Liberalism is a very damaging philosophy. It denies the reality of groups. It requires willful ignorance of reality. It demands equality even where inequality is the natural result of free choice. That said, the old liberalism of FDR and MLK was far less damaging than the radical, anti-American leftism of someone like Noam Chomsky or Jeremiah Wright. The former was often a misguided result of a laudable concern for the poor and the incompetent.
Juan Williams, to his credit, calls out Obama for his bad judgment and bad values in standing by someone like Rev. God Damn America for so long. He notes that Obama has failed an important test of leadership by excusing the counterproductive paranoia of many black Americans. He writes:
Last March in Selma, Ala., Mr. Obama appeared on the verge of breaking away from the merchants of black grievance and victimization. At a commemoration of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights, he spoke in a King-like voice. He focused on traditions of black sacrifice, idealism and the need for taking personal responsibility for building strong black families and communities. He said black people should never “deny that its gotten better,” even as the movement goes on to improve schools and provide good health care for all Americans. He then challenged black America, by saying that “government alone can’t solve all those problems . . . it is not enough just to ask what the government can do for us — it’s important for us to ask what we can do for ourselves.”
Mr. Obama added that better education for black students begins with black parents visiting their children’s teachers, as well as turning off the television so children can focus on homework. He expressed alarm over the lack of appreciation for education in the black community: “I don’t know who taught them that reading and writing and conjugating your verbs were something white. We’ve got to get over that mentality.” King, he added later, believed that black America has to first “transform ourselves in order to transform the world.”
But as his campaign made headway with black voters, Mr. Obama no longer spoke about the responsibility and the power of black America to appeal to the conscience and highest ideals of the nation. He no longer asks black people to let go of the grievance culture to transcend racial arguments and transform the world.
He has stopped all mention of government’s inability to create strong black families, while the black community accepts a 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate. Half of black and Hispanic children drop out of high school, but he no longer touches on the need for parents to convey a love of learning to their children. There is no mention in his speeches of the history of expensive but ineffective government programs that encourage dependency. He fails to point out the failures of too many poverty programs, given the 25% poverty rate in black America.
And he chooses not to confront the poisonous “thug life” culture in rap music that glorifies drug use and crime.
Instead the senator, in a full political pander, is busy excusing Rev. Wright’s racial attacks as the right of the Rev.-Wright generation of black Americans to define the nation’s future by their past. He stretches compassion to the breaking point by equating his white grandmother’s private concerns about black men on the street with Rev. Wright’s public stirring of racial division.
Obama is insecure about his identity. Only someone who is 100% black, has been around black people his whole life, and has personal knowledge of the best of black American life–someone like Williams, Bill Cosby, or MLK–finds it natural to criticize his fellow blacks. Such a man can weather the inevitable charges of “airing dirty laundry” or “selling out.” Obama, by contrast, always feels he might not be black enough. And, for him, the black world is authentic and blameless in a way that the white America of his mom and grandparents is not. It should be obvious why we wouldn’t someone like this, someone undergoing a perpetual and adolescent crisis of identity well into adulthood, in any position of power.
I suggested many moons ago that Americans are not so much prejudiced against blacks as they are prejudiced against the last two generations of black leaders, symbolized by agitators like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and by sure failures of leadership as David Dinkins and Ray Nagin. Obama’s obeissance to these kind of fools shows that while he may be a “race man,” he is not his own man.
Williams points out that as Barack has gained support among blacks, he has abandoned the rhetoric of unity and moderation that he championed earlier in his run, the kind of talk that appeal to NPR listeners and other latte liberals. It was questionable if such a candidate could ever ultimately appeal to the blue collar whites that are swing voters in a national election. But an overt, if dissembling, black power candidate never had a chance. It will be hard for Obama to put that genie back in the bottle. (Of course, it is remarkable that the Clinton machine, for all of its vaunted “hard ball” tactics, never sent an operative to buy thse videos or look them up on You Tube and get the word out before it was too late.)
As a consequence of this late disclosure of Obama’s knee deep commitment to black nationalism, an angry bully, who has alienated most of the conservatives in his own base, may be propelled to the Presidency. Mccain will win in spite of his unpopular views on Iraq simply because of the Democratic Party’s continued embrace of unpatriotic, divisive figures beholden to minority interests and anti-Americanism of one kind or another. It’s like a combination of Dukakis (unpatriotic), Jesse Jackson (hateful and racist), and John Kerry (academic and pacifistic) finds itself in Obama, whose only saving grace is his rhetorical prowess. Republicans and 527s won’t pull punches the way Democratic primary candidates have thus far. The Democrats’ selection process seems perennially unable to put forward a winning candidate, even during a time of economic insecurity and an ongoing and unpopular war. Obama, while apparently a winner, was only held together until now by a thin tissue of media incompetence and mistaken impressions. While much can happen between now and November, I believe he will lose.