Andrew Sullivan calls Steve Sailer’s essay on Barack Obama “stimulating” while conceding that “Sailer is often blunt, and somewhat callous, I think, in refusing to empathize with the real tensions and difficulties Obama has had to grapple with in a very multicultural life.” I wonder if Sullivan got all the way to the end of Sailer’s essay, which I found “stimulating” in all the worst ways:
Unless they can bribe their way into a prestigious office job, most of Obama’s male relatives work as little as possible, relying on their womenfolk for food and shelter. And the women are looking for what the author’s grandfather and uncle Sayid both call a “big man” to ease their burdens with funds extracted from the government. Obama’s father, it turns out, had grabbed for the brass ring but wound up a failed Big Man, undone by President Jomo Kenyatta’s discrimination against his Luo tribe and by his own alcoholism. Even when impoverished, Obama Sr. pathetically kept playing the Big Man, dispensing gifts he couldn’t afford to his relatives and hangers-on.
Now, Obama Jr. is running for the biggest job of all.
On his trip to Kenya last year, he began by lecturing the frustrated audiences not to expect his prominence in Washington to change their lives—“My time is not my own. Don’t expect me to come back here very often.” But in the slum of Kibera, the crowd’s adulation overcame his intellectual defenses and he began shouting joyously, “You are all my brothers and sisters!”
In his head, Obama surely knows that his becoming the world’s biggest man would be bad for the work ethic of Kenyans, some of whom would assume America would support them. But in his heart, none of that matters.
For Americans wondering about his fitness to be president, his latest Kenyan trip symbolizes the inner duality beneath his dapper exterior. He possesses one of the finest minds of any politician, but his personal passions routinely war against his acknowledging unwelcome truths, even to himself.
Whether his head or heart would prove stronger in the White House remains unknown, perhaps even to Barack Obama.
We’re seriously supposed to worry that if Obama becomes president his “heart” may prove stronger than his “head” and he’ll sell us all down the river to become a corrupt East African big man? Really? We also learn that Obama is “nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against his mother’s race” — i.e., Barack hates white people.
Now, I’ll concede that I haven’t read Dreams from My Father, Sailer’s primary source material for this essay, but it’s certainly been a widely read and commented on book among political journalists and nobody else seems to have reached the same conclusion as Sailer. Sailer’s explanation for his idiosyncratic reading of the book is that few have “grasped the book’s essence” because “so few of the many who have purchased it following his famous keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention appear to have read much of it.” The alternative explanation would, of course, be that Sailer’s race hang-ups are leading him to see things that nobody else sees because they’re not really there.