August 17th, 2010 by John T. Reed
I am a Libertarian. I almost never vote for a Republican or Democrat. When I did, it was about half and half. So I have no dog in the Democrat or Republican primaries. Nevertheless, Barack Obama has triggered some thoughts.
First, it seems to me that Barack Obama’s skin color, ancestry, and upbringing are irrelevant. I think he should be “judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin,” the color of the skin of his ancestors, or what he experienced as a child.
He claims to agree with me on that in comments he made during the week of April 21, 2007.
The problem is he appears to be lying about that.
Playing his race card for all it’s worth
It appears to me that he is playing his race card for all it’s worth out of one side of his mouth (to get black votes) and saying it’s irrelevant out the other side (to get white and Latino votes).
Here are the facts about him and his ancestry and upbringing:
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. Ph.D. (picture) from Harvard, native of Kenya (which has dissolved into bloody riots in early 2008) and government economist there, separated from Obama’s Jr.’s mother when Junior was two years old, divorced, killed in a car accident in Kenya in 1982—There is a report on the Internet that Barack’s father was 1/8 black and 7/8 Arab, that being the reason Obama has as Arab first and middle name. Can’t verify it.
In the fall of 2008, virtually everyone has been referring to Obama’s father as an immigrant. He was no such thing. He came to the U.S. to study, studied, knocked up 18-year old Ann Dunham whom he married then abandoned, and went back home to Kenya, perhaps in part to get beyond the courts that would have ordered him to pay child support. As far as I can tell, he never lived in America other than to study and never had any intention of immigrating to the U.S. or anywhere else. The media has apparently decided to call him an immigrant to make him closer to the normal American experience of enslavement or immigration being the way one’s ancestors got to the U.S. Obama, Sr. came closer to being acccurately described as a tourist than an immigrant.
Ann Dunham (picture), Wichita, KS native of mixed Northern European descent, descendant of slave owners, after divorce from Obama senior married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian; died in 1995 of ovarian cancer
Here’s a picture of his mother and father together.
Childhood and education
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. childhood and formal education:
Born in Honolulu and lived there until age six
Lived in Jakarta, Indonesia with mother and step-father from age 6 to age 10—briefly tried to claim he knew more about foreign policy than Hillary because he had “lived overseas.” Reminds me of the accusation that 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis’s only foreign policy experience was having breakfast at the International House of Pancakes.
I have heard some reports that his Indonesian father was a Muslim and that Obama was enrolled in a Muslim Madrassa school when he lived in Jakarta. I do not know nor do I know if it means anything. A 4/21/08 Time magazine cover story on his mother said that Obama went to a Catholic school for a while then a public school. If it’s true that Obama attended a Muslim school, Obama needs to say what it means and does not mean. Americans have a right to question madrassa grads in view of the fact that the 19 9/11 highjackers were madrassa grads.
Lived in Honolulu from age 11 through graduation from high school at age 18
His high school was the Punahou School which is an exclusive school that now costs about $15,000 a year for tuition. Time magazine says he was on scholarship there.
During middle and high schools, he lived with his maternal (white) grandparents
His first two years of college were at Occidental College, a private liberal arts school in Los Angeles near Pasadena.
His last two years of undergraduate college were at Columbia University in Manhattan.
He got a law degree from Harvard at age 30.
Barack ain’t from da ’hood.
He is not black. He is gray (one black parent and one white parent). Or mayb tan (one brown parent and one white). Some call him Halfrican-Amercian, which is fair. Actually, there has long been a word for what he is. It is mulatto. According to Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, mulatto means, “a person one of whose parents is a Negro and the other a Caucasian or white.”
It comes from the Spanish word for mule: mulo. A mule is half donkey and half horse. It’s always half and half because mules are sterile.
The media, and Barack himself, refuse to use the word mulatto. There is no indication it is pejorative. It is just a neutral, long-established word. Apparently, Obama and his media allies refuse to use it because it makes Obama sound exotic or different. That’s because he is exotic or different—even from other blacks. The were 40.2 million blacks in the U.S. in 2006—13.4% of the U.S. population. Best I can tell from the Internet is that about 10% of blacks are really mulattoes. Using his math skills, Obama has figured out that it’s better to tell 13.4% of the population that they are “your people” than 1.34% of the population.
He never lived with his black father that he would remember. He only laid eyes on his father once after age two. He lived with his white mother and her white relatives from age 2 to age 6. He lived with his Indonesian stepfather and his mother in Indonesia until age 10 when his mother went back to Indonesia while he moved in with her parents in Honolulu until he left for college.
Nature versus nurture
In the nurture-versus-nature debate, Democrats are absolutely nurture only. Well, they’re screwed on Obama’s blackness on that one. Obama was raised entirely by whites. Obama is only black (actually half) if you believe nature, that is, skin pigment and DNA, not nurture, is what matters most. Democrats can’t have it both ways. Nurture-wise, Obama is 100% white.
Starting at least at age 11 he had a privileged, rich kid’s education (on scholarship he says, which raises the question of whether it was an academic scholarship or an affirmative action one). As far as I can tell, he went to private schools starting at least at age 11 and remained in strictly private schools all the way through college and graduate school. I see no evidence he ever went to a public school in the U.S. He reportedly went by the name “Barry” then. So did his father when he was in the U.S.
He is not the descendant of slaves. Indeed, his mother and he are the descendents of slave owners in the Confederacy.
Too young to have experienced the civil rights movement
He is too young to have participated in the civil rights movement that arguably ended when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. He was three years old then.
He grew up mostly in Hawaii, the most racially diverse state and one with no history of black slaves or even participation in the Civil War and attended a high school known, even in Hawaii, for its racial diversity.
To call Obama, Jr. “African-American” is, at best, incomplete. He appears to be Kenyan-Irish-German-English. African-Americans, unlike, say, Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans, have the name of a continent rather than a country before the hyphen because the slave traders and slave owners were uninterested in which African country the slaves came from and kept no records that would enable Americans of slave descent to trace their heritage to a particular country.
Obama, Jr., on the other hand, can trace his biological father’s country of origin effortlessly. So it is more appropriate to refer to him as Kenyan-American than African-American just as it is more appropriate to refer to President John F. Kennedy as Irish-American rather than European-American.
My main problem with Obama, Jr. stems from his performance at a meeting of black civil rights march veterans in Selma, Alabama in 2007.
Here are some of the things he said in that speech.
My very existence might not have been possible had it not been for some of the folks here today. I mentioned at the Unity Breakfast that a lot of people been asking, well, you know, your father was from Africa, your mother, she’s a white woman from Kansas. I’m not sure that you have the same experience.
I do not understand what Obama, Jr.’s existence owes to Selma, AL civil rights marchers. His parents met when they were both students at the University of Hawaii in the late 1950s. Give the civil rights marchers all the credit they deserve for the changes they brought about in Selma and elsewhere in the American South. But I do not see how the 1965 Selma march had anything at all to do with the admission of a Kenyan to the University of Hawaii in the 1950s or to Obama, Jr.’s parents getting married and conceiving him in 1960.
And I tried to explain, you don’t understand. You see, my Grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya. Grew up in a small village and all his life, that’s all he was — a cook and a house boy. And that’s what they called him, even when he was 60 years old. They called him a house boy. They wouldn’t call him by his last name.
What the heck does a grandfather working for a British family on Lake Victoria in Kenya, Africa in the early Twentieth Century have to do with the American civil rights movement? The grandfather was not a slave. He applied for a job and got it. And he was a “cook and a house boy.” In view of the fact that there are at least three meals a day to prepare and, back then, that required shopping for the food raw materials each day, it sounds like his grandfather was really a cook.
My mom worked as a waitress once. Does that enable me to claim brotherhood with Selma blacks? How about the fact that my Irish-American ancestors encountered turn-of-the-century signs that said “Help Wanted No Irish need apply” or “Irish and dogs keep off the grass?” Does that qualify me as a 1960s civil rights veteran?
Obama, Jr. then said,
Yet something happened back here in Selma, Alabama. Something happened in Birmingham that sent out what Bobby Kennedy called, “Ripples of hope all around the world.” Something happened when a bunch of women decided they were going to walk instead of ride the bus after a long day of doing somebody else’s laundry, looking after somebody else’s children. When men who had PhD’s decided that’s enough and we’re going to stand up for our dignity. That sent a shout across oceans so that my grandfather began to imagine something different for his son. His son, who grew up herding goats in a small village in Africa could suddenly set his sights a little higher and believe that maybe a black man in this world had a chance.
That’s a damned lie! Obama, Jr.’s grandfather was not inspired by the Selma events of 1965. The guy was 70 years old then. His son, Obama, Jr.’s father, could not possibly have been moved by those events until after he had divorced Junior’s mother.
It worried folks in the White House who said, “You know, we’re battling Communism. How are we going to win hearts and minds all across the world? If right here in our own country, John, we’re not observing the ideals set fort in our Constitution, we might be accused of being hypocrites.” So the Kennedy’s decided we’re going to do an air lift. We’re going to go to Africa and start bringing young Africans over to this country and give them scholarships to study so they can learn what a wonderful country America is.
This young man named Barack Obama [the presidential candidate’s father] got one of those tickets and came over to this country.
That’s another damned lie! Junior’s parents got married in 1960. John F. Kennedy was still running for President that year. Obama, Sr. had been a student at the University of Hawaii since sometime in the late 1950s. Whatever air lift the Kennedy’s did to bring Africans to American to study in U.S. colleges did not occur until some time after Kennedy was inaugurated in January of 1961. In other words, President Kennedy may have brought some other Africans to America to study, but he sure as hell did not bring Obama, Sr. here. Obama, Sr. was already here studying before Kennedy even announced his candidacy for President.
There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home to Selma, Alabama.
Like I said above.
Those of you who read my book know. I went through some difficult times [growing up]
Poor little rich boy dodging falling coconuts in Hawaii.
…a prayer that carried our brothers and sisters over a bridge right here in Selma, Alabama.
“Our” brothers and sisters? The 1965 civil rights marchers may have been the brothers and sisters of some in the room in Selma in 2007, but they sure as heck were not Obama, Jr.’s brothers and sisters. 82nd cousins maybe.
I been here befoh.
I don’t see this in the speech on the Internet, but I heard the recording of it on the radio and TV. First off, he had not been to Selma before or “befoh.” Secondly, a man who was raised entirely by whites in Indonesia and Hawaii and educated at Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard does not normally talk like Uncle Remus. When he does, it’s as phony as a three-dollar bill.
In February, 2008, I saw him on TV saying “you all” in a speech. Where do you suppose he learned how to talk like that? Hawaii, Jakarta, Occidental College (in Pasadena), Columbia University (in Manhattan), Harvard Law School (in Cambridge, MA), Chicago—or did he learn it from Ebonics for Dummies?
Barack Obama is not black. He’s nouveau noir. As far as being black is concerned, he’s an arriviste or parvenu.
If a guy who was born and raised in Hawaii in the 1960s and 1970s is going to speak like an uneducated ethnic, in spite of his double Ivy League education, it should be the pidgin English used by young Hawaiian residents, e.g., “Howzit Brah? DC shaka but dis Selma mo’ bettah. Mahalo for letting da kine haole talk story. Yeah?,” not some Deep South slave dialect.
So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home to Selma, Alabama,
Actually, Barack, you don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama and you are not coming home to Selma, Alabama. The only thing you have in common with Alabama is its last four letters. The only places you can ever “come home” to are Jakarta and Honolulu. Sorry about the fact that neither has many electoral votes.
You are a race hustler. You’re trying to pass—reverse passing at that.
Passing used to be a word that was applied to African-Americans who had some black ancestors but whose skin color was so light that they could make whites think they were 100% white. Now, for the first time I have ever heard of, we have a guy who’s trying to do it in the other direction. A kid with a white mom who was raised by white grandparents in the most race-neutral place in the world—Hawaii—and who never knew his foreign, black-skinned, biological father and who now would have us believe he is as much a black Selma, Alabaman as the people in that room.
As I said at the top, Obama, Jr.’s ancestry and upbringing are irrelevant. But the fact that he is trying to claim that black, American descendants of slaves are “his people” and that his birth itself was the result of civil rights marches and laws that happened after he was born is plain old-fashioned dishonesty.
So is his belated claim that he doesn’t want anyone to vote for him because he’s “black.” The hell he doesn’t! What was all this phony baloney in Selma about if he is not trying to falsely wrap himself in the American black experience to get black votes? Not to mention the fact that he regularly got 60% to 84% of the black vote in the primaries. What states would he have won if he had split the black vote equally with Hillary?
May we see his college applications to ascertain whether he played his race card for all it was worth to gain admission to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law? What are the chances that he was eager to get the full name Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. on those applications, notwithstanding his claiming to be “Barry” before college and his aversion to mentioning his middle name now in the realm of presidential politics where middle names are generally prominent, e.g., John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Richard Milhous Nixon, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Tiger Woods’ approach to multi-racial ancestors
Champion PGA golfer Tiger Woods got it right when it comes to dealing with a mixed ancestry that includes blacks. Here’s what he said,
Woods made his remarks on “Oprah,” when he was asked if it bothered him to be called an African-American. “It does,” he said. “Growing up, I came up with this name: I’m a ‘Cablinasian.’” As in Caucasian-black-Indian-Asian. Woods has a black father (or to be precise, if I am interpreting Woods’ reported ancestry correctly, a half-black, one-quarter American Indian, one-quarter white father) and a Thai mother (or, with the same caveat, a half-Thai, half-Chinese mother). “I’m just who I am,” Woods told Oprah Winfrey, “whoever you see in front of you.”
But just “who I am” remained contested ground. According to Time magazine, Woods’ coming out as a Cablinasian caused “a mini-racial fire storm … Woods’ remarks infuriated many African Americans who … see him as a traitor … Some blacks saw Woods’ assertion of a multiracial identity as a sellout that could touch off an epidemic of ‘passing.’” Light-skinned Colin Powell, responding to Woods’ comments, “In America, which I love from the depths of my heart and soul, when you look like me, you’re black.”
Colin Powell and Barack Obama seem to be adopting the Ku Klux Klan approach to racial identity. That is, if you have one drop of black blood you’re all black. Powell and Obama ought to find a more honest, more logical, more scientifically-accurate guide—like Tiger Woods. The Nazis had a similar, actually less strict, rule for determining who was Jewish.
Trouble getting a cab in NYC
Obama reportedly says he knows what race he is every time he tries to get a cab in New York City. I surmise from that comment some cabs passed him by. Well, that happens to me in New York City, too. What, pray tell, race does that make me? Maybe white because they cab drivers who fail to stop for me in Manhattan sure aren’t white.
Obama did not comment on the race of the cab drivers who passed him by. I suspect they were almost all black or Middle Eastern Muslims. I doubt that Barack Hussein Obama would have trouble getting such people to stop for him because of his race.
Looking at one’s biological parents is the only valid way to determine one’s race. Looking at how hard it is to hail a cab in New York City is an absurd way to determine what race you are. A cab driver who ignored Obama may have needed to go to the bathroom. Obama whining about cab drivers in New York City is cheap race hustling.
Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, and other African-Americans have lamented the propensity of many blacks to focus on their victimhood. Obama’s whining about cab drivers and his speech in Selma were precisely what Cosby and Sowell said not to do. Obama’s message to blacks seems to be I’m a victim of the white man, too. There is much talk about Obama being the first black president. If he keeps up this kind of talk, he’ll also be the first president of any color who got that office by whining about being a victim.
I am Irish, German, Scots-Irish, and Cherokee. Mathematically, I am definitely a minority. But I’m not demanding a casino, wearing lederhosen or kilts, or speaking with a brogue. I have never tried to pass as any of them or tried to ingratiate myself with any of them. I have not turned to cocaine to deal with my identity crisis. Like Tiger Woods and Popeye, I am who I am. So is Obama and he needs to deal honestly with the fact that he simply does not deserve any street cred among ordinary black Americans.
Denying his mother
Maybe after a conversation with Woods, Obama will stop shortchanging his mother’s contribution to his existence and stop claiming a non-existent Selma contribution. When he describes himself as black or African-American, or remains silent when others do, he is telling—literally—a half truth. I am not religious, but Obama’s apparent position of denying the white part of his ancestry and upbringing reminds me of the Biblical story of the last supper where Jesus told Simon Peter that he would deny Jesus thrice before the cock crowed twice. If she were alive today, I wonder if Obama’s mother would not have asked the Biblical question, “Barack, why hast thou forsaken me?”
“Because I can get away with it, mom,” is apparently the answer. He proclaimed his half-and-half self black and got 96% of their votes and implicitly said he wanted no part of his white blood and apparently lost almost no white votes for doing that.
Obama wrote a book called Dreams from my Father—the Kenyan man he only met once after age two. No book about his mother, the white woman who raised him from birth to age ten, or his white grandparents who raised him from age eleven to college.
In terms of his ancestry, Barack Obama, Jr. is precisely as white as he is black. In terms of his upbringing, he is 100% white. So it is curious that he has now chosen to represent himself as a black guy. Is it to get the votes of blacks and whites who feel guilty about blacks? How about running on your merits as a person instead?
An unintended consequence of Obama emphasizing his black ancestry is he loses Latino votes. Apparently, by claiming to be a “minority,” Obama tells the other “minority” that he is one of the blacks competing with them for limited “minority” benefits and special preferences.
Many Americans would agree with Colin Powell that Obama has to choose black as his race because he looks black—at least to American whites. That blacks “own” Obama because he has 50% Kenyan blood the way they “own” Tiger Woods because he is 25% black. Everything is relative. I suspect in Kenya they think Obama looks white.
But even if you think he looks black, for him to choose what race to claim because of his looks is to renounce the goal of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Obama apparently thinks he’ll make out better at the polls if he is judged by the color of his skin than if he is judged by the “content of his character.” If he believes that, he should run for president of the NAACP instead of President of the United States.
Where does it say that mixed race persons must pick one of their ancestral races as an identity? Why can’t people who are partly black treat that part of them the way the rest of us treat our own mixed ancestries? I was interested to read the book Born Fighting to learn about my Scots-Irish heritage. I was interested to read books about the Cherokee Indian tribe to learn that part of my heritage. Why isn’t Obama as interested in the heritage he got from his mother and her parents who raised him as he is in the ancestry of the guy who abandoned him at age two? Does he regard his white heritage as somehow inferior to or less cool than his black heritage? Or less politically advantageous? Does he regard the white nurturing he got as irrelevant? Does he regard nature—mainly his Kenyan father—as all determining? If so, doesn’t that run contrary to the view that skin color and race are meaningless, that how you are raised, not ancestry, is the only factor that makes blacks and whites different?
Now that we have seen his pastor on TV, it appears to me that here is what happened with Obama. He is half Kenyan and half white. He has no male role model of such a breed of person. So instead of acting like a half black, half white guy should, he felt he had to chose one race or the other and model himself after men in that race. Furthermore, he concluded that whites would not accept him because of his skin color and black father. I would also add that they would always figure he was an affirmative-action quota filler, which he is, as is his wife. She has complained about being treated as a charity case by non-minorities at Princeton and Harvard Law School. He probably got the same treatment, especially when you consider that affirmative-action admits and affirmative action grades are charity.
So he decided to be a black guy, which he can never be because he is half white by birth and was brought up all white.
What Obama should have done was what almost all the whites in America have done. Forget about our mixed ethnic backgrounds and just be a man or a woman. To blacks, white people may all look the same. But they have fought many a war in Europe over the difference between Irish and English or German and Dutch and so forth. Whites in American have had to endure all sorts of discrimination involving Jews, Italians, Poles, and so forth. You hear less about it these days precisely because Americans of various European ethnic groups simply stopped worrying about such nonsense.
Obama is supposed to be smart. He may be but I have not seen any evidence of it. His resume is extremely thin for a man his age. If he is smart, he should have figured out for himself how to respond to those who would peg him as black or white and say, like Tiger Woods, I am what I am and live a life unguided by racial stereotypes, group norms, and grievances. The one thing I do know about his level of intelligence is that he has thus far been too dumb to figure that out.
Obama’s wife made a very funny speech about him in April of 2007. In it, she sarcastically said she refers to him as “The Phenomenon.” She then explains that she does not find him so phenomenal at things like making sure his dirty socks make it to the laundry hamper. Would that her husband took himself as unseriously as his wife takes him.
Obama has whined about his identity crisis because of his parents’ races and cited it as his excuse for snorting cocaine. Now he’s 46 and he still doesn’t seem to have figured out who he is: the black-like-you guy or the guy whose race is irrelevant to whether you should vote for him. He wants to lead the Free World, but he seems to be having trouble leading his own self to a distinct identity. In addition to consulting 32-year old Tiger Woods, who seems to be handling his potential identity crisis with aplomb, Obama should also consult his wife. She’s all black—but she does not seem to have any identity crisis from being married to a guy who is half white and half black. Maybe she could help him get over that as well.
Obama’s upbringing was really weird—his mom was really weird collecting third-world, Muslim husbands of color and not living with her son when he was ages 11 to 18—hardly ideal for relating to the experience of any Americans, let alone black Americans. But it’s not so weird that it disqualifies him from being elected President.
However, his misrepresenting or fudging his ancestry and/or upbringing, however, should be a disqualifying factor if he doesn’t knock it off.
Anyway, Obama can’t become the first black President. Bill Clinton already claimed that title by having it bestowed upon him by black author Toni Morrison. Hillary is now going for first black cleaning lady to become President according to references she made about “why do we always have to clean up after them” when speaking to an audience of black women in 2007. The only thing more ridiculous than Obama trying to pass as an average black-American is Hillary trying to to out-black Obama in Selma and at Al Sharpton’s pay-homage-to-me convention.
John T. Reed
Here is an email I got about this article on 6/21/07 and my response
Enjoyed the essay, as I enjoy most of your writings and teachings, as they generally provide a no-nonsense, common sense approach.
The one passage in this essay that I do take exception to is this one:
“Light-skinned Colin Powell, responding to Woods’ comments, “In America, which I love from the depths of my heart and soul, when you look like me, you’re black.”
Colin Powell and Barack Obama seem to be adopting the Ku Klux Klan approach to racial identity. That is, if you have one drop of black blood you’re all black. Powell and Obama ought to find a more honest, more logical, more scientifically-accurate guide—like Tiger Woods.”
While it would be great if we lived in a world this idealistic, Colin Powell’s statement is dead on, and not just in America. I too attended private school all my life and am ivy league educated. But tell that to the people who cross the street to avoid walking
past me, follow me in stores without speaking (so that I don’t steal anything), and tell me about layaway plans before I ask about any item in a store. I’ve been followed around stores by people who speak no English; someone told them to look out for people who look like me because they steal; they aren’t going to take the time to ask me my ethnic makeup. They see what they see, assume I’m black, therefore, I steal.
When others “find a more honest, more logical, more scientifically-accurate guide,” and their behavior mirrors that, then maybe I’ll change my opinion.
John T. Reed response:
I don’t doubt it, but these are extremely ignorant people you are talking about. My ethnic identity is not defined by others, especially ignorant others. It is defined by who my ancestors were. It is one thing to recognize that such people may conclude you are black and that you conform to some stereotype. It is another to, yourself, claim to be black when you are only half black. It is reverse passing and the fact that it sometimes happens through no efforts of your own doesn’t change the fact that when it is through efforts of your own, it is reverse passing which is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst.
Here is an email I got on 9/9/07 and my response
Dear Mr. Reed, that was a very interesting article. However, I do disagree with you when you imply that Senator Obama should not try to identify with African-Americans. Who else can he identify with? Certainly not whites; the majority would not accept him as white. That’s just a fact of life here in the USA. P.S. As an African-American woman I’d like to thank you for acknowledging Bill Clinton as our first Black President
John T. Reed response
Clinton is an amoral disgrace and a sociopath. I think the notion that this self-indulgent son of the Deep South who refused to send his daughter to public schools in predominantly-black Washington DC is considered a “black” in any way is absurd. Whenever it appears that his wife may fail to get him his “third term,” he attacks Obama, including on racial grounds. Former Clinton Advisor Dick Morris was asked if the Clintons are racist. “No,” he said, “but they will use race or anything else to make sure no one other than Hillary wins.” The real first black president would not do any such thing. Obama, on the other hand, has no qualms about using race to win.
The issue is not “whom to identify with” or who would “accept” Obama. Those are psychobabble terms that have no useful meaning.
He is what he is. The issue is whether he is trying to fudge who he is in order to get one racial group or another to vote for him—that is, trying to win by appealing to a type of racist vote. Blacks voting for Obama because his father was from Kenya is every bit as racist as whites voting against Obama because he father was from Kenya.
His father was more foreign than African-American. His mom was as white as my mom. Some of his maternal ancestors owned slaves. As far as identifying with or being accepted by some racial group, the guy is just totally out of luck. He can probably get himself elected president of the National Association of Half-Kenyan Half-White People With Indonesian Stepfathers, but good luck with the membership drive.
What he needs to do is forget race and treat the American electorate as what it is: 300 million unique individuals. When my wife and I got married 33 years ago, a bunch of my older Irish relatives at the reception got the band to play Irish songs. I was quite glad when my son got married in August, 2008 that no ethnic songs were played at the wedding by either set of relatives. The countries from which our ancestors came are ancient, irrelevant history. As far as Obama should be concerned, so are Selma and the Kennedy Administration.
If he is elected president, it should be because of his positions on Twenty-First Century Iraq and America, not on how few degrees of separation he can claim with Selma in 1965 or Nineteenth Century slavery in the U.S.
Stephen Colbert has a nightly “news” program called the Colbert Report (pronounced “colbear repore”). He coined the word “truthiness” to describe what his show strives for in contrast to the truth that non-Comedy Channel news programs claim to present. Watching Obama struggling to turn himself into a black guy makes me think that he would best be described not as black but as possessing some blackiness.
He also puts me in mind of an old analgesic commercial in which a man dressed in a doctor’s white coat says to the camera, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”
Obama’s not a black guy, but he plays one on TV.
Is Obama John F. Kennedy?
As a result of endorsements by Ted and Caroline Kennedy and others and comments by the media, many have concluded that Obama is the second coming of John F. Kennedy. Let’s compare the two men.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Barrack Hussein Obama
Age on election day
Richard Nixon 47
John McCain 72
Stanford Business School dropout
In 1937, Kennedy spent ten weeks driving with a friend through France, Italy, Germany, Holland and England. In late June 1938, Kennedy sailed with his father and his brother to spend July working with his father, U.S. Ambassador to England at the American embassy in London, and August with his family near Cannes. From February through September 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East to gather background information for his Harvard senior thesis. He spent the last ten days of August in Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. On September 3, 1939, Kennedy, was in the Strangers Gallery of the House of Commons to hear speeches in support of the United Kingdom’s declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father’s representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia at the end of September.
Lived in Jakarta, Indonesia with his mother and Indonesian step-father from age 6 to 10
|Why England Slept
, best seller in 1940, when he was 23, about why England did not do more to prevent or prepare for World War II
|Dreams from My Father
autobiographical account of his troubled youth, published when he was 34; did not sell well until after his speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention at which time it was re-released and became a best seller—Obama only met his father once after age 2
|Profiles in Courage
won Pulitzer Prize and was made into a TV series in the mid-1960s; about politicians who risked or lost their careers because of taking an unpopular stance on principle
Both of Kennedy’s books succeeded mainly because of their content
Both of Obama’s books succeeded mainly because of his celebrity
PT boat commander, boat sunk by Japanese destroyer, Kennedy instrumental in keeping his men alive and getting himself and them rescued, awarded Purple Heart
(for injuries incident to the destroyer slicing through his boat) and Navy and Marine Corps Medal
(for saving the lives of his men)
Served as toy soldier in the Nutcracker in kindergarten (OK, I made that up. As far as I know, he actually has less military service than even that. I don’t think he ever even attended a college or university that would allow ROTC on campus.)
House of Representatives
lost election to House of Representatives
elected to 2 terms—7 years experience when running for president
elected to one term—2 years experience when running for president
National government experience
Really rich whites
Jesse Jackson/Al Shartpon-type activist and undistinguished civil rights lawyer
||Gifted orator who coined phrases we still remember 45 years later like “Ask not what your country can do for you…” and “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
||Gifted orator who has never uttered anything but clichés like that he is against the “politics of fear” and in favor of the “politics of hope.” Can’t wait to hear his positions on God, motherhood, and apple pie. Speaking of Jesse Jackson, he was fond of the phrase “Up with hope. Down with dope.” Obama, the current most prolific user of the word “hope,” is nothing but an Ivy League version of Jesse Jackson.
There are more original turns of phrase in this article of mine on Obama than in every speech he ever made combined, and I am not running for president with access to professional speech writers and the highest office in the world at stake.
In her 2/23/08 Wall Street Journal column, former presidential speech writer Peggy Noonan said that if you look at a transcript of an Obama speech, there is nothing there. His oratorical skills are 100% in his face and voice and body language and 0% in his words. He is a mere actor reciting poorly written lines extremely well. He could probably make women faint if he read the phone book from the podium. In contrast, Noonan said that the speeches of Kennedy or Martin Luther King are interesting, provocative reading.
There is an old saying on Madison Avenue that captures what Obama is doing. (Madison Avenue is the NYC location of all the top advertising agencies.)
If you have something to say, say it. If you have nothing to say, sing it.
That is, products which have real value tell customers about their value. Products with no virtues, like soft drinks, use jingles. Obama does not sing per se, but his use of face, body language, and voice borders on singing. Many call him a rock star.
||John F. Kennedy never smoked and once commented that none of his friends did either in spite of the fact that he never consciously picked his friends based on whether they smoked or not. In other words, if Kennedy and Obama were contemporaries, they would not be friends.
||Obama is the first cigarette smoker to seek the White House since General Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. He claims to have quit using cocaine, but can’t quit smoking. Interesting combination of claims.
||I was a high school freshman Kennedy campaign volunteer in 1960 when he ran for president. By resume and demeanor, he seemed far more mature and worldly wise than his age then—44—and far more mature and experienced than Obama.
||By life experience, Obama seems to me to be about 26, not 46. Not only has he done almost nothing, he has done far, far less than the average American 46-year old.
On 2/9/08, I heard Obama make a Jefferson Day speech in Virginia. He promised to give away all of the life savings that my wife and I have accumulated, as well as the future incomes of my three sons to pay for an irresponsible list of giveaways from health insurance to tax cuts to world class education to free college and on and on. The guy is shameless about promising to spend other people’s money to buy votes. By his own admission when he ran for Senate and was asked if he were going to run for president, he has not done anything yet. Now the guy who has not done anything is promising to do everything—including all sorts of things that hundreds of others with far more experience have been unable to do for decades, like end our dependence on foreign oil.
He seems not to understand that he is running for president, not king or Santa Claus.
Many are calling him an “empty vessel.” Empty suit is more accurate. The phrase “empty vessel” is often used to describe person who have just arrived at infancy, or adulthood. Barack Obama will be 47 for chrissake! If you are still empty at that age, there is something seriously wrong with you.
He is a “fake it til you make it” imposter. Indeed, he seems to have deliberately avoided ever doing anything on the grounds that it might be criticized. He seem to have tried more than anything else not to have a record, from voting “present” to missing votes as an Illinois state senator to never writing an article for Harvard Law Review when he was president of it.
If an election offers a choice of a black candidate and a white candidate, and a voter votes for the candidate who matches the voter’s skin color, that voter is racist. It doesn’t matter whether the voter in question is white or black.
An individual black voting for Obama does not necessarily mean he or she is doing so for racists reasons. But when more than 80% of blacks vote for a black candidate, and black turnout is unprecedentedly high, it does mean that a large percentage of them. maybe a majority, are voting for him because those voters are racists.
A double standard has evolved in America regarding racism by white versus racism by blacks. For example, there is a Black Caucus in Congress. A white congressman whose district is predominantly black tried to join the black caucus on behalf of his constituents. He was denied membership because of his skin color.
There is no White Caucus. Nor could there be such a caucus. The mere suggestion that there be one would be considered an outrage. Don’t hold your breath waiting for White History Month—although if another 12 million Mexicans come across the border they may institute White History Month to avoid our getting too down in the dumps about our minority status.
Affirmative action is reverse racism, but is accepted by many because of the double standard.
When it appeared that some white voters were lying to pollsters about supporting Obama then voting against him in the privacy of the voting booth, media pundits smelled racist scandal and commented gravely about it. But those same pundits talk about overwhelming black support for Obama and black population percentage in upcoming primaries as if it were the most natural and acceptable thing in the world for almost all blacks to vote for a fellow black.
Like I said, it’s a double standard. Blacks are allowed to behave in a racist manner. Apparently, Latinos are, too. But whites are not.
I know the explanation. It’s compensatory racism that is justified by generations of bad treatment. Bull! Two wrongs don’t make a right. That sort of mind-set is reminiscent of the Hatfield-McCoy feud or the goofy centuries-old feuds that are used to justify current misbehavior in Europe and the Middle East. Plus, we can retroactively apply current standards of morality or law to a zillion Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century practices other than slavery like child labor, minimum wage, murder, rape, divorce laws, and so forth. Black slaves were victims. But so were white child laborers, Nineteenth Century Latinos and Chinese who got paid less than minimum wage after adjustment for inflation, and millions of other Americans. The perps are dead. The victims are dead. The statutes of limitations have run out.
To find elections where one candidate gets more than 80% of the vote, you have to go back to the Soviet-Politburo or the elections in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in charge. Maybe an election in Castro’s Cuba.
There are some implications of this. For one thing, Latinos who see blacks sticking together so tightly to elect one of their race seem to be feeling threatened and are themselves banding together to elect Hillary whom they perceive as friendly to Latinos—at least before Obama started attacking her for supporting her husband’s NAFTA law and she started backing away from NAFTA. If Obama were perceived as an American rather than a black, that would probably not happen. Similarly, whites have shown plenty of willingness to judge Obama as a man, not by his skin color, but the more he seems to be a president for blacks, the more likely whites are to think twice about supporting him. All voters want their candidate to represent their interests. If a candidate appears to be favoring the interest of voters other than the voter in question—like Obama seeming to see himself more as a black than an American—it is logical for voters to switch to another candidate.
I am astonished that, in 2008, any American voters are voting along racial lines. Based on the behavior of black voters, it is as if this were some election in the Deep South during Reconstruction.
Bill Clinton, the “first black president,” who chose a Harlem location for his post-presidential office, has to be pissed about 80+% of the black vote going against his wife. He also expressed the curry-favor-with-blacks thought that “we” should have done more to stop the genocide in Rwanda when he was president. Talk after you are out of office is cheap. And it should be noted that he shows no interest in suggesting that Hillary ought to be stopping the genocide in Darfur or Kenya now that she is seeking votes.
I must admit that I am thoroughly enjoying Obama’s defeats of Hillary Clinton. Bill and Hillary are about the most cynical, “we can get away with anything” couple I have ever heard of. It is heartwarming to see that maybe their sleazy act may no longer be welcome in America. I just wish Obama would leave the race card in the deck as he does it and that black voters would judge all the candidates “by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”
Middle name Hussein
Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein. In Arabic, Hussein means handsome one.
The Wikipedia article about Shia Islam says,
The seminal event in Shia history is the martyrdom in 680 CE of Ali’s son Hussein, who led an uprising against the “illegitimate” caliph (72 of Hussein’s followers were killed as well). For the Shia, Hussein came to symbolize resistance to tyranny.
I do not know what Obama’s parents had in mind when they named him that, or more likely when his father named him that. They are both long dead.
Furthermore, it matters little to me why the father chose that name—which was also his own middle name. But one group to whom it may matter is zillions of Muslims.
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. is the biological son of a Muslim father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. He is also the stepson of an Indonesian Muslim father. And Obama, Jr. says he is a Christian. Most Americans are OK with all that.
But consider one of Obama’s promises. He said he would meet with Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, implying that George W. Bush who refuses to was wrong to not meet with Ahmadinejad.
Iran in the headquarters of Shia Islam. In Muslim countries, it is a capital offense to try to convert a Muslim to another religion—especially Christianity, the religion of the Crusades—which was the Muslim Holocaust. It is also a capital offense for a Muslim to convert to Christianity. Capital offense means that the penalty for the offense is death.
I have trouble imagining President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. being welcomed or even tolerated in the Muslim countries—especially in Iran where he promises to go and whose religious hero was named Hussein. Obama, Jr. son of a Muslim who converted to Christianity (United Church of Christ).
9/11 happened because Osama bin Laden was outraged that infidels—U.S. troops—were allowed to set up a base in Arabia, the same country where Mecca is located. Many people died because a Danish newspaper merely published a cartoon that depicted Mohamed. Imagine the outrage of the Muslim world if we elect as president a man named after one of their highest holy heroes—a man who switched from the Islam of his father to Christianity.
At the very least, it seems as though it might be a significant handicap for President Barack Hussein Obama to conduct any sort of happy relations with the Muslim world.