Friday, May 18, 2012

Identity politics

There are two things that I want to be very clear about as I start this one, because people are likely to see the topic and make assumptions that I'm raising an issue that I'm not, or that I'm concerned about things that I'm not concerned about.
  1. I believe that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
  2. Even if he weren't, I do not, at this point, care. He ran for the office and was elected. For the last four years he has legitimately been the President of the United States.
And there are two points that I do want to make.
  1. The system of identity politics promulgated and promoted by the American left is ultimately corrosive and destructive, so much so that even those who promote recognize the need to "game the system."
  2. The United States media's performance in its coverage of Barack Obama before his election to the Presidency was nonfeasance amounting to malfeasance.
OK?  Everyone got that?

That said, this is fascinating. At Breitbart's site, they've published an Obama bio published in 1991 by his literary agent as he was shopping book proposals.

"Born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii..."

There's been a lot of hot air over the last few years over the "birthers," people who were skeptical that Obama was constitutionally eligible for the office that he holds.  Some of that undoubtedly came from people who didn't want a black President, or that hoped the election of President Obama could be annulled or retroactively overturned. But that doesn't mean that a) a majority held those positions or b) that there are not legitimate Constitutional concerns involved or c) that there weren't legitimate reasons to ask the questions. (For what it's worth, many of those on the left who loved the issue because it allowed them to pretend that all Republicans were racists just ignored the fact that the issue was initially raised by Democratic supporters of Hillary Clinton during the primary campaign.) As the above bio demonstrates, not only was his father Kenyan, there was information in the public record for years stating that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. So it was absolutely legitimate to ask whether he was constitutionally eligible for the office he sought.

If he was not born in Kenya, why would his bio say that he was? Not having been there at the time, I can't prove it, but the likeliest reason seems to me that he thought the kind of book he was selling would benefit from having the "street cred" of being born in Africa. Much like I believe that the Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, knew that checking the "native American" box, despite the absence of any evidence other than family rumors about an ancestor five generations back that may have been part-Cherokee, would benefit her in hiring decisions made at the various Universities at which she taught. Once she reached the pinnacle of her profession, Harvard Law, there was no need to keep checking it. (I'm not sure who first came up with it, but I love that Warren is now referred to in many circles as "Fauxcahontas."  Harvard, of course, has advertised her as a "minority" for the benefit of their "diversity" statistics, despite the fact that she's a blonde, blue-eyed, plainly caucasian woman who'd be an albino if she were any whiter. Stories this week reveal that "a 1997 Fordham Law Review piece described her as Harvard Law School's 'first woman of color.'" Well, pink is a color, I suppose...)

So Warren and Obama were, and are, just taking advantage of the spoils system that they themselves, and others of like mind, put in place. If you're a 60s radical, steeped in the leftist cant about American imperialism, you advertise yourself as having been born in Kenya. If you want to give yourself every advantage in the climb through the ranks of the American professoriate, you claim native American ancestry, if you think you can get away with it (and if you're a woman and they want to increase their "diversity" numbers, no one's going to check).

As to the press, it was obvious at the time that it was in the tank for Barack Obama in 2008. The members of the media made their collective decision in the Obama vs. Clinton primary, and steadfastly refused to cover anything that might reflect poorly on their chosen candidate. Did the media cover his relationship with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn? No, the only mentions of Ayers in the mainstream press tended to whitewash his past and question the McCain effort to raise questions about their relationship. The same pattern held for Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. The press blithely ignored his "present" vote on the born-alive infants bill in Illinois.   Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency with less media "vetting" than a typical Republican Congressional candidate gets.  The media formed a protective cocoon around him, and every character or background issue that made it into the mainstream press, made it in the context of "the McCain campaign tries, again, to go negative" or "what does this latest attack say about McCain."

Did reporters have this literary bio in 2008 and never bother to print it?  Or did they not ever see it?  It's got to be one or the other.  And more importantly, which is more damning for the media as a whole, the incompetence of the latter case or the corruption of the former?

 I was amused by Jim Treacher's take...
Either Obama was born in Kenya or he wasn’t. I remain skeptical that he was. The question is, then: Why did he claim to be? What advantage did he think it gave him at the time?

Maybe Elizabeth Warren can tell us…

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Blogger Elisabeth said...|main5|dl6|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D162149
The classically partisan Huffington Post blows it off very neatly with some more whining about conspiracy theorists.

2:08 PM  

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