Obama And James D. Watson: How To Make A Real Statement About Race—And Free Speech
But by publishing revelations about
one candidate, aren`t we tacitly just helping the
For example, when
Sen. Barack Obama, who has been running largely on
his autobiography, makes campaign claims about his
relationship with his
pastor or his
grandmother and I point out that his 1995 autobiography
Apparently, I`m orchestrating a
plot to change the course of human history by sitting
here in my bathrobe copying paragraphs out of the
Democratic frontrunner`s own bestseller.
In this view, a presidential
campaign is a zero-sum contest. Somebody has to win and
everybody else has to lose. So any revelation about
Candidate X is seen, not as contribution to the sum
total of human knowledge, but as a dirty trick intended
to elect Candidate Y or Z.
In contrast, I believe that the
more that voters know about the candidates, the better.
Of course, I would say that: as a nonfiction
writer, that`s my professional bias.
Still, I do believe the zero-sum
model is simplistic.
Moreover, the reason I write more
about Obama than about Clinton or McCain is because I
think I have more to contribute about him. The two old
warhorses have been around forever, but few journalists
have thought hard and honestly yet about Obama, due to
emergence—and his race.
For example, for over a year, I`ve
pointing out that Obama isn`t the
centrist post racial conciliator he plays on
television. His campaign has been as disingenuous as if
Ronald Reagan had run for President in 1980, not as
proud conservative, but as a bipartisan
In truth, Obama is a liberal
somewhat to the left of the Democratic median, and with
a recent radical background. And slowly, the MainStream
Media [MSM] is starting to wake up to the phoniness of
Obama`s marketing of himself. This week, the New York
Test: Can a Liberal Be a Unifier?, By Robin
Toner, March 25, 2008] and Washington Post [In
Obama`s New Message, Some Foes See Old Liberalism,
By Alec MacGillis, Washington Post, March 26,
2008]have finally gotten around to admitting in major
stories that Obama is well to the left of where many
imagine him to be.
This slow debunking of Obama might
have crucial implications for his Vice Presidential
selection. The more people who understand who Obama
really is, the more pressure he will be under to pick as
a ticket-balancing running mate an anti-Obama, such as
Sen. James Webb (D-VA).
Moreover, within a President Obama,
there would always be an ongoing struggle between his
cautious head and his
radical heart. The more a gullible press and public
persist in imagining him the equally loving son of a
happy biracial home, the more
leftist actions his
heart will be able to get away with. But the more we
are alert to the two sides of this complicated man, the
more likely his intelligent prudence would triumph over
the passion to prove himself
that is the remnant of his
For example, the more he is seen,
correctly, as a man who chose to devote much of his
adult life to pursuing political power in order to
take from whites and give to blacks, the more
scrutiny a President Obama would receive over seemingly
minor questions such as appointments to jobs at the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the
civil rights section of the
These obscure offices can be
tremendously important. Consider, for example, the
slow-motion disaster that minor
Carter Administration officials at a department
almost nobody has heard of inflicted upon America in
From the 1920s onward, the federal
government introduced ever-improved civil service exams,
culminating in the 1970s with the superb
Professional and Administrative Career Examination
(PACE). Because these cognitive tests assessed not just
entry level skills, but the applicant`s potential for
higher management, the quality of the federal workforce
was relatively strong for much of the 20th Century.
Then, in January 1981, with only a
few days left in the defeated Administration, Carter
appointees in the
U.S. Office of Personnel Management signed a
consent decree in the
Luevano nuisance suit
agreeing to throw out the PACE, because
blacks and Hispanics averaged lower scores on it, and to
replace it with a test that would have predictive power
More than a quarter of a century
no such miracle test has been invented. In fact, of
can`t be invented—because the
races do differ systematically in intelligence. And
so the various federal departments continue to make due
with a hodge-podge of job application techniques that
have been shown to be less effective than the extinct
PACE. As the pre-Luevano hires retire, a less
competent generation of employees is rising to senior
management in the
federal bureaucracy, with
Similarly, there`s no end to the
domestic mischief that an Administration appointed by
Jeremiah A. Wright`s congregant could get up to without
intense public oversight.
Finally, the more Obama`s phony
claim to be a racial mediator who wants to start a
"frank conversation about race" is derided, the more
he might actually someday do something to justify
his grandiose posturing.
The MSM found Obama`s 5,000-word
speech last week to be "nuanced," thoughtful,"
and even "worthy of Abraham Lincoln" in MSNBC`s
Chris Matthews` excited estimation. But its
power-to-weight ratio was not exactly in the same
ballpark as the 278-word
Still, if he so chose, Obama could
alleviate his Jeremiah A. Wright problem by making a
major symbolic contribution to freedom of speech in
Obama surely knew all along that
Americans would eventually find out about what Wright
preaches and be appalled by it. The most sensible
strategy would have been for Obama to slowly bring up
his pastor`s outrageousness and make a running joke out
of it, while saying that a free society must err on the
side of free speech.
The ridiculous moral panic over
radio broadcaster Don Imus`s
vulgar off-hand comment last year offered Obama a
perfect opportunity to call for forgiveness for Imus
and, at the same time, have a laugh about his own pastor
being a sort of "shock jock of the pulpit."
Obama could have put on that really
serious baritone he
does so well, and say:
the important lesson is that we must protect freedom of
expression, even at a cost to our sensitivities. Being a
free country means that people, such as
Don Imus and my pastor, are sometimes going to go
over the line now and then, but we are all better off
living with that than shutting them down."
Of course, the egomaniacal
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. might never have
stood for being lumped with a mere disk jockey like Imus.
Indeed, it`s possible Wright is trying right now to
sabotage Obama`s campaign. And
who knows what
explosive secrets Obama`s mentor might be able to
unveil if he got really peeved at the candidate.
Nevertheless, with the November
election still endlessly far off, there is time for
Obama to gin up a principled defense-by-analogy
of Wright—by championing
free speech for one of Obama`s own campaign
contributors, a man of such vast accomplishment that
even Wright`s massive
amour propre might be assuaged at the tactic
of lumping Wright and this Obama supporter together.
Who is this victim of political correctness/lifelong
Democrat who donated the legal maximum of
$2,300 to Obama on
January 10, 2008?
America`s most eminent living man of science—James
D. Watson, the co-discoverer of the
structure of DNA!
In 2006, a panel of historians
assembled by the Atlantic Monthly ranked Watson
second most influential figure in American history
living today. And yet, as you`ll recall, when Watson
tried to start a
frank dialogue on race last year, he was
immediately fired by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,
the outstanding medical research center that he had
built up over the last four decades.
If Obama were to appear with Watson
and announce that the great man had accepted his
invitation to advise the Obama campaign on
issues involving science, and if Obama pointed out
that the country`s elites should
be ashamed of how they treated Watson last year,
then we`d have some evidence that Obama isn`t the
hypocrite that he appears to be.
Don`t hold your breath.
features his daily blog.]