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Michelle Obama And The Rage Of A Privileged Class
For a year now, I've been pointing out that, while Sen. Barack Obama's brain may be in the center, his heart is on the far left. So it might be of some interest to find out more about whether his head or his heart is likely to prevail if he becomes President.
Curiously, the Main Stream Media has shown little appetite for this task.
Obama himself may not know the answer. As he has bragged (or warned, depending upon your point of view): "What I am constantly trying to do … is balance a hard head with a big heart."
We're not accustomed to politicians as smart as Obama. White voters would likely find his supple intelligence too elitist in a white candidate. But they are so desperate for a positive role model for blacks that many of them have embraced Obama without knowing much about what he wants to do with all that brainpower.
Two weeks ago, I noted:
"Now, Obama is a smooth operator. But the two people who have had the greatest influence on his adult life—his wife Michelle and his spiritual advisor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.—are not. They feel a deep racial anger and are not terribly good at hiding it."
Right on cue, Michelle Obama has now begun attracting skeptical attention for the first time after making hundreds of speeches on her husband's behalf. In Milwaukee last week, she proclaimed:
"Hope is making a comeback, and let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."
It's not so much that Michelle has a tin ear for rhetoric as that her husband's ear could be made out of the same mimetic poly-alloy as the liquid metal shape-shifting cyborg from the future in Terminator 2. Like most human beings, however, Michelle is prone to the occasional gaffe in which she lets us know what's really on her mind.
For example, in an early February speech she let herself sound like the Khmer Rouge Minister of Propaganda. While this excerpt may resemble an old Dead Kennedys punk rock parody of leftist authoritarianism, such as Holiday in Cambodia or California Uber Alles, she was serious:
"And Barack Obama will require you to work.
He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage.
Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual - uninvolved, uninformed..."
More people are beginning to notice that the candidate's superbly crafted image as the postracial uniter doesn't quite add up. He is supposed to bring us together to overcome our tragic history of racial enmity, etc. Yet his role-model magic doesn't seem to have worked on his own wife, who continues to vent her anger over the racial indignities she feels she endured more than two decades ago at ultra-liberal Princeton and Harvard Law School. She remains perennially peeved by her relatively poor performance on standardized tests.
Or, perhaps, what he tells her in private isn't what he tells us in public?
It's not VDARE.com's job to endorse political candidates. And I certainly don't have a dog in what's left of this fight.
But it is our job to help educate the public on crucial topics where the MainStream Media won't. I have little to add to the discussion of such shopworn old pols as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
In contrast, I believe I understand Obama better than most pundits because the mixed-race candidate has been brooding for 35 years about "race and inheritance," to quote the subtitle of his autobiography.
Mrs. Obama's attitudes about race are significant for multiple reasons.
- First, Mr. Obama says she's important to him. Newsweek's gushing 2/25/08 cover story on Michelle, Barack's Rock by Richard Wolffe, reports:
"Onstage, Obama has introduced Michelle as 'my rock'—the person who keeps him focused and grounded. In her words, she is just making sure he is 'keeping it real.'"
- Second, because Michelle Obama lacks her husband's remarkable verbal facility, she provides a keyhole into how the stealth candidate actually thinks and feels on those rare occasions when he can be himself. She's more of a regular person with a normal human desire to be understood.
- Third, she's a classic example of what affirmative action, which her husband promises to give us more of, does both for and to blacks.
She is a hard worker and is of above-average intelligence, but racial preferences have repeatedly lifted her out of her intellectual league, with traumatic psychological consequences. All the breaks she received from white people merely stoked what Ellis Cose of Time calls The Rage of a Privileged Class.
Early in the New Journalism classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Dr. Gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson's "300-pound Samoan attorney," questions whether Sports Illustrated would actually be so trusting as to provide them with "unlimited credit" for a trip to Sin City, which they will obviously squander in a drug debauch. Thompson answers:
"'You Samoans are all the same,' I told him. 'You have no faith in the essential decency of the white man's culture.'"
Few individuals have enjoyed more palpable and repeated evidence of the essential decency of the white man's culture than Michelle Obama.
"… the $30 million Whitney M. Young Jr. High School will open as a magnet in the fall with—among other things—an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a special center for the performing arts and a separate curriculum for medical studies. Whitney Young also has a strict admissions quota: 40% white, 40% black, 10% Latin, 5% other minorities and 5% at the discretion of the principal."
"For Michelle, Craig's easy success was intimidating. 'She was disappointed in herself,' her mother tells NEWSWEEK. 'She used to have a little bit of trouble with tests …'"
Her poor performance on tests remains a sore point with Michelle, who brings it up in odd contexts, such as when discussing her husband's standing in the polls last November:
"You know, [I've] always been told by somebody that I'm not ready, that I can't do something, my scores weren't high enough."
Newsweek describes her career at Whitney Young:
"… but she was not at the top of her class. She didn't get the attention of the school's college counselors, who helped the brightest students find spots at prestigious universities. … Some of her teachers told her she didn't have the grades or test scores to make it to the Ivies. But she applied to Princeton and was accepted."
(A) they loudly proclaim their belief in equality; and
(B) they have above average IQs
left Michelle's sizable but fragile self-esteem in tatters. Suffering the self-consciousness common to the young, she felt that everybody was secretly putting her down for her intellectual shortcomings, and focused her anger on whites. Newsweek says:
"There weren't formal racial barriers and black students weren't officially excluded. But many of the white students couldn't hide that they regarded their African- American classmates as affirmative-action recipients who didn't really deserve to be there."
Ironically but inevitably, Princeton's diversity sensitivity programs just exacerbated Michelle's racial paranoia:
"Angela Acree, a close friend who attended Princeton with Michelle, says the university didn't help dispel that idea. Black and Hispanic students were invited to attend special classes a few weeks before the beginning of freshman semester, which the school said were intended to help kids who might need assistance adjusting to Princeton's campus. Acree couldn't see why. She had come from an East Coast prep school; Michelle had earned good grades in Chicago. "We weren't sure whether they thought we needed an extra start or they just said, 'Let's bring all the black kids together'."
Princeton racialized Michelle's consciousness. She majored in Sociology and minored in African-American Studies. Newsweek says:
"Michelle felt the [racial] tension acutely enough that she made it the subject of her senior sociology thesis, titled "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community." The paper is now under lock and key … (Today, Michelle says, not quite convincingly, that she can't remember what was in her thesis.)"
Hilariously, the Princeton website where all her classmates' senior theses are made freely available for the edification of humanity until the end of time listed hers as being "Restricted until November 5, 2008," which just happens to be the day after the election.
Newsweek went on:
"Michelle wrote that Princeton "made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before." She wrote that she felt like a visitor on the supposedly open-minded campus. "Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton," she wrote, "it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second.""
On Friday, the Obama campaign released her thesis. Here's a highlight, in which the potential First Lady explains how much she wants to be, well, "Black first:"
"These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow by attending Princeton will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant. This realization has presently, made my goals to actively utilize my resources to benefit the Black community more desirable."
Now, VDARE.com is, for obvious reasons, not in the business of criticizing other people's punctuation. Nor do we think that anybody's glorified term paper is all that important.
Yet, because the candidate himself has made sure to leave such a minimal paper trail from the 1980s and 1990s (one immense autobiography and a single op-ed, according to Lexis-Nexis), anything that casts light on the Democratic frontrunner's personal views on crucial issues is needed.
Predictably, the same feelings of personal and thus racial inadequacy manifested themselves when she got into ultra-competitive Harvard Law School on another quota. The Newsweek reporter explains:
"At Harvard, she felt the same racial divide. … 'She recognized that she had been privileged by affirmative action and she was very comfortable with that,' [friend Verna] Williams recalls. Michelle recalls things differently. … Her aides say Michelle earned her way into Harvard on merit by distinguishing herself at Princeton."
When she graduated from HLS in 1988, she was hired by the high-paying Chicago corporate law firm Sidley Austin (which, perhaps not coincidentally, posts a 2,000-word statement describing their "Commitment to Diversity" on their website).
One problem remained: the Illinois bar exam. It appears that in 1988 she either failed it or was unready even to try it. She eventually passed and was admitted to the bar in May 1989, almost a year after graduation. (In contrast, her husband was admitted only a half year after graduating from Harvard Law School three years later).
There's nothing shameful about failing the bar exam. Hillary Clinton, for example, failed the Washington D.C. bar exam. According to blogger Half Sigma, 19 percent of applicants failed the July 1988 Illinois test. But, whiffing even once is not the kind of thing that is supposed to happen to Harvard Law School students. (Similarly, Hillary only told her Yale friends that she passed the Arkansas bar exam; she kept covered up until 2003 that she had failed the D.C. exam.)
Being admitted to the bar is public, so word of Michelle's no-show on the list of new lawyers likely spread among her old Harvard classmates in late 1988, leaving another wound upon her pride. If, however, she'd gone to the kind of law school where graduates frequently take a few tries to pass, she would have felt better about herself and less bitter at the white race.
After a few years at Sidley Austin, she let her law license lapse and began working as go-between for Mayor Daley's Machine. She enjoyed the kind of vague but well-paid career made possible by affirmative action. The description on the candidate's website of what exactly she's been doing for the U. of Chicago Medical Center is eye-glazing but ultimately revealing: she's in the diversity racket.
"She also managed the business diversity program. Michelle has fostered the University of Chicago's relationship with the surrounding community and developed the diversity program, making them both integral parts of the Medical Center's mission."
With great power comes great rewards. A couple of months after her husband was sworn in as U.S. Senator, Michelle's salary at the Medical Center was raised from $121,910 to $316,962.
A cynic might say that this rather resembles a $195,000 annual … uh, investment by a large private medical institution in the good will of a U.S. Senator and potential President who may well play the crucial role in deciding whether or not there will continue to be large private medical institutions.
Another way of looking at is that Michelle's value on the influence market went up $200,000 when her husband moved up, so the Medical Center had to ante up or lose her to somebody else who would pay the going rate for the wife of a political superstar.
Still, to say that would be to suggest that Michelle Obama on her own isn't worth $316,962, which, like any and all skepticism about the Obamas, would be racist. So, almost nobody in America is saying it.
The Daily Mail of London has taken a more jaundiced view:
"An acquaintance of Obama's family compares her with another political wife, another lawyer as it happens, with a keen interest in making money. "Michelle is very much like Cherie Blair [wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair]. She is a middle-class girl who has discovered that money is nice and doesn't see that as a contradiction with having radical beliefs," he said.
Chicago's veteran political consultant and pundit Joe Novak agrees, saying: "She [Michelle] is now motivated more by personal gain than by social consciousness. She saw her opportunities, and she took them." …
I suspect, on no particular evidence, that Michelle's desire for a stately home pushed the normally ascetic Barack into involving in his 2005 purchase of an expensive mansion the notorious white collar crook and slumlord Tony Rezko, a Levantine Christian immigrant who goes on trial March 3rd.
Obama and Rezko had been doing each other Chicago-style favors for years. Yet, surely by 2005, Obama must have known that it was time to shed his more unseemly associates if he wanted to move to the really big house in Washington.
(By the way, VDARE.com readers will be interested in one of Rezko's old partners' defenses of the man accused of stealing $50 million: "At 19 years old, he came off an airplane and couldn't speak English, but over the years he must have brought a hundred Rezkos over from Syria." [Rezko's life a story of pizza and politics, By David Jackson and John Chase, Chicago Tribune,October 12, 2006]A hundred more Rezkos! Swell.)
Let me finish by speculating even more irresponsibly on what the cautious Barack might be telling Michelle in private: that he'll have to play the moderate during his first term. But when he's home free in his second, then he'll be keeping it real.