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The question has perplexed the Right since Barack Obama first emerged on the scene. How are we to understand Barack Obama?
The other week Dinesh D’Souza had a notable essay in Forbes previewing the theme of his upcoming book The Roots of Obama’s Rage. D’Souza’s take: Obama the Anti-Colonialist, inspired by his Marxist father:
Anticolonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America. As one of Obama’s acknowledged intellectual influences, Frantz Fanon, wrote inThe Wretched of the Earth, “The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races.”
One of NRB‘s sharpest writers, Mark Meed, summarized the reaction of most blogosphere cons who have been paying attention: Well, yeah.
Still, D’Souza’s formulation remains useful and it’s valuable to view the President through this lens. I’ll probably make the effort to read his book. But it’s just one lens which can yield insights that will help the Right in defeating Obama and the Left in the political war that’s being waged on our country.
I’ve assembled 10 of these approaches today and am counting them down from least accurate and flat-out wrong to the more useful to the ultimate key to understanding them all. When it comes down to it there is a single label which can give conservatives a grasp of who Obama is and what values he actually holds.
But first let’s start with a few Obama formulations made by some of the least educated of conservatives…
10. “The Radical Communist”
Only by the loosest, most ultimately meaningless definition can Barack Obama be described as a “communist.” If someone is intentionally just being provocative or hyperbolic then fine — call Obama a communist. But if you’re trying to have a serious discussion about who Obama is, what his values are, and what he’s trying to do to America then it’s pretty useless.
A communist is someone who wants a form of government akin to the Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea. Is that Obama’s agenda? To “fundamentally transform” America into a communist state?
No. The fact that Obama is a politician instead of a violent revolutionary in the Lenin or Che mold is all that’s needed to refute this characterization. Sure, Obama can do a lot of damage and institute plenty of dangerous policies. But can he transform us into a communist state from within? It’s just not possible. The constitution can be abused and “reinterpreted” in any number of ways but even leftists have their limits.
Honestly how can you ever hope to be taken seriously with silly, redundant phrases like “radical communist”? Who says that?
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9. The Stealth Muslim
That Obama is actually a secret Muslim who is planning to institute Sharia is an idea primarily useful for the Left in order to slur the Right. Outside of faceless internet trolls polluting comment threads you won’t find anyone of substance pushing it.
Misguided apologists for this silly idea will point to a laundry list of Obama’s pro-Islam actions and statements. “What’s he’s doing only makes sense if he’s actually a Muslim,” they’ll say.
Actually, what he’s doing makes perfect sense if you understand the Left.
Read on and see.
8. The Anti-Semite
Yes, Obama is not a particularly strong supporter of Israel. Yes, there’s plenty to be unhappy about regarding the administration’s moves toward Israel and her enemies. (Read David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin’s pamphlet Obama and the War Against the Jews.)
But does Obama actually hate Jews?
My friend Ben Shapiro has called Obama anti-Semitic before:
Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the worst anti-Semites America has to offer — Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi (former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan (“I don’t like the way [Jews] leech on us”), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few — is nothing short of reprehensible. Rahm Emanuel’s presence in the Obama cabinet doesn’t ameliorate Obama’s anti-Semitism — it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell “house negroes”; Emanuel is a kapo.
As with calling Obama a communist, to label Obama an anti-Semite is hyperbolic. Does Obama really fit into the European Union definition of anti-Semitism? Well, no. To broaden the definition of “anti-Semite” to include Obama only waters down the term to make it less effective.
Further, is an antipathy toward the Jews really one of Obama’s driving elements? Is sticking it to the Jews really one of his main priorities? No and no. So why focus on it?
7. The Corrupt Chicago Politician
That Obama emerged from one of the most notoriously corrupt political worlds in America is well known.
But how useful is this model?
Shouldn’t we just be acting under the basic assumption that all of our politicians — Left and Right, Democratic and Republican — are corrupt?
But the Michelle-Malkin-emphasized corruption element is only half of the equation here. The other is in the video above in which Glenn Beck highlights a clip from “The Untouchables” to talk about the Chicago Way.
It’s a combination of both corruption and hardball, aggressive, intimidating politics. And conservatives need to be especially focused on preparing for the latter — and fighting back with just as much intensity.
6. The Non-Genius
NRB‘s Dr. John Drew — who actually knew Obama when they were both college Marxists — published a post back in March that has always stuck with me. In “Glorious Leader Gap: President Barack Obama – Not So Bright for a Harvard Law Grad,” John lays out six points for why Obama should not be regarded as the genius his supporters often want to cast him as:
If you see Obama as a non-genius, however, you become more sensitive to a different storyline, a storyline that makes more sense given President Obama’s actual history. To be a little blunt, assuming that Obama is not so bright helps explain a lot of mysterious stuff that makes no sense if he were truly a genius including:
1. Obama’s over-dependence on his teleprompter.
2. Obama’s boring performances in his now discontinued press conferences.
3. Obama’s indecisiveness and general slowness in figuring out how to respond to his commanders’ requests for additional troops in Afghanistan.
4. Obama’s try and fail approach to winning the Olympic Games for Chicago, his useless trip to China, and his fruitless visit to Copenhagen on behalf of the cause of anthropomorphic global warming.
5. Obama’s unwillingness to contribute an article to the Harvard Law Review while he served as its first African-American president.
6. Obama’s reluctance to compete for a tenure track job at the University of Chicago Law School and the fact that he never submitted articles to peer-reviewed law journals.
In spite of these shortcomings, though, Obama does seem to think quite highly of himself…
5. The Narcissist
David Limbaugh discusses this reading in his book Crimes Against Liberty.
Almost all politicians are narcissists to some degree or another — Bill Clinton certainly was. Is Obama no different? Or is his narcissism more profound and thus a more serious threat to our country? Or is this potentially a weakness of Obama’s that can be used to help defeat him?
4. The Post-Colonial
There are several aspects of of D’Souza’s model that are appealing.
First, it’s primarily focusing on foreign policy. It provides a guide for how Obama is going to approach engaging with other countries — always in a position of weakness and apology. (Except when it comes to Israel, of course.)
Second, it highlights attention on an ideology that’s prominent within our universities. Conservatives have a simple question to ask themselves: yes, the root of Obama’s anti-colonialism was in his father, but where did he really learn and develop this ideology? Answer: academia.
Now why do conservatives need to wait until someone like Obama arrives in the white house before they start getting concerned about going to the source of the problem? (And why is most of the Conservative Movement still out to lunch and disengaged from this vital fight?)
Why can’t we treat an injury when it’s only a scratch instead of waiting until it’s infected and needing to be amputated?
3. The Post-American
Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer really hit the bullseye here in focusing the discussion on Obama as the first Post-American president who does not believe in American exceptionalism. My FrontPage Magazine colleague Jamie Glazov interviewed Geller when her book came out:
Obama sees America as just another country. His vision is to make America part of a socialist internationalist supranational construct, destroying American sovereignty. Obama makes Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton look like conservatives.
He said it himself during a visit to London for a summit of the Group of TwentyFinance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G-20. A reporter asked Obama: “[C]ould I ask you whether you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of ‘American exceptionalism’ that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world, or do you have a slightly different philosophy?”
It was a question Ronald Reagan once answered without ever having been asked it. He said: “With all its flaws, America remains a unique achievement for human dignity on a scale unequaled anywhere in the world.”
But Obama offered no similar avowal of American uniqueness. Instead, he equated American exceptionalism with the national pride that a citizen of any nation could feel: “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
Then, perhaps realizing how much he had just trivialized the achievements of the greatest republic and most magnanimous nation the world had ever known, Obama avowed: “I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.” He even allowed for the possibility that there were some reasons that Americans should not be embarrassed by their nation’s history:
“If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.”
Embarrassed? Who would even think such a thing? Except someone who isembarrassed by America. It’s as if the most beautiful girl in the world walks into the best party, bedecked in the most magnificent dress and finest jewels, and someone whispers to her, “Don’t be embarrassed.”
Obama even acknowledged that “we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.” But in saying that he may have sensed that he was venturing into areas where he didn’t want to go, so he backtracked:
“Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.”
It was a defining moment. Barack Obama could find some praiseworthy aspects of America – but in saying that he was careful to say also that every country could say the same, apparently in equal measure, and while the U.S. Constitution and system of government – “though imperfect” – had some “exceptional” features, well, other countries also had “wonderful qualities.”
2. The Alinskyite
Click here for a PDF copy of David Horowitz’s Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model and here for his blog series Alinsky, Beck, Satan, and Me. And here for the page on Saul Alinsky at Discover The Networks.
Alinsky, the notorious founder of “community organizing,” is arguably the most important intellectual influence on Obama. After he graduated from college Obama actually taught Alinsky’s rules and worked in the trenches to fight Alinsky’s battles. And the Alinsky-techniques are all over the Obama administration’s machinations.
When you really get to the core of Alinsky, though, what does one find? What was Alinsky trying to achieve? What did he believe in trying to create?
Nothing. He had no positive vision of a greater future. His was just a nihilistic quest to provoke war between the evil “haves” and the noble “have-nots.”
1. The Nihilist
When you stare into the void it stares back at you. Why are there so many readings of who Barack Obama is, how to understand him, and what he’s actually about? Simple: because when you come down to it, there is nothing there.
(Bosch Fawstin discussed Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s analysis of Obama the nihilist here.)
When you dig deep enough into the Left and its agendas you’re eventually going to come to the conclusion that with the collapse of the USSR there really isn’t a model any more for how we’re to change America. Sure, some will point to socialist Europe but that’s hardly a coherent vision given the vast number of states. And, of course, with the accumulated debts of welfare-addicted countries finally coming due this is no longer the easy sell it once was.
So what the Left must resort to is focusing their mission on destructive ends: the current system must be dismantled and obliterated. What will go in to replace it? Good question. Leftists don’t have very concrete answers, just vague dreams of “social justice.”
And it’s up to us to articulate a more powerful dream which we can actually achieve.
There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a better world and wanting to change things for the better. We just have to explain boldly how this can be done without inflating the size of government, bowing before Islamist tyrants, and crippling our grandchildren with our debts. The first option for fixing the world doesn’t need to be the federal government. It’s that simple.