberal politics is like a game of charades. He's sending signals to liberals that they understand but that the great unwashed masses think mean nothing.

lloyd1927 said...

I see Obama as the anti-Anatole Broyard. Broyard is condemned for moving from "black" (actually Creole) to white and Obama is praised for moving from white/non-black to "black."

Obama's phenotype is considered reason enough for him to be "black" but Broyard's European phenotype is dismissed with contempt by blacks and liberals who claim he was only "passing for white." Hell, by the same standards, isn't Obama passing for black? Why is Broyard's whiteness questioned and condemned while Obama's claim to blackness is praised to the skies?

Broyard is condemned as immoral for rejecting the "colored" (erroneously described as black racial/ethnic) legal status of his parents and sisters while Obama is praised for considering himself racially and ethnically different from the biological mother and maternal grandparents who raised him.

Does anyone else see a double standard here? A black identity is defined as moral and a white identity immoral.

poolside said...

If you believe this professor of black studies, black women prefer Obama because they are tired of being "mammies" to white women like Hillary.

http://www.theroot.com/id/44696

Mike said...

Very clearly stated. I can't disagree.

I must say, I'm extremely impressed by how consistently well Obama has carried himself given the emotional turmoil of his '95 book. This may be evidence for some kind of big, sweeping transition of identity (which might, or might not, speak to your concern).

Dollmaker said...

Obama supports drivers' licenses for illegals and promises immigration "reform" within the first year of his Presidency. That's all I need to know about his politics.

dodo said...

What do mean "lefty?" For some he is way too "centrist."

http://www.theroot.com/id/44630

Anonymous said...

I read your review of Obama's 1995 book and I don't remember you mentioning anything about he proposing left wing policies.

Analyzing society from a stereotypically left-wing standpoint is not the same thing as favoring left-wing policies.

For example, Huntington's Clash of Civilizations reads in many ways like a Marxist historical analysis, but that doesn't mean Huntington is a socialist.

Likewise, legal realism originated with left-wing legal scholars, but the mostly right-wing law and economics movement grew right out of legal realism.

So what are some examples of far-left policies Obama proposed in "Dreams?"

SFG said...

Sincere question: How would a “classical” Marxist –economic determinist determinist explain this?


I don't know about my political philosophy, but let me try. Goldman Sachs covering sex changes. Hmmm. The best I can come up with is the Richard Florida argument--that tolerance makes a firm appear avant-garde and thus appealing to young people. Also recall that Goldman Sachs has a reputation of being much more meritocratic and less old-money-WASPy than the other investment banks, so they might be getting the sort of lefty Harvard valedictorian types who see it as the most prestigious thing to do.

Remember, they're Goldman Sachs, the most prestigious firm in the most competitive industry. They can slice their applicant pool as thin as they want.

dodo said...

BTW, that theroot.com article is still linked to the front page of Slate. Why?

rightsaidfred said...

I suppose an optimist would say that Obama responds to the moment: as a Chicago ward politician, he saw his duty as fleecing The Man; as President, he will realize that the functioning and maintenance of a modern society requires some nurturing of the meritocracy.

Otherwise we're back to the question of how to manage a democracy when 51% vote to fleece the other 49%.

Lucius Vorenus said...

A little off-topic, but I wouldn't be surprised if, at some point down the road [and it might not be before the election - it might be after he's inaugurated], we come to discover that Obama suffers from severe manic-depression, a la Thomas Eagleton.

I know that Steve Sailer has speculated about this sort of thing in the past, but there's just something about Obama's demeanor which suggests to me that there is more to him than meets the eye.

jack strocchi said...

Kraus is wrong to try to pin the paeleo-Lefty charge on Obama, at least on socio-economic policy.

Krugman compares various Democrat candidates on the crucial issue of health care. Obama proposes improing coverage amongst the uninsured but does not mandate compulsory universal cover for adults. By constrast both Edwards and Clinton proposed more Leftist health insurance plans that promoted universal coverage.

BTW, I agree with Lefty compulsory public health care policy. It is the correct policy on both economical and ethical principles. The US's predominantly voluntary and private health insurance system is excessively costly in production and unfair in distribution.

But Obama will probably veer to the Left on cultural issues ie pandering to minority activists and morally vainglorious Left-liberals who form his electoral base. That alone is enough to make one suspicious of his presidential credentials.

dodo said...

Jack, Krugman's analysis of health care is just silly.

Anonymous said...

Jack -- Obama can't handle (but neither can Hillary) the contradiction between illegal immigration (or lots of legal immigration) and universal health coverage. Not enough money to cover the world. Or even the US plus Mexico.

My guess on Goldman Sachs is that they represent the sea change in WASP culture the way Obama does. Signaling ultra-left policies as social status the way old school ties used to. "It's no accident" as the Marxists would say that Bill Gates or George Soros exhibit fairly leftist behavior the way the Davos crowd does -- pushing to erase the old social constraints/moralities/beliefs because they enable the working and middle class to advance.

It's the same way wealthy whites who depend on social status vote for Obama in say, Idaho. And working class white union men don't in say, California.

How left is Obama? I'd say pretty left because his base that he's attracted tends to be Hollyweird people like Kate Walsh, Scarlett Johansson, wealthy urbanites, and Blacks. That's pretty left and it's basically social status positioning from rich people and plain old ethnic politics.

Let's! said...

I wonder if Rev. Wright will be an apologist for Cookie Thornton. Amazing how quickly his brothers have gotten on TV, ready to coyly justify his massacre. They obviously feel that there are some segments of the public eager to hail him as a civil-rights martyr, otherwise they wouldn't be making excuses for him so shamelessly.

Obviously since Thornton is black and couched his bigoted paranoia in the language of grievance and victimization, it is impossible for him to have committed a hate crime.

James B. Shearer said...

"... in 2007 he was the most liberal Senator, ..."

As Yglesias pointed out that this claim is rather dubious.

Anonymous said...

With either HRC or BHO in the WH, you can look for a PC-athon whenever there is criticism of WH idiocy. If it's HRC, then critics will be sexist pigs; if BHO, they'll be racist bigots.

A friend of mine used to work in the USDOJ as a supervisor. One time when she had to crack down on a black woman, the woman informed her that she just didn't like her because she was black. My friend, who'd had plenty of similar nonsense, replied, "No, I don't like you because you're stupid and stupid is NOT a protected classification!" They didn't fire my friend for saying that. They made her life so miserable she quit. Honest criticism of protected classifications is a no-no....

ben tillman said...

Also recall that Goldman Sachs has a reputation of being much more meritocratic and less old-money-WASPy than the other investment banks.

Like Lazard? There is virtually no WASP presence in investment banking.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: weak-kneed Republicans like Lindsey Graham might cave

Weak-kneed? Lindsey Graham?

Pshaw.

I'll have you know that Lindsey Graham has thicker calluses on his knees than any other man in Washington.

Fred said...

You guys are missing the point about Goldman Sachs and the sex change nonsense. See #7 on Goldman's guiding principles. The bit about diversity is a recent edition (last few years). Therein lies Goldman's dilemma: its business demands a high-IQ workforce, but politics demands a "diverse" workforce. Embrace of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals is a way for Goldman to show it is diverse without accepting more lower IQ NAMs than necessary. The NAMs Goldman does hire usually are put where they can do little harm (e.g., in Human Resources).

mq said...

The press is more slavishly adoring of McCain then they are of Obama. And McCain is white.

cranky matron said...

Hey, anything that undermines the people's faith in and dependence on the US Government and its various tentacles is a long-term good in my book.

Bring on the Obamania.

Anonymous said...

Embrace of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals is a way for Goldman to show it is diverse without accepting more lower IQ NAMs than necessary. The NAMs Goldman does hire usually are put where they can do little harm (e.g., in Human Resources).

-Fred


No thanks to you spilling the beans, Fred. Now the MnNs will destroy Goldman.

corvinus said...

If you'll notice, in the Democratic contests, Obama wins when:

The state is overwhelmingly white, OR
The state has a very large black minority.

States with a medium-sized black minority tend to go for Hillary.

Where there are few blacks (like in IA), the white Democrats think Obama is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

However, where there are a lot of blacks (like in SC), the white Democrats would rather vote for a yeller dog than Obama -- but since most whites are Republicans, the black Dems outnumber them.

Interesting, huh?

Anonymous said...

I saw Obama on TV a few days ago. When questioned about his support for giving illegal aliens drivers' licenses, he not only didn't back down but bragged it wouldn't be much of an issue since McCain championed the same thing.
As hated as Hillary is, I wonder if she would actually be more moderate than Obama. She has her husband's old "triangulation" strategy to fall back on. Obama strikes me as much more of an ideologue.
Obama champions licenses for illegals, one of his slogans is "Yes we can!" (which the illegal protesters chanted in the spring of 2006). A half-black open borders fanatic with a penchant for populist rhetoric...... am I paranoid in wondering if a President Obama would declare economic war on white America?

David said...

The NAMs Goldman does hire usually are put where they can do little harm (e.g., in Human Resources).

Did anyone else catch Fred's mordant joke? No applicant can get hired unless he or she runs the HR gauntlet. HR is depressingly important. That's the early round in which most Whites are eliminated from consideration by the multiculty NAMs, unless the candidate is Jewish, and/or female, and/or related to the CEO or his staff. Older commenters who grew up in "White America" may scoff (their heads firmly and unmoveably filled with the conditions obtaining 30 years ago), but try being in your 20s/30s again. The best alternative is to run your own business as I do. And move it offshore when Hillarian taxes descend.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone else see a double standard here? A black identity is defined as moral and a white identity immoral."
Broyard came from New Orleans, I believe, and was a product of several generations of selective "mulatto" mixing where the lightest married or bred with the lightest. I know because I have done genealogy for people with this background. His African ancestry was probably no more than 18% (which you get when a 1/4 black quadroon reproduces with a 1/8 black "octoroon." It may have been less, i.e. an octoroon who married a half-octoroon, about 6%. Believe me, I've worked out these percentages in doing family trees, where there were plenty of records (church, land, wills) to work with. Most of the people with this percentage of black African ancestry will be white looking. An occasional questionable one will be a darker type with tell-tale features. For example, one man was one of 8 boys; while some of his brothers were sort "Italian" looking, he was the only one that some people looked at and thought he was "colored." Apparently his looks did cause some comment. Still, even he "passed" and was inducted in the army at a time when only whites were drafted.
OK. My point is that Obama is very close genetically to his black ancestry--his own father, not distant ancestors. Broyard's lineage was mixed over generations with a preponderance of European genes. Of course with his interests and proclivities he was more European identified. In a society that did not force a black identity, he probably would have next to none anyway.

Svigor said...

The press is more slavishly adoring of McCain then they are of Obama. And McCain is white.

Which will no doubt be true in inverse correlation to his chances at getting the Republican nomination; McCain's gravy train ride is probably close to over.