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Rezko and Wright: The Two Sides of Obama's Chicago
The gleaming image that Senator Barack Obama has so artfully created for himself as a combination of all the best qualities of Socrates, Neo from The Matrix, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull was sullied last week by revelations about his close friends Tony Rezko and Jeremiah Wright, two very different but very representative citizens of my own long-time home city of Chicago.
Back on February 10, 2008 for example, I wrote in VDARE.com:
"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."
About a week later, Michelle made herself so obnoxious, saying "… for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," that the Main Stream Media [MSM] finally had to take notice.
And now the other shoe has dropped regarding Rev. Dr. Wright.
As I wrote in VDARE a year ago::
"Why has Obama tied his fate to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a tactless race man who is the living opposite of the myth Obama is trying to project about himself? … Obama's 'spiritual mentor' just won't shut up because the man of God is also a man of wrath."
On Thursday, ABC showed a 2003 sermon from the Obamas' church in which Rev. Dr. Wright, whom Obama has known at least since 1988, proclaims (among much else of a far left ilk):
The candidate later moved to "distance" himself from the man to whom he devoted much of pp. 274-295 of his 1995 autobiography, issuing this lawyerly bit of all-purpose prose:
"All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn." —Barack Obama
In Slate, Mickey Kaus rephrased Obama's statement as:
"If it offends you, I condemn it!
"This seems to be the General Rule of Obama—if it's going to damage him, he condemns it! And rejects and denounces. Vehemently! The Rule would seem to apply to all past and future controversial statements—his campaign could get that sentence printed up on little laminated cards and hand them out to reporters, or include them after the statements of all Obama surrogates, like those fine-print 'void where prohibited' waivers. 'Condemned if controversial.'"
Obama did make one falsifiable assertion:
"The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation."
Oh, come on …
Wright has been saying anti-American and anti-white things to all and sundry at least since his 1984 trip to Libya with Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan to meet arch-terrorist Col. Muammar Kaddafi. That's why Obama picked out Wright's church after one of the many black ministers he knew during his "community organizing" days told him he would be more politically effective if he belonged to a church. Wright's Trinity United megachurch represented for Obama the optimal combination of competitively successful and ideologically radical.
According to Obama's Dreams, when the Ivy Leaguer first met Wright, he interrogated the minister about whether Trinity wasn't too bourgeois for him.
Fortunately, Wright's powerful sermon "The Audacity of Hope" , whose title Obama borrowed for his 2006 bestseller,—
"It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks' greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere ...
—overcame Obama's doubts about Trinity's covert "middleclassness" and he joined in 1988.
Here's an excerpt from Trinity's website explaining their "Black Value System":
"Disavowal of the Pursuit of 'Middleclassness.'
Classic methodology on control of captives teaches that
captors must be able to identify the 'talented tenth' of
those subjugated, especially those who show promise of
providing the kind of leadership that might threaten the
"Those so identified are separated from the rest of the people by:
1. Killing them off directly, and/or fostering a social system that encourages them to kill off one another.
3. Seducing them into a socioeconomic class system which, while training them to earn more dollars, hypnotizes them into believing they are better than others and teaches them to think in terms of 'we' and 'they' instead of 'us.'
4. So, while it is permissible to chase 'middleclassness' with all our might, we must avoid the third separation method – the psychological entrapment of Black 'middleclassness.' If we avoid this snare, we will also diminish our 'voluntary' contributions to methods A and B. And more importantly, Black people no longer will be deprived of their birthright: the leadership, resourcefulness and example of their own talented persons."
Meanwhile, a very different side of Obama is also finally surfacing in the press due to the federal corruption trial of Obama's political patron Tony Rezko. As I wrote on VDARE.COM in April 2007:
"Why, yes, it does mean that."
On Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Obama was even deeper in Fat Tony's debt than he had previously revealed:
"But in a 90-minute interview with Tribune reporters and editors, Obama disclosed that Rezko had raised more for Obama's earlier political campaigns than previously known, gathering as much as $250,000 for the first three offices he sought."[Obama: I trusted Rezko, By David Jackson, March 15, 2008]
Hilariously, Obama told the Tribune that he never dreamt that Rezko would ever ask him for a favor in return for all the favors he had done for him:
"Trying to put his past with Antoin 'Tony' Rezko behind him, presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday said he never thought the now-indicted Chicago businessman would try to take advantage of him because his old friend had never asked for a political favor."
That reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer has the local mob boss, (named Fat Tony, coincidentally enough) drive out Marge Simpson's competition in the pretzel business. Inevitably, Fat Tony (whose voice is provided by Chicago actor Joe Mantegna) later asks Homer for a favor in return:
Tony: Now, Homer, as you
no doubt recall, you were
done a favor by our, uh, how
shall I say...
Mafia Crime Syndicate.
Homer: Oh yeah.
Fat Tony: Now the time has come for you to do us a favor.
Homer [Self-righteously appalled]: You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return? … [Heartbroken] Oh, Fat Tony! … [Sternly] I will say good day to you, sir!
Fat Tony [Meekly]: OK. I will go.
[Fat Tony walks away in shame]
Fat Tony: [Realizing what just happened] Wait a minute!
Keep in mind that the Obama-Rezko connection is likely penny ante-scale stuff compared to what Mr. and Mrs. Clinton appear to have been up to since 2001. My guesstimate is that the complicated real estate deal that Obama and Rezko carried out in 2005 was worth about $70,000 to Obama. Bill Clinton charges private interests like CitiGroup three or four times that amount just for a speech.
To figure out what really was going on with the purchase of Obama's stately Chicago home, however, you'd have to study Chicago's zoning regulations and the role of the Chicago Landmarks Commission, on which Michelle Obama sat. And who has time for that kind of tedium?
The secret behind the Chicago Way is that it endures because most of the corruption is too boring for the citizens to get terribly worked up over. The taxpayers get nickeled and dimed by the players, but, as Mayor Richard J. Daley taught Chicago's insiders a half century ago, as long as the pols don't get too greedy or too outrageous, the public will more or less put up with it because the only alternative is for them to dive into this big barrel of boredom themselves to try to figure out how they are being cheated.
What's the common denominator between these two characteristic Chicagoans: the radical Wright and the glad-handing Rezko? How can Obama be so closely linked to both?
A little noticed 2007 New Republic article by Ryan Lizza, "The Agitator", offers a way to understand these two sides of Obama: the leftist Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), author of Rules for Radicals.
"In Dreams, Obama spent some 150 pages on his four years in Chicago working as an organizer, but there's little discussion of the theory that undergirded his work and informed that of his teachers. Alinsky is the missing layer of his account."
"In 1985, Barack Obama traveled halfway across the country to take a job that he didn't fully understand. But, while he knew little about his new vocation—community organizer—it still had a romantic ring, at least to his 24-year-old ears. … 'Change won't come from the top, I would say. Change will come from a mobilized grass roots. That's what I'll do. I'll organize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.'"
Obama's bosses were three white leftists (Gerald Kellman, Mike Kruglik and Gregory Galluzzo,)
"schooled in a style of organizing devised by Saul Alinsky, the radical University of Chicago-trained social scientist… While Obama was in search of an authentic African American experience, Kellman was simply in search of an authentic African American."
LBJ's Great Society had incorporated Alinskyism. Tom Wolfe's brilliant Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers explains how poverty programs were set up to only give out grants to "authentic" inner city groups, their "authenticity" being measured by how well they could intimidate (Mau-Mau) the bureaucrats (flak catchers). As Wolfe gleefully documents, self-interested hucksters immediately organized their own protest groups to grab the handouts.
Lizza points out that Obama's indoctrination in Alinskyism has endured:
"Obama's self-conception as an organizer isn't just a campaign gimmick. … In the 13 years between Obama's return to Chicago from law school and his Senate campaign, he was deeply involved with the city's constellation of community-organizing groups… He taught Alinsky's concepts and methods in workshops."
"Alinsky had prowled the same neighborhoods that Obama now worked and internalized many of the same lessons. As a University of Chicago criminology graduate student, he ingratiated himself with Al Capone's mobsters to learn all he could about the dynamics of the city's underworld, an experience that helped foster a lifelong appreciation for seeing the world as it actually exists, rather than through the academic's idealized prism."
Making nice with Tony Rezko on Monday after you hear a Jeremiah Wright rant on Sunday—hey, Alinsky would have had no problem with that.
Alinsky's eyes were always on the prize:
"The first and most fundamental lesson Obama learned was … 'You want to organize for power!' … The other fundamental lesson Obama was taught is Alinsky's maxim that self-interest is the only principle around which to organize people."
Obama has since figured out a key breakthrough—that many white people are motivated heavily by status striving against other whites. And that's a competition in which conspicuous favoritism toward blacks, such as, say, an underprivileged Presidential candidate, cay pay off.
By nature, Alinsky was an agitator who loved a face-to-face argument. As Hillary Clinton pointed out in her Wellesley senior thesis (long blockaded, by another amusing coincidence —just like Michelle Obama's), Alinsky's street-theatre approach was both a strength and weakness at achieving their mutual leftist goals. Bill Dedman of MSNBC summarizes:
"In the end, [Hillary] judged that Alinsky's 'power/conflict model is rendered inapplicable by existing social conflicts'—overriding national issues such as racial tension and segregation. Alinsky had no success in forming an effective national movement, she said, referring dismissively to "the anachronistic nature of small autonomous conflict." [Reading Hillary Rodham's hidden thesis, May 9, 2007]
In 2008, the two old students of Alinsky are competing for national power. Amusingly, Obama, the professional Alinskyite, has seriously out-organized Hillary, perhaps because she turned down a job offer from Alinsky, choosing instead to attend Yale Law School.
(By the way, in case you are wondering about the comparative prose style of the similarly locked-up theses of Hillary versus Michelle Obama, Hillary's arch but fluent and slightly witty writing wins easily over Michelle's whiny and artless maunderings.)
Despite the difference in personality between Alinsky and Obama—Alinsky was an annoying Lenny Bruce, Obama is a reassuring Sidney Poitier—Hillary's 1969 criticism also applies to Obama's four years as a full-time Alinskyite. By his own account, Obama's only accomplishment was mau-mauing the black bureaucrats at the Chicago Housing Authority into removing some asbestos from public housing; a worthy task, but a solution to a problem that ranks comically low on any list of troubles besetting black slum dwellers.
In summary, Obama came to the Chicago to do good, but ended up doing well.
It's, the story of his life. Obama takes jobs ostensibly to help blacks—community organizer, discrimination lawyer, politician—but they mostly just help fuel his amazing ascent to the White House. The fundamental flaw in Obama's career is that each job is to help poor blacks get more goodies out of the government, but government handouts undermine black moral fiber, leaving the community worse off than before the Great Society.
Sadly, as a half-white preppie from paradise, Obama has never felt "black enough" to effectively challenge the leftist orthodoxy in which a Jeremiah Wright is considered by other blacks to be part of the black mainstream.
If Obama had wanted to improve tangibly the lives of Chicago inner city blacks, but didn't care about attaining power and fame for himself, he could have become, say, a high school teacher, perhaps at Providence-St. Mel, the famous all-black Catholic school on the West Side that's renown for straightening out young fellows. With his charisma, he could have been a great teacher and role model
But, for better or worse, he chose a different path—one of overweening personal ambition.