The Corner

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Obama Decoded


This extraordinary article by Michael Barone is well worth your time. (You don’t have to read the whole thing, just the beginning and the end. The state-by-state analyses can be skipped.) Barone’s analysis of Barack Obama’s character and public appeal confirms what I’ve been arguing for some time now. Personally, culturally, and politically, Obama is an academic. That is his ethos and appeal. Obama’s base consists of young voters, African-American voters, and voters who are especially shaped by the milieu of American academia. This last bit — about academia — is what the polls have missed up to now.

My point of late has been that the whole Reverend Wright fiasco has its roots in the nexus between the radicalism of elite university divinity schools and the lives of urban African Americans. Wright’s infamous remarks are not a fluke or “out of context,” but part of the consistently hard-left political worldview nurtured by Wright’s elite divinity-school mentors. Wright’s ability to give a popular and hard-edged spin to the sophisticated academic theology of black liberation is what drew Obama to Wright – who was the perfect bridge between Obama’s radical intellectual world and the ethnic authenticity he lacked.

In the same way a good college lecturer makes political radicalism unthreatening and appealing to freshmen, Obama sees his task as smoothly introducing the sometimes radical or off-putting vision of the Democratic left to Americans. And in just the same way, Obama means to “bring us together” with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Asad, and the rest of the world’s rogue gang.