May 3, 2012

Obama and Power

Pat Casey writes in the comments:
Ever consider that Obama wanted to be a politician more than he wanted to be black; that he wouldn't have cared about being black if he didn't want to be a politician; that his desire to be a man of POWER is what drove him into an identity crisis because he could never really be the white candidate and figured no one would ever understand him as the mulatto candidate, leaving selling himself as the black candidate the only option he could imagine?  
If that is the actual cause and effect its not surprising he wouldn't be honest about it; much more compelling to talk about an identity crisis than a consuming desire for Power.

I once counted the number of times the word "power" comes up in Dreams from My Father. It was something like 73.

I'd add that Obama doesn't particularly like being a politician per se; he likes power, fame, and adulation, but he's not a political animal the way, say, LBJ was. LBJ was happiest as a Major Player on the political scene when he was Senate majority leader. He then found being Chief Executive got to be a drag. Obama insiders say that being a state legislator or even a U.S. Senator bored Obama.

Something that's not mentioned in Dreams, but must have had a major psychological impact on Obama is that his father was a fringe player in the most famous drama of power in Kenyan history: the rise and sudden fall of Tom Mboya, his father's mentor. Mboya, a Luo, seemed the logical successor to Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, but Mboya was gunned down on July 5, 1969, moments after talking to Barack Obama Sr. Indeed, Obama Sr. was the final witness called in the prosecution of the hit man. Obama Sr. claimed his career was ruined by his testifying.

That's a little too close to the flame for my tastes, but Obama Jr. seems not to have been discouraged in his pursuit of power by this. Perhaps he was galvanized by it. You might see vague references to this, suitably filtered, pop up occasionally in Michelle's comments about how Barack could be gunned down at any moment by roving white racist gangs while filling his gas tank at the Hyde Park filling station.

Another oddity is that the neighborhood Barack and Michelle chose to buy their big house in is the neighborhood chosen by the friends of the friends of the people who assassinated Barack's boyhood idol, Malcolm X. As he explained to the Chicago Tribune, he chose Tony Rezko to help him out with his buying his house because Tony knows all about real estate in that neighborhood. What the Tribune didn't explain was that the reason Tony knows all about real estate there is because he was long the business manager for the inner circle of the Nation of Islam, and that's where they live. That would kind of weird me out, but of course nobody has ever asked Obama about that.

And, of course, nobody has ever asked Obama about what lessons he learned from his father's role in the Mboya tragedy.


Anonymous said...

First Obama writes about a non-existent girlfriend representing a composite of his three white ex-girlfriends. Now the Obama campaign is appealing to a composite white woman voter named "Julia." Isn't this just a bunch of creepy racist stereotyping?

Henry Canaday said...

Abraham Lincoln had, according to Walter Bagehot, a “sympathy, not with the best of his nation, but with the best average of his nation.”

I wonder if something like this underlies Obama’s appeal to many swing voters. With a 41-percent U.S. illegitimacy rate and many more broken homes, there are many single mothers, black and white, who realize their own lives have not turned out so well, but wish their sons to grow up to be better men, husbands and fathers than their own departed mates. Obama is the product of a family so dysfunctional that he is almost illegitimate, yet he has not only risen to the Presidency but has been loyal to his own family.

That story may appeal strongly to what has become the best average of this country. We may have reached a point where a man like Mitt Romney, product of a strong two-parent family and himself loyal to his wife of 60+ years, is too different from average, weirder in a way than his Mormon roots or great wealth, to appeal to a significant portion of the nation.

Perhaps it is dreams for sons, not of fathers, that give Obama his residual edge.

Steve Sailer said...


Bush 2.0 had something like that working for him: he turned out okay even though he was a drunk for decades. Lots of people have substance abuse problems or have loved ones who do, so GWB gave them hope. That GWB's own parents wouldn't have voted for him for President over his own brother Jeb, well, sure, but folks liked GWB's story about how he's straightened out on his 40th birthday.

Auntie Analogue said...

Mr. Canaday, I find your 2:23 comment canny, and persuasive.

alexis said...

...he has not only risen to the Presidency but has been loyal to his own family..

How is not giving enough of a damn to see your mother or the grandmother who raised you on their deathbeds being "loyal" to your family?

.. but folks liked GWB's story about how he's straightened out on his 40th birthday...

The narrative, the narrative. It's now nothing but narrative...Bush, Palin, Obama....
The infantilization, the Oprahization of this country continues.

gcochran said...

"he turned out okay"

No he didn't.

Anonymous said...

"Now the Obama campaign is appealing to a composite white woman voter named "Julia." Isn't this just a bunch of creepy racist stereotyping?"

1) Yes, it's creepy to think that someone, either Barack or someone else who has created Barack, has applied the same formula (the composite) to yet another chapter of the Obama biographical narrative.

2) If it's Barack himself who has created this composite American woman named Julia for the purpose of the campaign, just as he created his composite girlfriend for his book and his campaign, we have a POTUS who attends to the minute details of marketing himself even as he should be attending to the more substantive issues of POTUS. If he is the creator, we have a man who lives an imaginary life in his head. (like Gatsby).

3.) If it's someone else who is responsible for creating the composites, we know Barack is nothing more than a willing puppet.

Very odd man.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if something like this underlies Obama’s appeal to many swing voters"

I doubt that plays much into indy attitudes toward him.

His initial appeal was that in looks (black) and in symbolism (black), he represented what most people, regardless of their race, wanted black people to aspire to. Voting for him was a way of saying to the dysfunctional and the destructive in much of black American, "See, you too can make something of yourselves, can work hard (of course, voters assumed he worked hard w/out knowing anything much of his life at all), and can be contributors, can attain the American dream, if only you have better role models, if only you t-r-y."

Voting for Obama was non-black America's way of saying, "If he can do it, so can you, and our voting for him is proof that we (non-blacks) are not the reason your race is so f-ed up. It not we who are holding you back--it's you yourselves."

Of course, the other big reason for so many to vote for him is that the choice given them was so pathetic--Cain/Palin.

Anonymous said...


No one has asked about the Mboya angle because reporters are too lazy to read about the battles between the Luo and Kenyatta in the 60s and why the Luo regarded Kenyatta as a sellout to the British. You really expect reporters to do their legwork and really find out why the Americans developed a sudden interest in the Luo?

Steve Sailer said...

"No one has asked about the Mboya angle because reporters are too lazy to read about the battles between the Luo and Kenyatta in the 60s and why the Luo regarded Kenyatta as a sellout to the British."

Sally Jacobs, a reporter for the Boston Globe, uncovered the story and published it in the Globe on 9/21/2008. She then expanded it into her recent book on Obama Sr. So, let's give her credit.

Londoner said...

It's remarkable for the US president's father to have been involved in a nation-changing political assassination in the 1960s. Even more remarkable for this to be true of two presidents in succession...!

As for Obama, he wanted to be president, but that's not the same thing as wanting to be a politician. He spent what, all of four years sitting in the senate waiting for what was rightly his. Compare to the likes of Reagan and Clinton, who spent decades immersed in politics and clearly loved it. What's Obama actually in the game for, apart from proving he's Black Enough and sticking it to the (white) man? The answer seems to be nothing. I suspect he's spent most of the last three years bored witless.

Steve Sailer said...

Obama loves power more than he loves politics, the opposite of LBJ, who loved being Senate Majority Leader but found being Chief Executive a real burden.

Anonymous said...

Has Sally Jacobs been drummed out of the cool kids' clique yet? Only a birther would imply the President's father was Kenyan.

Anonymous said...

What is the point of craving power if you don't have any idea what you are going to do with it? Obama has no grand vision. He put a bunch of affirmative action boobs into top cabinet positions, and put his signature on any piece of garbage legislation our disastrous 110th congress stuck under his nose. His assistance hand him action memos with check-a-box cover sheets. This guy is just taking up space in the pilot house while the steering wheel of the boat randomly spins one way, then the other.

eah said...

Obama ain't that bright. I don't get people who want to assign a kind of machiavellian level of political cunning to him. I don't see it.

Anonymous said...

Being close to power and losing it is a unique experience. It can be devastating or galvanising, or both in sequence.

The experience is that of losing a grand final in sports. There really is no second place, and all of work leading up to that day counts for nothing next season. Many athletes talk about the need to lose a final before they can win one. The edge is hardened in the furnace of defeat.

In normal life we see such people as scarred; bitter and twisted; carrying chips on their shoulders, etc. But they can be single minded winners in sports and power pursuits.

Gilbert Pinfold.

(Apologies for all the ironmongering metaphors.)

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Though the overall anatomization of his brand appeal there is fine I'm not sure he's demonstrated much loyalty to either his immediate family or roots. I can't think of a single case which supports that, actually. He seems to hate his mother, he became callous (in an oblivious way) toward his grandparents, and his entire book was a writers' workshop seminar of angsty discontent with the patrilineal side. So technically it would be that they like for transcending & then cutting off his family, which is a weirder type of voter fantasy.

Chicago said...

He craves the spotlight that brings with it adulation and applause in the same way that female impersonators find it exciting to sashay around on a stage dressed as Diana Ross or Dolly Parton. The narcissistic thrill they get inside when all eyes are upon them is what impels them.

peterike said...

Obama wasn't so much born as he was made. He is the product of relentless Leftist indoctrination. Leftism was as close as literally possible in his mother's milk.

If you've ever listened to true, crack-pot radical Leftists, you know exactly where Obama is coming from. I'm talking things like writers in The Nation or The Village Voice, or the people on Pacifica Radio (Amy Goodman). If none of that is familiar to you, then you simply don't understand Obama's milieu and just how radical and off-the-beam it is. And how much it hates, hates, hates America and anything remotely "normal."

As long as we're talking Obama's bio, this article from Angelo Codevilla is must-reading.

Did you know that Obama's gram and gramps were CIA? As was dear old mum? And in the far Left fringe of the CIA.

Barack Obama was a Manchurian Candidate in training long before anyone imagined he could grab the brass ring. He's just bright enough to grasp the big picture of Leftism, by which I mean the cliches and the tropes. But he is lazy, not a strategic thinker, and has a classic "Big Shot" attitude that he never deserved but has served him well.

We all know those guys, the ones that act like they are Mister Big but have accomplished nothing of note. This is Obama. He lucked out in being the perfect hand puppet for Leftist handlers who secured his successes for him. He knew the spiel, and even better he believed it. All along the way white Leftists loved him and paved his way.

He adores the trappings of power (though clearly not as much as Moochelle does) and does the least amount of work he can to get by. Hence the reliance on the teleprompter and those videos that have gone around showing him saying the exact same thing time and time again (the "punching above their weight" vid, for example). But his handlers like this about him. Wind him up and roll him out. He has a Protective Melanin Coating that keeps the press at bay and keeps Nice White Ladies swooning.

While much of his background is a mystery, I don't think his mentality is that mysterious. Just picture the most pathetic, Left-wing douchebag professor you had in college: Obama thinks exactly like that guy. Exactly.

His sports obsessions might be the only thing about him that isn't ideologically driven or absorbed as received-wisdom from his indoctrination.

Whiskey said...

Obama does not really like POWER that much for its own preservation, i.e. he's failed to do things that would increase his own power: keep gas prices low, build up the military while eschewing ground forces in combat roles, act socially conservative while financially liberal, etc.

For Obama, the goal of power is PUNISHMENT of the wrong sort of White people. No clearer indication can be seen in the kind of people he has chosen as his appointees, if personnel is policy: Anita Dunn, Elizabeth Warren, Susan Rice, Susan Power, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, heck even Valerie Jarrett. They all come out the same stamp. They might well be sisters.

And that is part of his appeal. Oprahization? Who watches Oprah? Who cares about emotion, feelings, punishment of those bad, icky Beta White males?

Heck Obama moving close to those who killed his idol is a very female trait. Male: overpower, throw down, establish your own dynasty. Female: submit, surrender, follow the will of the strongest, most violent (the basis of Twilight, the Grey erotic naughty books, and most female fiction).

Whiskey said...

Peterike and enter-username nailed it. Let me add, the idea of transcending and cutting off family for ... well in female fiction it is generally some hunky guy and anti-society "new family" is pretty standard. That's Twilight. Shades of Grey. Those Sookie Stackhouse fantasies and the other one featuring vampires.

By contrast, the NFL, and particularly MLB, play up tradition, continuity, hand-offs and inheritance from fathers to sons. America really is a conflict between Field of Dreams and Twilight. And is poorer for it.

The rejection, on a profound level, of normal American society for ... the freak that is Obama, is really frightening. And by polling that rejection and embrace of the alien/weird (but brutal power-obsessed for a "mission" of punishing ordinary people aka Middle Class White guys) is mostly unmarried White women. The same ones who flocked to the Hunger Games.

Anonymous said...

Voting for Obama was non-black America's way of saying, "If he can do it, so can you, and our voting for him is proof that we (non-blacks) are not the reason your race is so f-ed up. It not we who are holding you back--it's you yourselves."

Steve had this train of thought pegged four years ago, called it the "be less black--be more Barack" tendency.

slumber_j said...

I've always thought the word "power" when used in the way it's being used here means roughly: the position and ability to make others act as you want them to. Is that right?

This isn't a trick question. Is it normal to want others to do one's will? Is that what we're talking about here? I'd appreciate any good-faith answers.

dearieme said...

"Only a birther would imply the President's father was Kenyan." But Obama Sr was just the Joseph of this story: surely the Holy Ghost is American?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, guessing that the "Julia" meme re-enforces Whiskeys' theme. They haven't dragged out the "old folks having their Social Security stolen from them by Republicans"(tm) as a campaign cudgel as yet, but their "War on Women" is definitely getting major play, no? Perhaps because (I don't like saying it, and maybe you don't like reading it) this election will be determined by Whiskeys' White Women.

Anonymous said...

Actually Whiskey the trope of the diamond-in-the-rough kid from the wrong side of the tracks goes back a lot farther than current chick-lit. Obama's a peculiarly postmodern, ethnically immaculate incarnation of Eliza Doolittle though. Insofar as this impresses certain postulated sheltered women, they've only ever seen him in the Sidney Poitier mode and he has literally no Sharptonesque trail of keep-it-real ooze. Yet there is of course something in the universal feminine psyche that favors nurture conquering all, or even the eternal-springing opportunity to reform whatever man might amble into the picture.