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Obama Speech—the View From Elaine's

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I happened to catch Barack Obama's big race speech yesterday morn in the odd environs of the Columbia University Journalism School, where I watched it with some of my fellow judges at the National Magazine Awards. The collective verdict of the nation's glossiest editors? Somewhere in the loamy middle between fan-fucking-tabulous and history-changing, once-every-half-century OMG. People were excusing themselves to call their wives … did you watch that? Though the award judging is legendarily secretive, I can exclusively confirm to Hit & Run readers that one person told me that the room was so quiet where he was watching it that even Jacob Weisberg stopped using his Blackberry.

Hopping into an elevator together, a bunch of us agreed that it was a pretty terrific speech*. "But," said one, "we're not exactly the Real America."

This brings up an intriguing point—Obama essentially punted the ball back into America's court yesterday, which is interesting on its own, but all the more so because his Republican opponent will probably not use any kind of code-word race-baiting in this campaign, and in fact will likely condemn his own allies if they do so. That could leave both the dirty political work and the cleansing national conversations to happen outside the realm of high-level presidential campaigning. (It will also probably lead to two candidates bashing the free speech of 527 groups, and competing with one another to see who would ban them quickest.) All else being equal (which it never is), I prefer my vicious and/or clarifying racial arguments taking place from the ground up, not stoked cynically from the top down.

* I thought The Speech was captivating and—yes!—audacious, up until the point he started committing the stump-fallacy of "once we solve X, then we can unleash Y." Especially when moving beyond Culture War race tensions would unite us … uh, against corporations? And in favor of a throw-more-money-at-it approach to the lousy public school system? There's a time and place to empty your gumbo pot of campaign promises; a world-historical race speech doesn't seem to me to be one of them. Though maybe that's just because I disagree with many of his ideas.

NEXT: "Everybody Kills Hitler"

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  1. Why do I keep getting the feeling that there’s a certain class of people out there who want stuff to feel historic and momentous? It’s almost as if the modern era is so bereft of anything substantive, people are jonesing to feel like they’re living through something of Major Importance.

    Honestly, it’s like certain people are getting a sizzling little emotional charge not out of the substance of any of this stuff, but from being able to portray it in their own heads as “historic.” It’s weird.

  2. And in favor of a throw-more-money-at-it approach to the lousy public school system?

    Generally, aren’t the worst performing school systems located in cities that have been Leftist/Socialist Utopias for decades?

    It appears that he is ready to share the experience with the rest of the nation.

  3. Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union” was just brilliant. Most impressive was his ability stand with one foot in his White heritage and the other in his Black heritage and speak frankly about race in a way neither a Black or White man ever could.

    Even more impressive for me, is that after 8 years with a slack-jawed dufus in the Whitehouse, we can look forward to not only a President that can string a 6 word sentence together without drooling on himself, but he can actually WRITE such an elequent speech.

    That’s right – Obama wrote that speech he gave. By Himself. This speech, being lauded over by both critics and pundits alike as “Historical”, was written by Senator Obama. He gets it. Without being told what to say and think by polls and advisors – he really gets it.

    The man is impressive and uniquely qualified to lead our country in these Dark times.

  4. Why do I keep getting the feeling that there’s a certain class of people out there who want stuff to feel historic and momentous?

    Seems to be a trait of the typing/chattering classes. Appears to be concentrated amoung those who enjoy quoting others and rarely come up with original ideas of their own.

    I do not believe that Mr. Welch is actually in that class, but he was surrounded by them during the event he wrote about.

  5. Honestly, it’s like certain people are getting a sizzling little emotional charge not out of the substance of any of this stuff, but from being able to portray it in their own heads as “historic.” It’s weird.

    It probably would have been if it hadn’t been used as an apology for a scandal.

  6. I’m sorry, aren’t libetarians convinced there are problems with urban schools and health care?

    I see assertions about the deep and abiding concern among libertarians about these issues all the time.

    Except when a liberal mentions them – mentions them, and doesn’t even describe what to do about them – in which case just saying there are problems to address demonstates how awful he is.

    Pick a side: either you’re just as concerned about these problems and have EVEN BETTER solutions, or only “socialists” think there are problems there.

    This both-sides-of-the-mouth shtick isn’t going to cut it.

  7. Why do I keep getting the feeling that there’s a certain class of people out there who want stuff to feel historic and momentous?

    Why would you think this is new? Everyone searches for relevance, and people who are of a political bent experience it by being a part of “historic and momentous” events.

    Though maybe that’s just because I disagree with many of his ideas.

    His ideas in general suck, if you really look at them. Problem is, he doesn’t speak to them, and people get caught up in how he’s presenting and don’t look for what he’s actually planning. That’s kind of scary if you think about it.

  8. My reply to an email I got from a friend saying how history making this was:

    A politician on the campaign trail promises that if elected we’ll all learn to love each other and live in peace and harmony. Oh and every little girl gets a pony.

    Wake me when it’s over… No don’t bother I already know how this ends.

    Meet the new boss.
    Same as the old boss.

  9. I’m sorry, aren’t libetarians convinced there are problems with urban schools and health care?

    joe, on an idea level, it’s a matter of your solution being worse than the current problem.

  10. Let flow the sweet, pure tears of the little baby jesus and behold the healing awesomeness of Obama.

  11. But that’s the point, Other Matt: Obama didn’t even mention any solutions. He said that getting past racial trench warfare would help us to find better solutions.

    And even THAT is unacceptably “socialist.”

  12. Maybe it’s because this sort of thing falls across my aesthetic blind spot, but I really think all the pundits shooting in their pants over this speech are going a little over the top. I mean, it was a good speech, but when I start hearing words like “historic”, I have to believe some people don’t get out often enough.

    Just to put some perspective on this, keep in mind Lincoln’s Gettysburg address was panned by the pundits at the time, and Republicans heckled Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” as effectively saying, “Ask not what I can do for you, but what you can do for me” (not that they were wrong).

    How about just letting history decide what’s historic, and in the meantime put your weenies back in your pants, and go get a life, mmmkay?

  13. people out there [who] want stuff to feel historic and momentous?

    In a world full of midgets, Obama seems like a giant.

  14. “The man is impressive and uniquely qualified to lead our country in these Dark times.”

    What, exactly, is wrong with “Dark,” honky?

  15. Why would you think this is new? Everyone searches for relevance, and people who are of a political bent experience it by being a part of “historic and momentous” events.

    Because I don’t get the impression that people of a century ago were sitting around searching for stuff they could latch onto and excite themselves thinking, “Oooh oooh oooh, this is a Historic Big Deal and it feels really cool, like being a real-life character in those books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched!”

    That’s what this, on the other hand, seems like.

  16. joe — current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities.

  17. Very impressive, beautiful and impassioned speech.
    I’m a hardcore libertarian, and yet even I would have to go rooting around in my biased worldview to sniff out any “socialism” in his speech.
    Well done, Senator. You may have gotten my vote.

  18. jimmy, did you feel a thrill go up your leg?

    i suffered through about half of it, then turned it off. gaseous platitudes, what a surprise.

  19. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities.

    What politician wouldn’t say that, Matt? I know “investment” is a fancy word for “tax,” but I’ve been hearing it for so fucking long it just doesn’t matter.

  20. Am I the only one that feels that the voters in general in this country are in that “midget” class. That the average voter is getting his/her info from the heavily editted comments of the rev Wright? That the mind was made up and they aren’t really looking for a reasonable explanation, no matter how eloquent and heartfelt it may have been? Reality shows are huge here because we as a nation love to see folks get their asses handed to them.
    The average voter here doesn’t have the willingness to practice much forgiveness of what was initially presented to them as a major faux pas.

  21. Jamie — I guess working on the editorial board of a newspaper in a progressive big city & state has made me particularly allergic to “investment” as the solution to schooling.

  22. Matt,

    Libertarians don’t believe in investing in schools and communities?

    Funny, they all pretend to be excited about all the investment private corporations make when they open a charter school.

  23. Because I don’t get the impression that people of a century ago were sitting around searching for stuff they could latch onto

    really?

    alternate explanation: the pace and panopticon-esque information flow of modern life makes the chaos of individuality seem meaningless from a broad, top-down view.

    alternate explanation (2): the pace and panopticon-esque information flow of modern life makes the chaos of individuality seem meaningless due to too much familiarity and too many warts. with every subculture on display, there seems like there are fewer frontiers of the mind in which to play, even if there are so very many more.

  24. “Meet the new boss.
    Same as the old boss.”

    Right on, Warren.

    This guy is the same as the other power seekers.

    He does seem to have the ability to sway crowds with his rhetoric, though.

    Why do we wind up with the worst of our citizens running our government?

    That last is to include most of them, not just this snake oil salesman.

  25. I guess working on the editorial board of a newspaper in a progressive big city & state has made me particularly allergic to “investment” as the solution to schooling.

    Me too. And I say that as a journalist in a small liberal community. But hey — everybody’s sayin’ it! Get on board, Matt!
    🙂

  26. Someone made the interesting point, that even though the “real america” might not get it, the superdelegates will probably get it, and find it irresistable.

    I personally thought it was the best speech I’ve ever heard/read in my relatively short lifetime, although I’ve only really been aware of such issues in the past ten years, and the major speech giver in my life was George W. Bush, so…

    In any case, I really want Obama to win the democratic nomination right now, and I am immensely curious what his rhetoric will be in the general election.

  27. joe, when a liberal presidential candidate says “we should invest in xyz” do you think he means private investing?

    if so pass the fucking bong already, you delicious statist scoundrel!

  28. Did Obama mean private investment when he spoke of investing in schools?

    Here’s the key test of that proposition: If the public-school lobby screams bloody murder that Obama wants to abandon disadvantaged students and turn the public schools over to Halliburton, that would indicate to me that Obama is, in fact, open to alternatives to the government-run school system.

    Has anybody heard such protests from the ps lobby yet? If not, maybe it’s because they interpret “investment” the same way all Democratic candidates do.

  29. The only part of his speech that really had me rolling my eyes was when he said his mixed-race background had encoded something special in his DNA, or some such bone-headed racial refrain, that makes him uniquely qualified to speak about race.

  30. I have to say that it was a very good speech, a speech that was worthy of any college campus or Sunday church outing. That being said, I don’t think it had anything to do his campaign or his issues with his favorite church leader. That being said, take this as what it is, and stop raging on the guy just because you don’t like him or his political beliefs. This country is made up of many different ideas and people. I don’t care what REv. WRight said, its his first amend. right to say what he likes. He is harmless to me, and honestly is speaking the truth as he (HE) sees it. Screw it. My issue with this is about how both sides the right and the left can’t seem to keep their religion out of their damn politics. Separation of Church and State! I am not against religion, it works well for many, just keep it out of my government and politics.

  31. I’m appalled at the significance people are giving a speech. Words. Not even policy, just rhetoric. The content of which was required by the razor’s edge he walks on race issues at this point. I’m not denigrating his oratorical skills or saying that he did not do a good job addressing the Wright issue, but this is hardly some great turning point in U.S. history. Ye gods, I thought one thing we would all agree on is that talk is cheap.

    In any event, Obama remains inexperienced, substantively weak (talking about race and proposing anything substantive is impossible for him right now, and note that he’s not doing that). If this is all so central to his campaign message, why now? Why not a year ago? It’s damage control, however artfully presented.

    Sorry, joe, you can go back to your hagiography, already in progress. I’m just grumpy and cynical.

  32. However, I did hear on good authority that “The era of big government is over!” That was in a speech, too. And also well delivered.

    Egad.

  33. It was an ok speech, delivered well, better than most of what today’s midgets can manage. Hardly Churchillian, but what is, these days?

  34. Pro-

    Bill Clinton is “good authority?” Haha!

  35. Interesting:

    Fox News Poll: Did Obama’s speech change your opinion of him…

    12% yes
    87% no
    1% neither

    The important question is how many of that 12% moved from unfavorable to favorable.

    The 87% should be split according to his previous support among the audience –those who say “I liked him, did not change my opinion or I oppose him and still do.”

  36. Obama regularly criticizes the “throw money at it” philosophy and supports charter schools/merit-based pay for teachers

  37. It was a great speech.
    It said nothing about policy.
    We shouldn’t be all giddy.
    We shouldn’t be all cynical.
    It was a great speech.
    Next!

  38. I forgot an important component of the Fox News Poll…

    A good chunk of that 87% probably didn’t see the speech and felt they needed to chime in that it hadn’t changed their opinion because the didn’t see it.

    Who participates in these unscientific polls anyway?

  39. Who participates in these unscientific polls anyway?

    Freepers.

  40. “(Obama) said getting past racial trench war would help us find better solutions.”
    Anyone disagree with this assertion? Of course not. I’m just disappointed Sen. Obama’s speech didn’t end “And that’s what I’ve been trying to tell Rev. Wright for the last twenty years.” If you are going to talk the talk, you should have walked the walk or some voters will conclude that it wasn’t really an issue for you until you were called on it.

  41. “Separation of Church and State! I am not against religion, it works well for many, just keep it out of my government and politics.”

    That’s right. For instance, it’s all right to teach “thou shalt not kill” or “thou shalt not steal” in the church or synagogue, but trying to make such religious sentiments the basis of publc policy, as libertarians do with their “no initiation of force or fraud” doctrine, is simply sectarian.

    If your personal religious beliefs don’t allow murder or stealing, that’s fine, just don’t commit any murders or thefts. But don’t presume to impose your religious views on others. There are other perfectly acceptable viewpoints. For instance, Freddy Nietszche was all into the will to power, which sometimes may involve taking stuff without the consent of the wimpy owner, or offing people who deserve to die.

    Long live secularism!

  42. Because I don’t get the impression that people of a century ago were sitting around searching for stuff they could latch onto

    really?

    Er, when you snip my sentence like that, then yeah — it makes sense to sarcastically ask, “really?”

    But I didn’t write that people a century ago weren’t searching for stuff to latch onto. I wrote that they weren’t searching for THIS PARTICULAR stuff to latch onto to THIS PARTICULAR emotional end.

    The points about the information age and the perceived meaningless of individuality are correct. That’s exactly what it’s all about. Couple that with the decline of religion and, yes, it’s easy to see why people would be hungering to find new ways to infuse their lives with bigger meaning.

  43. I personally thought it was the best speech I’ve ever heard/read in my relatively short lifetime,

    I heard a good part of it on the radio, so maybe (like Kennedy) he comes across much better on TV, but

    I wasn’t knocked out by the delivery. I thought it was kind of stiff.

    As for the content, color me unimpressed. The speech was riddled with questionable equivalences. After the bit about his white grandmother I actually had a hard time believing that he was accusing his own grandmother of being a racist on national TV to further his own political career.

    As for the rest of the speech, it struck me as a mishmash of questionable equivalences. His reasoning for not leaving Rev. Wright’s flock struck me as laughably unconvincing; apparently, because there are some batshit crazy guys circulating somewhere in black America, there’s no reason to distance yourself from the batshit crazy guy running your church.

  44. Pro Libertate, can you teach me how to slump against the wall, blow out a stream of smoke, and mutter, “It’s all just bullshit, man?”

    Please?

    It sounds so much cooler than actually sticking your neck out.

  45. Obama on education

    http://www.barackobama.com/issues/education/

    Competitive Grants for Evidence-Based Models to Help Students Graduate: Studies show that a majority of students who leave high school without a diploma continue to pursue the goal of high school graduation. Unfortunately, states and districts lack the resources to make substantial investments in alternative education pathways. Non-profit and community-based organizations have tried to fill in the gap, but they lack substantial resources. As president, Barack Obama will establish a competitive grant process open to existing or proposed public/private partnerships or entities that are pursuing evidence-based models that work – such as Diploma Plus or Teacher Advisor programs. These grants will decrease the dropout rate by increasing the capacity of state and district leaders as well as outside leaders – foundations, politicians, entrepreneurs, and community leaders – to collaborate on improving graduation rates.

  46. Dammit, I gotta side with joe.

    When liberals talk about societal problems there’s often a subtext of “we need much bigger government” that you’re sure is there, but often isn’t explicitly stated.

    I’ve been working really hard on reacting to what liberals actually say, not to my assumptions about what they say. I know I get tired of people assuming a whole subtext to my political ideas, based on their past experience with hardcore Libertarians or Objectivists.

    Thing is liberals and libertarians are from the same family tree, and are concerned about the same things. Liberals just haven’t really taken a good look at how government actually works.

  47. JK,

    I know “investment” is a fancy word for “tax,”

    Actually, it is a fancy word for “spend” and, politically, “like a drunken sailor” is silent, but implied.

    The fancy word for “tax” is “contribution”, with “at the barrel of a gun” being understood by the contributors.

  48. I wasn’t knocked out by the delivery. I thought it was kind of stiff.

    Yeah i didnt see the entire speech delivered, I just heard soundbites and read the whole thing on my own.

  49. it was a good speech. actually a politician that spoke to us like adults.

    however, i had a few problems.

    he seemed to say if you are against affirmitive action, it is some how based on whites uncomfort with blacks getting a hand and not them, when some actually oppose it from a belief in individualism.

  50. joe,

    You turn the dial to rude too quickly. What has Obama done in his career to impress me, or even you? Even as a speech, where was this earlier? Why give mere words some gigantic value when they’ve proved over and over again to be valueless?

    I daresay I’ve stuck my neck out more than you have. I don’t reflexively defend even libertarian people just because they’re on “my side”.

    I haven’t said that the association with Wright was necessarily a big deal and think it probably isn’t. All I’ve said is that a speech means exactly nothing, except that it was an artful way of dealing with this iteration of this crisis. That’s it. I think my cynicism about politicians is well supported and the wise course of action. I don’t think undue excitement about a politician who otherwise is unimpressive makes any sense at all.

  51. I heard a good part of it on the radio, so maybe (like Kennedy) he comes across much better on TV…

    I have little doubt that if everything we knew of either Obama or Hillary was from entirely the newspapers people would neither like him nor hate her nearly as much. Part of that, of course, is simply the over-exposure Hillary had for so many years (which is not to deny that to know her better is to like her less) but it somewhat surprises me how starkly the charisma factor is playing out in the Democratic race this time around.

  52. EDIT: “was from entirely …” obviously should be “was entirely from …”

  53. After the bit about his white grandmother I actually had a hard time believing that he was accusing his own grandmother of being a racist on national TV to further his own political career.

    I must have missed that part… guess I was actually paying attention to the part where he mentioned that everybody, even his grandmother – has ugly biases, and how that doesn’t necessarily make them a bad person.

  54. For instance, Freddy Nietszche was all into the will to power, which sometimes may involve taking stuff without the consent of the wimpy owner, or offing people who deserve to die.

    hey nietzche called and said you should try reading some of his books sometime.

    also he would like a chocolate bundt cake recipe for his new cookbook, The Will To Flour, a followup to his earlier success, Twilight of the Muffins.

  55. Except when a liberal mentions them – mentions them, and doesn’t even describe what to do about them

    Wait a second Obama has been in the Senate for like 4 years and is running for President and he has only pointed out what is wrong with shit yet has said absolutely nothing about he will fix said problems?!?!

    Why are we even listening to this asshole at all? And why are we listening to Obama?

  56. Libertarians don’t believe in investing in schools and communities?

    Even Pericles was a Keynesian. Seemed to work out well for the Olive Kingdom…then again, they established power based on free trade. Either way, wealthy kingdoms with notable success invested heavily in the “physical plant”, so to speak, of their civilizations. I don’t see how ours is any exception.

    For instance, Freddy Nietszche was all into the will to power, which sometimes may involve taking stuff without the consent of the wimpy owner, or offing people who deserve to die.

    If you are going to misuse the name of a philosopher you obviously haven’t read, at least have the decency to spell it correctly.

  57. “His reasoning for not leaving Rev. Wright’s flock struck me as laughably unconvincing; apparently, because there are some batshit crazy guys circulating somewhere in black America, there’s no reason to distance yourself from the batshit crazy guy running your church.”

    His reasons for joining it in the first place was purely political – he needed to establish his bona fide “blackness” in the Chicago political environment that he wanted to advance in.

    Obama is just another slick politician – not some “transcendent” figure.

    He used his association with the preacher and the church to advance himself when he was in an environment where that was an asset to him. Now that it’s not, he tried to spin away his association by first claiming he never heard any of the stuff the reverend was spewing, which was a lie and patently absurd. That didn’t work, so he had to try something else, hence the speech to redirect the focus away from what he did and didn’t know about Wright and when did he know it to the notion that this whole episode is an illustration of OUR lack of dealing with the “unfinished business” of race.

  58. Mike L., you have a bit of a general point, but there’s no evidence that it applies to Obama on this. Whatever his rhetoric, his voting record at the federal and state level is pretty pure left-liberal, and so it’s not much of a stretch to assume we know what he means by “investment.”

    My view: barring some catastrophe, there’s no way Obama gets elected president. His appeal to moderates and even some Republicans and libertarians was largely predicated on rhetoric about post-racial unity. Unfortunately, the degree to which he defends Wright indicates his actual beliefs seem to be aligned with black liberation theology, which is just a candy coating of Christianity around a gooey center of racial grievance and Marxism.

    The only other option is that he doesn’t really believe this claptrap, and has been cynically going along with it to please his wife and get elected in Chicago, but that’s politically fatal nationally.

    And, of course, Democratic party bigwigs must know he can’t get elected nationally now, but he has the most delegates, so what can they do? Heh.

  59. Wow, I never thought there would be another “Wayne” posting here. I don’t have a lot of heartburn with what he said though.

    I think it was the best speech I have ever seen by a politician. I like Obama’s voice. I like the way he talks in short phrases and pauses between them. If you aspire to public speaking you ought to watch that speech 100 times and plagiarize his style and delivery.

  60. Even after all of this discussion and comment, nobody but nobody has topped the imagery of Rev. Wright’s “ridin’ nasty” statement.

  61. I don’t think undue excitement about a politician who otherwise is unimpressive makes any sense at all.

    Aww, c’mon, PL. It was a really good speech! Surely that’s worth something?

    I dunno. I was listening to Heller on C-Span last night, and skipped the Obamapology.

  62. This Rev Wright situation really does put the Dems in a pickle. Clearly they ought to nominate BO because he is by far the best candidate. But does he stand a chance in the general election now that white voters realize that he has a past even darker than the cocaine and the shady real estate deals?

  63. Sugar Free,

    You should follow the advice implied by your name and not get such a sugar rush before posting things on the Internet.

    dhex,

    I’m still waiting for Nietszche to come out with *God Is Dead and I’m Not Feeling So Good Myself.*

  64. I did like the speech, but I have to agree that it was exactly that… a speech. Now, Obama is young enough that he may be open to ideas as opposed to running on a single solution to problems. That’s fine.
    But I don’t kid myself that he’s going to be any knight in shining armor, riding a white horse. The best I can hope for is for him to be for more market-based solutions to problems, seeing as they tend to cost less and work as well, or better, than command and control policies. That still means there’s a lot of centralized control, but at least it would be an improvement.

  65. Who participates in these unscientific polls anyway?

    Well not me, that’s for sure!

  66. Obama’s speechwriters are brilliant — unless Obama himself actually wrote this speech, which no one has established.

    Beautiful words, hiding in them this ugly reality of what the SOB would like to do to us:

    “And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.”

    Ummm, so much for the Tenth Amendment and limited government if this socialist gets in power.

    Standard libertarian disclaimer #1: The other front-running candidates, inevitably, are also statist SOBs.

  67. But does he stand a chance in the general election now that white voters realize that he has a past even darker than the cocaine and the shady real estate deals?

    Maybe I’m just tone-deaf to the apparently great dark fears at the base of the White middle class subconscious (which is odd, because I am a middle-class honky), but I fail to see what exactly is so fucking scary about a guy going to a church that has a pissed-off angry black preacher.

  68. max, mad: hey, i’m here to help people learn about themselves, and each other, and hopefully one day heal this great nation by turning everyone against steve vai fans.

    they are the perfect scapegoat.

    on a (slightly) more serious note: fred is one of those guys who – like thomas kuhn – is quoted and namechecked by many yet read by very, very few. people tend to overlook stuff they don’t like when using him in the pro and overlook stuff they would agree with when using him in the con. his antidemocratic tendencies come to mind for both of those categories.

    anyway, the concept of the will to power is worth learning about, for what it’s worth.

  69. “Maybe I’m just tone-deaf to the apparently great dark fears at the base of the White middle class subconscious (which is odd, because I am a middle-class honky), but I fail to see what exactly is so fucking scary about a guy going to a church that has a pissed-off angry black preacher.”

    Suppose you were running for president (middle class honkey that you are), and it turned out that you had been a close confidant of David Duke? He was the godfather to your children, and you had sat at his knee for twenty years while he shaped your world-view on all manner of topics? Do you think that might taint you a bit?

  70. Elemenope,
    Pissed of angry and black sums up the fear I think.

  71. The best rebuttal to a misuse of Nietzsche EVER.

  72. But does he stand a chance in the general election now that white voters realize that he has a past even darker than the cocaine and the shady real estate deals?

    I am always amazed at how easily people buy into the pretend scandal aspects of a campaign…

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_election_mccain_vs_obama-225.html

    Even in the midst of this scandal, Obama beats McCain in 5 polls and loses in 4.

    Do you really feel like McCain is that strong a candidate?

  73. dhex,

    Please not that I used the word “sometimes” in describing theft and murder under Freddy’s worldview.

    I am aware that he spoke favorably of superior people taking an aritocratic and tolerant attitude toward their inferiors, even being nice to them, as a sign of their superior-ness or something.

    Anyway, the more I read Freddy the less I comprehend him, but I know he can’t be portrayed as a stickler for the 10 Commandments.

  74. A defining speech indeed. When he mentioned and finally admitted that he had previously heard remarks that could be considered controversial and that he strongly disagree with many of his (Rev. Wright) political views. As soon as these words were uttered, he realized that it was a grave mistake to go against his statement just days ago. Quick thinking Obama indeed: “I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”. By this, he defined every American is guilty of the same offense as he. What a joke? And instead pointing him out for lying under broad daylight and take offense by his insinuation, many applaused despite being slapped. Sad.

  75. Obama is tainted? Human taints are a disease, a cancer of this planet. Taints are a plague, and the Urkobold. . .is the cure.

  76. I’m reaching the point where I don’t care if Obama’s preacher called me out by name as an example of the kind of white devil who needs exterminating. I consider myself a politics junkie type, but moderation! It was an interesting story, but not particularly important in the qualifications for president sense. It was a pretty good speech, but only because of the sad state of the art of political rhetoric in this country.

  77. also he would like a chocolate bundt cake recipe for his new cookbook, The Will To Flour, a followup to his earlier success, Twilight of the Muffins.

    Wow, you have actual Nietzche material?! That’s impressive. I’m even more impressed if you ad-libbed that.

  78. “Even in the midst of this scandal, Obama beats McCain in 5 polls and loses in 4.

    Do you really feel like McCain is that strong a candidate?”

    I will admit that having McCain in the opposite corner betters BO’s chances considerably.

  79. a close confidant of David Duke?

    Do you not see the difference between David Duke and Wright?

    I am not supporting Wright’s views, but there are degrees of wrongness even on the topic of race.

    I would put right more in the Pat Buchanan range than the David Duke range.

  80. Mike Larsen,

    There’s a panoply of Nietzsche cooking literature. Aside from those mentioned above, there’s also Twice Baked Zarathustra.

  81. squirrels ate a “W”

  82. Mike L., you have a bit of a general point, but there’s no evidence that it applies to Obama on this.

    I gotta admit I don’t know his voting record well. That’s intentional. I think the institution of the Presidency is just too damned powerful no matter who holds the office. Consequently, Americans are way too wrapped up in President worship/fear/loathing and following the Presidential horse race. I don’t intend to vote for anybody for President.

  83. Anyway, the more I read Freddy the less I comprehend him, but I know he can’t be portrayed as a stickler for the 10 Commandments.

    Funny you should say that…Nietzsche actually identified the law-making capacity of the Jews as a great cultural step forward in the history of ideas (and on that basis includes them amongst his identification of the four great western civilizations, alongside the Greeks, the Persians, and the Germans).

    He just thought the Christian idea of applying Jewish rules to people who were not Jewish was damn silly.

    I guess you’d better keep studying. 😉

  84. Don’t forget

    “On Truth and Pies in a Non-morsel Sense”

  85. Don’t forget

    The Gay Science

  86. And the much maligned cookbook

    Human, All Too Human

    It’s a COOK BOOK!!!!!!

  87. Human, All Too Human

    It’s a COOK BOOK!!!!!!

    Now, that’s fucking funny. Nietzsche and the Twilight Zone, together at last.

  88. Figures. He was never clear about what the ?bermensch’s diet.

  89. Strike the what.

  90. I wondered if anybody would remark on the “taint” thing. It’s like being in fifth grade again :-).

  91. PL,

    They eat the weak, duh!

  92. Weak what, though? Nietzsche never specified. At least, not until he wrote that cookbook. Ick.

  93. Laursen, with a ‘u’. I’m not some damned Swenska all driving around in my Volvo and talking like, “Borgee borgee borgee.” (Are Volvos Swedish? I’m not even sure.)

  94. Generally, aren’t the worst performing school systems located in cities that have been Leftist/Socialist Utopias for decades?

    Yeah, look how sucky Berkley is!

  95. Generally, aren’t the worst performing school systems located in cities that have been Leftist/Socialist Utopias for decades?

    Yeah. Boston Latin…fucking terrible.

  96. I think you mean Berkeley. And I think they were talking about K-12 education.

  97. As soon as these words were uttered, he realized that it was a grave mistake to go against his statement just days ago. Quick thinking Obama indeed: “I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.”

    Hey, Substance!
    He thinks so quickly that he put those words in the text that was leaked before he even gave the speech.
    Leaked text from yesterday morning
    (I found the link here at H&R!)

  98. I don’t know that Alabama is a leftist/socialist utopia. But the fact is that the schools here with the worst academic performance are the ones with the highest percentage of black students. The way the schools are funded here at a local level, these districts also tend to be poorer,predominantly black areas, that result in less per student funding.

  99. Sorry for the curious omission of the “u”. I must’ve lost it while cleaning up my extra “whats”.

  100. Obama’s address on race was so unusual because it was 19th Century style political discourse, an actual coherent, nuanced argument rather than a sound-bite vehicle masquerading as a speech. And it should make libertarians rejoice–at least those of us concerned about liberal racism. He directly confronted the leftie racialists who insist that no progress has been made since the Civil Rights Act and challenged black victimology, at the same time he acknowledged the anger in older generations, both white and black. Now, let’s see if the political reporting community has enough sense to see this as something bigger than posturing to solve an immediate political problem. As a former DNC press secretary many years ago, one of the worst parts of my job was pandering to the practitioners of identity politics inside my party. As a libertarian Democrat, I see something very new in Barack Obama. He’s doing something our “first black president” could have done, had he had the courage.

  101. I am uncertain what all the conditions were and are that resulted in this disparity. I assume some of the blame lies in lingering racial injustice that created the economic disadvantage. I also assume that some of the blame lies in the black community itself. This cuts to the heart of a large part of the black liberation that the reverend preaches.

    But that isn’t going to stop this runaway train that the senator finds himself on. Julia Roberts said in “pretty woman”. “It is easier to believe the bad stuff.”

  102. “The State, that is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly, also, it lies, and the lie that creeps from its mouth is this: “I, the State, am the People.”

    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  103. But the fact is that the schools here with the worst academic performance are the ones with the highest percentage of black students.

    I am uncertain what all the conditions were and are that resulted in this disparity.

    How about this, brotherben: Blacks are, ON THE WHOLE, IN GENERAL, not as smart as whites, at least not as school-smart. Hence, predominantly black schools underperform. No amount of hand-wringing or “investment” will change this.

  104. Elemenope,

    I said Freddy wasn’t a stickler for the Ten Commandments, and you seem to agree, since, like me, you don’t think Freddy saw the Commandments as applicable to modern society (except maybe Jewish society).

    It was General Tso who wrote *Hunan, All Too Hunan.*

  105. One might say: all the means by which one has so far attempted to make mankind moral were, through and through, immoral. (Twilight of the Idols, The ‘Improvers’ of Mankind)

    One pays heavily for coming to power, for power makes stupid. (Twilight of the Idols, What the Germans Lack)

    Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. These same institutions produce quite different effects while they are still being fought for; then they really promote freedom in a powerful way. (Twilight of the Idols, My Conception of Freedom)

    All Nietzsche, all the time!

  106. “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to teach him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently.”

    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  107. I said Freddy wasn’t a stickler for the Ten Commandments, and you seem to agree, since, like me, you don’t think Freddy saw the Commandments as applicable to modern society (except maybe Jewish society).

    True ’nuff. Though, one would be hard put to argue that Nietzsche approved of many of the actions forbidden by the Decalogue; he just though that “thou shalt not”s were no longer an appropriate way to approach certain ends, given especially what he thought were the damaging side-effects of such rule-giving to human fulfillment.

  108. Rendering oneself unarmed when one had been the best-armed, out of a height of feeling–that is the means to real peace, which must always rest on a peace of mind…rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared. This one day must become the highest maxim. (The Wanderer and his Shadow, 284)

    Verily, I have often laughed at weaklings who thought themselves good only because they had no claws. (Zarathustra, On those who are Sublime)

    The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes the modern spirit so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibility: precisely this is now called “freedom.” (Twilight of the Idols, Critique of Modernity)

  109. “How about this, brotherben: Blacks are, ON THE WHOLE, IN GENERAL, not as smart as whites, at least not as school-smart. Hence, predominantly black schools underperform. No amount of hand-wringing or “investment” will change this.”

    But is it genetic or society induced?

  110. “Thou goest to woman? Forget not thy whip!”

    That’s hot.

  111. Aristotle was not Belgian.

  112. That’s hot.

    Especially since in that famous photograph, it’s the woman carrying the whip.

  113. damn you urkobold! now i want waffles.

  114. Lou was a saucy little minx.

  115. How about this, brotherben: Blacks are, ON THE WHOLE, IN GENERAL, not as smart as whites, at least not as school-smart. Hence, predominantly black schools underperform. No amount of hand-wringing or “investment” will change this.

    All declarative sentences.
    Interesting.

    Research into this topic would tend to disagree with these assertions.

    Read up on the Flynn Effect.

    Most of the movement in IQ scores occurs at the bottom of the distribution as environmental conditions improve (read intervention, better nutrition, better schools, more opportunities, better access to media, etc…).

    Also see
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/312/5782/1900

  116. Here’s a little thing Nietsche wrote after his mental breakdown. (Apologies to Cypress Hill)

    I’m on the attack
    I’m Freddy Nietszche and I also sprach
    Hit you in the brain pan
    Thank you’ Ma’am
    With cool philosophy my books are crammed
    Damn
    Why don’t y’all understand?
    Yo, I can’t stand your stench
    Your ass will get whupped by the ubermensch
    Your member is shrinking
    I’m thinking
    I make just as much sense when I’ve been drinking.
    If I didn’t have class
    I’d birth your tragedy by kicking your ass
    Bro’, I got ta maintain
    A philosopher like me is goin’ insane

    Tell my woman to strip
    And I won’t forget my Kool Whip.
    Whip it out and have my ho kneelin’
    I ain’t boring like an Appolonian.
    Misunderstand my views? I suggest you don’t try it
    I’ll rip out your brain and then I’ll fry it.
    My shit’s fat like a sumo slammin’ that ass
    Punks just jealous `cause they can’t outwrite me
    Who is the most erudite? Me!
    It’s very plain
    A philosopher like me is goin’ insane

  117. fred’s aphorisms are a mixture of funny, true and shockingly sexist. he does manage to stay fairly current and readable despite the culture and language gaps.

    Anyway, the more I read Freddy the less I comprehend him, but I know he can’t be portrayed as a stickler for the 10 Commandments.

    well, no, but what does that have to do with anything?

    other possible cookbook titles:

    the souffl? science
    thus cake, zarathrustra
    ecce homo: how milk becomes what milk is

  118. Look, despite a difference of opinion about Nietzsche’s philosophy, can’t we all at least agree he had a fantastic mustache?

  119. History changing? I honestly could barely get through it. Like all of Obama’s speeches, it was intellectually vapid gibberish. The cosmo left will fall all over themselves to find the “brilliance” in that speech, but for the everyday American all Obama accomplished was cementing in their mind that he’s half black. A successful speech would have persuaded people to forget that fact.

  120. cementing in their mind that he’s half black. A successful speech would have persuaded people to forget that fact.

    Only if you believe that that fact is a liability among the majority of Americans.

    I don’t think it is for most people…some, sure, but not most.

  121. Now, I would vote for Obama if he were half-human, half-Vulcan. Guess his name would then be Spobamack.

  122. How about a half-man, half-Elf who sails into the West to plead with the gods to save men and elves from the tyranny of the evil one?

  123. Elf? Man, that’s just fantasy. Vulcans are real.

  124. By the light of Earendil you guys are geeks.

  125. Exactly. Just reading this blog makes you geekish.

  126. the geeks don’t want no freaks

  127. Guess his name would then be Spobamack.

    I was thinking “Tuvok Obama” is a very Vulcan sounding name.

  128. I prefer Spo-Ba-Mack.

  129. Terry Michael,

    I concur exactly – thank you for putting in words what it is about Obama that appeals to me over and above any pure-play paleoliberal policy slate.

  130. This election is highly illogical.

  131. I thought the speech was very good.

    More importantly for Obama, I think it accomplished what he was really aiming to do–shore up his base among affluent, white liberals and the young’uns. Just look at how busy Chris Matthews was fondling himself over the speech on Hardball. That pretty much tells you all you need to know.

    The ‘lunchpail voter’ and the hardcore union lunkhead isn’t going to vote for Obama under any circumstances, but Obama had to worry about the effect of Rev. Wright’s nastiness on the swooning yuppies. I think he fixed that problem yesterday.

    And if he gets the nomination, this will all be old news in September and October.

  132. It was a great speech, up until this part:

    “This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.”

    I have a couple of problems with this. First, it’s incoherent. Having your job “shipped overseas” is just another way in which “someone who doesn’t look like you” can take it. Thus disgruntled white workers are really being asked to transfer their resentment from one group of non-white competitors to another. Worse, they are being told that it’s na?ve of them to resent people who win jobs because of political preferences, but savvy to resent people who win them by offering to work harder for less money.

    Obama gets away with this by pointing the figure not at the poorer workers who get the jobs, but at the demonic corporation, which is guilty of transferring jobs from richer to poorer people “for nothing more than a profit.” Yes, making money is the only reason a corporation hires anyone, just as making money is the only reason you go to work for one, and maximizing the value of your money is the only reason you purchase one corporation’s products over another’s. I’m all for Obama’s attempt to get beyond racial demagoguery, but I’m concerned that he is merely replacing it with economic demagoguery.

  133. Um, Chris? He *is* a Democrat, after all.

  134. Excellent analysis, Chris. For Obama to be a true agent of change he not only has to transcend Jesse Jackson, which he has done, he also has to turn away from the rhetoric of Dick Gephardt. It is the later part, the intellectual immaturity of almost every Democrat except Bill Clinton that prevents me from throwing my support to Obama.

  135. of course that should read, ‘the intellectual immaturity on matters pertaining to economics’.

  136. How tiresome is Obama. He is black by choice and should have little in common with the the aggrieved black masses that are so much the problem. Nothing he said or nothing he will say will prevent the country from continuing in its path of racial separateness and confrontation. He must absolutely disown such a large proportion of the black community in order to convince me that he really wants to see a color blind society that I have no reason to support him. Ther can be no “conversations” about race in America as long as all discussion is prefaced by the belief that all whites are racists. Obama has to get others such as Jackson ands Sharpton to disown their own successes at agrieving the others of their race for their to be enough room for any “conversation” that is not simply lecture. Obama is not the man for it. No politician can be.

  137. Robert,

    Ther can be no “conversations” about race in America as long as all discussion is prefaced by the belief that all whites are racists.

    That would be a belief held by a very small minority. Certainly not one held by Obama.

    Unless you are talking about the soft version of that belief.

    The belief that everyone is racist, on some level.

    A lot of people believe that, but it does not single-out whites as particularly racist.

    And, fwiw, a conversation about the difference between believing that there exists structural or institutional racism in our society and the belief that all whites are racist might be worth the effort.

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