Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why the Self-Appointed Cognoscenti Aren't

Audacious, breath-taking arrogance isn't just the Hallmark of the Obama campaign. It has infected the fourth estate and their Obama supporters also. Case in point? This article in Slate, which brings up the elephant in the room without demonstrating any understanding of its significance. There is something fundamentally wrong with a column like this under this category heading...I think we can call it Cognoscenti FAIL!:

the big idea: The thinking behind the news.
If Obama Loses
Racism is the only reason McCain might beat him.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008, at 12:02 AM ET

What with the Bush legacy of reckless war and economic mismanagement, 2008 is a year that favors the generic Democratic candidate over the generic Republican one. Yet Barack Obama, with every natural and structural advantage in the presidential race, is running only neck-and-neck against John McCain, a sub-par Republican nominee with a list of liabilities longer than a Joe Biden monologue. Obama has built a crack political operation, raised record sums, and inspired millions with his eloquence and vision. McCain has struggled with a fractious campaign team, lacks clarity and discipline, and remains a stranger to charisma. Yet at the moment, the two of them appear to be tied. What gives?

What gives is that the more the public gets to see Barack Obama being Barack Obama and how he responds to the world around him and the difficultly of unscripted commentary, the more they recognize that the bag boy at the local Safeway can muster a more coherent and logical response to the topical questions on the minds of many Americans at any given time.

If it makes you feel better, you can rationalize Obama's missing 10-point lead on the basis of Clintonite sulkiness, his slowness in responding to attacks, or the concern that Obama may be too handsome, brilliant, and cool to be elected. But let's be honest: If you break the numbers down, the reason Obama isn't ahead right now is that he trails badly among one group, older white voters. He does so for a simple reason: the color of his skin.

That very comment tells so much about why the analysis of such self-appointed experts has come to mean so very little in this day and age. The Clinton sulkiness isn't a cause for concern as much as is Clinton ire. Just ask...oh, that's right. You can't. As for his slowness, yes, I think you could just keep it confined to that word, then apply it to every aspect of the campaign, but a concern that he is too handsome, brilliant and cool to be elected President? This may be the concern of modern journalism, in which everyone is concerned with how they look, because they want to shine in their 15 minutes on the TV, but none of these traits has ever been on my list of qualities for President of the United States. I'd rather have someone who is intelligent, candid, and sufficiently clear to make himself unmistakably understood when a crisis flares up. As for the charge of racism, I only ever hear the term stated or implied from the mouth of Obama and his supporters, who recognize that the rest of us have let cancer of political correctness advance to the degree that the accusation of racism, made forcefully by the purported victim, is enough to trump the absence of any supporting evidence of the charge, at least in the minds of the doctrine's most ardent adherents.

Much evidence points to racial prejudice as a factor that could be large enough to cost Obama the election. That warning is written all over last month's CBS/New York Times poll, which is worth examining in detail if you want a quick grasp of white America's curious sense of racial grievance. In the poll, 26 percent of whites say they have been victims of discrimination. Twenty-seven percent say too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Twenty-four percent say the country isn't ready to elect a black president. Five percent of white voters acknowledge that they, personally, would not vote for a black candidate.

Maybe the time has come to once again have an honest discussion about race in this country once again. Now that we are nearing a point 40 years from the civil rights movement of the 1960's, and we have had a few generations reared in the shadow of remedial measures such as desegregation, affirmative its several variations, and their bastard child, diversity. However, a productive conversation on the topic will be impossible unless or until the purported 'victim classes' are willing to shed their victim status baggage at the door and come to the table unburdened by a sense of entitlement and warped belief that 'diversity' trumps merit.

Five percent surely understates the reality. In the Pennsylvania primary, one in six white voters told exit pollsters race was a factor in his or her decision. Seventy-five percent of those people voted for Clinton. You can do the math: 12 percent of the Pennsylvania primary electorate acknowledged that it didn't vote for Barack Obama in part because he is African-American. And that's what Democrats in a Northeastern(ish) state admit openly. The responses in Ohio and even New Jersey were dispiritingly similar.

Mark Twain was right, figures don't lie, but liars can figure. Putting aside the notorious inaccuracy of exits polls (President Gore, call the White House), this assertion neatly demonstrates the point I made above. Racism isn't what the measure says it is, it is what the 'victims' and their flag-waivers think it is. This is why an honest discussion is so difficult. One side of the debate has taken racism as such a deep-rooted effect, that a result contrary to the one they so ardently desire is automatically caused by the character flaws of others and never that of their candidate.

Such prejudice usually comes coded in distortions about Obama and his background. To the willfully ignorant, he is a secret Muslim married to a black-power radical. Or—thank you, Geraldine Ferraro—he only got where he is because of the special treatment accorded those lucky enough to be born with African blood. Some Jews assume Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel in the way they assume other black politicians to be. To some white voters (14 percent in the CBS/New York Times poll), Obama is someone who, as president, would favor blacks over whites. Or he is an "elitist" who cannot understand ordinary (read: white) people because he isn't one of them. Or he is charged with playing the race card, or of accusing his opponents of racism, when he has strenuously avoided doing anything of the sort. We're just not comfortable with, you know, a Hawaiian.

Wow, what nuance! However, it underscores the fundamental misunderstanding of many in this country by Obama and his acolytes. The issue isn't that anyone seriously believes that Obama is a "secret muslim", it is the fact that he is so guarded about such subjects and tries so had to keep any meaningful detail that could quell such concerns from coming to light. He could put this to bed with simple acts of candid honesty, like allowing his Birth Certificate to be examined by all. And his 'black power' wife would not be a liability if she wouldn't keep opening her trap and talking about how she has never been proud of this country until he empty-suit husband ran for President. Words tumbling from the lips of a person who the country has been so good to tends to rub people the wrong way. When she continues to paint a picture of a country irretrievably broken and diseased that only her sainted husband can save it, it tends to rub people the wrong way. And when the candidate speaks to Iowa farmers about the price of arugula, and insults voters he is incapable of spellbinding as "bitterly clinging to their religion and guns", he presents the very picture of arrogance and elitism. As for Geraldine Ferraro, she committed the unforgivable sin of suggesting that his ability to read a speech and the color of his skin were enough to overcome a shameful lack of real world experience in anything of consequence or and understanding of the soul of the nation that he would seek to lead. She was right. A white man with the same paper-thin resume could not hope to be considered, even momentarily for such an office. By speaking this truth out loud, Geraldine Ferraro discovered that not all 'victim statuses' are equal, and stands as a shining example of the 'tolerance' of the left, and the pecking order of their 'rainbow coalition'. Isreal's concern couldn't possible have anything to do with Hamas's endorsement of Obama, could it? I mean, when your sworn enemy endorses a candidate for the leadership of your staunchest ally in the world, you wouldn't find yourself concerned about that, would you? As for the poll data about a black President favoring blacks over whites, well, it isn't what one expects in a nation where all are supposedly equal, nor is it what one expects from someone who cites Dr. King as an inspiration. And despite your silly assertion to the contrary, Obama has played the race card...again, and again, with statements implying the motives of any who dare oppose him, while never getting his hands dirty by speaking directly in such terms.

Then there's the overt stuff. In May, Pat Buchanan, who writes books about the European-Americans losing control of their country, ranted on MSNBC in defense of white West Virginians voting on the basis of racial solidarity. The No. 1 best-seller in America, Obama Nation by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D., leeringly notes that Obama's white mother always preferred that her "mate" be "a man of color." John McCain has yet to get around to denouncing this vile book.

Such an interesting contrast, and an example of the left only seeing what it wants to. First, ascribe your own sins to your opponent, and then use the acts of persons not the candidate to paint the portrait of the candidate. Many of the conservatives I know and associate with wrote of Reichsfuhrer Buchanan a few years ago and have expressed their disgust with his recent attempts to rehabilitate Hitler and his legacies. As for the Corsi book, the only proper response to the implication that a candidate has to denounce books unfavorable to opponents is "You first." While such statements do not enable a debate on the issues that matter, Corsi has researched the book very carefully, and it does contain other allegations, rooted in fact, that are far more damaging, and are the real reason for the caterwauling emanating from the usual suspects about the tome.

Many have discoursed on what an Obama victory could mean for America. We would finally be able to see our legacy of slavery, segregation, and racism in the rearview mirror. Our kids would grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives. The rest of the world would embrace a less fearful and more open post-post-9/11 America. But does it not follow that an Obama defeat would signify the opposite? If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world's judgment will be severe and inescapable: The United States had its day but, in the end, couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race.

And now we come to the real reason why race matters to the left so much in this campaign. They believe that atonement for America's past is still necessary, and that electing a candidate who is half-black (their distinction, not mine) is the only thing to complete this process, and put the unpleasant facts of out shared history "in the rearview mirror." As for the rest of Mr. Weisberg's analysis, it is simply flawed at its core.

I was born in 1971. I grew up watching episodes of the Original Star Trek. Exposure to the idea of race equality is central to the show's premise...a multiracial bridge crew, the first on-screen interracial kiss, and episodes focusing on the silliness of racial hatred and discrimination (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, for any critic too lazy to look it up). And before the true believers among you say "Yeah, of course, because the captain was white!", you should know that I have never lost my love for the franchise, or the new shows. For the record, my favorite Captian is Sisko...not because he is black, but because he demonstrated the characterisics I most admired. He walked softly and carried a big stick. He was the EF Hutton of Starfleet. When he spoke, people listened. He didn't abuse this status. And he always carried a spiritual touch to everything he did. I grew up exposed to black politicians and interracial couples. I saw the trend of persons of color to self-segregate, with "black proms" and the like, and society only too eager to comply, because it was a demand of the "victim class", thus vitiating any reasonable or logical conclusion that such a demand flew in the face of the very movement that made such a demand possible. I earned my undergraduate degree at the inner city campus of a major university, where I saw firsthand the destructive effect of diversity, and how it fostered academic disdain for free speech when it was used to actively question the inviolable concept of diversity, and how cries of racism are used to shout down otherwise valid topics of inquiry. I witnessed first hand how the misconception that ensuring that the all voices had a seat at the table became more important than what the voices were saying, or if they had proved that they even understood the discussion. I'm sorry, Mr. Weisberg. As a child of the post-civil rights era, I never had any occasion to question equality of opportunity. If anything, I witnessed a society and academic world that went out of its way to guarantee diversity, to the detriment of other things, and therefore, by its mandates, created an equality of opportunity that refuses to recognize that equality of opportunity does not automatically equal equality of ability. If I could recognize this as a child, then I think that perhaps your breathless assertion that a failure to elect Barack Obama to the Presidency is a denial of every child's birthright is both a hyperbole that sells these children short, and a demonstration again of the sense of entitlement that is part and parcel of the doctrine of diversity; a belief that all cultures are equal and entitled to the same achievements, even if they have to be forced on the rest of us. The stubborn commitment to this view, and the dominance of entitlement over merit demonstrates that the country has lost its mind and favors feel-good agendas over the advancement of merit and excellence. I advocate McCain for President because, sadly, I can see he is the most qualified of the candidates for the job; you advocate Obama because you believe his election will finally absolve you of race-guilt that you fail to see has been absolved by the years of non-hyphenated American bloodshed in the American Civil War, and the social upheaval imposed by court-mandated remedial measures instituted during the civil rights movement. You believe that remediation for the sake of remediation, not for the sake of excellence, will banish the vestigial remnants of racism in this nation. I know that if we elect someone who is not the best qualified primarily because of the color of his skin, we set the candidate up for failure, and the potential to do more damage to concept of diversity than the election might otherwise present.

Choosing John McCain, in particular, would herald the construction of a bridge to the 20th century—and not necessarily the last part of it, either. McCain represents a Cold War style of nationalism that doesn't get the shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics, the centrality of soft power in a multipolar world, or the transformative nature of digital technology. This is a matter of attitude as much as age. A lot of 71-year-olds are still learning and evolving. But in 2008, being flummoxed by that newfangled doodad, the personal computer, seems like a deal-breaker. At this hinge moment in human history, McCain's approach to our gravest problems is hawkish denial. I like and respect the man, but the maverick has become an ostrich: He wants to deal with the global energy crisis by drilling and our debt crisis by cutting taxes, and he responds to security challenges from Georgia to Iran with Bush-like belligerence and pique.

I am continually astonished how one can have the tea leaves in front of him, and yet do such a miserable job of reading them. Energy will be key to the new world. The Russians understand this, and they are doing all they can to establish a monopoly because that is where real power will reside, at least in the near future. The recent crisis in Georgia demonstrates this. Most of Europe, knowing who is keeping the lights on, resisted even really condemning an act of naked aggression clearly meant to intimidate and destroy the sovereignty of one of their brothers, so recently freed from the yoke of communist oppression. Obama's answer? A call for discussions, despite all indications that the invasion was the result of lenghty premeditation and preparation. No amount of 'discussion' alone, will dissuade such activity, but Obama, and the U.N. are of course free to continue flogging that chestnut. Maybe decades of continued failure will finally yield real results.

How best to counter this growing threat? Drill here. Drill now. Use coal. Use nuclear. Not only will this help to grow our economy and increase our independence on foreign sources of energy, but if done properly, we can export energy ourselves, and allow other nations the right to choose for themselves, or remain dependent on others. Your digital technology will do nothing for you if you can't buy the electricity to run it, and can't afford the latest goodies. As for McCain and the personal computer? I am not aware if he knows how to use one, nor do I care. I don't expect my President to type his own press releases, and if he is surfing the net, then he is likely taking time away from his many duties. Oh, and the tax cuts? Two words: Laffer. Curve. Look it up.

You may or may not agree with Obama's policy prescriptions, but they are, by and large, serious attempts to deal with the biggest issues we face: a failing health care system, oil dependency, income stagnation, and climate change. To the rest of the world, a rejection of the promise he represents wouldn't just be an odd choice by the United States. It would be taken for what it would be: sign and symptom of a nation's historical decline.

A serious attempt to deal with these issues? They are nothing of the sort. What they are is a misunderstanding of what the problems are coupled with solutions that have brought nothing but failure where ever they have been tried. The health care system is not broken. Our health care system has produced and continues to produce the most striking innovations in the world, whether it is technological advances allowing for better and earlier diagnosis of conditions, better treatment through pharmaceutical advances, and some of the best practitioners in the business. How is this excellence possible? The free market system. It provides the incentive for all of it. Does this mean that not everyone can afford it? Yes. Is this sad? Certainly. However, when insurance becomes a burden because trial lawyers have convinced juries that mistakes, large and small, entitle the victim to a payday, which the lawyer enjoys to a degree sometimes greater than the vicitm, then the costs rise for everyone. Universal healthcare is not the answer, because cost-benefit analysis serves to deny quality coverage and treatment to even more people, people who might otherwise be allowed to decide that their own money spent on their treatment is more beneficial than being told no, for any variety of reasons.

Oil dependency is not cured by limiting the supply with higher prices. It merely hampers economic growth. It will do more damage to the economy and incomes, but when you are a wealthy politician who has already got your part of the American dream, forcing less on the rest of us with the Politics of Lowered Expectations(TM) is simply implimenting policy. As for climate change, the lies perpetuated by Al Gore as part of his global ponzie scheme continue to unravel with the continuing emergence of inconvenient facts, revealing to more and more people how big a fraud he is, no matter how hard he sticks his fingers in his ears and sings. Finally, the concern over what the world might say about our legacy if we choose not to elect Obama says volumes about your failure to understand what our legacy, and history really is. The greatness of this nation is dependent, at least in part on the fact that we did not seek the the approval of other nations for our action, and we have never looked at them to define us. Do you ask those who do not like you, for what ever reason, to tell you what you're about? This is no different, but should be expected in a country where we mistook form for substance when we bought into the concept of diversity. I only hope we can save ourselves before we commit suicide.