September 29, 2013

Could anybody have imagined a black man becoming President?

For example, how often have you heard it said when Obama was elected, "Nobody could ever have imagined a black man becoming President!"? On the other hand, I can recall lots of paperback copies sitting around when I was a kid of Irving Wallace's 1964 bestseller The Man about a first black President. Wallace was a non-literary, meat and potatoes novelist who liked researching facts and writing about interesting topics. The Man was made into a movie in 1972 starring James Earl Jones.

For this and other reasons, a black President always seemed highly imaginable to me.

On the other other hand, there are all sorts of emotional-related things about my past that I have only the vaguest recollection of. For example, from watching Steven Spielberg movies such as Hook I've learned that there's nothing more emotionally crucial in one's life than whether or not your parents went to your Little League baseball games. But I don't actually remember feeling any strong emotions about my parents not attending my Little League baseball games other than thinking to myself "That seems reasonable" when they announced their policy on baseball: I couldn't join Little League because Little League parents are crazy, but I could play in the league at the park because it was more low key; but they'd never walk the block to the park to see my park league games because that would "put too much pressure on me."

So, I've always been interested in policy to a weird extent.

34 comments:

countenance said...

I played youth baseball. My mother supported my pursuit but had/has no like of baseball, the rare St. Louisan that doesn't. She never came to any of my games, and personally, I liked it that way, because I knew I'd behave differently and selfishly if I knew she was watching.

Anonymous said...

I had no trouble imagining a black man becoming president. Hell, I would have gladly voted for Colin Powell or James Earl Jones, for that matter, over Bush Sr. in the '88 primaries. Then the whole Willie Horton thing could have been avoided.

What I never could have imagined was a left wing Cutural Marxist douchebag like Obama being elected. It still blows my mind that voters picked this guy not once but twice. That's when I figured out that the US was on the skids.

Dave Pinsen said...

Popular fiction influences reality, by acclimating people to new possibilities. Movie depictions of admirable black presidents (more recently than your example, Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact and Dennis Haysbert in 24) helped pave the way for Obama.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anonymous. I had always assumed a black man would be president, but I also had always assumed it would be a black man of the Colin Powell variety-a very 'get along to go along with whites' kind of guy.

Barak has really changed my view of politics in a pretty fundamental way. While I, as a conservative, dislike him, its pretty clear that (even aside from my personal dislike) he is: not a go along to get along kind of guy, radically liberal and politically different even from pretty liberal democrats, and a complete cypher. We, the people of the United States, know nothing about who Barak is or was (and knew nothing about who he is or was when we voted for him).

10 years ago, I would have thought the first black president would be Colin Powell or (though I would have been disgusted) Jesse Jackson-i.e. people Americans have actually heard of. But a guy who nobody has heard of, that really hasn't accomplished anything on the national stage? It simply doesn't make any sense.

So my fundamental change in my understanding of politics relates to that. I am utterly open to the paranoia conspiracy theories about some secret cabal of rich/powerful elites who decide the elections. In essence, about 7 years ago, somebody decided that Barak could be president. When that somebody decided thus, Barak started getting money, the media decided that Barak was presidential material, and Barak the presidential candidate emerged.

Who is that somebody? And if somebody made that decision about Barak, somebody also made that decision about Bush, and the Clintons, and all the others.

In other words, my previous understanding of politics was that presidential candidates worked a career in the rough and tumble of the national stage (governor of California or Arkansas, generals, members of congress), were successful, and the system-the media, primary voters, widespread fundraising, further winnowed the field to the two that run for president.

My current understanding of politics is that someone (who?) decides that X is presidential material. X is then funded, and receives media buzz, and runs in the primaries against a few other X's to try to be the party candidate. The rough and tumble on the national stage may be a means for X to get the exposure necessary to be funded by (who?), but it is not the exposure necessary to be deemed 'presidential' by the press and the public. In other words, the rough and tumble of national politics doesn't cause X's success, even if it correlates to it more often than not.

But who, or what, is the secret power behind inventing the X's of national politics? Barak (and, to be honest, GW) were clearly not national figures until someone decided they were, and national organizations (the press, the two parties, think tanks, etc) simply accepted such.

But who's making the decisions? Who is the ultimate power in the country? The system is obviously not working the way we are supposed to believe its working.

anon

Anonymous said...

No. That was a fictional image made out of Hollywood propaganda.

Not to mention, the current USA President isn't black. His kids with Michelle Obama are black though.

Barack Hussein Obama is biracial. A mulatto. It's just that he's much darker in skin tone than the average biracial (most African-Americans are anywhere between 10%-30% white) since his father is Sub-Saharan Black, and his father's skin color nearing coal black (meaning his father was technically a "pure" negro).

I tend to notice that there's a good double standard out there. If the mother is black and the father is white, the children are automatically placed in a biracial bin and the kids tend to resemble the white father more in phenotype (e.g. fine delicate Caucasoid facial features, lighter skin tone, as in light yellow, straighter hair). They tend to divorce less, have at least one kid and have higher status (more elitist).

The black father/white mother on the other hand are automatically labeled as "black", and I can't blame them, because the children tend to have darker skin (anywhere between deep yellow to brown) and tend to resemble the father more, even if these "unions" are more likely to end in divorce, separation, murder, mayhem and other shameful/horrible things. They are also lower status.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

What I never could have imagined was a left wing Cutural Marxist douchebag like Obama being elected. It still blows my mind that voters picked this guy not once but twice. That's when I figured out that the US was on the skids."

Obama's election was a culmination of many different things, not just one.

1. The complete and total failure of the Bush administration.

2. The incompetence of the centrist New Democrat types not recognizing how incredibly out of step they were with their party grassroots.

3. The mind-blowing terribleness of John McCain as a candidate and the McCain campaign in general.

4. The September 2008 financial collapse.

4. Iraq

Under those circumstances, any Democrat would have won.

Truth said...

"I tend to notice that there's a good double standard out there. If the mother is black and the father is white, the children are automatically placed in a biracial bin and the kids tend to resemble the white father more in phenotype (e.g. fine delicate Caucasoid facial features, lighter skin tone, as in light yellow, straighter hair). They tend to divorce less, have at least one kid and have higher status (more elitist)."

Another totally scientific survey completed.

JI said...

Now I understand why you're so unique, Steve. You were traumatized as a child when your parents didn't go to your baseball games. I pity you. No child should have to suffer through that level of rejection.

Mr. Anon said...

The notion that Obama overcame some monumental racial hurdle to be President is clearly false. When Obama ran in 2008, it was only the second time that a nominally credible black candidate (i.e. NOT a store-front preacher) ran for the nomination of one of the two parties. And the first time such a candiate secured the nomination of his party, he also won the general election. Deep-seated racism should be made of sterner stuff. This country welcomed a black man into the white-house like the returning prodigal son - and that despite the fact that he was a left-wing ghetto mau-mauer.

Chicago said...

Back in grammar school some other kid told me, seriously, that in another state in the NE two men actually got married to each other and that it was all legal. That was one of the most bizarre things I'd ever heard of, right out of outer space, and doubted it. But who knows, people in some of those states are sort of weird anyway. Years later the president of the USA is publicly promoting gay marriage and he's a black, another previously incomprehensible idea. Science fiction has become reality. Post-apocalypse fiction was also popular some time back; perhaps that'll come to pass also.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Which makes it especially interesting why the elite appointers decided X=Obama (even going so far as to load the dice in O's favor by throwing up the absurd McCain-Palin ticket as the option).

peterike said...

When Progressives or the media say "Nobody could ever have imagined a black man becoming President!" what they mean is, "We've all imagined a black man becoming President and we've spent decades preparing the groundwork."

It's just a line, a bit of faux wonderment. Nobody really believes it. And when Hillary! gets anointed, we'll hear the exact same thing: "Nobody could ever have imagined a woman/lesbian becoming President!"

jody said...

starting sometime in the 90s it became de rigueur in movies and television to portray the president as african. that's almost 20 years ago. so they've been working on it for a while.

it's clearly specific cultural conditioning, as other groups are never used. they never show the president as mexican, chinese, indian, cuban, puerto rican, muslim, or even jewish. homosexuals aren't even on the same planet for this casting decision. the idea is never to show european americans that the president could be anybody, it's always to show who the president should be.

they want european americans to drop their defense mechanisms, but not just for anybody, for a specific somebody. it's not a general psychological conditioning, not an attempt to get them to accept that hey, america is one big brazil, anything goes here, we should be happy to have presidents of all colors. no. they want them to see an african president and think "That looks right." it will still look weird to them if the president is from some other group because they haven't been conditioned to accept that.

the only exception is the casting of the occassional european woman, when the producers want to push the idea as a woman as president.

so even here you can see their thinking is shaped by the political situation happening in the real world. when they imagine the president is not a european man, they always imagine the president as one of the two main targets of cultural marxist promotion.

jody said...

"Obama's election was a culmination of many different things, not just one."

well, that he somehow defeated clinton in the democrat primary. that is the real story.

the democrat was going to win in 08. the republican had no chance. it didn't matter who ran.

that wasn't the question. the question is how the people behind barack obama got him to eke out a close primary win over the hillary machine.

i do agree that, considering how insanely abysmal mccain has been in between the 08 election and now, it's mind boggling that guy was the republican nominee. the only thing more mind boggling than that, is that barack obama is president.

SustainableDiversity said...

No. That was a fictional image made out of Hollywood propaganda.

Not to mention, the current USA President isn't black. His kids with Michelle Obama are black though.

Barack Hussein Obama is biracial. A mulatto. It's just that he's much darker in skin tone than the average biracial (most African-Americans are anywhere between 10%-30% white) since his father is Sub-Saharan Black, and his father's skin color nearing coal black (meaning his father was technically a "pure" negro).

I tend to notice that there's a good double standard out there. If the mother is black and the father is white, the children are automatically placed in a biracial bin and the kids tend to resemble the white father more in phenotype (e.g. fine delicate Caucasoid facial features, lighter skin tone, as in light yellow, straighter hair). They tend to divorce less, have at least one kid and have higher status (more elitist).

The black father/white mother on the other hand are automatically labeled as "black", and I can't blame them, because the children tend to have darker skin (anywhere between deep yellow to brown) and tend to resemble the father more, even if these "unions" are more likely to end in divorce, separation, murder, mayhem and other shameful/horrible things. They are also lower status.

look up ligers, and tigons, its fascinating, and how it relates to biracial couplings even more so.

Art Deco said...

For example, how often have you heard it said when Obama was elected, "Nobody could ever have imagined a black man becoming President!"?

Actually, I have never heard it said.

Pretty much all the notable black candidates prior to 2008 (Channing Phillips, Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson in 1984, Jesse Jackson in 1988, and Alan Keyes in 2000) were what you would call 'demonstration candidates' there to stage a protest or mobilize a constituency. Jesse Jackson's book was ethnic particularism and radical chic, Channing Phillips' was ethnic particularism and the social work interest, Shirley Chisolm's was feminism, and Alan Keyes' was orthodox Christianity and social conservatism. Mrs. Chisolm was the only working politician of the bunch, though Dr. Keyes was at one time a line-administrator in the State Department.

Douglass Wilder ran for President. His candidacy was a comprehensive failure, which is disconcerting because he is the only black man to date who has run for the office and had a baseline of preparation for it.

You would have thought that a negroid President would have been drawn from

1. The domestic descendants-of-slaves population; and

2. The corps of mayors; perhaps mayors who had served in Congress or some such.

--

What we got was someone racially negroid whose connection to the domestic black population was that he had married into it. American blacks speak and think (as a rule) with an evangelical protestant idiom. This fellow would not know Gospel from a cord of wood. The closest he ever got to municipal administration was harassment of the Chicago Housing Authority. He was a working member of Congress for only two years and change and is identified with no issue set; attending meetings of the Congressional Black Caucus were complicated by the need to avoid Bobby Rush.

I would not have expected any of that.

Dave Pinsen said...

"Obama's election was a culmination of many different things, not just one.

1. The complete and total failure of the Bush administration.

2. The incompetence of the centrist New Democrat types not recognizing how incredibly out of step they were with their party grassroots.

3. The mind-blowing terribleness of John McCain as a candidate and the McCain campaign in general.

4. The September 2008 financial collapse.

4. Iraq

Under those circumstances, any Democrat would have won."


Your last statement there elides the part about Obama winning the Democratic nomination -- which, as a freshman senator, was remarkable. Running as a freshman with less than 2 years in the Senate was audacious of Obama, but it worked for a few reasons:

1) He had gone on record opposing the Iraq War. Not out of any special prescience on his part, I think, but it was consistent with what Steve has pointed out about how Obama's liberalism has been a decade or two behind the Dem mainstream. In this case, that paid off for him, as most Dems (including his main rival Hillary), post Gulf War, had feigned being hawks.

2) He could speak and debate as well or better than the leading Dem candidates.

3) He could legitimately claim to be an outsider to DC, having been there less than 2 years.

4) He was black, so he had the most loyal segment of the Dems' base locked up.

As for the reasons Obama won the general election, Iraq wasn't a big factor there. The main reasons were the financial crisis accelerated by the collapse of Lehman and McCain's, amateurish response to it. McCain had been leading in the polls before that. Had Romney been the GOP candidate in '08, I think he might have beaten Obama in the general election.

ironrailsironweights said...

If the mother is black and the father is white, the children are automatically placed in a biracial bin and the kids tend to resemble the white father more in phenotype (e.g. fine delicate Caucasoid facial features, lighter skin tone, as in light yellow, straighter hair).

A major exception being Dante DeBlasio's wild 1970's Afro.

Peter

Anonymous said...

When the black man was Jesse Jackson(sr or jr) or Al Sharpton, NO.

But if Powell or Obama, yes I saw it coming.

Whites are so stupid.

But did I expect sudden change in 'gay marriage' issue? No. Goes to show most people are sheep.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding to what I said Dave Pinsen. You make this blog a better place to be.

'He had gone on record opposing the Iraq War. Not out of any special prescience on his part, I think, but it was consistent with what Steve has pointed out about how Obama's liberalism has been a decade or two behind the Dem mainstream. In this case, that paid off for him, as most Dems (including his main rival Hillary), post Gulf War, had feigned being hawks."

You're right on that part. However, I also feel that it was the result of the Obama campaign taking advantage of the changes in the Democratic electorate and mobilizing the netroots. As I said, Clinton was dominated by the same corporatist, Lanny Davis Al From types that had been a staple of the Democrats since Clinton. They still though it was the 80s and nobody in America would ever listen to a so-called "peace" Democrat. This allowed Obama to blindside them with the power of the Democrats' grassroots, and the DLC didn't know what hit them.

Also, I think it's inaccurate to say that Obama narrowly won the nomination. The contest was largely over long before the delegate count was official, but the Clintonistas dragged the whole on to the bitter end. I still remember how fascinating it was watching the process.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a bit surprised at how radically far to the left Obama has turned out to be. Anyone who has spent any time in a city or state where black politicians wield clout has always understood their willingness to destroy all in order to spite the evil white men.

What does surprise me is the way the media has circled the wagons against anyone who dares to criticize him.

Anonymous said...

2) He could speak and debate as well or better than the leading Dem candidates.

As long as he had TOTUS with him.

Anonymous said...

"the only exception is the casting of the occassional european woman, when the producers want to push the idea as a woman as president."

Failed writer/director Rod Lurie seems to have this fetish with getting women and Jews into, or a heartbeat away from, the Oval Office via the death of a predecessor (because apparently we wouldn't put them there due to their own merits).

In "Commander-in-Chief," he had Geena Davis inherit the presidency when the POTUS dies. The evil, scenery-chomping House Speaker, played by Donald Sutherland, spends the rest of the mercifully short series trying to harass her out of office.

His movie "The Contender" centers on the nomination of Joan Allen to replace a deceased vice-president.

And in another of his movies, I forget the name (and won't bother to look it up), a short, pudgy little Jewish vice-president inherits the presidency in the midst of a nuclear crisis.

Lurie's point in every show being that there's no one way in hell the American people are decent enough to fill these jobs with certain "minorities."

David said...

>they want them to see an african president and think "That looks right"<

Knew a white Tennessean, former cop, a total follower-the-leader type, who was asked during the '08 campaign: "Why do you support Obama for Prez?" "Because it's time America had a black president," he answered. Follow-up questions put to him failed to get any further explanation from him.

There is a reason why what's on TV is called PROGRAMMING.

Anonymous said...

Back in the 90s I had a high school history teacher (Who, at least to my relatively intellectually disinterested high school self, seemed very intelligent and knowledgeable. Certainly far more so than I'd seen in any other HS teacher) tell my class point blank that it would likely not be long before America would have a black president, and that we would almost definitely have one before we had our first female president. He went on to tell us that Colin Powell would be president right now if his wife hadn't talked him out of running. This teacher was, unsurprisingly, a conservative, so he did not nurture the delusion that a substantial percentage of Americans were rabid with racial animosity.

I think convincing the U.S. to elect a black president was actually not remotely as difficult as people like to believe. In fact, I suspect it was actually extremely easy. The hard part was finding someone who 1.) could step in line ahead of big names like Clinton, McCain, Romney, Gore, who are highly competent/competitive people that have been established names for decades, and have been salivating at the prospect of the presidency the entire time, and 2.) don't have baggage like ethics investigations, a history of divisive political positions, or a media presence that, fairly or unfairly, is impossible for most white people to take seriously (Sharpton, Jackson, and for a white example, Palin).

peterike said...

What does surprise me is the way the media has circled the wagons against anyone who dares to criticize him.

Just arrived in America, did you?

Dave Pinsen said...

Speaking of Colin Powell, what an 'f you' it was to the GOP for him to endorse Obama over Romney. Powell was plucked from obscurity and given one promotion after another by Republicans from Nixon to W., and he claimed he couldn't support the former governor of Massachusetts because his supreme court picks might be too extreme? What a bogus excuse for identity politics.

BTW, there are Republicans who are now imagining another black man becoming president and "healing America".

Anonymous said...

Well Dave, Powell has never been a conservative and has never supported GOP social policies. He's always been a token the GOP would trot out to prove how inclusive they were. I never held him in any sort of regard.

I just find it very annoying that he's glorified as some sort of elder statesman when everything he says is so canned and predictable.

Anonymous said...

In 1964 the Catholic parochial school comic book Treasure Chest ran the story "Pettigrew for President" about the first major party nomination of a negro candidate for election as President of the United States in 1976.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CA8MweR89M

-meh

Anonymous said...

Did 1964 Treasure Chest Comic Foresee 2008 Presidential Candidate?:
"By coincidence 1964 is the same year that saw the debut of Irving Wallace’s best-selling novel, The Man. That title, written before the 25th Amendment, centered on an African-American who falls into the Presidency through a series of accidents and the than current chain of succession. Reece’s story debuted in Treasure Chest V#19 issue #11 with a cover date of January 30, 1964. Treasure Chest centers on the campaign of a black man while The Man centers on the accidental Presidency of a black man. Given the disparity between the two plotlines, and the fact that Reece’s story was out way before Wallace’s, little argument can be made for who had more vision. Reece clearly beats Wallace in our eyes!"

Treasure Chest and Obama as Pettigrew

-meh

NOTA said...

Yeah, Powell seemed like a guy with a plausible shot at being president, so it didn't seem unthinkable. It was surprising more because Obama's rise was so sudden, and I think the suddenness of that rise and the lack of experience he had when he got into office probably had a big impact on how his first term went. An eight years older Obama with eight years in the senate, or coming off of a term as governor of Illinois, would probably have been a lot harder to take advantage of.

Anonymous said...

Gary Oldman's character in the Contender is pretty awesome in a completely inadvertent way from Lurie's perspective.

Anonymous said...

Yeah and the dynamic is pretty much this: "If you voted for Obamba in 2008 to prove you're not a racist; you might vote against him in 2012 to show you are not a fool" Fools prevail.

Anonymous said...


I tend to notice that there's a good double standard out there. If the mother is black and the father is white, the children are automatically placed in a biracial bin and the kids tend to resemble the white father more in phenotype (e.g. fine delicate Caucasoid facial features, lighter skin tone, as in light yellow, straighter hair). They tend to divorce less, have at least one kid and have higher status (more elitist).


Most breeding white male/black female couples involve a ghetto black woman and a white man who is working class at best. IME, they are also more likely to identify as "black" because they tend to spend more time with their mother's family and social network.

If your experience with these couples mostly involves the minority of middle/upper class examples, you might have a different perspective on them.