May 25, 2011

Steele on Obama

Shelby Steele writes in the WSJ on the central issue of the 2012 election:
What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation—and the most powerful nation in the world at that. And so not only is he the most powerful black man in recorded history, but he reached this apex only through the good offices of the great American democracy. 
Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it. 
He is also an extraordinary personification of the American Dream: Even someone from a race associated with slavery can rise to the presidency. 

The Obama lineage was associated with slavery in the sense that they sold slaves to the Arabs, but who cares about details?
Whatever disenchantment may surround the man, there is a distinct national pride in having elected him. 
All of this adds up to a powerful racial impressionism that works against today's field of Republican candidates. This is the impressionism that framed Sen. John McCain in 2008 as a political and cultural redundancy—yet another older white male presuming to lead the nation. 
The point is that anyone who runs against Mr. Obama will be seen through the filter of this racial impressionism, in which white skin is redundant and dark skin is fresh and exceptional. 
This is the new cultural charisma that the president has introduced into American politics. Today this charisma is not as strong for Mr. Obama. The mere man and the actual president has not lived up to his billing as a historical breakthrough. Still, the Republican field is framed and—as the polls show—diminished by his mere presence in office, which makes America the most socially evolved nation in the world. Moreover, the mainstream media coddle Mr. Obama—the man—out of its identification with his exceptionalism. 
Conversely, the media hold the president's exceptionalism against Republicans. Here is Barack Obama, evidence of a new and progressive America. Here are the Republicans, a cast of largely white males, looking peculiarly unevolved. ... 
How can the GOP combat the president's cultural charisma? It will have to make vivid the yawning gulf between Obama the flattering icon and Obama the confused and often overwhelmed president. Applaud the exceptionalism he represents, but deny him the right to ride on it as a kind of affirmative action. 
A president who is both Democratic and black effectively gives the infamous race card to the entire left: Attack our president and you are a racist. To thwart this, Republicans will have to break through the barrier of political correctness. 
Mr. McCain let himself be intimidated by Obama's cultural charisma, threatening to fire any staff member who even used the candidate's middle name.

Okay, but for America to not re-elect Obama would be tantamount to recognizing him as a guy who rode affirmative action to the top, with a massive push from the press, then proved inadequate. That's not a narrative the media is going to like. The media will actively work to prevent that from happening. 

Let's look back in history for examples of one-term black leaders. The most obvious is David Dinkins, first black mayor of the media capital of New York. His election was of some symbolic importance, too.

Yet, why did Dinkins fail of re-election? There were a number of reasons, but the key, almost certainly, was the black anti-Semitic riot in Crown Heights that Dinkins didn't seem to take seriously. Since then, New York voters haven't elected a Democratic candidate mayor in the last five mayoral elections. Dinkins' term has largely been dropped down the media memory hole. You almost never read in the press about how white racism stole a second term from Dinkins. This major historical event in the recent past of the capital of the world is just not the kind of thing it's appropriate to mention in New York media circles. They are in favor of blacks succeeding in politics in general, but not as mayor of where they live.

This can help explain the Republican enthusiasm this week for the notion they can somehow ride Bibi Netanyahu's coattails in 2012 and thus turn Obama into Dinkins.

How exactly would that work in a world where Bibi really can't run for President?

I dunno.

I noticed that two days ago, Rep. Eric Cantor was telling Rep. Paul Ryan to get into the Presidential race:
Count House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as one top Republican who’d like to see Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) jump into the presidential race.

But after yesterday's disastrous special election defeat for Republicans in upstate New York fought in large part over Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare, Ryan's luster has dimmed. So, why not reverse the polarity and have Ryan tell Cantor to jump in the race?

49 comments:

Komment Kontrol said...

There were a number of reasons, but the key, almost certainly, was the black anti-Semitic riot in Crown Heights that Dinkins didn't seem to take seriously. Since then, New York voters haven't elected a Democratic candidate mayor in the last five mayoral elections. Dinkins' term has largely been dropped down the media memory hole. You almost never read in the press about how white racism stole a second term from Dinkins. This major historical event in the recent past of the capital of the world is just not the kind of thing it's appropriate to mention in New York media circles. They are in favor of blacks succeeding in politics in general, but not as mayor of where they live.


Tsk, tsk, tsk...

Nathan Cook said...

What about Scipio Africanus?

Whiskey said...

On the other hand, the terrible performance of MA's Deval Patrick warranted ... a re-election. Even though he was a terrible governor. UCLA's Karl Dorrell, and Ty Willingham had loooonnngggg leashes among fans and alumni and the Athletic Dept. because they were Black.

Obama is Black. That in and of itself, because Hollywood has pushed that "White guys are boring and obsolete and evil, mwahahahaha!" and Black guys are "smart and virtuous" etc. means a very large portion of those most influenced by Hollywood (White women) will vote for Obama.

Whiskey said...

Or put it another way. A few decades of "noble lies" about how Blacks are always resolutely middle class and good decent and the repository of wisdom and strength (see: Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert) means those most prone to consuming Hollywood movies and TV shows (again, White women) will be influenced by what they see on screens. As opposed to real life.

It will take a monumental disaster for the vested elites to dump Obama. Dinkins killed real estate values and that is what destroyed him. Obama won't hurt Malibu home prices, so he's pretty strong.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

I remember thinking when Dinkins lost his re-election bid that it was probably one of the healthiest moments for race relations the country had seen in a long time. A black guy was elected as mayor of the most important city in the country, had a chance to serve, made a hash of it, and was properly booted out.

I suspect that it went down the liberal memory hole because Dinkins was so obviously incompetent and due to the lack of any vigorous conservative movement in NYC that could be accused of racism.

In short, it was forgotten because Dinkins' opponents were right about him from the start.

Wes said...

Steele is of course, right: electing Obama flatters many Americans' ego. But if he gets on the wrong side of Israel he's finished. But I suspect he'll correct enough before the election. However, Jewish voters are very very sensitive to these issues and I'm surprised Obama took the chance.

Maybe he was feeling cocky after killing Osama. And maybe the Republican field was looking so weak, he figured he could get by with it.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey once again proves that he is an idiot. Dorrell (.565 WP, one good season @ 10-2) and Willingham's (.550, one good season @ 10-3) leashes were no longer than Toledos (.604, two good seasons @ 10-2) and Weis (.564, one good season @10-3). Stick to Israel boosterism.

Anonymous said...

Funny you mention Dinkins. He was just on Smiley and West and it's worth listening to:

http://smileyandwest.ning.com/forum/topics/the-conversation-david-dinkins?commentId=6295872%3AComment%3A92969

Anonymous said...

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, anti-semitism was running high among a large section of the black population in New York City. The Crown Heights riots were just a culmination of the years of tension between blacks and Jews. Incidentally, Al Sharpton got his start Jew baiting up in NYC.

Black anti-semitism is hardly a new thing. For many decades, blacks resented the Jewish landlords and shopkeepers in their neighborhoods. Eventually many of the merchants sold out (Asians own a lot of businesses now), but Jews continue to own a lot of property in the inner cities. Even today, many blacks and, to a lesser extent, Latinos (more especially east coast Dominicans and Puerto Ricans) resent the Jewish "slumlords."

At the more elite level, lots of black leaders (Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Rev Wright, Farrakhan) resent Jewish power and Israel too.

The Jewish-black-minority alliance is definitely one of the stranger formations in American politics.

Anonymous said...

The liberal bounceback has been palpable in the last five weeks. And things could get a lot worse. What if the arrogant, stuffed shirt, 'presedential' Obama actually improves his image and develops a broader celebrity appeal?
Consider his vocal cadences as but one example. Imagine if he deigned to consult a drama coach (a la Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech), with a view to making him seem more personable. It might go something like this:
BHO: Could you PASS... the salt.
GR: OK, now again without comtempt for the salt.
BHO: Could you PASS... the salt.
GR: Better, now without the pause.
BHO: What pause?
GH: Nevermind. Let's just move the pause. Try this: 'Could you... pass us the salt, please.'
BHO: Could you please PASS.... the salt.
GH: Man, you really don't like that salt do you?
BHO: What?
etc.
Maybe Obama is halfway through the program. Already he is coming across less scary to small children. It's hard to see a Repulican winning the next American Idol from such a pro.

Anonymous said...

Oh Yes, the King's Speech thing was Gilbert P

Anonymous said...

"not reverse the polarity"

Haha, you are on a roll.

Milhouse said...

The Republican candidate will need a set of titanium testes to win, because to win he'll have to say things the media won't like and sail straight into the blast of a 100-year storm of criticism.

However, if the candidate has those highly-refractory balls, he will win--because if he just criticizes Obama clearly, loudly, and persistently, the criticism will be repeated and the media will overreact and their own shrillness (along with comical Obama-worship) will end up promoting the Republican.

The old saying in politics is that all publicity is good publicity. Even if that's not quite true, nothing could help Obama's opponent more than to have every media outlet in America shrieking about him. They can't really shriek without letting the public know that the candidate actually has criticized Obama, which is the key thing.

Obviously, faced with an aggressive Republican candidate the American Left would try to throttle their own team, to simply smother the Republican candidacy they way they smothered Ron Paul's* campaign for the nomination last time.

However, the media crowd just isn't disciplined enough to keep their mouths shut (and keyboards idle)-- and to the extent they might, the candidate's criticisms would go unanswered.

A Republican could reverse McCain's results just by reversing McCain's campaign strategy.

*I'm not crazy about Ron Paul at all, but his last campaign showed just how powerful a media blackout could be-- they simply refused to cover him and excluded him from "debates" and that approach, as they fulfilled their own prophecy that Paul was of no interest "because, you see, he can't even get on TV!"--squashed Paul good.

Steve F said...

Whiskey once again proves that he is an idiot. Dorrell (.565 WP, one good season @ 10-2) and Willingham's (.550, one good season @ 10-3) leashes were no longer than Toledos (.604, two good seasons @ 10-2) and Weis (.564, one good season @10-3). Stick to Israel boosterism.

Not only that, but Willingham had one of the shortest tenures in ND football coaching history. He was booted after three years. His predecessor and successor each got 5.

ND was killed in the media for the firing, but ND was right. Willingham had that program headed down. They weren't vindicated until Willingham ran Washington into the ground a few years later. Of course, the media never apologized to Notre Dame.

What's this have to do with Obama, again?

David said...

>What's this have to do with Obama, again?<

Obama who?

We were discussing Whiskey. We are always discussing Whiskey.

Anonymous said...

"Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with."

Moral supremacism trumps everything.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Obama is a powerful guy. He's just a puppet of J-Street.

Anonymous said...

Much as I respect Paul Ryan and like the parts of his plan I've heard or read about, I realize that the GOP risks making the next election about Medicare first instead of making it about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, and continuing debt and economic instability. If the contest revolves around Medicare first, the GOP loses. They'd be allowing Obama to avoid talking about his failures on job-creation.

Went out to another strip mall today to do banking--three more empty stores with "For Lease" on them. My neighborhood has decently kept homes with foreclosures among them, but the businesses are dropping like flies. I can't see from where my city will derive revenue. Thus, in my neck of the woods, it's still about the economy, first, second, third, and so on.

Yes, of course Medicare is related to the pickle we're in, but it's just a component of the larger mess.

I heard a criticism today that I thought valid--the GOP leadership and Ryan himself didn't plan an articulate roll-out explanation of the problem first, and second, an explanation of the Ryan plan itself before the House vote. This failure mimics the failure of the Dems with the health care bill/law debacle.

When you talk cuts, I also think it's clear that the middle class wants a discussion first about cutting entitlements for the non-worker bees ...the Medicaid, food stamp, Section 8 slurpers, who, it seems, always continue to get their goodies no matter the economic situation of the worker bees.

Anonymous said...

Theatrical dust-up about Obama and the American Jews has little bearing on Nov. 2012. Only American blacks exceed Jews in loyalty to the Democrats. This is about the campaign money for the next 12-24 months, and somewhat also related to emotional attachments of annoying journalists who embody the old "9th Avenue" cover artwork from The New Yorker. A term for all this that was so au courant 10 years ago was "kabuki"

I am still chuckling about those "jilted" Latin politicos around the time of the El Paso appearance, for instance. Obama won't end up like Dinkins because 1) job has nothing in common with being a big-city mayor and 2) fortunately for his own political hide Obama really ISN'T Black Enough! He's better than President Palmer, in fact. Totally perfect for the era of the CEO-style Presidency where mundane human notions of religion/tribe/fairness/future generations/etc. are millstones around your neck. The denunciation he just got from Cornel West was hilarious. Compared to the prospect of a President McCain supervising the conquest of N. Africa, I am OK with this.

Anonymous said...

That's why I thought Daniels had a really good shot--because of his average looks, including his lack of height, which all screamed, "No one needs to feel I have been a privileged white guy. Look at me." (Yeah, yeah, I know he went to Princeton.)

Romney's good looks, on the other hand, scream the opposite.
He looks like he belongs on the cover of GQ.

David said...

After years of injustice it's time for this nation to make a historic commitment, and elect a white man as president.

This is all the argument needed. After all, it's precisely the argument that got Obama elected (with the color changed).

AmericanGoy said...

After Obama was scolded and chastised by "papa bear" Netanyahu, with Obama bravely holding back tears and trying to keep a boyish manly face, his jaw shut tight not to yelp like a lost puppy...

I have my doubts as to Obama leading this "Western" nation.

Figurehead, most likely, in our eternal fake conflict of Democrats and Republicans, fighting over bibles, 10 amendments, gay rights, but lock-in-goose-step marching together on FISA, Patriot Act (which just passed in a very funky fashion - an "only in America" "legal" manoeuvre done by Harry Reid with enthousiastic nods by all (bar two) Republicans), wars.

All the fringe meaningless issues are fought for tooth and claw; the geopolitical issues, bailouts of big business, screwing the middle class, immigration - one, two, one, two...

Chicago said...

The Dems came up with the novel gimmick of having a fast talking, light skinned calypso singer as their frontman, and it worked. The novelty is wearing off, however, as Steele reluctantly admits. Symbolism has it's limits.
Steele's writing in this case is so tedious and gaseous that I find it hard to want to follow it to the end. Perhaps he's getting ready to write a twelve volume hagiography about our maximum leader. Volume I, at only 800 pages, will cover his remarkable accomplishments from age zero to nine months. Other volumes in the series to follow later.

Anonymous said...

"Here are the Republicans, a cast of largely white males, looking peculiarly unevolved. ..."

I expect Steele's speechwriter enjoyed writing that.

sealed and delivered said...

"Maybe he was feeling cocky after killing Osama."

Oh come on. I know it's a figure of speech, but really...
HE killed Osama? Navy Seals killed somebody, and many of the Seals died in the process; but B.O. slouched on his butt in the Oval Office and read what he'd been told to read.

Actually Osama had been killed any number of times in the past 10 years, so who the hell knows who the poor slob was that got buried at sea according to holy Muslim custom. There was a BBC where a local was heard to say upon seeing the photo, "That's Akbar Khan my neighborh."

Any murders attributable indirectly to Pres. B.O. would be much closer to home, and would not help his cause.

CJ said...

Even someone from a race associated with slavery can rise to the presidency.

Steele phrased that very carefully. He's a fine writer whether one agrees with his arguments or not. I suspect he's quite well aware of Obama's background and influences.

I don't agree with him about Obama having the inside track in November 2012. The economy sucks, millions are unemployed or underemployed, and more and more people are getting the sense that we are drowning in Big Government. Republicans shouldn't obsess on Obama, but rather attack the mentality of the entire Obama Administration. Socialist parties are crapping out at the polls in most western democracies right now - Spain, Canada, and Britain for example.

Tom in Va said...

"he literally validates the American democratic experiment...". How disgusting.

Chris Anderson said...

I think a lot of Obama voters have buyers remorse. I know that I do (yes). I think this goes far beyond what anyone who was a Reagan '80 voter or a Clinton '92 voter might have felt leading up to their reelection bids, to take two recent examples.

I'm still waiting for the media narrative on how failure to reelect Obama is OUR failure as a people, a regression to the racist mean. I figure the stories will begin will show up somewhere around April 2012 ( prediction!)

Wes said...

Moral supremacism trumps everything.

Maybe we should call it moral vanity

Harry Baldwin said...

What Steele has written seems more relevant to 2008 than 2012. We elected Obama once, and that "proved" something I suppose, but I doubt that the swing voters will be as excited about him next time or feel the need to make the same statement.

If the Republicans nominate a good candidate who actually wants to win, unlike McCain (who wouldn't have been able to forgive himself if he'd beaten the first viable black candidate), they can beat Obama. The question is whether they have any good candidates. Another question is whether a Republican president will actually make much difference, but we all know the answer to that one.

Whiskey said...

Neither Dorrell nor Willingham were the answer at UCLA, or at ND/Washington. But, because they were the first Black coaches there, got a much longer leash than they should have (booted after the second miserable season). [Neuheisel is not the answer at UCLA either, but that's a different story.]

Deval Patrick failed at being Gov. of MA, and re-elected, decisively IIRC.

Being Black is a huge advantage. People will overlook non-performance for a LOOONNNNGGGG time just to have the first Black whatever. President? That's huge.

Whiskey said...

Look at the April National Journal poll results. White College Educated Women back Obama by 56%, up from 52% at 2008. But White College Educated MEN back by by only 38% (down from 42% in 2008), White Blue collar men back him by 35% (down from 39% in 2008), while White "Waitress Moms" (no College) back Obama by 34% (as opposed to 41% in 2008).

So, White College Men, down by 4%, same with White Blue collars, White blue collar women down 7%, but White College Women (who turn out in DROVES) UP BY 4%!

Whiskey said...

IMHO, all the things that annoys Blue collar Whites and College Educated White MEN (who are all clustered around each other, far, far lower in approving Obama than White College Women) ... appeal to White College Women.

Acting like a jerk, sniffy, arrogant, ostentatious display of power/wealth, laughing at ordinary people ("you might want to think about a trade-in") and so on?

THAT is Alpha Male JERK CITY, and catnip to the White College Educated Female, as any Roissy reader knows. That's part and parcel of Obama being Black (perceived greater masculinity and so on). You don't read NYT female writers fantasizing about having sex with Cantor or Paul Ryan or fatso Chris Christie. But yeah a lot with Obama.

Anonymous said...

He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation

God forbid blacks have to build a first-world country, before running one.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

"Even someone from a race associated with slavery can rise to the presidency."

Steele phrased that very carefully.


LOL. Good call on that one.

Anonymous said...

Obama lost the white vote, don't forget that. He was elected by invaders. During the decade in which George W. Bush was the primary political leader the Hispanic population increased by 43%. One decade. The conservative movement and the Republican Party were happy to sell out their nation for a profit. They chose their class and personal interests over the interests, even over the existence, of their own people. Genocidal ant-white racism from the leftist media and class bigotry from Movement Conservatism, the two segments of the cross we've been crucified on.

Truth said...

Neither Dorrell nor Willingham were the answer at UCLA, or at ND/Washington. But, because they were the first Black coaches there, got a much longer leash than they should have (booted after the second miserable season). [Neuheisel is not the answer at UCLA either, but that's a different story.]

No, it isn't a different story, and Charlie Weis wasin't a different story at Notre Dame either Sport; it's the same story, that is the entire summation of what you fail to grasp.

Mr. Anon said...

"The point is that anyone who runs against Mr. Obama will be seen through the filter of this racial impressionism....."

Impressionism?

Heliogabalus said...

I view Obama as a presidential version of the black mayors that headed America's largest cities starting in the 1980s: not just Dinkins, but Tom Bradley in LA, Harold Washington & Eugene Sawyer in Chicago, and Wilson Goode in Philadelphia. The media went wild with joy, talked about "a new dawn of freedom" and so forth.

But what happened to all those guys? After much discontent, they got thrown out and replaced with more practical, hard-nosed white mayors. (This also happened in such unlikely places as Gary, IN.) And things improved.

If this analogy holds, then Obama will be defeated by a competent, hard-nosed white guy, and things in America will improve.

eh said...

Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with.

Never thought of the Obama phenomenon in these exact words, but I guess that about expresses it.

Behind such sentiments seems to be the conviction that America -- and here it is assumed to be 'White America' -- has redeemed itself by electing Obama.

nathan the easy said...

How about just sticking with Ron Paul? He is a stealth white-interests candidate sans the race-bigotry of Obama or Likud. Nevertheless most of his policies will directly benefit whites. They may, however, be bad for organized Jewry, which is why he is continually being suppressed in the media.

Anonymous said...

eh said:Behind such sentiments seems to be the conviction that America -- and here it is assumed to be 'White America' -- has redeemed itself by electing Obama.

When Jews write about the bad things whites did its the "legacy of racism and slavery". When whites mention the bad things Jews did its "anti-Semitism".

Dahinda said...

"The Obama lineage was associated with slavery in the sense that they sold slaves to the Arabs, but who cares about details?"

His white ancestors ownes slaves as well!

In Chicago, Harold Washington was ushered in sort of the same way as Obama. Even though Washington went against a well entrenched poitical machine that would have been opposed to any outsider that bucked the system, any opposition to him was seen as racism by the media (especially the national media).

Anonymous said...

"he literally validates the American democratic experiment...". How disgusting.

Not sure what you mean by "disgusting" - remember that democracy is demos kratos - the power [i.e. the rule] of the mob - and that, in the long run, the mob gets what the mob deserves.

American, on the other hand, was supposed to have been a republic - if we could have kept it.


Acting like a jerk, sniffy, arrogant, ostentatious display of power/wealth, laughing at ordinary people ("you might want to think about a trade-in") and so on?

THAT is Alpha Male JERK CITY, and catnip to the White College Educated Female, as any Roissy reader knows. That's part and parcel of Obama being Black (perceived greater masculinity and so on). You don't read NYT female writers fantasizing about having sex with Cantor or Paul Ryan or fatso Chris Christie. But yeah a lot with Obama.



Here, though, you gotta hand it to him - the Tel Aviv Scots-Irish-man has got this angle nailed.

Dutch Boy said...

The Republicans real problem is not Obama, it is themselves. They are the faithful servants of Big Business and Christian Zionism. That's not much of a program to attract votes unless the Democrats self-destruct.

Anonymous said...

How much of the White vote has Obama lost?

How much would he need to lose to make his re-election impossible?

Curious Brit.

Anonymous said...

Since people are mentioning big-city mayors, I'll recall Tom Bradley of Los Angeles. For decades he was a remarkably honest politician (no doubt because he had his eye on higher office), but when he finally ran for the open Governorship in 1982 he was defeated, just barely, by absentee ballots from senile racists in upstate nursing homes (he handily won the votes of everyone who went to the polls-- and 1982 was before the recent push to get everyone to vote absentee*). Bradley lost a rematch in 1986, but that was pretty much due to incumbent advantage I think.

After it became clear that the aging Bradley would never be Governor, he decided to pick up some retirement money during his remaining terms as Mayor. He started accepting the sort of more-or-less corrupt propositions he had always refused before, and when he left office his reputation had faded to that of "just another" slick politician.

I've long regretted that Bradley didn't win the Governor's office in 1982.

Steve Sailer said...

If Tom Bradley had been elected governor of California in 1982, he likely would have been Mondale's token VP pick instead of Geraldine Ferraro. They would have lost, but there would have been less Obamamania in 2008 in another black guy had been on the national ticket a generation before.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Steve I grew up in the city under mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Guiliani....this will give ya'll an idea of how old I am. The reason David Dinkins lost his reelection bid was due to his complete freaking incompetence at doing ANYTHING right. Race had very little to do with it. The Crown Heights riots were just the straw that broke the camel's back which helped display his utter incompetence to the entire nation.