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After Gatesgate: Why Can`t Republicans Start "National Dialogue On Race"?
President Barack Obama's Beer Summit has conclusively demonstrated the cowardly ineptitude of John McCain's strategy of running away from race in 2008. Police officer James Crowley, a man who simply had too much self-respect to allow himself to be racially bullied by the President of the United States, has done more political damage to Obama than all the GOP politicians and their myriad consultants combined.
The Mainstream Media is finally getting around to admitting that the farcical Gatesgate brouhaha was as politically disastrous for Obama as anything that trivial and self-inflicted could be. Despite the press' overt bias, they are drawn like moths to the flame of the high ratings that Stupidlygate generated. For example, Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press wrote on Saturday:
"The success of President Barack Obama's ambitious agenda—from health care and climate change to education—could depend on how quickly he recovers from the sharp drop in support among white voters after criticizing a white policeman's arrest of a black Harvard scholar." [Analysis: Obama must regain momentum after Gates By Jennifer Loven, Associated Press, August 1, 2009]
AP's Loven quotes a liberal actually using the D-Word to describe Obama's self-inflicted wound:
"Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, said he was stunned at how poorly Obama, normally so controlled, handled what Jacobs called 'the first major personal debacle for the president.'"
Obama's self-exposure of his racial prejudices raises obvious questions about his drive to take control of the health, energy, and education industries. It raises the central question of all politics: Is he on your side?
The reason Obama made a fool of himself at his news conference about health care reform by devoting 445 words to implicitly accusing Crowley of racism is because … that's what he's good at. His eagerness to jump into a minor race fray after all the technical tedium about health was palpable.
The two topics that excite Obama are power and race. He spelled this all out at vast length in his amazon Dreams from My Father, which is why I wrote a reader's guide to the President's memoir, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance." (Book $30, PDF download $10, Kindle download $7.95.)
Do you think Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee in 2003 because of his lifelong fascination with health finance? Did he subtitle his autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Health and Finance?
Let's be frank. Mr. and Mrs. Obama got involved in the health care game for the same reason their good friend Tony Rezko did: because, these days, that's where the money is.
Why didn't Obama reveal his racial biases in interviews before? Because almost nobody asked him any tough questions about race during his entire 20 month campaign.
If there are any Republicans out there unwilling to throw the next election the way McCain threw the last one, they should take up the invitation of Obama and his Attorney General Eric Holder: stop being "a nation of cowards" and engage the President and his friends in his "national dialogue on race".
For example, ask the President questions like these, over and over, until he can't avoid answering them:
The Fire Department of New York lost 343 men on 9/11. Last month, a federal judge appointed by Bill Clinton ruled that the Fire Department of New York racially discriminated on its 1999 hiring exam by asking questions about firefighting that blacks and Hispanics found hard to answer. In case of an appeal, will your Administration side with the Fire Department of New York or against it?
It might also be amusing to extend the national conversation to the First Lady, who is not as heavily nicotined as the President, and thus is more prone to reveal her insecurities and racial resentments:
If, as you repeatedly claimed during the campaign, your highest priority has always been the care of your children, how could you have earned $317,000 in 2005 at the U. of Chicago Hospitals as the community outreach and diversity coordinator?
The medical center eliminated your old position when you left it to become First Lady. Was this because the chief duty for which you earned $317,000 was being the spouse of a U.S. Senator?
Obama's handler David Axelrod will likely try to keep the President and First Lady as tightly muzzled as he had poor Sonia Sotomayor on clampdown during her Senate testimony. But, hey, they're only human.
Moreover, there's a substitute for the Obamas readily at hand: Obama's "friend" Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the great scholar. As Gates has demonstrated in his non-stop interviews since throwing his hissy fit, Gates is a professional motormouth who never met a microphone he didn't like. He always has another PBS documentary on race to promote, so he's always selling.
Yet Gates' lacks the Machiavellianism that Obama aspires to. Because Obama has anointed Gates, anything Gates says is now fair game to ask Obama about.
It would be particularly fruitful to get Gates talking about one particular interest of his, which has all sorts of ramifications.
In 2004, Gates and Lani Guinier of Harvard Law School pointed out that only about one-third of blacks admitted to Harvard College "were from families in which all four grandparents were born in this country, descendants of slaves".
In other words, most of the beneficiaries of affirmative action for African-Americans at Harvard are either not American at all, or are the children of non-Americans, or have recent white parents or grandparents, or some combination.
Gates told the New York Times, ''This is about the kids of recent arrivals beating out the black indigenous middle-class kids''. [Top Colleges Take More Blacks, but Which Ones? By Sara Rimer and Karen W. Arenson, June 24, 2004]
Some questions for Dr. Gates suggest themselves:
Is the First Lady an example of the kind of descendent of slaves whom most people assume affirmative action at Harvard is intended to help?
But, did you find that that racial preferences at Harvard instead seem to mostly help people like, say, the President?
Is it fair for the son of a foreigner and a white person, somebody who no doubt has ancestors, both black and white, who were slaveowners, but who doesn't have any ancestors who were slaves in America, to benefit from racial preferences intended for the descendants of slaves?
Wouldn't it be fairest to provide affirmative action to the descendants of slaves and American Indians, but not to those whose ancestors chose to come to America?
If there is something dubious about the fairness of black immigrants and their children enjoying racial preferences in the U.S., isn't that at least as true for Hispanic immigrants and their children?
I think you can see now why Gates's logic is TNT for Obama's coalition.
The worst nightmare of Hispanic politicians is something that is almost never talked about, but that makes a fair amount of sense: that whites and blacks would cut a deal at the expense of the Latino elite by agreeing to cut down on immigration and restrict affirmative action and disparate impact laws to just blacks and American Indians.
This would make racial preferences demographically sustainable for much longer than under the current system where new arrivals, even illegal immigrants, immediately qualify for preferences.
There was a chance that Congresswoman Barbara Jordan would have used her position as chair of Clinton's immigration reform commission to midwife a compromise like this in the 1990s if she hadn't died prematurely.
Unfortunately, at present, there are no black politicians as statesmanlike as Jordan. Still, the point of getting Gates talking is not to drive a Grand Bargain between blacks and whites right away, but to put it on the table, to air it in public, and thus set the diverse elements of Obama's diversity brigade, black and Latino, to battling amongst themselves.
Of course, there's always the alternative: the Republicans could once again choose to lose.
With the modern GOP, failure is always an option.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]