Back to the 19th-century
We saw a glimpse of the back to the future world with the neo-czarist invasion of Vladimir Putin. Russia knows the great truth about the West: it will pour a half-million people into the street to protest the United States removing a homicidal dictator to foster democracy, but not a half-dozen to object to Russia attempting to remove a democratic government to foster dictatorship. Absolute standards of morality are passé; for the Left grandstanding about Abu Ghraib brings some sort of psychological recompense for being a blessed Westerner; objecting to Russian or Chinese behavior either is futile or gives no kick to a sense of self-loathing.
The Russians understand the Thucydidean truth that ‘the strong do as they please, and the weak do as they must.’ Putin et al. , as in the case of the Russian leveling of Grozny, have sized up the world—the sanctimonious EU, the blow-hard UN, the self-important World Court—and in response have rephrased Stalin’s quip “How many divisions do they have?” And they are right, of course. Old Gorby has been writing his usual post-Marxist nonsense with barely disguised glee over the resurgence of Russian pride and power. Most Western talking heads on television blather about “Bush and the neo-cons,” “We gave the Georgians the green light,” or “We went into Iraq”, in-between a sort of poorly-disguised respect for raw Russian power.
The only upside to this disaster is that Georgia was not in NATO and thus spared the alliance the humiliation of yawning while a member evoked Article V and learned its allies are out to their accustomed latte.
All week I also watched fourteen-something children in China competing in gymnastics, with the assurance that no Olympic committee would ever dare inform the communist party there that it is a making a mockery of international rules. Meanwhile if we are not to hear anything about Tibet, then spare us the cute stories about the Pandas.
All About Race—in Orwellian Fashion
Going through letters and email of the last two weeks, and getting very tired of the supposedly outraged who write in to cry “racist” anytime one worries about the neo-socialist agenda of Barack Obama or his utter lack of experience. We are witnessing a sort of national liberal outrage that, in a year when everything favored the Democrats, Obama is still running near even with McCain—something that therefore must be explained as attributable not to his inexperience, gaffes, inability to speak extemporaneously, and messianic self-image, but instead to American racism.
Consider: Obama on several occasions evokes his race in a fashion other national black figures such as Colin Powell have not, whether addressing Berliners or the campaign faithful (“They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”)
He talks of Pennsylvanian working classes as near Neanderthals who cling to their guns, race, and religion. “Typical white person” sums up his grandmother. His minister Wright is an abject racist; associates like Father Pfleger are even worse. He puts the racist rap singer Ludacris in his I-pod, who, returning the attention, weighs in on the campaign in sick fashion. He and his wife evoke the nebulous “they” who raise the bar and allegedly practice racial bias. He lectured on the need for deeds when it comes to government reparations for minorities, and called for more”oppression studies” in our schools. All this and more drove Bill Clinton to near insanity as he complained the “race card” was used constantly against him.
And the reaction? Pundits strain to interpret recent polls, showing that over 90% of the white electorate has no problem voting for an African-American, as somehow racist—at a time when the black voter is polling 90% for Obama. Obama compares his celebrity to Ms. Spears; McCain’s ad that does the same thing is racist, and supposedly, according to Bob Herbert, flashes phallic images of the Washington Monument and the Leaning Tower of Pisa as black/white sexual innuendo—although both towers are not even in the film.
Columnist after columnist talks of the “race” issue, and the white worker who won’t vote for Obama on racial grounds. Let me get this straight: a particular demographic group that rejected Walter Mondale, Mike Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry is leery of a candidate to the left of all four, no doubt because of the usual reasons (try legitimate concerns about (rather than “clinging” to) defense, taxes, abortion, religion, social issues, guns, welfare, etc.) and yet now is written off as racially motivated?
The purpose of all this? Threefold: To solidify the hard left and African-American base. Two, to play on white guilt, and suggest that a vote against Obama is racially motivated, while a vote for him is likewise, well, racially motivated, but in the positive redemptive sense of alleviating deserved guilt. Three, to preempt the McCain campaign and suggest all sorts of attacks to come will be race-based and therefore taboo.
I worry about all this because it is reaching a saturation point at which the electorate will go into backlash mode, infuriated by the smug elite that constantly questions their character. Another chilling prediction: when this is all said and done, Barack Obama will prove the most racially–manipulative national figure we’ve seen in our lifetime. It didn’t have to be this way: we are currently watching Secretary Rice center-stage deal with the Russians and the last thing on anyone’s mind is her race; ditto Justice Thomas; and the same was true of Colin Powell.
In a strange way, the fact that Obama was not African-American, but only of half -African ancestry and largely brought up by white relatives perhaps explains his racial self-referencing and overcompensation, as he invented a politically-useful hyper-identity, from grafting the Rev. Wright-like cadences to the faux-African-American Chicago credibility. One does not easily throw under the bus what worked in the past, so the problem for Obama is that now the stage is 300 million people, not the politics of race in Chicago: what got him here, from Rev. Wright to all the talk about “they”, must now be shed.