Obama’s Conservative Critics Redux

April 17, 2008

I was expecting Steve Sailer’s print article on Rev. Wright to be a dreary repetition of his predictable blogs on the matter, but with this thoughtful piece he has graciously reminded me why I love him almost as much as I love TAC itself. He is good enough to acknowledge that “considering the competition, Obama may be the best candidate of the three remaining”, but ends on a peculiar note, in which he proposes that Obama give a frank and probing interview into his psyche with a respectable black journalist. Titilating as such an interview would no doubt be to us earnest race realists, I must say that Sailer’s demand has a perverse quality, for if the human psyche is not sacred when even rights to privacy are compromised by our public figures, for better or worse, nothing will be.

But now chiming in, and making me start to feel a bit bad about how hard I’ve been on Larison, is Dan Flynn, a “conservative movement” operative whose sometimes mildly interesting things to say serve only to make him the ultimate Browderist of the right. That this piece appeared on Takimag is a real disappointment – along with increasingly frequent contributions from Marcus Epstein, it seems to suggest that under Richard Spencer’s editorship Takimag is becoming increasingly of the right-Browderist persuasion. And this is not just sour grapes on my part – my Catholic monarchist friends like Frank Purcell and Charles Coulombe seem to have disappeared from it as well.

Flynn’s solipsistic prose and reach back not only to the old Socialists and the Progressive era but to the Populists and even populism generally reads like the most dry and predictable Heritage Foundation screed from the early Reagan years. Indeed the piece reads as though nothing much interesting has happened since then, and that there hasn’t been a little something called neoconservatism to upset the applecart of who is conservative and who is on the left.

As for the substantive argument against Obama’s policy proposals, they may be inspired by a species of leftist I have no use for, but they hardly, for better or worse, represent a radical departure from where we’ve been. But insofar as they might, let us just consider that with his unprecedented channeling of the power of small internet donors, Obama could be the first president since Andrew Jackson who owes nothing to America’s moneyed interests.

Curiously, neither Flynn nor Sailer go into the disturbing evidence of family influence on Obama by card-carrying Communists, especially grating to me because the most notable crowing about it by the CP itself came from Gerald Horne, who also wrote a deeply ignorant and insulting academic screed against one of the great heroes of the old right and most brilliant analytical minds of the 20th century, Lawrence Dennis. The irony here is that Dennis provides a curious psychological profile to which one could compare Obama, indeed it was Sailer who suggested that the best way to understand Obama is as the “tortured mulatto” in reverse.

This brings us to the question at the heart of this whole broadly-defined conservative discussion about Obama, which is his sincerity. He is undoubtedly the most cold and calculating son of a bitch you’ll ever meet, but at the same time there are few who would argue that he is unprincipled. The reason I take any talk of Obama as raging leftist ideologue, either neo-Shachtmanite per Brendan O’Neill or where New Left meets Popular Front per Flynn, with at best a very large grain of salt, is because he’s just too cold and shrewd a politician.

Sailer seems to agree with me on this, for as he has pointed out, Obama’s deepest Freudian motivation is out of resentment of his white Kumbaya-era liberal mother, and that is just not consistent with wanting to vindicate either the Brookings Institution or The Weathermen. Just as he has played the race card by not playing it, as I’ll never forget my aging grandfather explaining to my grandmother, he takes a similar Godfather-type approach with any of the special interests he has to deal with, from the Israel Lobby to the loony liberals, as he was really doing in San Francisco.

Finally, as to all the questions of what Obama really believes, and at what point he ceased being just another crazy Afrocentrist from the South Side, I honestly don’t know, nor would I be surprised if it turns out he never really believed in any of it. If he has outgrown the crazy ideas of his church but still feels a filial connection to it, I can very much identify. Though it was long passed my own greater disillusionment with the left when I began going to my nice little lefty shul in Park Slope, I still in many ways appreciate it as a remaining life line to the left, to its values in a setting with at least some separation from the temporal realm and into the spiritual context where it more properly belongs.

Hauntingly enough, I was just at the bookstore, where in the most recent New Republic Marty Peretz defends Obama’s relationship to Rev. Wright on almost exactly the same grounds, equating with it his own seemingly milquetoast liberal rabbi, who I’m sure can’t hold a candle to mine in the social conscience department, in both the good and the bad.

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