February 20, 2008

Barack Obama often seems caught between two worlds”€”between the “€œblack value-system“€ world of his pastor Jeremiah Wright and the universalist “€œone-America”€ world of “€œchange,”€ “€œhope,”€ and a few other captivating buzz words. It’s beginning to look like the Obama marriage might itself reflect the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within the Obamaian soul. Or at the very least, Michelle simply can”€™t help going a little Al Sharpton once the cameras start rolling.

Yesterday there was this: “€œFor the first time in my adult lifetime, I”€™m proud of my country.”€ 

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Michelle chose her words so carefully”€””€œfor the first time in my adult lifetime…”€”€”that it’s hard to hear this as a mispeak or throw-away line. More importantly, she makes it clear that she’s presenting no rebuke of a specific policy but a wholesale indictment. I”€™m sure many who visit this website would find words other than “€œpride”€ to describe their feelings toward the Clinton and Bush administrations, but I can”€™t imagine any of them every saying “€œI”€™ve never been proud of my country.”€ Michelle’s comments were a concentrated expression of ressentiment.

This was hardly the first time that Michelle has dropped a bomb. Around a year ago when Michelle and Barack appeared on “€œ60 Minutes”€ and Steve Croft asked Michelle whether she feared Barack coming under physical attack as a presidential candidate, Michelle’s mind immediately jumped to race. She offered up a rather curious sociological insight: “€œAs a black man, you know, Barack could get shot going to the gas station.”€

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It’s difficult to grasp what Michelle could possibly be trying to say here. In his excellent short book A Bound Man, Shelby Steel states the obvious that in well-to-do white and Asian Hawaii, good Christian Kansas, and ultra-PC Harvard and Columbia, Barack “was at virtually no risk of being shot by a white racist on the way to the gas station” or anywhere else. Perhaps Michelle is making some vague reference to black-on-black crime in the inner cities, but one wonders how this is even tangentially related to the danger of political assassination. 

It’s hard to imagine Barack going in for any of this”€”it doesn’t sound much like his “€œthere’s no white, black, Latino, Asian America; there is the United States of America”€ anthems, nor anything he’s said in more casual, candid moments. When he actually gets specific about racial politics, he usually prefers to play the shell game of “€œI don”€™t think my own children should receive affirmative action, but…”€ 

Nevertheless, Barack has been married to Michelle for 15 years”€”God knows what kind of rants he gives audience to in the privacy of the Obama home!”€”and he’s never rebuked his wife for taking racial animus too far. He seems perfectly fine with Michelle, and when she made her “€œas a black man…”€ comment on national tevevision, he looked on with a satisfied, slightly bemused smile.    

An excellent analysis of Michelle and how she got that way has been recently done by the indispensable Steve Sailer. Much of his fodder comes from the new fawning Newsweek essay by Richard Wolffe that begins with the unlikely opening line, “€œMichelle Obama was never much interested in calling attention to herself.”€ This line sounds a dissonant clang with everthing that appears later in the article, and with most everyone’s impression of Mrs. Obama.

The most telling section comes in Wolffe’s description of Michelle’s university experience:

“€œOverwhelmingly white and privileged, Princeton was not an easy place for a young black woman from the inner city. There weren’t formal racial barriers and black students weren’t officially excluded. But many of the white students couldn’t hide that they regarded their African- American classmates as affirmative-action recipients who didn’t really deserve to be there. Angela Acree, a close friend who attended Princeton with Michelle, says the university didn’t help dispel that idea. Black and Hispanic students were invited to attend special classes a few weeks before the beginning of freshman semester, which the school said were intended to help kids who might need assistance adjusting to Princeton’s campus. Acree couldn’t see why. She had come from an East Coast prep school; Michelle had earned good grades in Chicago. “We weren’t sure whether they thought we needed an extra start or they just said, ‘Let’s bring all the black kids together’.”

Sailer remarks:

“€œObviously, this program wasn’t put together by the Princeton klavern of the Ku Klux Klan, it was planned by the Princeton diversity sensitivity outreach nook. One reason diversicrats want to bring all the black freshmen to campus before everybody else is so they’ll bond to each other, not to random whites and Asians during the regular orientation week. During the first few days of a new phase of life, you are very emotionally open to bonding with the other people who are going through the experience with you. So, the diversicrats can build a constituency by holding special pre-orientations for blacks.”€

Newsweek goes on: “€œAcree, Michelle and another black student, Suzanne Alele, became inseparable companions.”€

Sailer: “Exactly as planned.”  

Interestingly, Barack and Michelle seem to have very different experiences within the “€œdiversity”€ obsessed academic establishment. Barack became the “€œbeyond race”€ golden boy, beloved and respected by his white colleagues and professors and elected to be the editor of the Harvard Law Review. Michelle, on the other hand, was clearly not admired by her colleagues and became obsessed with “€œnot fitting in,”€ spending her time writing a navel-gazing undergrad thesis on black difference at Princeton and then, according to the Newsweek piece, working on black recruitment at Harvard. Barack is the poster child for the promise of affirmative action admissions”€”the polished, inspiring black scholar. Michelle represents the vastly more prevalent real outcome of affirmative action”€”the rather surly student who joins ethno organizations and forms an identity based on being persecuted by the evil, hateful undergrads, administrators, and faculty (all of whom are, in reality, the most fanatically PC humans on earth.)  

It is Barack, not Michelle, who seems poised to become our next president, and for this I guess we should be somewhat thankful: judging by his writings and public statements, Barack is a far more talented and sensible person than his wife. But then those who are considering voting for Obama because they believe his election would mark a step towards “€œgetting beyond race”€ should take pause. Barack is more than willing to indulge race-baiting, bizarre insinuation, and ethnic resentment”€”as evidenced by his own marriage.     


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