October 30, 2008

The Introduction to my book: "America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of Race and Inheritance"

We've posted online my entire 264 page book, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of Race and Inheritance. You'll be able soon to order a paperback copy for $29.95, but in the meantime, you can start reading it online here:

To give you a taste, here's the first chapter. (The killer chapter, though, is the second, which tells why Obama's mother indoctrinated him in the dreams from his father.)

1. Introduction

I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book–namely, how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernel of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments.

Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope, 2006

The fundamental irony of Sen. Barack Obama’s Presidential candidacy is that no nominee in living memory has been so misunderstood by the press and public, and yet no other candidate has ever written so intimately or eloquently (or, to be frank, endlessly) about his “deepest commitments.”

While journalists have swarmed to Alaska with admirable alacrity to ferret out every detail of Sarah Palin‘s energetic life, the media have drawn a curtain of admiring incomprehension in front of Obama’s own exquisitely written autobiography, Dreams from My Father. Because few have taken the trouble to appreciate Obama on his own terms, the politician functions as our national blank slate upon which we sketch out our social fantasies.

Although many have supported Obama in 2008 because he seems to them better than the alternatives, he has also famously electrified throngs of voters. Yet, the reasons for their enthusiasm are often contradictory.

For example, many Americans, whether for Obama, McCain, or None of the Above, appreciate the patriotic, anti-racialist sentiment in the most famous sentence of Obama’s keynote address to the 2004 Democratic Convention: “There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.”

Yet, Obama’s white enthusiasts are often excited by the candidate’s race, and for diverse motivations. More than a few white people, for instance, wish to demonstrate their moral and cultural superiority over more backward members of their own race. As Christian Lander’s popular website Stuff White People Like acerbically documents, white people strive endlessly for prestige relative to other whites, scanning constantly for methods to claw their way to the top of the heap. In this status struggle, nonwhites seldom register on white people’s radar screens as rivals. Instead, white people see minorities more as useful props in the eternal scuffle to gain the upper hand over other whites. High on Lander’s list of stuff white people like is:

#8 Barack Obama
Because white people are afraid that if they don’t like him that they will be called racist.

As one of Hillary Clinton’s advisers explained to The Guardian:

If you have a social need, you’re with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you’re young and you have no social needs, then he’s cool.

Other white Obama devotees have very different rationales in mind. Some are eager to put white guilt behind them, assuming that Obama’s election will prove there is no more need for affirmative action. Stuart Taylor Jr. exulted in The Atlantic in an article called “The Great Black-White Hope:”

The ascent of Obama is the best hope for focusing the attention of black Americans on the opportunities that await them instead of on the oppression of their ancestors.

And some white Obamaniacs wish to enthrone the princely Obama to serve as a more suitable exemplar for young African-Americans than the gangsta rappers they presently idolize. (Don't be so black. Act more Ba-rack!) Jonathan Alter rhapsodized in Newsweek:

[Obama’s] most exciting potential for moral leadership could be in the African-American community. Remember the 1998 movie Bulworth, where Warren Beatty … tells astonished black Democrats that it’s time for them to “put down the chicken and the malt liquor…”

That the candidate is black offers the country a potential advantage: it makes his intellectual facility and verbal adeptness more acceptable to the bulk of voters, many of whom found Al Gore and his 1355 SAT score too inhumanly cerebral to trust. If Obama, a superb prose stylist, were white, he’d be written off as an effete intellectual. But white voters are hungry for a well-educated role model for blacks. And blacks hope that his wife Michelle and his long membership in Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.’s Trinity United Church of Christ are evidence that he is, as Michelle says, keeping it real.

Whatever their reasons, conscious or unconscious, white Obama zealots are prone to assume that Obama is the Tiger Woods of politics: as the postracial product of a happy mixed race family, he must be the anti-Jesse Jackson. His election will enable America to put all that tiresome tumult over ethnicity behind us.

Since 2004, Obama has himself stoked the popular hope among whites that his admixture of black and white genes means that “trying to promote mutual understanding” is “in my DNA,” as he asserted at the April 29, 2008 press conference in which he finally disowned his longtime pastor.

Obama’s 2004 keynote address tapped into an omnipresent theme in our popular culture, which is currently dominated by fantasy and science fiction epics largely about orphans predestined by their unique heredity and/or upbringing to save the world, such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Superman, Terminator, Lord of the Rings, and Batman.

Likewise, in politics, a fascination with breeding is both very old (going back to the days of hereditary monarchy) and very contemporary. The main qualifications for the Presidency of the current Chief Executive, Mr. Bush, and the Democratic runner-up in 2008, Mrs. Clinton, consist of being, respectively, the scion and consort of ex-Presidents.

More subtly, Obama launched himself on the national stage at the 2004 convention by devoting the first 380 words of his speech to detailing the two stocks, black and white, from which he was crossbred. He implied that, like the mutual heir to a dynastic merger of yore—think of England’s King Henry VIII, offspring of the Lancaster-York marriage that ended the War of the Roses—he is the one we’ve been waiting for to end the War of the Races.

In Richard III, Shakespeare concludes his cycle of history plays with the victorious Lancastrian Richmond (Henry Tudor, now to become King Henry VII) proclaiming his dynastic marriage to Elizabeth of York:

We will unite the white rose and the red …
All this divided York and Lancaster,
Divided in their dire division,
O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeeders of each royal house,
By God’s fair ordinance conjoin together!
And let their heirs—God, if Thy will be so—
Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!

Correspondingly, America’s half-blood prince reassures us that, as the son of what he called his parents' “improbable love,” he will unite the white race and the black.

In contrast, many African Americans, after an initial period of uncertainty about a man sequestered throughout his childhood thousands of miles from any black community, have come to view Obama as their racial champion. They hope he will do in the White House what he tried to accomplish in his earlier careers on the left margin of Chicago‘s one-party Democratic political system as a community organizer, discrimination lawyer, foundation grant dispenser, and inner city politician: namely (to put it crassly), to get money for blacks from whites. That Senator and Mrs. Obama donated $53,770 to Rev. Wright‘s church as recently as 2005 through 2007 suggests that this hope is not wholly delusionary.

Nonetheless, judging by his predominantly white campaign staff, the circumspect Obama would likely field an Administration in which minority appointees would not hold all that much more power than in the Bush Administration of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Albert Gonzales.

Which one is the real Barack Obama? How can we decipher The Obama Code? What is the Rosebud that reveals the inner Obama?

The overarching thesis of my book is extremely simple: that there’s no secret about Obama’s big secret. He spelled out exactly what he considers the central mandates of his existence in the subtitle of his graceful 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father. To Obama, his autobiography is most definitely not a postracial parable. Instead, it is A Story of Race and Inheritance.

The then 33-year-old Obama who wrote Dreams from My Father is obsessed with ethnicity and ancestry, as he relentlessly documents across nearly each of the book’s 460 pages. For 150,000 words, nothing diverts Obama from the subject of his racial identity.

What is the precise concern about race and inheritance that galvanizes Obama’s innermost emotions?

Once again, it’s not exactly a mystery.

Obama’s 1995 memoir reveals a genetically biracial young man raised by his white relatives who incessantly interrogates himself with the same question that the 139,000 mostly turgid articles and web postings catalogued by Google have asked about him: Is he black enough?

In particular, is Obama black enough to fulfill the dreams from his father and become a leader of the black race? Or will his half-blood nature and nonblack nurture leave him forever outside the racial community he treasures?

Doubts over whether he is black enough have tormented Obama since his youth. His psychological trauma helps make him a more captivating personality to contemplate than, say, his vanquished rival for the Democratic nomination, Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor. Richardson‘s unusual life story (raised among the elite of Mexico City, the descendent of one WASP and three Mexican grandparents) would seem at least as relevant to contemporary American politics as Obama’s famously exotic background. Yet, nobody paid Richardson any attention. That’s partly because Americans evidently find Hispanics less interesting than blacks, even though Latinos now significantly outnumber African Americans—and partly because Richardson is a hack, while Obama is something more refined and intriguing.

Despite Obama’s aesthetic talents, his actual politics aren't terribly innovative. As conservative literary critic Shelby Steele, who is also the son of a black father and white mother, points out in A Bound Man, “For Obama, liberalism is blackness.” To be black enough is tied up in Obama’s mind with being left enough. As someone brought up by whites far from the black mainstream, Obama lacks the freedom to be politically unorthodox enjoyed by men of such iconic blackness as boxing promoter Don King, or funk singer James Brown and basketball giant Wilt Chamberlain, both of whom endorsed Richard Nixon in 1972.

(Why Obama being “black enough” would be in the interest of the 7/8ths of the electorate that isn't black has never been answered. That’s hardly surprising, because the press has barely even thought to ask why Obama’s 460 pages about his feelings of race loyalty might concern any nonblack. It’s a question that wouldn't occur to the typical 21st Century reporter. That’s the kind of thing that just isn't written about in polite society.)

Remarkably, much of Obama’s campaign image—the transcender of race, the redeemed Christian, the bipartisan moderate, etc.—is debunked in Obama’s own 1995 memoir. Obama’s potential Achilles heel has always been that he has such a gift for self-expression combined with so much introspective self-absorption that he can't help revealing himself to the few who invest the effort to read carefully his polished and subtle (but fussy and enervating) prose.

For example, Obama has spent millions in 2008 to advertise his mother’s race in order to ingratiate himself to whites. Obama supporter Matthew Yglesias blogged that one of the candidate’s June 2008 TV spots laden with pictures of the white side of his family should have been entitled “My Mom’s White! And I‘m from America!” Yet, Obama boasted in the Introduction to Dreams (p. xv) that he had “ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.”

Similarly, around Obama’s 27th birthday in 1988, between his three years as a racial activist in Chicago and his three years at Harvard Law School, he traveled to his father’s Kenya for the first time. On his way to Africa, he spent three weeks touring Europe. But his racial resentments made his European vacation a nightmare. He found sightseeing amidst the beautiful ancestral monuments of the white race to be wounding to his racial team pride:

And by the end of the first week or so, I realized that I‘d made a mistake. It wasn’t that Europe wasn’t beautiful; everything was just as I‘d imagined it. It just wasn’t mine. [pp. 301-302]

Obama in Europe was like a Boston Red Sox fan in Yankee Stadium in New York. Sure, the House that Ruth Built was magnificently large and echoing with glorious baseball history, but that just makes it more hateful to a Red Sox rooter. In Europe,

I felt as if I were living out someone else’s romance; the incompleteness of my own history stood between me and the sites I saw like a hard pane of glass. I began to suspect that my European stop was just one more means of delay, one more attempt to avoid coming to terms with the Old Man. Stripped of language, stripped of work and routine—stripped even of the racial obsessions to which I‘d become so accustomed and which I had taken (perversely) as a sign of my own maturation—I had been forced to look inside myself and had found only a great emptiness there. [pp. 301-302]

On the other hand, Obama may be home free, because it can take a lot of effort to follow his Story of Race and Inheritance.

The main happy ending in Dreams, for instance, occurs in Kenya when a friend of his father points out to him that even Kenyan culture isn’t purely authentically black African (the tea they love to drink was introduced by the British, and so forth). That even Africans aren’t wholly black by culture means to Obama, that, despite his background, he can be black enough to be a leader of the black race. He summarizes this revelation in his memoir’s brief but almost impenetrable Introduction.

So far, I‘ve minimized the number of lengthy quotes from Dreams from My Father because large dollops of Obama’s calculatedly perplexing prose can be daunting and disconcerting to the unprepared reader. Obama, who was already planning his Chicago political career when he published Dreams, eschews any sentence that could be turned into a soundbite. He has little desire to assist those readers and voters with merely normal attention spans grasp who he feels he is.

In his Introduction, Obama uncoils two serpentine sentences of importance. The first explains what his book is about, while the second reveals a primary lesson learned.

At some point, then, in spite of a stubborn desire to protect myself from scrutiny, in spite of the periodic impulse to abandon the entire project, what has found its way onto these pages is a record of a personal, interior journey—a boy’s search for his father, and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American. [p. xvi]

Okay, that sentence wasn't too hard to follow: Obama, like one of those questing orphan-heroes elucidated by Joseph Campbell (the professor of comparative mythology who influenced George Lucas’s Star Wars), goes on a semi-metaphorical journey in which he learns how to be “a black American.” Not, bear in mind, “a postracial American” or “a mixed race American” or “a black and white American” or just “an American American.” He wasn't looking for “a workable meaning” for any of the identities that a citizen whose knowledge of Obama doesn't go back farther than the reinvented image debuted during his first statewide campaign in 2004 might assume. No, Obama’s accomplishment was becoming “a black American.”

Next, after some literary pedantry about whether or not Dreams could be considered an autobiography, Obama delivers this doozy of a sentence in which he unveils, wedged between dashes and obscured by lawyerly stipulations, something crucial he’s discovered about himself:

I can’t even hold up my experience as being somehow representative of the black American experience (“After all, you don’t come from an underprivileged background,” a Manhattan publisher helpfully points out to me); indeed, learning to accept that particular truth—that I can embrace my black brothers and sisters, whether in this country or in Africa, and affirm a common destiny without pretending to speak to, or for, all our various struggles—is part of what this book’s about. [p. xvi]

That’s the kind of sentence that Sister Elizabeth, my 8th grade English grammar teacher, would force kids who shot spitballs in class to diagram on the blackboard.

Let’s unpack it slowly. Obama says that “part of what this book’s about” is “learning to accept that particular truth.” And what’s that truth? That, even though his life is not at all “representative of the black American experience,” he still “can embrace my black brothers and sisters, whether in this country or in Africa.”

What then does he want to do with his racial brethren and sistren in America and Africa? “Affirm a common destiny.” And what does our Nietzsche-reading Man of Destiny mean by that? That’s where Sister Elizabeth can't help us anymore. With Sen. Obama leading in the polls as I write this in mid-October 2008, it looks like we'll just have to wait and see.

Obama’s most primal emotions are stirred by race and inheritance, as this overwrought paragraph from Dreams’ Introduction about how the “tragedy” of his life is also the tragedy of us all illustrates:

Privately, they guess at my troubled heart, I suppose—the mixed blood, the divided soul, the ghostly image of the tragic mulatto trapped between two worlds. And if I were to explain that no, the tragedy is not mine, or at least not mine alone, it is yours, sons and daughters of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island, it is yours, children of Africa, it is the tragedy of both my wife’s six-year-old cousin and his white first grade classmates, so that you need not guess at what troubles me, it’s on the nightly news for all to see, and that if we could acknowledge at least that much then the tragic cycle begins to break down…well, I suspect that I sound incurably naive, wedded to lost hopes, like those Communists who peddle their newspapers on the fringes of various college towns. [p. xv]

Of course, it is possible that since Obama published Dreams while preparing to run for the State Senate in 1996, he has transformed himself ideologically and shed his racialism.

After all, he suffered a soul-crushing rejection by black voters in his early 2000 primary challenge against Rep. Bobby Rush (who had been trounced by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1999). In emulation of Obama’s hero, the late Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Washington, who had progressed from the Illinois state senate to the U.S. House to the mayor’s office, Obama tried to wrestle the Democratic nomination from the aging Rush, a former Black Panther, in a district that was 65 percent black.

Rush scoffed at Obama in the Chicago Reader, “He went to Harvard and became an educated fool. …Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it.” The third candidate in that race, state senator Donne Trotter, laughed, “Barack is viewed in part to be the white man in blackface in our community.”

Obama carried the white minority, but the Panther thumped the Professor among blacks. Overall, Obama lost 61 percent to 30 percent.

Obama reacted to this racial rejection with “denial, anger, bargaining, despair,” as he described his long post-defeat grief in The Audacity of Hope. Obama apparently realized then that he would never have quite the right pedigree to appeal more to black voters than other black politicians do. (Moreover, Obama’s dream of using a House seat as a stepping stone to reclaiming for the black race Harold Washington‘s old post as mayor of Chicago seemed increasingly implausible for a second reason. It was becoming evident that local voters considered Richie Daley to be the trueborn rightful heir to his famous father’s throne of Mayor-for-Life.)

Eventually, Obama snapped out of his depression. He seems to have decided that even if he weren’t black enough to best Bobby Rush in the hearts of black voters, he is white enough to be the black candidate whom white voters love to like. In 2001, Obama gerrymandered his South Side state senate district to make it, as Ryan Lizza wrote in The New Yorker, “wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated,” snaking it all the way up from his base in Hyde Park to include the affluent whites of Chicago‘s North Side Gold Coast.

So, maybe Obama has changed what he called in Audacity his “deepest commitments.”

Or maybe he’s just learned to keep quiet about them …

In his 2004 Preface to the reissue of Dreams, the older Obama denies that he has gained much wisdom in subsequent years:

I cannot honestly say, however, that the voice in this book is not mine—that I would tell the story much differently today than I did ten years ago, even if certain passages have proven to be inconvenient politically, the grist for pundit commentary and opposition research. [p. ix]

Perhaps one of the hundreds of journalists who have followed Obama around for the last two years should have asked the Presidential candidate about the gaping discrepancy in worldview between his two books. When there’s a dispute between a man and his memoir, shouldn’t the burden of proof be on the man who wants to become the most powerful in the world?

Why hasn't Dreams proven “inconvenient politically?” Why have so few in public life noticed that Dreams from My Father is (as it says right there in the subtitle) A Story of Race and Inheritance?

Besides the sheer intricacy of the prose style, racial condescension plays a major role in the conventional misinterpretations of Dreams. Middle-aged white liberals in the media tend to assume that being an authentic black male is a terrible burden for which nobody would aspire. Yet, around the world, hundreds of millions of young hip-hop and basketball fans struggle to reach African-American levels of coolness.

In 2000, without much insight into the real George W. Bush, America elected a pig in a poke to be President. How has that worked out for us? Putting partisan divisions aside, wouldn’t it seem like a good idea, on general principles, to try to understand clearly what a Presidential nominee has written about his innermost identity?

Obama spent the first four decades of his life trying to prove to blacks that he’s black enough. If the public were finally to become well-enough informed about Obama’s own autobiography to compel him to spend the four or eight years of his Presidency trying to prove to the nation as a whole that his “deepest commitments” are to his country rather than to his race, America would be better off.

This book serves as a reader’s guide to Obama’s Dreams from My Father. The would-be President has written a long, luxuriant, and almost incomprehensible book, so I have penned a (relatively) short and brusque book that explains who Obama thinks he is. I mostly follow his life as it unfolds in Dreams, up through his marriage to Michelle in 1992. I especially emphasize the little-understood but critical four years he spent in Indonesia from age six to ten, during which his white mother, for surprising reasons of her own, set about systematically inculcating in him the racial grievances, insecurities, and ambitions that make up the pages of Dreams.

I had once thought of tracking Obama all the way to the present, but I finally realized that book would wind up even longer than Dreams. Like Zeno’s arrow, it would never arrive at its destination. I respect Obama’s 2006 bestseller The Audacity of Hope as an above-average example of the traditional testing-the-waters campaign book. The test-marketed themes he ran by his strategist David Axelrod and dozens of others in the draft stage of the unaudacious Audacity, however, don't hold my attention the way his lonelier first book does.

You may be wondering by what authority I presume to challenge the Presidential candidate. Yet, this isn’t a debate between Barack Obama and some guy named Steve. Fundamentally, this book consists of a debate between Obama and Obama’s own autobiography. I’m emceeing that debate.

In what follows, I‘ve included big slabs of Obama’s prose for two reasons. First, if I just summarized what he wrote in my own words, you wouldn't believe me. You'd think I was making it up.

Second, I enjoy Obama’s writing style. As a professional writer, I envy the sonorous flow of his prose and his eye for novelistic details. I can't write that mellifluously.

Of course, I don't want to, either. By personality, I‘m a reductionist, constantly trying to state complex truths as bluntly as possible. Dreams, in contrast, is allusive, elusive, and inconclusive. Together, between my predilection for Occam’s Razor and Obama’s for Occam’s Butterknife, we make a pretty good team at explaining who Obama is.

(I justify borrowing thousands of words of Obama’s copyrighted prose under the legal doctrine of “fair use.” If he doesn't like it, he can sue me. Just make sure to spell my name right—it’s “Sailer,” with an “e,” not an “o.” I do urge you to buy your own copy of Dreams from My Father to read along with this book, so you can see if I‘m leading you astray. It’s quite lovely in its own self-absorbed artiste way.)

Moreover, both Obama and I have written for many years on the knotty questions of race and ethnicity, of nature and nurture. Most people just think and talk about them, whereas Obama and I have written about them at vast length. Nevertheless, as Obama’s rise, jet-propelled by his race and inheritance, in four years from the Illinois legislature to the threshold of the White House suggests, everybody, deep down, is engrossed by these matters.

I spent many years in the market research industry, to which I was attracted because I have a certain knack for pattern recognition. During a sick leave for chemotherapy in the 1990s, I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life, however long that might be, as a writer. Looking around for a market niche to specialize in, I noticed that among topics of great importance, the weakest journalism, in terms of quality of evidence and logic, was found in discussions of race. I set out to become the most intellectually sophisticated writer in that field. (I soon learned, however, why there is so little competition at writing honestly about race: it doesn't pay.)

My approach is that of an empirical realist. I suspect that that by this point in our lives, Obama and I wouldn't disagree much on the facts about race. We would likely differ on what to do about them. Unlike Obama, I advocate colorblind government policies. Of course, ever since he left community organizing in the slums of Chicago for Harvard Law School, Obama’s solution to his failing to solve racial challenges he has set himself has been to get himself promoted.

I don't spend much time banging the drum for my political philosophy because factual matters are so much more engaging, but in case you are wondering, I advocate what I call “citizenism“ as a functional, yet idealistic, alternative to the special-interest abuses of multiculturalism.

Citizenism calls upon Americans to favor the well-being, even at some cost to ourselves, of our current fellow citizens over that of foreigners and internal factions. Among American citizens, it calls for individuals to be treated equally by the state, no matter what their race.

The citizenist sees little need for politically correct browbeating. Today’s omnipresent demand to lie about social realities in the name of “celebrating diversity” becomes ethically irrelevant under citizenism, where the duty toward patriotic solidarity means that the old saying “he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch” turns into a moral precept.

As I finish my portrait of the politician as a young artist, it’s a few weeks before the election and the financial markets are tottering, likely ensuring Obama’s election. John McCain doesn't seem to have noticed that the Grand Strategy of the Bush Administration—Invade the World, Invite the World, In Hock to the World (or as blogger Daniel Larison put it, “Imperialism, Immigration, and Insolvency")—has driven us into the ditch.

In the event that Obama manages to lose the 2008 election, rendering this book less immediately relevant, I can console my bank account with the knowledge that Obama will be younger on Election Day in 2032, six elections from now, than McCain is in 2008. So, I suspect this book will remain electorally pertinent. Moreover, if Obama somehow loses in 2008, we will hear forever that white racism was the reason, so it would be helpful to have a handy record of Obama’s own feelings on race.

This is not a book about who to vote for in 2008. In case you are wondering, in 2004, I couldn't bring myself to vote for either George W. Bush or John Kerry, so I wrote in the name of my friend Ward Connerly, the campaigner against racial preferences.

In any event, the significance of Obama extends far beyond politics. Win or lose, Obama’s life will continue to illuminate much about modern America.

Nonetheless, the question remains. Would he make a good President?

There is still one secret about Obama. We know how cautious and capacious his head is. Those of us who have read him faithfully know how fervent and unreasoning his heart can be. What we don't know is which will win: head or heart.

Obama may not know that yet, either.

Fortunately, politics never ends. Much to the disappointment of Obama cultists, January 20, 2009 would not mark Day One of the Year Zero. Obama’s inauguration honeymoon would merely provide a brief lull before mundane struggles begin over seeming minutia such as appointments to federal agencies, maneuvers in which Obama’s more racial and radical impulses can be tied up … if enough of the public understands his story of race and inheritance.

You can find my whole 264-page book at:

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


Anonymous said...

Wow, Steve, you may be about to make a lot of money!

Anonymous said...

"Occam’s Butterknife".

There's meme for all seasons!

Sebastian said...

Oh yeah...you got him...right where you want him....


Anonymous said...

Steve, don't rush this book to press. Judging by the firt chapter, it could use some editing.

And, realistically, not many people want "Half-blood Prince" on their bookshelf.

Conrad Bibby said...

Steve - Congrats. It's a good read so far.

You ID Harold Washington as the first black mayor of Washington. Should be Chicago, of course.

Anonymous said...

I've almost finished your book and...

Actually because I read your blog, I found your second chapter to be weak, compared to your fantastic blog posts on the subject.

Your blog posts and the subsequent chapters of your book just read better, smoother, possibly because you created each piece as an organic whole.

You second chapter though has been taken almost completely from your blog posts but rearranged.

Anonymous said...

Alright Steve!

You are really the perfect guy for this book. However, I'm not sure it will be an easy read (both intellectually and emotionally speaking) for people going into it cold with no previous Steve experience. I can already see that this will be undiluted Steve Sailer.

Let us know when we can order it online and you'll probably get a lot of your fans linking to its Amazon page.

mnuez said...

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sailer,

I think it would help to stir up interest in the book if you'd share a little bit about its genesis - why you wrote it, what unfilled need it's meeting, and perhaps a bit of the story of how it came into existence.

For example, did you take it to major publishers and not see eye to eye with them, even with conservative press such as Regnery? Or did you want to go the self-published route from the beginning (assuming that's what you did), and if so, why?

Also, and I don't mean to sound like a spendthrift, buy why such a high price tag for a paperback? I'm sure I'll want to give copies of it as a gift but can give fewer at that price point.

Anonymous said...

I don't spend much time banging the drum for my political philosophy because factual matters are so much more engaging, but in case you are wondering, I advocate what I call “citizenism“ as a functional, yet idealistic, alternative to the special-interest abuses of multiculturalism.

Citizenism calls upon Americans to favor the well-being, even at some cost to ourselves, of our current fellow citizens over that of foreigners and internal factions. Among American citizens, it calls for individuals to be treated equally by the state, no matter what their race...

I see the people propounding citizenism, which Americans have been doing on and off for our entire national history, getting steamrolled by those with racial, religious, sexual or economic grievances. I've never seen true citizenism in any government, and I just don't know whether it can work.

It's a great idea, and one that I believed in for most of my youth, but I don't think it takes human nature into account. I doubt the founding fathers believed in it, and because of their lack of confidence in such a perfect society they instituted the best checks on power they could think of.

Perhaps the best bet we have is legal citizenism; i.e. no special rights or entitlements for any individual or group of people. That's an ideal worth working for, because it has a fighting chance of becoming a reality.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I am partway through your amazing book.

It strikes me that Barack is self-promoting opportunist and possibly sociopathic. He's, plain and simple, a fraud.

Clearly he never endured any such true "racism" and is making it all up, is posing; all the "righteous anger," all the angst, all the "hope for change"; because he, being intelligent as he is, sees a chance for craven profit unto himself by playing into the masochistic wishes of white liberals for a black "savior" to absolve them of their imagined racial guilt.

This dude's gonna be president during one of what will surely be one America's most difficult eras, facing peak oil?

We're doomed.

Can we have a primary-elections do-over?

Anonymous said...

bill said

no special rights or entitlements for any individual or group of people. That's an ideal worth working for, because it has a fighting chance

It has the smallest chance of all. Only a few goofy white people have ever been seriously interested in such a thing, and it works (very partially) only with other goofy white people. (No special rights or entitlements for ANYONE?)

Racial nationalism is natural and the barriers to its resumption are as ultimately destructive as any other form of leftism.

Anonymous said...

Steve, if you want to see what happens when race-denial meets environmentalism click here.

Anonymous said...

How well this book will sell is hard to predict, especially for "insiders" who are already familiar with Steve's essential ideas about Obama, but it is a pleasant read. I read about a third of it last night and finished the rest today.

Steve, I don't know if you have any say in the matter, or if you have the time, but I highly recommend the Electra typeface used in Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. It's very gentle on the eyes.

Anonymous said...


A commentator named "Tommy" analyzed "Moby Dick" for the sort of nautical metaphors that Obama uses and came up short.

What do you think of this?


Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here thinking that Steve Sailer and Tom Wolfe need to be merged into one person and this person needs to write a historical novel of Obama's life.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the theory that Obama's mom inculcated black racialism into him to spite her second husband is the least fact-based one in the book. I wish you'd left the whole Asian/white interracial marriage bit out, since it's distracting and needlessly inflaming.

Anonymous said...

Damn. Sailer is still dragging out the Citizenism for special occasions. Too bad it will always be a pile of goo. Worse, it's utopian goo.

Citizenism. This is the genius political theory from the guy who recently claimed that the past ten years living in Southern California was a period of personal happiness.

That's a funny comment coming from someone who writes professionally on political issues and immigration.

Yes, it's funny considering that the same ten year period featured the culmination of assorted negative trends in Southern California:

Mass replacement of the population by illegal aliens; Latin-style corruption of the political culture; normalization of public school system race riots; record gang membership; documented extreme low trust level between community members; economic chaos in the private sector and government; profound erosion of the middle class; and all-in-all political revolution from an affluent, orderly, conservative white American society to a broke, dysfunctional, left wing multicultural Post-American society.

One might conclude that the radical transformation of the society all around Steve Sailer does not much disturb the man on a personal level.

Such is the mind of the man behind Citizenism, a theory of "workable" modern post-racial society.

Anonymous said...

It was becoming evident that local voters considered Richie Daley to be the trueborn rightful heir to his famous father’s throne of Mayor-for-Life.

Nonsense, Steve.

Chicago currently has a black party, a white party, and an Hispanic party. Daley II knew he could count on the white votes, and he was smart enough to realize that the Hispanic vote in Chicago could swing an election for him, and would become more important. So he co-opted pretty much all of the Hispanic politicians in the city, with the possible exception of Luis Guitterez, through things like the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

The various grandees of the black party weren't willing to give anything to the Hispanic party: they got a big chunk of the spoils under Harold Washington, and they didn't want to give up some of that to people they held in contempt.

Daley wins because he gets the votes of the white party and the Hispanic party, and his margin gets bigger because he's bought off about half of the black party. (Cf. Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, who used to be a die-hard opponent of Daley, but has been bought off enough that he openly bragged that the Machine won the last election.)

Daley I, by contrast, actually depended on the black vote, delivered by Big Bill Dawson, to push him over the top for a good chunk of his career. (Dawson backed Daley when Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Chicago, not that you'll hear much discussion of that from anyone in Chicago, since Michael Dawson, Big Bill's nephew, has totally controlled the public narrative on his uncle since at least 2000).

Daley II is going to be in real trouble when Chicago gets to the point where it has an Hispanic plurality and a Mexican politician decides to challenge him. (Guitterez has talked about challenging Daley for years, but he's Puerto Rican, and Daley could exploit the Mexican-Puerto Rican rivalry).

Planetary Archon Mouse

Anonymous said...

I've read this first chapter, and while you are convincing as always, the reading flow is choppy.

Anonymous said...

A commentator named "Tommy" analyzed "Moby Dick" for the sort of nautical metaphors that Obama uses and came up short.

In terms of "Moby Dick" and "Dreams", I think the comparison is more about substance than style. Obama has inherited the the unbearable self-righteousness that possessed both Captain Ahab and the 60's radicals.

"To put a stop to the hand-wringing, Rudd, who once told a Columbia history professor he had read Moby Dick nine times, gave a speech declaring that, a revolutionary dedicated to destroying the United States, he was a monomaniacal as Captain Ahab pursuing the Great White Whale. Bernadine Dohrn praised Charles Manson, the cult leader who ordered the Sharon Tate murders, as a “right-on” revolutionary, and a leaflet handed out to War Council participants made it clear that the time for armed struggle was now."

-- Castellucci, The Big Dance (122)

"Mayor Richard Daley played a perfect Moby Dick for us -- white and fleshy, he reeked with the stench of evil."

"Our Captain Ahab was Tom Hayden, former president of SDS, new leader of the National Mobilization to End the War, the coalition leading the convention protest."

-- Bill Ayers, Fugitive Days (121)

Ahab was (probably) modeled partly on John Brown, a person evoked by Ayers as a man to emulate, and partly General Sherman.

Melville understood that there is nothing more terrifying than people who are anti-racists and anti-war. In other words, people who cannot accept that evil is, to use Henry James' phrase, "the bulwark of God's power inexpugnable".

I would really like to believe the election of Barack Obama would finally satisfy the desire of the chosen few (the SWPL crowd) to sanctify the wicked, but I'm not optimistic. Actually, I'm a bit of a fatalist. I can't help but wonder how many people, the last time we elected a senator from Illinois president, asked "what's the worse that could happen?"

Anonymous said...

Ishmael -- I doubt Ahab was modeled on Sherman. Sherman was, by all accounts, an able soldier before the Civil War, and the first Superintendent at the Louisiana Military Academy, later to become known as LSU. Sherman knew and liked Southerners. He certainly sat on his behind when the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance hung Casey and Cora, deciding discretion was the better part of valor, no matter how he fashioned it later in his memoirs, as Commander of the Militia, which stood by and did nothing as the Committee raided the Armory.

Before Shiloh, Sherman had a nervous breakdown, due to his horror at the casualties caused by the campaign in Tennessee. He was on very shaky ground and only Grant's personal intervention kept him on.

During the shock of Johnston's near 100 mile march (undetected) and engagement at Shiloh, Sherman had three horses shot out from under him and numerous bullet holes in his clothes, as he personally rallied his troops in a hurried defense.

His performance during the surprise attack got him his own command, and the march through the Georgian, and later South Carolina countryside was carefully planned. Sherman knew down to the mile how much he had to cover each day (to avoid being foraged out of supplies and having his troops starve to death) and actually sought to avoid engagements with enemy forces. He by the third week even left warehouses alone, he'd simply destroy the railroads, leaving the supplies intact and useless, because destroying the railroads was faster and more certain (he waged a resource war).

His troops were devoted to him (called him "Uncle Billy") and he tried to avoid frontal assaults out of caution for casualties. He was known to years after the war hand out money and food to his former troops. He had negative views about Blacks, generally, though he disliked slavery intensely. He was roundly criticized for letting many slaves who had attached themselves to his column drown as he rapidly moved over one particular river with Confederates in pursuit. Sherman did not care -- his focus was on ending the war as quickly as possible (which he argued was the most humane thing) and conserving the lives of his troops.

Brown perhaps a model for Ahab, but Sherman, a man known to favor maneuver over frontal assault to conserve the lives of his men? Hardly. Above all, Sherman was a calculating man, though capable of great bravery, and one who at various times avoided direct confrontation.

Obama's character is far more different. He wants confrontation AND avoiding the costs of it ... at the same time. He's the ultimate Yuppie. Radicalism as a fashion statement AND radicalism in and of itself, as part of his quest to be "Black Enough." Sherman always knew who HE was. Obama? Constantly proving his "street cred" as if that mattered.

When Sherman fought, he fought. Obama fights, then wants people he fought against to like him. Sherman cared not, only that he won. Otherwise he would not fight in the first place, if he thought there was a good chance he could lose and he could avoid it.

Anonymous said...

Follow up --

Obama, as Steve makes clear, has chosen fights that make little sense, except to prove his own inner "Black Enough" credibility.

People who were toxic, and provided little advantage, like Ayers and Dohrn, were courted instead of say, Daley directly, or someone like oh, Frist or something. To provide cover on the Right. Or Khalidi for that matter.

What did Obama get out of these guys? Why the association for decades with Ayers? His kind of people and his kind of FIGHT. A stupid one.

But if your main goal in life is not to just get power but prove you are "Black Enough" then that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

If Captain Ahab, a character in a novel written in 1851, was based on John Brown, who didn't become nationally prominent until 1856, Herman Melville had some interesting abilities.

It's possible Melville knew Brown, but in 1851, Brown was a businessman who came close to being bankrupt.

Planetary Archon Mouse

Jeff Burton said...

The interesting thing about this book for me is that I watched it being written as a series of blog posts.

COOL BOY said...

I agree with a lot of your premises (though I am to the left of you on virtually all issues) One of the reasons I like Obama is that his race and narrative provide one of the best ways to get a nerdy leftwing pragmatist technocrat in the white house.

He's Bill Clinton but instead of folksiness and super empathy he's black. He's very self absorbed like Clinton, but I think less emotional and less impulsive. That sounds like a good combination given my starting conditions.

Anonymous said...

If Captain Ahab, a character in a novel written in 1851, was based on John Brown, who didn't become nationally prominent until 1856, Herman Melville had some interesting abilities.

He certainly did have interesting abilities. Melville was an Old Testament prophet. I guess we don't believe in such things these days, but perhaps we're living in an age that's superficial and overly optimistic.

"The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon’s wisdom yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast crossing grave-yards, and would rather talk of operas than hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;--not that man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous Solomon." -- Moby Dick (465)