Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DREAMS FROM MY FATHER....Alexander Konetzki is a liberal who decided to start his journalism career as an assistant editor at The American Conservative. It was an odd choice, to be sure, but apparently he made a pretty good go of it until a couple of months ago when the magazine finally published a piece that pushed him over the edge: a review of Barack Obama's Dreams From My Father written by noted race obsessive Steve Sailer. Konetzki tells his story in our current issue:

Even before I read the piece I knew I wouldn't like it. TAC's editor, who was pleased with Sailer's work, had told me as much. But I found the piece so offensive when I first read it that I jumped out of my chair and rushed into the managing editor's office to try to kill it on the spot. She and the editor promptly dismissed my objections. The piece is provocative, they said — it's edgy. It's racist, I said — and the magazine will be regarded as such for publishing it.

....The weekend after Kara and Scott dismissed my objections to Sailer's essay, I read Dreams From My Father....I arrived at the office on Monday....And when I went to her office with Obama's book in hand, asking again whether we could discuss things, she called across the hall to Scott, who said, "Yeah, look, Alexander, this matter has already been decided. The piece is being published as it is." I pointed out that I had read the book, and Sailer's characterization of Obama was factually incorrect. "I have too many other things to worry about," Scott said coldly. "Steve Sailer is a longtime friend of the magazine, and if you and he read a book differently, well, I'll take his reading over yours any day."

This got me curious. I had gotten a copy of Dreams From My Father for Christmas, so I sat down to read it. Then I read Sailer's essay, "Obama's Identity Crisis." So who's right?

In a word, Konetzki. Basically, Sailer argues that far from being a man who "transcends race," Obama, at least up through 1995, when Dreams was published, "found solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother's race" — i.e., white people. "Why was Obama so insistent upon rejecting the white race?" he asks.

This is, to put it mildly, a crock. Sailer tries to back up his thesis with a few carefully cherry-picked quotes, but even taken at face value all he shows is that Obama was occasionally either annoyed or angry with some of the actions of his white friend and relatives. And it's true. He was. But it's absurd to suggest that this demonstrates some kind of deep-seated animosity. I imagine a dark-skinned man growing up in America would have to be a saint to go through life without ever feeling that way.

None of which is to say that Obama wasn't confused and uncomfortable with his racial identity for much of his first three decades. In fact, that's the whole point of the book. What's more — and this is the part of Dreams I found most peculiar — it's never really clear why. In language that's often florid and overwrought, but also oddly artificial, he tells us how he feels, but the circumstances of his life are never drawn starkly enough to make it clear why he feels the way he does.

I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm white. Maybe African-American readers understand Obama's feelings without the need for lengthy explanation. Either way, though, the book makes it clear that Obama's racial angst mostly takes the form of trying to construct a workable black identity for himself. He's fascinated, as anyone would be, by the Kenyan father he met only once and the extended Kenyan family he's never met at all (his eventual trip to Kenya to meet them forms the final section of the book), and Sailer wants us to believe that this act of black identification automatically suggests a rejection of Obama's white heritage. Unfortunately, this says more about Sailer's state of mind than Obama's. There's simply nothing in the book to seriously back it up.

And then there's Sailer's conclusion, in which he hints that if Obama becomes president his youthful racial confusion might return, morphing him into an African-style "big man" dedicated to doling out goodies to the Urban League instead of governing as the levelheaded wonk we all think he is. This is almost a parody of Sailer's usual race obsession, and one that literally comes out of nowhere. Like the rest of the essay, Sailer would have been better off letting Konetzki take a very thick blue pencil to it.

Kevin Drum 1:07 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Comments

And if, as a young man, Obama had decided to draw on his white ethnicity, people like Sailer would have said what to him?

Racism like that travels one way in this country in the sense that either you look white, or you don't.

Now be a ggod boy, Obama. Git to the back.

Ass.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2007 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer: proof that white supremacists are lower on the evolutionary scale than lemurs.

Posted by: TCinLA on April 27, 2007 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

I have 2 further thoughts:

the "puerility" of thought, not to say shallowness, lies squarely in Sailer's pen;

Good god! If only just one white presidential candidate, I wouldn't care if Republican or Democratic (though I think I'd lay money against the former), would stand in any slum and shout "You are all my brothers and sisters!" and mean it for a moment.

I have 3 thoughts:

what is the circulation of the The Conservitive American? Preaching to the choir?

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

Hello All,

First of all, I would like to state, for the record, that I read "Dreams From My Father," a couple years ago. Therefore, my memory is a bit hazy about the book.

You know, this discussion was on Matthew Yglesias' blog a couple months ago. In fact, Steve Sailer and a few of his minions "guest trolled" on that discussion board. I responded to that post, but I really don't remember what I said, but it probably goes something like this:

Overall, I liked the book. I found it inspiring. It's one of those "work really hard and achieve your goals" type of book. As for the issue of identifying with his black heritage over his white heritage, I think that was unfounded. I believe Obama dedicated his book to his (white) grandfather. And he had nothing but praise for his Mother, and his grandparents on his Mother's side.

Posted by: adlsad on April 27, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

I liked Dreams of My Father and found it compelling. I think it is clear that Obama had a good relationship with his white mother -- although she sounds a bit flaky. He certainly seems to love his white grandparents who essentially raised him. I think he ambivalence about race probably was a result of growing up "black" in a white household.

Unfortunately in this country, I think you are judged on the way you look. I think most white people looking at Obama see a black man. Biracial kids in the early seventies-- even in Hawaii -- were fairly rare. People would have looked twice at him and his grandparents when they were out together. (I live in SC and one of the reasons local people here thought Susan Smith was lying about a black man kidnapping her children is that no one believed that people would not have noticed a black man with two small white boys. And that happened in 1995.) Even if people were not purposefully cruel, it would make a child feel "different" having people constantly doing a double take when they saw him with his family.

Posted by: Teresa on April 27, 2007 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

When I read Obama's book, I thought that here was a very intellectual guy who felt much of the alienation, the unsure-ness of self that nearly all teenagers feel. Obama, as his book makes clear, had some true difficulties to sort out as a multiracial man. Still, teenagers have difficulties of all sorts, and his wasn't beyond the pale. What isn't clear by the end of the book, but what I get a sense from the biography of Obama since then is that he has matured into quite a man, and hopefully that understanding of self is now channeled into helping others.

We always wonder with politicians: do they seek higher office out of lust for power, or because of a calling to do good? The verdict is still out on Obama (as it is on the other candidates) but I'd assign a higher probability that Obama is in it to do good for the public than most presidential candidates who've come down the pike in the last 30 years.

Posted by: Tom Hamill on April 27, 2007 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm white.

You are? I thought you were black and white.

Or is that the cat?

Posted by: craigie on April 27, 2007 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Why a person like Obama who is running for high office would not delineate the exact circumstances that led him to feel the way he did would be clear to any non-white person, as it is to me.

If you move around a in milieu where most people are white, one of the best ways to deal with the subtle intended and unintended (mostly the latter) racism is to not talk about it and hide is manifestations in deep recesses of your brain, unless you want to make everyone around you uncomfortable and make your social environment totally unbearable.

Posted by: gregor on April 27, 2007 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't know Sailer was anything more than just some crank commenting at Yglesias' place.

Posted by: kvenlander on April 27, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't know Sailer was anything more than just some crank.

Coulda stopped right there.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry to digress somewhat, but while we are speaking of shoddy journalism... I have been very surprised at how few ripples were caused by the Lynch/Tillman testimonies in congress. Cast iron proof of the administration's lying- and general policy towards news management- and most papers and outlets just buried it. Only Glenn Greenwald over at Salon seems to have grasped the true importance of this stuff.

Posted by: Billy on April 27, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

Was reading comments at Huffpo early this morning about Rice's decision to ignore the subpoena and found several liberal comments that were damn close to the line if not over it. Can't imagine Obama wouldn't notice; I did & I'm white.

e.g. refering to her fat black ass
wishing to put her thru woodchipper to get black dirt for his garde
saying she looked like a witch who had been burned at the stake

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on April 27, 2007 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Never found racism in this country to be restricted to those who vote Republican.

Billy, I don't know who decides to print what, but the mainline papers have no interest in rocking the status quo boat. If they did their job we wouldn't be in the state we're in. But it's profits they want to generate, not giving us any original product.

The 4th Estate is now the court jester to the second estate and pisses with them from an ever increasing height on the rest of us.

Posted by: notthere on April 27, 2007 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that I commented on Big Media Matt's site when he discussed Sailer article and called it complete racist bunk then. As an African-American who grew up in a near all-white suburb of Detroit, I've met plenty of others who had the same issues growing up. There was a point around when I was 16 that matters of race caused some of the differences with my almost all white friends became more and more apparent, and it did cause me tremendous pain and anger at my treatment that did color some of my previously strong relationships for good. But that experience only helped me to distinguish between those who saw me as their friend and those who saw me as their "black" friend, not learn to hate "the white man" as Sailer seems to believe.

This type of experience definitely forces you to question your identity but this fantasy of reverse-racist African-American Manchurian Candidates waiting to get even with white people are nothing more than Sailor's paranoid and delusional fantasies.

Posted by: Derrrick on April 27, 2007 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm of mixed race - African-American dad, white mom, and only one person in my entire life has guessed that I might be part black. And yet...

There is always an inner drama that occurs and is ramified by outward treatment. What Obama's book does is describe the peculiar rite of passage that many African-American men have: at some point, you have to decide what it means to be black.

Is it an outward manifestation of African heritage? African-American heritage? Malcolm X or MLK? What about rap music and cultural styles? Is speaking grammatically correct English being a traitor to one's race?

For those who haven't read Obama's book, please don't treat this lame comment as an indication of the ideas contained within. Read it - and read it as a universal depiction of individuals finding their own way, but in particular, African-American men.

I believe that in 100 years, high schools and colleges will still be assigning this book. It's that good.

And Sailer sounds like a jackass. You have to be wilfully blind not to hear the gentle forgiveness Obama radiates for others and himself for all the collective follies he witnesses.

It actually pains me to consider that such an evident humanity can be so quickly reduced to a cardboard projection from the damaged psyche of the reviewer. It's a shame.

Posted by: vernonlee on April 27, 2007 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, now that book's going to the top of my TBR pile. Wonder if that's want Sailor intended?

Posted by: KathyF on April 27, 2007 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Sailer would have been better off letting Konetzki take a very thick blue pencil to it.

You're assuming that the goal of Sailer and the American Conservative was to publish a fair and accurate book review, rather than to pass an anti-Obama meme along to an audience of people who are unlikely to ever read the book and make up their own minds.

Posted by: ajl on April 27, 2007 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

This isn't a nice thing to do, but I found a little unintended humor in this comment by Tom Hamill:

Still, teenagers have difficulties of all sorts, and his wasn't beyond the pale.

His difficulty, of course, was not being pale.

Posted by: bad Jim on April 27, 2007 at 4:33 AM | PERMALINK

vernonlee: "It actually pains me to consider that such an evident humanity can be so quickly reduced to a cardboard projection from the damaged psyche of the reviewer. It's a shame."

It's long past time we all recognize that the minority historical experience in the United States has been fundamentally, even radically, different from the collective perspective of our country's white majority.

For sure, there will be more than a fair number of people who will no doubt roll their eyes at that recitation of the obvious. But it still needs to be said, repeatedly, until it finally begins to truly sink in and be understood.

It is my considered opinion, as a white male, that as white people we have fundamentally proved ourselves unable to grasp that most inherent social concept about the minority experience, beyond its most superficial concerns.

Our white kids may very well account for up to 80% of the overall market for rap music, yet that genre's primary appeal to our kids is its bold linguistic shock value. It is most certainly not due to any cultural identity on our part with the harsh and unforgiving street life of south-central L.A.

That doesn't mean that we can't or shouldn't emphathize with the struggles of black America, or do what we can as individuals to alleviate obvious problems and remedy injustices as they occur.

But because we -- for obvious physical reasons -- can't walk a mile in minority shoes, we really have no way of knowing what it's like to be subjected to both subtle and not-so-subtle instances discrimination in our daily lives, to endure an endless array of very real slurs, slights and provocations based solely upon one's race and ethnicity.

Unlike the self-absorbed Steve Sailer, whose lamentations about Barack Obama's life experiences are as pitiful as they are misdirected, we should not hasten to judge harshly those minority individuals who struggle with racial or ethnic identity issues in our white-dominant society.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, even 142 years after the end of the American Civil War, white America is itself still struggling to come to terms with the aomination that was our country's "peculiar insitution" of black slavery, which provided the historical foundation for modern white society's own current and relatively privileged status.

Therefore, until white America readily acknowledges its historic role in perpetuating racial inequality and injustice in this country, and further begins to reconcile its guilt over that role with our barely concealed xenophobia regarding not-easily-remedied issues of race and ethnicity, we truly have no business imploring our minority brothers and sisters to "just get over it."

Aloha.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii, where white people account for but 34% of the state's population on April 27, 2007 at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK

i too thought he was just one of MY's trolls.

Posted by: merlallen on April 27, 2007 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

47 years ago many thoughtful Americans wondered how John F Kennedy would balance his twin allegiances - to the constitution and to the Pope. Of course a tragedy occurred that prevented that from being revealed, but the concern was legitimate.

Why is it legitimate to question a white mn's dual allegiance, but not a black's?

Posted by: Al on April 27, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

Cuz's it's racist, asshole. (And JFK had no "dual allegiance".)

Sailer posts here on occasion, or used to; he's attacked me, f'r instance.

Personally, I don't think "race" exists, but that sharpens rather than frees us from the obligation to be honest about it.

But, Lord! I think we could use a lighter touch. (I may write in Chris Rock at this rate.) Where is the modern pol with a line like JFK when he lost the VP nomination in 1956? He said his Dad took the news well, staying up to send a one word telegram to the Vatican: "Unpack."

Posted by: theAmericanist on April 27, 2007 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing, simply amazing - 21 posts and Steve Sailor hasn't dropped by yet to spew more racism. Must be hung over from watching that all-nighter Step n' Fetchit festival over at FAUX.

Or perhaps, Steve could convey more thoughts about his angst in trying to determine which side of his parents was More White than the other.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 27, 2007 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

Not to worry everyone.

Obama's new book about himself, "All About ME!" should be out soon. Followed by "Lincoln, FDR, JFK and now ME! followed by "ME!, now I Really Know Who I Am".

Posted by: Chrissy on April 27, 2007 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Forgot the third book in the series, "More about ME!".

Posted by: Chrissy on April 27, 2007 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Off thread, but two ways to determine whether it is Friday.

In the afternoons, there will be Kevin's Cat Blogging. In the morning, it will be Brian Lamb at C-Span, schmoozing with a fellow Repug - This morning, his guest is "Mr Independent", Special Whitewash Prosecutor Scott Bloch - No Star Chamber in KR's future.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 27, 2007 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

It's nice to have a prominent conservative organ state as a matter of policy that anyone who objects to Steve Sailer's willful, racist misreading of Obama's book is simply not a conservative.

The American Conservative opposes the Iraq war for very different reasons than Democrats or liberals do: nativism, racism, and isolationism.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 27, 2007 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

I know it's troll-like to say, "why are you talking about this." But, why are you talking about this?

Sailer, about whom I know jack-shit, appears to be a racist. (Based on Konetzki, Drum, commenters here, The Editors.) But, what - he dresses it up in lots of words, and therefore gets a response? How about calling a racist a racist.

And what is this crap about "allegiance." Last I checked, this is a big ol' free country, and all of us are free to explore our identities and find a place in society. I am not aware of any panel of judges who gets to decide whether or not you're in the correct box.

And another thing - there are too many planets. Please eliminate three.

Posted by: Lame Man on April 27, 2007 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I thought that name sounded familiar. So he does something other than troll blog comments? This reminds me of a conversation I had in college about "how many people in the world might have exactly the same name you do, including middle name", and of course the more cultures you have referenced in your name, the less likely it is to find an exact match. (for ex. my 3 names are Roman, Japanese, and Chinese in origin). There have been a lot of people, black and white, either trying to understand, or simply categorize Obama's story. But it's true--there are very few people in exactly, or even a similar situation to how he grew up--and it would be extremely rare in his generation (still rare, but somewhat less so in his kids' generation). Black Kenyan father, white American mother, Indonesian stepfather, Indonesian/white step sister, white grandparents, raised in Hawaii and Indonesia by people, none of whom were black (and how come people don't write about the Asian influence on Obama, aside from the mosque baiting--I can't imagine there was none). Anyone here have even a remotely similar experience? Raise your hand... Which is, of course, why people find him interesting. But trying to pigeon hole him to your own experience is going to be only partly successful, whoever you are.

Posted by: JMS on April 27, 2007 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the story here isn't the crank Sailer, but the many made people (Ross Douthat, Ramesh Ponnuru) who, in trying to legitimize him, are associating their movement with Sailer's patent racism.

Posted by: kth on April 27, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

And speaking of Steve Sailer, feel free to Dare To Say No to VDare.

Like runs with like; Ilk with ilk.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 27, 2007 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Hi there. Long time listener, first time caller.

Donald from Hawaii - Thank you so much for your post! That gets a permanent spot on my Mac's Stickies, and I plan to pass it along to friends and enemies alike.

Posted by: the monk on April 27, 2007 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting thread.

Now if you people would get behind Condy Rice the same way you are supporting Obama, we'd know you are more than just a bunch of lying hypocrites.

Liberals make me laugh. The double standard is stunning to behold. Have fun playing the race card this morning.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 27, 2007 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

sportsfan: "Liberals make me laugh."

Yes, the way you laugh while thousands die for no reason except to bolster the fetid egos of worthless turds like Bush and Rice.

Oh right, I forgot: we're liberals, so we have to support the actions of all black people, no matter how corrupt they are. Convincing argument there, pal! You must be the best playground debater in all of the third grade.

Posted by: Kenji on April 27, 2007 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Sportsfan -- I don't support Obama because he is African-American, I support him because he agrees with the same policies that I do. I don't disagree with Condi Rice because she is African-American, I disagree with her policies because she is an integral part of an incompentant and corrupt administration.

Try to look beyond color once in a while. It'll open up a whole new world to you.

Posted by: Teresa on April 27, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

The thing that strikes me about Obama's books is how much they seem to be devoted to a kind of self-absorbed navel gazing which I would have thought would be incompatible with being an effective politician. I mean, despite his relatively young age and relatively minor level of actual accomplishment, he's written not one, but two autobiographies? And these books only marginally get into issues having directly to do with the larger world -- you know, the world that a politician is supposed to be primarily concerned about?

Contrast Obama with Colin Powell, who was of Jamaican heritage. Powell wrote an autobiography too, but that book reflected on his broad experience in Vietnam, and included vast amounts of commentary on policy issues, indeed expounding the eponymous Powell doctrine. As I recollect, his treatment of issues related to his racial identity played quite a minor role in the book. Whatever one might say of Powell, I don't think he could be accused of narcissism.

In short, it's really the narcissism of Obama that bugs the hell out of me, not his apparent obsession with his racial identity -- that obsession simply strikes me as his particular way of channeling that basic self-preoccupation.

Why, given his propensities, people nonetheless imagine Obama would be a great politician I simply can't grasp.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 27, 2007 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer may be onto something in one respect: there is a long, unhappy tradition in America of mixed-race people rejecting their white heritage and identifying solely as black. It began with Booker T. Washington and recently has reached an extreme with the (ironically very white-looking) Halle Berry. Adding the "multiracial" category to the Census, accomplished after a huge amount of kicking and screaming, doesn't seem to have changed this fundamental belief. I don't know why mixed-race people have what's almost a fetish about being totally and authentically black, but it's a fact of life in America. Obama faces quite a task if he truly wants to be considered mixed.

Posted by: Peter on April 27, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Teresa wrote:

Try to look beyond color once in a while. It'll open up a whole new world to you.

Hilarious, coming from a liberal.

Nice lip service Teresa and Kenji. You are exactly the liberal hypocrites I was talking about.

P.S. Of all the comments on this thread, I'd lay odds that less than a quarter have even read Sailer's article before posting. Give it a read - it even has a couple jabs at Bush in it. That oughta get you to click the link.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on April 27, 2007 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

After two terms(if he makes it) of dubya, isn't it time for the Urban League to get some goodies?

Seriously, though, how could a black Democrat ever seem white enough to satisfy a conservative? I would be more worried if conservatives were satisfied with Obama's racial self-view.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on April 27, 2007 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Now if you people would get behind Condy Rice the same way you are supporting Obama, we'd know you are more than just a bunch of lying hypocrites.

Truly stunning post, sportsfan79: taking question-begging to new depths. It's a wonder to behold.

Your premise is that we support Obama because he's black (or half-black), and therefore, to be consistent, we must also support Condi Rice. If we don't, we're "hypocrites."

Has it occurred to you at all that there could be reasons other than hypocrisy that we might like one and not the other? Good Lord, man.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on April 27, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

47 years ago many thoughtful Americans wondered how John F Kennedy would balance his twin allegiances - to the constitution and to the Pope. Of course a tragedy occurred that prevented that from being revealed, but the concern was legitimate.
Why is it legitimate to question a white mn's dual allegiance, but not a black's?
Posted by: Al on April 27, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

Al you idiot, it wasn't legitimate, that's the point. It wasn't right to lie about Kennedy and it isn't right to lie about Obama. And uh Kennedy was in office for 2 and a half years before a conservative traitor killed him, I think Kennedy proved his bonifides, so everything was like revealed.

Posted by: Northern Observer on April 27, 2007 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

White conservative racist being published at the The American Conservative? Get out of here!

Posted by: klyde on April 27, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Peter,

What you and others don't seem to understand is that mixed-race people isn't an African-American tradition, it's an America decision. Plessy v. Ferguson enshrined the "one drop" rule into American constitutional law, just as it had been observed throughout the years from children of mixed-parentage who once ventured to be considered as "white". So blacks took what was once an insult and turned it on its head by by including those who "whites" had never truly acknowledged as being one of their own.

It's a tradition that probably should have changed, but if you read accounts from Barak and others who weren't sure of their identify at first, listen to their accounts of when others learned of their mixed heritage. Many people, that I know of mixed parents are instantly labeled by society as black despite their fairer complexion just by their features and skin color. And consider the case of a very dark-skinned man telling you he was white. There is zero chance that others in this country would accept that. And I know darker-skinned people who are of mixed race. Race has and will be a social construct in America for the time being because of its history.

Posted by: Derrick on April 27, 2007 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Sailer's odd...When he's writing about something with no connection to race or sexuality, he's mostly tolerable...and sometimes not. When it comes to race issues, rather than providing a sound conservative interpretation of the issue, Sailer would rather tailor the conclusion to fit his biases.

Sailer isn't alone in this, by-the-way...A few conservative 'voices' (paging Thomas Sowell, for example) pick someone to blame, form a conclusion that fits their biases, cherry-picks data that seems to support their conclusion, and attach it all, seemingly pre-packaged, to the issue du jour...

Something about Obama particularly causes something to just go kablooey in Sailer's and others skulls...Is it that Obama's existence invalidates conservative 'thought' on racial and ethnic differences? Did Sailer's wife see the picture of Obama with his shirt off and comment favorably?

Besides being a Democrat, what's all the fuss about?

Posted by: grape_crush on April 27, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Well said Derrick!

Posted by: klyde on April 27, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

How about some actual factual content in your reply sportsfan79?

You still haven't explained exactly how Theresa is a hypocrite. How exactly is judging someone on their actions and not their skin color, "hypocritical"?

Nevermind, you don't have a reason. It's just more verbal diarhea you like to spew when the subject is race.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 27, 2007 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

While a lot of people on the left like to trot out AM's opposition to Bush and Iraq war, supposedly showing the rest of the country what "real conservatives" believe, it can't be forgotten that "real conservatives" are, on the whole, racists as well as being isolationist, fiscally conservative, etc.

To expect an honest review from a right wing rag for a book written by the offspring of miscegenation is far too much to hope for.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

sporstsfan: "You are exactly the liberal hypocrites I was talking about."

A stunning riposte. Bravo! Your intellect is so dazzling, how could anyone ever argue with you? I now admit that I must admire all negroes, regardless of accomplishment, as part of the Liberal Contract I signed at birth.

And you, of course, despise everyone, as part of yours. (Especially yourself.)

Posted by: Kenji on April 27, 2007 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

When it comes to race issues, rather than providing a sound conservative interpretation of the issue, Sailer would rather tailor the conclusion to fit his biases.

From the looks of things, tailoring conclusions to fit biases is "conservative interpretation."

Posted by: Gregory on April 27, 2007 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, that's the slam-dunk of it.

Posted by: Kenji on April 27, 2007 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Being a white man, married to a woman one of whose four grandparents was African-American, has been an education. Especially since moving to a mostly-white suburb, even in a famously liberal state. Many of you will know exactly what I mean and I won't re-hash our experiences.

But here is a very simple question that would never have occurred to me before. If this is not a country where white supremacy is the unspoken rule, even among well-intentioned whites, why the fuck is it that a person with one black ancestor is BLACK? How come a person with one white ancestor isn't WHITE?

Posted by: thersites on April 27, 2007 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Looking up his writing today, I have to say that I enjoyed Sailer's zingers at academic politics in

http://www.isteve.com/2005_Education_of_Larry_Summers.htm

He can't be all bad.

Posted by: Bob M on April 27, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

I, too, read Sailer's article and was inspired by it to actually pick up and read Dreams From My Father. And Kevin's right-- Sailer's reading of the book is unfair in the extreme and omits a lot of its most interesting material (the well-drawn characterizations of the fascinating people in Obama's life, his community organizing experiences in Chicago, etc.). And as a Gen X child of divorce with an absent dad and loving but flaky hippie mother, I was shocked by how much I identified with his experiences. The unique racial aspect of Obama's book distracts from the universalism of his experience-- idealizing an absent father, and then in adulthood discovering that he isn't the hero you built him into in your mind is an all-too-common thing among children of divorce, and Sailer seems to have completely missed it because of his race obsession.

Posted by: Hank Scorpio on April 27, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Did Sailer's wife see the picture of Obama with his shirt off and comment favorably? Posted by: grape_crush

LOL! Down, Mandingo, down!

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2007 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK
…several liberal comments that were damn close to the...Michael7843853 G-O in 08! at 2:22 AM
Why do you assume Obama has time to read comment threads and why do you assume that anonymous commenters are liberal when, in fact, posting outrageous statements is SOP for Rovian troublemakers? Posted by: Mike on April 27, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Oh goddy. The mendacious half-witted redneck show up to ascribe motives to all liberals.

We bow to your superior insights, O towering intellect of the fucktards!!!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, that should be "oh goody"

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

In their heart of hearts they simply cannot imagine that it does not make that big a difference what shade a man's skin color is.

Refer to my comment above about receiving an education. If you have any non-white friends, spend a day walking around in a white neighborhood with them. Then come back and lecture us.

Posted by: thersites on April 27, 2007 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Nice to read the comments of Jonas Wilkerson, aka mhr, this morning.

Tell us, Jonas, was that Thomas Sowell in the buggy with you as you drove up to Tara?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 27, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

mhr wrote: Liberals have become so confused about race and ethnicity that they are ready to believe almost anything on the subject.

In that case Sailer's transparent and incredible dishonesty ought to be even more embarrassing.

Note, also, how mhr picks up the racist "you ought to accept so-and-so's position becuase he or she is a person of color" baton from sportsfan. And tacitly acknowledges the conservative lack of compassion to boot.

Nice work, mhr -- not.

Posted by: Gregory on April 27, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I think the greatest humiliation I have ever suffered was when we bought a house in Wichita the second time we were stationed at McConnell AFB. It was a few months after a huge hailstorm that had damaged the roof and the seller put installation of a new roof in the lease/purchase contract.

A contractor who showed up to give a bid on the job happened to be black - and my neighbors called the police.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

mhr picks up the baton of SportsFan, who picked up the baton from FAUX Lib - Now, if Steve Sailer would join the group, they could have a relay team. Don't let your hoods slip down over your eyes, boys.

Posted by: stupid git on April 27, 2007 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

I have read Sailer's piece on Obama, but not Obama's book, so I don't feel qualified to comment on the piece's fairness to the senator.

But I will say that Sailer is, in my view, the most interesting political and social commentator in the country today.

From the comments here it sounds like this article may have been one of his "misses," but his "hits" are phenomenally insightful.

The main reason for this is that he has excellent knowledge of human biology and keeps up on all the scientific advances in our understanding of human nature.

While others stick to crumbling fallacies like "race doesn't exist" and "intelligence doesn't exist" and "personality comes mostly from nurture, not nature," Sailer asks, what if all of that is wrong?

Which it is. Most people find the answers to that question terrifying, which is why we see the venom displayed on this comment board.



Posted by: Grenzen on April 27, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

"The thing that strikes me about Obama's books is how much they seem to be devoted to a kind of self-absorbed navel gazing which I would have thought would be incompatible with being an effective politician. I mean, despite his relatively young age and relatively minor level of actual accomplishment, he's written not one, but two autobiographies? And these books only marginally get into issues having directly to do with the larger world -- you know, the world that a politician is supposed to be primarily concerned about?"

I need to respond to frankly0's shitty comment. First, Obama's only written one autobiography. "The Audacity Of Hope" isn't an autobiography (though it probably should have been), it's an explicitly political book, a campaign tract even. Second, "Dreams From My Father" was published in 1995, before Obama entered politics, so your complaint there is nonsensical. Third, there are all sorts of legitimate criticisms to be made about Obama and his qualities as a leader. But it's simply absurd to claim that this guy is not a good politician--keep in mind politics is a profession. He came to the city of Chicago 25 years ago with no money, no connections, and a funny name. 25 years later he's a U.S. Senator in a pretty good position to be running for President of the United States. If that ain't the mark of a great politican, then what the hell is?

Posted by: Korha on April 27, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

In their heart of hearts they simply cannot imagine that it does not make that big a difference what shade a man's skin color is.

No, asshole, we know very well that it makes a huge difference, to racists like yourself.

The natural inclination of liberals is to feel compassion for those who have less than they: money, an older model car (or worse, no car at all), a smaller house, no college degree, etc.

Yes, asshole, that's what you "compassionate conservatives" used to call "being Christian," before you dropped all pretenses.

They feel most compassion for what they call "people of color" who tell them how much they have suffered.

That, asshole, is a term coined by people of color, not something invented by "whites."

That is why liberals despise men like Thomas Sowell. Posted by: mhr

No, asshole, we don't "despise" people like Sowell, we just think he's pathetic because, like Rice, Powell or Thomas, Sowell skates dangerously close to being a good ol' fashioned Uncle Tom. He beat the odds, but looks down on those not as fortunate as him.

Conservative "negro" hero Clarence Thomas was famous during his confirmation hearing for saying, "For the grace of god, blah, blah, blah," when seeing Black men not as fortunate as himself. Exactly! If it weren't for some person of higher authority (hardly god, if there was a god, do think there'd been something so hideous as slavery or people like you?) what would have kept him from the "less than" life that most Black Americans still look forward to thanks to racists like yourself?

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2007 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it would have been better if Konetzki started his career at the The American Prospect rather than The American Conservative. There is a difference.

When it comes to linking demographics to politics there's none one better than Salier.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 27, 2007 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer. Hummmm. Is he the same guy who a couple of years ago pushed the notion that on average blacks are not as smart as whites?

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 27, 2007 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Grenzen - Sailer's "knowledge" of biology is a tool he misapplies mendaciously.

And I notice he has not been over here defending himself. The people who comment here routinely serve him his ass on a platter when he ventures in here to spout his racist horseshit.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 27, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hasn't Tiger Woods, who is 25% African-American, written along these same lines?

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, that's the guy. He is a racist who hides his racism in big words he doesn't begin to understand. The notion of Barak Obama, a man of high intellect whose father was an African and whose mother is a white from Kansas must shake his racist world view to the core. No wonder he has to trash Obama.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 27, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

"The Audacity Of Hope" isn't an autobiography (though it probably should have been), it's an explicitly political book, a campaign tract even.

Look, this book has been widely described as an autobiography or memoir. It's hardly filled with actual detailed policy -- something that is nearly always impossible to find in Obama's utterances, oral or written.

He came to the city of Chicago 25 years ago with no money, no connections, and a funny name. 25 years later he's a U.S. Senator in a pretty good position to be running for President of the United States. If that ain't the mark of a great politican, then what the hell is?

Being able to do so is perfectly well explained by the powers of hype. What I said is that I see no evidence that he would be an effective politician, which requires quite a bit more than being elected. Being effective as a politician demands that one have a set of clear goals, presumably representing the legitimate needs and aspirations of the people, which one can bring to fruition through the political process. Obama has virtually nothing that I know of that would count for this.

The problem with Obama, in my view, is what appears to be a basic self-absorption. It's really only when he's writing about such matters that he seems to find his voice. Effective politicians need to be other-directed, to be fundamentally interested in changing the outside world for others. Writing memoirs detailing one's angst over one's own identity is hardly my idea of being other-directed.

As I said, contrast his autobiography with Colin Powell's. Colin Powell certainly described his own upbringing and circumstances, and certainly did not turn his back on his own heritage -- he is a proud advocate of affirmative action -- but it's obvious that his main concern is with the outside world, and how it might be changed. I've also got to believe that for Colin Powell, in his era, racial relations were only more tense than in Obama's, and acceptance of a black in a position of power only far more difficult to achieve.

You should ask yourself why it is that, for example, Obama should have had virtually nothing to say about national health care in recent forums. Do you really think that a politician with a fine mind who cared about what the people cared about would be so grossly ignorant of the single most important domestic issue in their minds?

I don't see how an objective person can look at that and not be concerned about what kind of political leader Obama might turn out to be.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 27, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer is Robert Stacy McCain with a second tooth or Fran Coombs without the vestigial brain.

Posted by: Westley Prudence on April 27, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The identity crisis that happens to bi-racial children only occurs if the child does not look like their mother's race!!!!!!!!!

Bi-racial children who look like their mother's race seldom have identity issues. Lenny Kravitz never had any issues. But Halle Berry did.

The reason is that mother's are the one who shalp and develop their children's social and cultural view of the world. If her child is viewed as a separate race from her in society, nothing the mother tells the child works for them. In fact, the child's experiences are the incongruent with what their mother teaches them about society and it's humanity towards each other. That creates tremendous internal angst and self-doubt.

Imagine a child like Barack, having a white mother who he dearly loves and viewing whites as accepting only to have his spirit bashed continually by bigots. White mothers cannot tell their children how to handle this because they do not experience it they do not understand how subtle and viscious it came be without provocation. The child is left defenseless.

The normal child response is to create a generalized response that is wary, defensive and suspicious to all whites to basically create an on-guard to whites but he can't since his mother is white. A much more finely tuned and discriminating approach has to be developed which is exceptionally difficult to during adolescent with all it's other attendant emotional turmoils.The person is rudderless in a racist society. Constantly bombarded with racial hate and helpless to defend against it. That is what Dreams of My Father is about..that introspective journey.

Also the poster who spoke of Colin Powell needs to know that both Powell's parents are black by American standards even if they were from Jamaica.

I think it is awful that folks ask 'is Barck black enough' the true question is 'is he white enough' for America. After all, he never even knew his father, the one person who might have been able to help him navigate in our racist society. He had to learn all on his own. That is why he is such a wonderful negogiator and good at building alliance.

He molds consensus just as he had to do with his own character in order to bring together all the disparate pieces that were his life as black man being raised in an all white household.

Posted by: elrapierwit on April 27, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

. . . which requires quite a bit more than being elected. Being effective as a politician demands that one have a set of clear goals,. . . Posted by: frankly0

I think you, like most people, confuse and/or conflate being an effective politician with being an affective governor. They are different. Most of the idiots in congress and state houses are effective politicians. Very few of them govern effectively. I think Obama has shown, in his admittedly limited experience, to be both an effective politician and effective at governing.

Contrast this with the current idiot in the White House. He was just barely credible enough as a politician to get elected. In fact, possessing so little credibility, that he had to be, essentially, appointed president by the right wing majority in the Supreme Court. However, once given the job, he has shown to be painfully bereft of an skills as a governor.

Posted by: JeffII on April 27, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

The main reason for this is that he has excellent knowledge of human biology and keeps up on all the scientific advances in our understanding of human nature.

While others stick to crumbling fallacies like "race doesn't exist" and "intelligence doesn't exist" and "personality comes mostly from nurture, not nature," Sailer asks, what if all of that is wrong?

Which it is. Most people find the answers to that question terrifying, which is why we see the venom displayed on this comment board.

Wow. In a mere three sentences, Grenzen hits the Sailer trifecta. Narcissism, straw man liberal, and projection of his own fears.

Let me explain a few things to you, Grenzen.

1. I don't know anyone, liberal or conservative, who would say that "intelligence doesn't exist." But what we call intelligence is actually a collection of various cognitive traits, and these traits are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Actual neuroscientists put a great deal of energy into understanding how these pieces fit together. Steve Sailer cherry-picks research data that lends support to his pre-existing racist views. There's a big difference between the two approaches.

2. Anyone who says "race doesn't exist" is an idiot. But what we call "race" is a socially constructed category, based on a small number of external features. "Ethnicity" is a real genetic phenomenon, because it describes groups of people who share a great deal of genetic material in common because they are closely related. The same cannot really be said for "race." Sailer, to his slight credit, seems to understand this underlying point, although he consistently ignores it when it suits his purposes.

3. Recent research has, in fact, proven what most people understood anyway, that nature plays a role in human behavior. Other than a handful of New Left radicals, I'm not aware of anyone who adheres to these straw man "blank slate" beliefs that apologists for racism invariably accuse liberals of holding.

What liberals tend to believe, which is so incredibly difficult for racists to accept, is that it SHOULDN'T FUCKING MATTER whether the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male, or whether the median female has an equal mathematical aptitude to the median male. What fucking matters is that public institutions should care about helping talented people who work hard to succeed, rather than using racist and sexist assumptions as an excuse for preserving good-old-boy networks.

Posted by: AJL on April 27, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Grenzen,

I haven't read Obama's book either so I don't know if Sailer was off base with his review. But I agree with your characterization of Sailer, he's a got a damn interesting mind.

Actually this thread is funny to read through. Its funny how partisans make saints of guys on their team and devils of guys on the other side. People are talking junk about Sailer because their perception is he's a conservative Republican and thus is dishonest, racist and utterly lacking in redeeming qualities (don't worry at the conservative websites they say they same about liberals and Democrats). I don't think he's a bad guy at all. Do I think he goes over the top on some issues? Sure, for example he could have been more empathetic towards Katrina survivors, but being insensitive is not the same as being hateful. But consistently, he picks up on issues that aren't on anyone else's radar screen.

I like Sailer, the guy could focus on writing only about demographics or golf or movies and he'd make his life a lot easier professionally. Even if he's wrong about a lot of stuff, the guy has got some titanium balls to go out and publish what he does.

Whether I agree with them or not, I have more respect for guy who keeps it real, even though he knows he's going to be slammed for what he says, than the guy who never says anything that's 1 mm away from conventional wisdom for fear of offending someone's sensibilities.

Posted by: beowulf on April 27, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

One further point about Obama and his supporters.

One thing I've observed is that when one questions whether Obama has the right sort of personality for a political leader, his supporters tend to act as if one has no right to bring up such issues, as if, somehow, doing so is not really fair or relevant. Pointing out that he seems very self-absorbed, for example, is considered an inappropriate category of accusation.

But here's the problem. Obama is being sold to us almost exclusively on the basis of the type of person he is, and NOT on his detailed policy stands -- because mostly he doesn't have any.

If you're going to sell your candidate on who he is as a person, you are, I'd think, at minimum obliged to defend him on that very issue.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 27, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think you, like most people, confuse and/or conflate being an effective politician with being an affective governor.

Probably a better term for what I have in mind is "effective political leader." Clearly that goes beyond merely being able to win votes.

Posted by: frankly0 on April 27, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

AJL at 1:04 PM nails it in that last paragraph.

Posted by: thersites on April 27, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

What I am doing is drawing the distinction between the words "politician" and "effective politician" or "political leader." We all want the latter, but it's the former sense in common usage. Now, we can substantively dispute whether Obama will be a good or effective president, but we shouldn't question his clearly immense political skills and abilities.

Now I would make the argument that Obama is both a good politician AND would make a good president, the first being a necessary but not sufficient condition for the second. In terms of evidence you can look at his record in the Illinois State Senate, where he was a highly effective legislator and passed lots of good and important bills, working with political enemies as necessary. You can even look at Obama's short stint in the U.S. Senate, where he has also done a surprising amount of good work--addressing nuclear proliferation and pandemics, lobbying and ethics reform, government transparency, energy issues, veterans issues, his Iraq War plan.

I also trust his personal character implicitly. You might think that's naive, and perhaps it is, but I was very impressed with his book "Dreams From My Father." As mentioned before, it was written before Obama got into politics and when he was an aspiring writer, so it's a pretty good look at who he really is. And he does strike me as slightly narcisstic in the book--but more importantly, almost painfully self-aware of that narcissm. A good writer can't be too self-absorbed: they have to be able to see outside themselves, from other perspectives and with humility, empathy, and intelligence. They have to be good talkers, but even better listeners. Obama is precisely that combination--definitely "other-directed."

The longest section of "Dreams From My Father," and in my opinion the most fascinating, concerns Obama's stint in Chicago as a community organizer. It's quite striking the extent to which Obama himself nearly disappears during this part of the book. Perhaps still playing his old role, the author Obama chooses to tell the stories of the peoples he's working with, instead of his own narrative. In a sense their struggles become his struggles. Their story becomes his story.

By far the most powerful portion of the book comes when his half-sister Auma comes to visit Obama in Chicago, for the first time. He asks her what life with his father in Kenya was like. Up to this point Barack Obama Sr. is basically a myth to young Barack, an idealized romanticized image that he strives to live up to but whom he knows nothing about. Auma then tells him the real truth, in a multi-page uninterrupted account--the drunkard, the womanizer, the man who in his stubborn pride lost everything and ruined the lives of his children, the man who died a broken failure.

After hearing this account that turns his image of his father upside down, and after Auma goes to sleep, Obama stays up for a long time, in a chair with a nightlight on... and thinks. Just thinks. This is in stripped essence what I like most about him (and now I have totally failed to capture the power of this section of the book).

So I reject your contention in full. Barack Obama isn't in this for himself, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he's in this for a vision of himself that involves understanding what this country is about and bringing it to a better place. Doing things for others is himself--no conflict.

By the way frankly0, it's clear to me that you've read neither of Obama's books. Please do, or refrain from commenting on what they reveal about his character. "The Aduacity of Hope" is NOT an autobiography, though it has autobiographical elements (as befits a campaign book). This is a fact. It's a straight ten chapter lecture on all the leading political and policy issues of the day, and Obama's positions on them. And you might find "Dreams From My Father" a surprisingly compelling read.

P.S. If Obama still doesn't have a detailed universal health care plan by the time the Iowa caucses roll around, along with all sorts of other very detailed plans, then I certainly won't support him!

Posted by: Korha on April 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

The American Conservative racist???

Well knock me over with a symbolically pure, Aryan white feather.

Posted by: Peter Principle on April 27, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO: "In short, it's really the narcissism of Obama that bugs the hell out of me. ... Why, given his propensities, people nonetheless imagine Obama would be a great politician I simply can't grasp."

Show me an elected or appointed public official without an ego, and I'll show you a relatively anonymous but nevertheless very well-used political doormat.

Historically, our most effective politicians have most always been people of enormous self-confident and self-worth, who possess a high opinion of their own respective abilities.

Why would you, or anyone else for that matter, willingly follow or elect a leader whose own self-doubts are evident enough to be publicly palpable?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 27, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK
Maybe it's because I'm white. Maybe African-American readers understand Obama's feelings without the need for lengthy explanation.

I haven't read the book, but what I've heard of it suggests that Obama's feelings are probably no more, generally, easily understood by African-Americans than by whites. Probably people of mixed racial ancestry who were raised by a "white" parent or parents and yet treated by many of the people (particularly those that weren't African-American) as "black" might have a more natural insight.

But then I could be overgeneralizing from the fact that (1) I meet that description, and (2) the things people keeping pointing to as surprising or baffling from the book seem perfectly natural to me.

But I should probably get around to reading the book sometime soon.

And then there's Sailer's conclusion, in which he hints that if Obama becomes president his youthful racial confusion might return, morphing him into an African-style "big man" dedicated to doling out goodies to the Urban League instead of governing as the levelheaded wonk we all think he is.

As ridiculous as Sailer's idea may be, do "we all" really think that Obama is a "level-headed wonk"?

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've had, since last night, the impression that Obama is the Democrats Reagan, reflecting in his person what we want to see.

Reagan reflected the gloryism of the Kennedy-Hollywood nexus ca 1960, while Obama reflects the idealism of what the US can evolve into.

The first two times Reagan ran for President he didn't really have anything to offer but his Hawaii 5-0 look. It was only through practice that he could add just enough to get the nomination.

While the idealism in the Reagan image reflected the infantility of the social conservative character, it did not reflect Reagan's own social conservatism because if it had it would have referenced the 1920s, when he was a lifeguard, or the early 40s when he made King's Row. It instead reflected the conflation of Kennedy, Hollywood, television and jet planes, the era of the earliest memories of the youngest people who could vote for him in 1980.

In 2008 that will be all about Bill Clinton getting screwed by puerile twats, the internet and Deep Space Nine.

When Reagan did it it was a put-on for the rubes, presidential vaudeville. Since then the future has arrived.

He may not yet be the best candidate, but Obama is what Reagan was faking.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

While Kevin's loyalty to his employer is admirable, please allow me to point out it's ironic that the Washington Monthly would publish such a poorly fact-checked article accusing The American Conservative of poor fact-checking.

The author, a young copy-editor hired merely last fall, portrays himself as a central figure at the magazine, while implying that I was some obscure figure who had "submitted" an article on Obama and for some inexplicable but no doubt vile reason the editors chose to believe me over a Major Player like him.

What Konetski covers up in his article is that I had the track record -- I've been published at least 100 times in the magazine going back to the first issue in 2002. I'm on the masthead as the film critic, and have writen numerous articles on other subjects, including at least one cover story during his brief term of employment at the magazine ("Fragmented Future" in the 1/15/2007 issue). The editors trusted me because I've been smeared many times before and have always come out of each controversy with the facts squarely on my side.

Kevin's 99.44% fact-free meditation above raises no substantive points of disagreement, just Kevin's willfully obtuse failure to understand that Obama's long, strenuous efforts to construct a black identity (as opposed to alternatives such as a mixed race Hawaiian identity, as was common among his schoolmates in Honolulu) for himself revolved rejection of and antipathy toward the white race. It's a perfectly understandable psychological process, but by refusing to acknowledge it, Kevin ends up, as he admits, failing to understand Obama's autobiography. Kevin writes:

"None of which is to say that Obama wasn't confused and uncomfortable with his racial identity for much of his first three decades. In fact, that's the whole point of the book. What's more — and this is the part of Dreams I found most peculiar — it's never really clear why. In language that's often florid and overwrought, but also oddly artificial, he tells us how he feels, but the circumstances of his life are never drawn starkly enough to make it clear why he feels the way he does."

If you want to understand Obama's book, I would suggest reading "Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance." Then, read my article at:
http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_03_12/feature.html


Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 27, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"People are talking junk about Sailer because their perception is he's a conservative Republican and thus is dishonest, racist and utterly lacking in redeeming qualities"

No, we're talking junk about Sailer because he wrote a highly dishonest, racist, and offensive review of Obama's book. I'd say that's worth a little "junk," wouldn't you?

Posted by: PaulB on April 27, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

People are talking junk about Sailer because their perception is he's a conservative Republican and thus is dishonest, racist and utterly lacking in redeeming qualities

I was under the impression people are talking junk about Sailer because their perception is he's dishonest, racist and utterly lacking in redeeming qualities.

I find it fascinating that you're the one to associate "conservative Republican" with that description.

Posted by: Gregory on April 27, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives racist? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 27, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

a) Not all conservatives are racists.
b) Not all racists are conservatives.
I can personally attest that both a and b are true. But somehow, a lot more racist drivel ends up getting published in conservative magazines.

Posted by: thersites on April 27, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals are racist because they point out Alberto Gonzales' and Condi Rice's incompetance.

Liberals are racist because they don't buy Clarence Thomas' opinions as the most incisive in decades.

Posted by: Sailer's brain on April 27, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailor, (as opposed to alternatives such as a mixed race Hawaiian identity, as was common among his schoolmates in Honolulu)

Except for the fact that Barak Obama doesn't have any Hawaiian in him.

Conservative and perverts are alike in that they will always insist that everyone else is just like them but won't admit it and their not admitting it is some kind of willful and insulting attack.

Our society isn't racist, it's just that racists don't mind sharing.

Steve Sailer enjoys noticing that Obama looks black, but objects that Obama must have noticed this, too, and is especially upset that Obama, growing up with no models for his appearance in his family or his environment, enjoyed an experience a standard caucasoid simply couldn't share because of who he is.

For this kind of racist it looks like Obama thinks he's better than he is, and, for the trailer trash mentality, that will eventually be true of just about everyone.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The editors trusted me because I've been smeared many times before and have always come out of each controversy with the facts squarely on my side.

*cough, cough, wheeze*

Steve, Steve, Steve. While I'm sure that you believe deeply in your own narrative of white victimhood, it's worth pointing out that the FACTS are rarely on your side. You consistently locate a few choice quotes or statistical morsels to buttress your arguments, which you fall back upon when pressed... but cherry picking and ass-covering do not add up to THE FACTS, let alone to intellectually honest research.

Konetzki nailed your ass to the wall with your disingenuous description of the book's ending, by using an out-of-context pull-quote from the last two pages of the book and claiming that it represents the book's "happy ending," by which you completely distorted the final scene of the book and what it meant to the author and to anyone who read the book without an industrial-sized axe to grind.

That is your method. That is all you are. You have one big hammer and all the world is a box of nails. Your website admonishes people to "live not by lies," yet you work in the medium of selective dishonesty like a Florentine master.

It's the lies you tell yourself, Steve, that are the most damning of all. The lies that tell you the reason you're a critic for a low-circulation fringe magazine, and not a successful academic, are because you are persecuted for being politically incorrect, when in fact the real reason is that your bigotry and intellectual dishonesty shine through in every word you write.

Posted by: AJL on April 27, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

AJL writes:

"1. I don't know anyone, liberal or conservative, who would say that "intelligence doesn't exist."

2. Anyone who says "race doesn't exist" is an idiot.

3. Recent research has, in fact, proven what most people understood anyway, that nature plays a role in human behavior."

These are fascinating comments coming from someone who I presume considers himself a liberal, considering that the past 40+ years of our legal, immigration, educational, and political policies have rested on all three being false.

Now, even a liberal is arguing forcefully that, of course race, intelligence, and biology-influenced personality are real. Welcome to the team, AJL.

Now, with that in mind, let's see how the public policy you claim is consistent with 1,2 and 3 above holds up. You write:

"it SHOULDN'T FUCKING MATTER whether the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male, or whether the median female has an equal mathematical aptitude to the median male. What fucking matters is that public institutions should care about helping talented people who work hard to succeed, rather than using racist and sexist assumptions as an excuse for preserving good-old-boy networks."

Questions:

1) If "the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male," should we increase, decrease, or keep constant our levels of immigration from Haiti, Nigeria, and Senegal?

2) If it doesn't matter that "the median female has an equal mathematical aptitude to the median male," then should Larry Summers have been fired as president of Harvard for stating that? Or, more relevantly, should math departments worry about achieving gender equality in tenured positions, or should they accept the biological reality that men and women have different distributions of mathematical ability?

Be careful before you concede 1, 2, and 3 AJL. I'm not sure you realize how much rests on the (false) belief that race and intelligence do not exist, and that various aspects of personality have no biological basis.

And that's no strawman. Once you concede 1% of the difference in violent crime rates between whites and blacks may be biological, someone will ask: are you sure it's not 2%?

Posted by: Grenzen on April 27, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK
If "the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male," should we increase, decrease, or keep constant our levels of immigration from Haiti, Nigeria, and Senegal?

No policy on the issue is necessary implied by that statistic (even if true) alone.

If it doesn't matter that "the median female has an equal mathematical aptitude to the median male," then should Larry Summers have been fired as president of Harvard for stating that?

Larry Summers didn't say that, and wasn't fired for the very different statement he did make on a related point.

Or, more relevantly, should math departments worry about achieving gender equality in tenured positions, or should they accept the biological reality that men and women have different distributions of mathematical ability?

The mathematical ability of the median woman being less would not mean that fewer women are qualified to teach mathematics, and so has little to offer on the issue of whether or not equality of opportunity in that field would or would not be expected to produce equality of results.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 27, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Grenzen: Now, even a liberal is arguing forcefully that, of course race, intelligence, and biology-influenced personality are real.

Well, no shit, Sherlock. Which isn't the same thing as saying that there's a correlation among the three, which is where you seem to ge gong with this. Specious reasoning is real, too.


Posted by: thersites on April 27, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"1) If "the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male," should we increase, decrease, or keep constant our levels of immigration from Haiti, Nigeria, and Senegal?"

What has been demonstrated clearly is that males are more prone to violence than females: according to BOJ statistics, for example, men committed 87.7% of the homicides committed in 2002. Should we increase, decrease, or keep constant the degree of personal freedom enjoyed by men in this country? To what degree should all men be judged by or held accountable for the actions of some men? Let's use this as a starting point to decide how to judge various ethnic groups.

Posted by: Jess on April 27, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't read the Obama book, but just based on Sailor's characterization of Konetski's article I wouldn't trust Sailor to honestly convey what Obama wrote. In his article, Konetski describes himself modestly as an "assistant editor," *not* as Sailor would have it "a central figure at the magazine" or "Major Player." Sailor then goes on preening and puffing (I'm on the masthead!), waving his credentials at us, as if that automatically discredited Konetski.

A deeply insecure guy.

Posted by: Steve W on April 27, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

1) If "the median black male is more prone to violence than the median white male," should we increase, decrease, or keep constant our levels of immigration from Haiti, Nigeria, and Senegal?

In a thread about Barak Obama this is the strawest of straw men. You're trying to suggest there is some biological basis for above average violence in the median black male.

To say that you would have to produce neurological studies, or any other studies, that would show excitation in those brain areas associated with aggression. As far as I know there haven't been any that showed anything like that reflected in race, and I think if there had been we'd have heard all about it.

So I think your question is phony, because it's special pleading to distract from the topic with a leading insinuation of a justification of racism by ignoring the point that is made in the next sentence, What fucking matters is that public institutions should care about helping talented people who work hard to succeed, rather than using racist and sexist assumptions as an excuse for preserving good-old-boy networks."

Which I think fairly answers your concern over immigration policy.

Posted by: cld on April 27, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

In 20 paragraphs or so, Konetzki mostly delivers a tiring exposition of the conditions of his former workplace, devoting a whole two paragraphs to actual attempts to refute Sailer - one point of which, the "happy ending", is trivial and simply a matter of how the reader reflects on the close of the book. There may be a proper refutation to Sailer's opinion, but we are still waiting for it.

You are all to be commended on your loyalty to your groupthink. Not so much for your critical reading skills.

Posted by: VRWC on April 28, 2007 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

I saw Nightline Thurs. night about Barack Obama ("Barry o'bomber" - meaning good at basketball.) He got great reviews from all his former players, friends, students, coach, etc. I think this guy is going places, and deserves to.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B. on April 28, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I must say the amount of infantile thinking on this page is depressing. The sense of moral superiority evinced here amounts to serious dysfunctional behavior. We are supposed to believe Sailer is a racist because he's not too keen on Obama? Why? It boils down in the mind of many of you liberals that it is simply, and I mean simply, very simply, because Sailer is white and Obama is black, well half. It is clear to me that someone's background equals victim or opressor morality. Black equals angelic, white demonic, that is how pathetic this cohort is. Look at yourselves!
The vast majority of the commenters on this page, and Kevin Drum are intellectual pantywaists. Sailer is dead on and it hurts your fragile minds and delicate spines.
Everyone needs to keep this in mind about blacks. African Americans are the luckiest people on the face of this earth. Slavery was the luckiest historical stroke of luck ever. Their ancestors were enslaved- not Obama's- and now they are free, but they can't avoid failure in the greatest nation ever. They are a disgrace as a group and they need no more apologies. The rest of us have to pay their way in life, and put up with their tribal politics, criminal habits, and ungratefulness, and the liberals on here think they need a free pass. Did you ever think maybe that free pass has been a pass to failure? Read Sailer and and learn.

Posted by: savvygoper on April 29, 2007 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Nice snip-job on my comments, Grenzen. Like, ignoring the whole part where I described how race is a cultural phenomenon, and not really a genetic phenomenon, since we define race by a very small collection of traits that aren't necessarily linked to common ancestry. Barack Obama is more closely related to white Americans than to most black Americans. But he is a black man, because our society views him as one, and he has ultimately chosen to embrace that identity. This is a very real phenomenon that has precious little to do with science.

Bluntly put, the claim that our public policy has been based on pretending that "intelligence doesn't exist" and "race doesn't exist" is about as rank a pile of bullshit as it is humanly possible to produce.

You ever notice how our schools test children for intelligence and use those scores for course placement? You ever notice that the government keeps track of race in the census data and in health statistics? Have you ever heard of affirmative action?

How often do you pull your nose out of the propaganda websites where you get your talking points and actually observe the world around you?

Liberals don't pretend that these phenomena don't exist. We simply believe that it's far better to provide people with opportunities to succeed than it is to make assumptions about and discriminate against entire classes of people based on statistical averages. This is, sadly, a point that bigots can never wrap their brains around.

Posted by: AJL on April 29, 2007 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

And thank you, "savvygoper" for proving my point.

Dude, nobody here is babbling about victims and oppressors except you. There's this thing called the black middle class nowadays. Welfare reform was over a decade ago. Have you been chained in a cave somewhere in rural Mississippi for the past decade? At least refresh your internet cache and find some up-to-date rants from hate sites. Even Sailer is more nuanced than that.

Jesus Christ, you race nuts are a bunch of sick fucks.

Posted by: AJL on April 29, 2007 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Most notable about Grenzen's question about immigration is that it's never asked (in public discourse).

Strictly speaking, it alone doesn't imply what we should do. But given that we allow in a limited number of immigrants per year, and that there are possibly billions wishing to enter, and that more crime is bad, all else equal, why not favor more peacable folk?

The ethic Non-discrimination trumps keeping the peace, perhaps?

Posted by: TSM on April 29, 2007 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

Race does exist- the matter is scientific not liberal belief. How else does a forensic scientist determine the race of the deceased? Obama is black because of these things called genes I am told. Notice that he doesn't have straight, fine hair like his mother, nor her fair complexion. Obviousness is non-existent to liberals who prefer elaborate attempts to evade the truth.

"You ever notice how our schools test children for intelligence and use those scores for course placement? You ever notice that the government keeps track of race in the census data and in health statistics? Have you ever heard of affirmative action?"
I have noticed this, and I've also noticed that liberals imply statisical differences are due to racism, i.e. white racism. Hmmmm. Affirmative action- you mean racial discrimination against whites..and asians-I do notice that, and your staggering hypocrisy that follows it.

"We simply believe that it's far better to provide people with opportunities to succeed than it is to make assumptions about and discriminate against entire classes of people based on statistical averages. This is, sadly, a point that bigots can never wrap their brains around." Moral superiority alert!!!

In other words, "we won't let those pesky facts get in the way of our feel good bullshit. We will make this country worse off if it makes ourselves feel better. damn all your facts, who needs you facts, facts are so outre. platitudes are the new building blocks of thought."


"There's this thing called the black middle class nowadays. Welfare reform was over a decade ago."

I noticed the black middle class, and noticed it was achieved despite liberal policies, not because of them. Welfare reform? As many have noted the total cost of poverty programs is more than the cost it would take to lift the poor out of poverty. Liberals feeling good about themselves is the golden mean of their everyday lives.

Thinking about race does not indicate racism, but neglecting to think about race and condemning those who do what you do not does indicate intellectual cowardice. To correct a yuppy bigots' prejudice: savvygoper is born and raised in chicago, not mississippi.

Posted by: savvygoper on April 29, 2007 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, Obama's background precisely confirms race realists views. Young white girl gets knocked up by a black man that abandons her within two years. White folks stuck with cleaning up the mess.

Posted by: racerealist on April 29, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer opposes the Iraq war and America's other Mideast adventures on the sound, paleoconservative Founding Fathers' principle that the USA should be a moral example to the world, not a bully or missionary.

You lot rush to the defence of Obama because you think he's the Great Black Hope of liberals who will restore the glory days of Civil Rights and blot out the image of Jackson and Sharpton hustling. But Obama has made ritual obeisances to Israel at AIPAC, has equivocated about pulling the troops out of Iraq and has voted to leave it to Emperor George whether he starts a war with Iran.

Sailer the somewhat isolationist race-realist is a better friend of peace than the bought-and-paid-for Obama, whose habit of consorting with undesirables began when he palled up with Tony Rezko in Chicago.

Get the stars and prejudices out of your eyes. A Pres. Obama would be as big a warmonger and Zionist suckpoop as a Pres. Hillary Clinton, no matter how many race and gender boxes either of them ticked.

Posted by: facts on April 29, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why so much venom and vituperation here? Calling people assholes, liars, racists, rednecks? Why so many ad hominem attacks? Liberals have reason on their side, do they not? So why not a little more reason and a little less passion?

Posted by: Luke Lea on April 29, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Sailer is a bigger friend of blacks than anyone on this site. For instance, he makes positive, constructive suggestions for how to improve black welfare in this country and abroad. (Less low-skilled immigration in the former case, nutritional supplements in the latter.) He is most definitely not a racist, which is a terrible thing to accuse someone of when it is untrue -- right up there with false accusations of rape. Realism is the first desideratum for moral responsibility in this world. Alas.

Posted by: Luke Lea on April 30, 2007 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Wichita the second time we were stationed at McConnell AFB.

Well, Girl, at least you didn't get this treatment in Wichita. Maybe you should be thankful your neighbors were concerned.

Posted by: racerealist on April 30, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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