April 2, 2008

Obama's most sophisticated defender

is a Canadian lawyer who calls himself Pithlord. He's read Obama's autobiography very closely (we mostly disagree over whether there's anything humorous in Obama's irony -- he finds it funny, I find it self-pitying and lugubrious). He sums Obama up:

At bottom, I think Obama's basic theoretical framework is in dispute resolution. The worldview is sometimes attributed to his experience as an organizer, but it could also be that of a corporate litigator. He thinks of the world as filled with non-zero-sum games, in which the win-win alternative of making a deal and dividing the surplus isn't taken because each side is gripped with a narrative that makes rationally self-interested compromise difficult or impossible. The intellectual problem is to look at the interests coolly and dispassionately and see where the surplus-maximizing position lies. But the harder problem is to be sensitive enough to how the identity-constituting stories keep both sides from doing that. It's Harvard Negotiation project stuff, but it also works with who he thinks he is.

Obama doesn't particularly claim to come from nowhere or have no loyalties. He is instinctively cosmopolitan, on-the-left and tied to his adopted black American Protestant identity. But I think he recognizes that to advance the interests he is loyal to requires figuring out what other people's loyalties are, "recognize" them and then figure out how to get to the best possible resolution of the bargaining problem they represent.

Obama loves to put things dialectically. In this, the successful politician he most resembles is Tony Blair. His central rhetorical trick is restating positions he is arguing attractively and strongly, but in such a way that they obviously have limitations he hints at transcending. Dreams From My Father is hardly a black nationalist book -- but it engages very sympathetically with black nationalism, not unlike the way in which Audacity of Hope engages sympathetically but critically with fusionist conservatism. In Dreams, black nationalism is twinned not with white racism, but with the white romantic liberalism of the family he grew up with. The good thing about that liberalism is that it tries to transcend tribalism -- the bad part is that tribalism is too central to the human condition to be transcended. [More]

I find much to agree with here, and, indeed, I would be all in favor of electing Barack Obama to succeed Jesse Jackson as black America's unelected tribal leader. But, it's an unelected job and I'm not black so I wouldn't get a vote if there was one, and that's not what he's running for. Instead, Obama wants to get elected President of the United States, which is a rather different office altogether.

The key phrase in Pithlord's analysis is "He recognizes that to advance the interests he is loyal to requires figuring out what other people's loyalties are ..." Conversely, by the same logic, we the people of the United States need to figure out what this Presidential candidate's loyalties are. Exactly whose interests is Obama loyal to? (Besides his own career's interests, of course).

The reporters covering him haven't managed (or even tried) to get him to speak frankly about this crucial question. That's what shocked so many naive people when they finally learned about Obama's 20-year-relationship with Rev. Wright -- that while on the campaign trail he says one thing, but at home for two decades he acted in a very different fashion.

When Colin Powell thought about running for President, he published an autobiography that stressed his success in taking command of a demoralized Army unit in South Korea that was sharply divided along racial lines during the Army's drugged-up post-Vietnam malaise, and rebuilt espirit de corps by emphasizing that there's no black or white in this man's Army, just G.I. green, and the like. From that, I surmised that Powell's loyalty lay less with his racial group and more with the U.S. Army (and by extension, with the United States of America). Now, that sounded to me like Powell had met a minimum requirement in who I would want as President: he's shown in the past that he's on the side of the United States of America.

In contrast, I'm still waiting for evidence that Obama has taken stands against black interests. What I see his supporters boasting is that he's either pushed black interests more deftly than less sophisticated black politicians, or that he has (perhaps temporarily) eased off on pushing black interests when they could have gotten in the way of his personal ascent to supreme power. But does he have a record of taking stands against powerful black interests in the interest of the greater good of the citizens of the United States?

Perhaps somebody should ask him.

Pithlord replies here.

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


Anonymous said...

>>>>He thinks of the world as filled with non-zero-sum games

The world is also filled with looters who need to be shot, and I'm not sure Obama would pull the trigger.

Anonymous said...

He may be Obama's most "sophisticated" defender, but I'm Obama's most pro-White defender.

Nothing will be better for white racial consciousness than an Obama Presidency.

The argument for affirmative action, quotas, set-asides, and killing white people will be null and void.

I especially hope he agitates for slavery reparations.

*Pro-Whites For Obama 2008*

Anonymous said...

Steve, does pandering to the pro-amnesty set count?

Anonymous said...

"the successful politician he most resembles is Tony Blair": you cruel, cruel man.

Steve Sailer said...

"Steve, does pandering to the pro-amnesty set count?"

Obama's Hispandering on illegal immigration should count as anti-black, but in today's environment it counts as pro-black because it boosts the constituency for affirmative action and for tax-and-spend policies.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Jesse Jackson 10 times out of 10. Whether you love him or hate him, Jesse Jackson is a man's man who states his opinion. You know exactly where he stands. He isn't afraid to argue his point.

Obama is just a liberal weasel, who tries to advance his agenda through stealth, and shies away from head on confrontation over issues. I will never respect someone like that.

Anonymous said...

Exactly whose interests is Obama loyal to? (Besides his own career's interests, of course).

No one's. But they're pretty well tangled up so I think it might take a lot to make him choose.

Ron Guhname said...

I knew all I needed to know about Obama the first time I heard him say his background was as a "community organizer."

Anonymous said...

More Obama bashing from "Obama's most obsessed critic."

Obama must be held to this impossible standard in Steve's eyes. I say, to Hell with what Steve Sailer thinks. Steve wouldn't vote for Obama even if Obama did have a "sit down and lay it all on the table" speech with America. Steve would just have one more thing to complain about.

Steve needs professional help to deal with his Obama obsession.

Anonymous said...

"Steve needs professional help to deal with his Obama obsession."

So does Bill O'Reilly.

Anonymous said...

What Steve is also getting at is the failure of the Blair/Clinton/Obama "negotiations" model. It works fine with Switzerland, within reason even with regimes like Gorbachev's USSR, and maybe stretching it with Putin's Russia.

But what happens when there is no one to really negotiate with? A guy who won't stick to the deal (Saddam) or no one to negotiate with (Pakistan where you need a scorecard to call the players)?

If GWB over-estimates the use of traditional military force, Obama/Clinton/Blair and the suburban middle/upper class under-estimate the use of force. In most countries, rising to the top doesn't come from being a "community organizer," corporate lawyer, or other "knowledge worker" but the hardest gangster around: Saddam as a political assassin, Osama killing his way to the top, or Ahmadinejad as Khomeni's Che, overseeing executions.

Leaving aside the massive issue of Obama's racialism, his idiot naivete, that Hillary and others share, leave him unprepared for either the hard boys in the Caudillo mode, or no one to negotiate with at all -- just a mob of contending gangsters. Conciliation or whatever is nothing in that situation.

Luke Lea said...

It's hard to imagine that Obama is committed to anything extreme: that he is going to suddenly "reveal his true self" once he is elected. At the same time he is not afraid of looking for middle ground on highly polarized issues, as for example school choice. He's smart, so he has a better chance of recognizing a good new idea when it comes along (if it comes along) which is a lot more than can be said for the people he is running against.

He'll get my vote I am pretty sure.

Anonymous said...


Ann Coulter has read Obama's book. She calls it his "Mein Kampf". http://www.anncoulter.com/
She has some pretty funny takes on it. She is as cruel and cutting as ever. You might get a kick out of it.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't completely surprise me if Steve did vote for Obama over McCain. (Also not). Thinking that you represent some community doesn't mean you'll do it any good. (Think Hitler and German aryans, or Bush and "Americans") It's hard to imagine he could do worse than a president set on continuing the war and starting more of them.

Anonymous said...

Steve´s Powell reference hints at the construction of an intellectual double-bind. What would Obama gain from becoming as credible as Powell to American paleos on race issues? Paleos could still resort to claiming that Powell had shown how quoting Santayana won´t save you from turning into a poster boy for what Santayana deplored. So there is never a guarantee that a black politician might not turn into a neocon. And the neocons can then go on playing their game of how there is never a guarantee that the IAEA will find out about possible violations of the NPT.

I call it political obstructionism by deploying UFOs (unanswerable fluid objections).

Anonymous said...

"Born Again Democrat said...

It's hard to imagine that Obama is committed to anything extreme: that he is going to suddenly "reveal his true self" once he is elected."

I think you are probably right (although his affiliation with TUCC gives me pause on this account). However, everything he will do will likely favor the extreme, and he will probably appoint a lot of extreme leftists to his administration. He will be the benign public face of the revolution.

Alice Walker recently said that obama would be our Nelson Mandela (why do we need one?). You'd better believe it. How's South Africa doing these days?

Anonymous said...

I'm not concerned with voting for the minority candidate if he or she represents what I believe.

On the other hand, Obama is such a weenie (Steve was spot-on when he called him a drama queen) that if I were a Democrat I'd have to vote for the Harridan, because she's the REAL woman in the race, though her balls are much bigger than Obambi's!

Anonymous said...

I love when people dismiss a cogent, coherent, and at times sympathetic argument about our likely next President as "obsession." Whatever.

As for Obama, I believe we know where his loyalties lay and what he'll choose in a conflict. It's what he's chosen in his own life. He's chosen blackness. He could've chosen biracial. He could've chosen aracial. Hell, he could've said he's more white than black, at least culturally. He could've said, "Look I know about as much about being black as Alex P. Keaton." He could've said, like Powell, this is a great country with great people, and as I've seen in my own life, being black creates no impediments to success.

But no, the modern-day tragic Mulatto is more worried about fitting in authentically with blacks than with passing for white. So Obama's married his angry ghetto wife. He went to Wright's raucous ghetto church. And he worked in the ghetto doing "community organizing" whatever that means. He's acquired all the tools of success and knows the langauge of the educated white, but he always in a crunch goes back to the well of authenticity in the angry black world of the ghetto.

This guy is a black nationalist who wants to give us some sugar to help swallow the bitter pill of racial hatred and racial reparations. He's more dangerous and disingenuous than I think any of us realized at first.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to imagine that Obama is committed to anything extreme: that he is going to suddenly "reveal his true self" once he is elected.

Well, it depends on who you are. Most Obama supporters have no idea what he's for (goes for every candidate, of course), but unlike other candidates, they badly misjudge where he is on the political spectrum. They think that he's more to the middle than Hillary, for example.

I don't expect a president Obama to do anything radical, but I do expect most of the people who vote for him to be rather surprised.

Unknown said...

Pithlord is a very bright guy, and I was impressed with his analysis, but he doesn't understand black nationalism.

Maybe it's a typical white American thing.

Anonymous said...

Pithlord is a classic example of Jared Taylor's white liberal hypocrite, though even more so because he's Canadian.

"White liberals are openly, breathtakingly hypocritical. The appearance of racial rectitude is perhaps America’s (and even more so Canada's) most highly-regarded virtue, but it comes at essentially no cost.

You don’t have to have black friends, you don’t have to have Mexican neighbors, you don’t have to send your children to schools where no one speaks English, and you don’t have to invite Hmong refugees to your dinner parties. You can be racially respectable without doing anything. Just gush about the things you, yourself, carefully avoid: integration, multi-culturalism, and diversity.

This is the Clinton/Kennedy/Bush racket.

People get away with it because everyone is in on the charade. By any real racial test, by any measure that requires sacrifice, everyone fails, so whites never apply real tests to each other. Mouth the right clich├ęs and you’re on the side of the angels. Racial rectitude is therefore the most cheaply bought virtue in American history—and also the most easily forfeited. Because only words matter, not deeds, a single sentence can wreck a career."

Anonymous said...

No one's. But they're pretty well tangled up so I think it might take a lot to make him choose.

That didn't make much sense. I was answering this question:

Exactly whose interests is Obama loyal to?

And my answer should've been:

No one's but his own. But his political interests and black racial interests are pretty well tangled up so I think it might take a lot to make him choose.

Anonymous said...

What Steve is also getting at is the failure of the Blair/Clinton/Obama "negotiations" model. It works fine with Switzerland...

It only works fine in Switzerland because they had years of genocidal civil war until people who lived in the same canton are pretty much the same, culturally. Although that seems to be the path we're on, I don't think it's the path we want to be on.

Anonymous said...

Obama has shown that his loyalties are to the dysfunctional urban underclass. These dysfunctional communities are paid not to work.

And if he thinks that's Socialism, he couldn't be more wrong. Lenin's motto was, "If you don't work, you don't eat."

Unknown said...

"...we the people of the United States need to figure out what this Presidential candidate's loyalties are."

The way you phrase it implies that you think he is some sort of traitor or manchurian candidate who is just waiting to get into office to call up Osam bin Ladin and invite him to be Secretary of Defense.

Steve, You're smart guy; get a grip. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Maybe you are really a crypto-liberal who thinks too much!