Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Condemning Obama, Praising Buckley

Look at previous columns to see the much-discussed photos regarding Barack Obama and another column entitled "The Case for John McCain." See the bottom of his column for my tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr., who passed away today.

Later this afternoon (Wednesday), I'll have another column up regarding my views on what's fair and what's not in John McCain's campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. I'll also discuss why the revealing photos (see below) regarding Obama are fair. The fact that some of Obama's supporters are far-left fans of Communist fanatic Che Guevara is a matter that deserves attention.

Candidates for President surely recognize that everything they do in public is fair game for photographers and writers. I am interested in Obama's Kenyan roots, which are almost exclusively biological rather than cultural, although he generally seeks to suggest otherwise. In fact, Obama was brought up by a very fine person, his Caucasian mother. Apparently, he only saw his Kenyan father, who deserted the family early in the game, on one occasion. In that sense, Barack Obama is about as "African" or even "Black" as I am (and I am as far as I know completely Caucasian). Obama is doing extremely well in the primaries with Black voters, but he has precious little in common with them. It is not unfair to discuss these points. He's no longer running for the Illinois State Senate, but rather for President of the U.S.

William F. Buckley, Jr.: Rest-in-Peace (1925-2008)

I was lucky enough to know William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of The National Review, a key journal in the history of American conservatism. William and his sister, Priscilla, were important figures in my own writing career, and I'll be writing more about them at some point later today.

The last time I saw Buckley in public was on TV right after the end of Ronald Reagan's funeral. I thought, "Without William F. Buckley, Jr., Ronald Reagan probably never would have been elected President." Buckley had that much influence on his times.

When he founded National Review more than 50 years ago (and to me, it does seem like only yesterday), conservatism looked like a dead philosophy. Prior to World War II, the dominant Republican philosophy on foreign policy was isolationism. In fiscal affairs, Republicans -- well, most of them -- were in favor of a balanced budget, something that was unlikely during World War II and in the subsequent Cold War.

Buckley's conservatism contained a strong element of traditional Roman Catholicism, although with a deep suspicion of Rooseveltian governmental intervention in people's affairs. Most of all, Buckley was opposed to collectivism, the dominant viewpoint underlying Communism, which appeared at the time to be the main competitor for mankind's hearts and minds.

One thing Buckley and his magazine did very well was to encourage young conservative writers, including people like Russell Kirk, author of the important book The Conservative Mind, David Brudnoy, D. Keith Mano, and George Will, among many others. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were very few outlets for conservatives who had something to say, and National Review was a lifeline for writers-on-the-Right.

Ronald Reagan said many times that National Review was his favorite magazine. Buckley gave the lie to the liberal illusion that the only intellectuals in America were on the Left. He debated with -- and usually won convincingly -- against every notable liberal in the U.S., including J. K. Galbraith, Michael Harrington, Gore Vidal, and Norman Mailer. He was a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater and, especially, Ronald Reagan. Buckley and his NR cohort supplied much of the intellectual firepower that helped overcome the Soviet Union.

I've used many times one of his favorite sayings: "Self-control is the most exhilarating of pleasures." I've often said I don't know if that's totally correct, but I'm delighted that someone said it.

It's conventional to say of someone who's passed that we will miss him. In Buckley's case, it's absolutely true. There never was anyone quite like him -- and there certainly will never be another WFB, Jr.


Anonymous said...

I think you'll come off as a little more moderate if you think a little bit more before writing lines like the one that states Obama is as black as you are.

Hear me out. While I appreciate the suggestion (I assume with some favor to you here) you make that Obama may not embody to its entirety the stereotypical experience of being black -- by virtue of the fact that he was raised soley by his white mother (and add to that the Hawaiian College stuff etc. etc.) -- he is (and obviously was as a child), nonetheless, black, which means that his experiences are foreover molded by whatever that may have brought to him which you nor I can speak nothing of since we are not (and obviously were not as children) black.

Two articles I think you will find interesting, particularly the second:


Stephen R. Maloney said...

I hear you, but I don't agree with you. Obama's "Black experience" is mostly non-existent. He was brought up in Hawaii with a white mother and white relatives. Hawaii is one of the most racially diverse places on the face of the earth. He went to college in Hawaii (and I believe Occidental) before he went to Harvard. Trust me, I was smart enough to go to Harvard (and Princeton, as Mrs. Obama did and probably learned everything she knows from Prof. Krugman) and got a New York State Regents Fellowship (rare indeed) and got a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. It's true Obama didn't experience the "stereotypical" Black experience, or much of any Black experience. How would he even know he was mixed race if he hadn't looked in the mirror? If you and others hold Obama to very low standards I'm sure he'll pass with flying colors (oops, did I say colors?). It's very important to look at individuals as individuals. Obama seems to have very little experience in the real world as most of us experience/endure it. Thanks for visiting. Return often.

steve maloney

Stephen R. Maloney said...

The Wikipedia article on Obama basically illustrates my point about Obama's "blackness."

In the memoir, Obama describes his experiences growing up in his mother's American middle class family. His knowledge about his African father, who returned once for a brief visit in 1971, came mainly through family stories and photographs.[16] Of his early childhood, Obama writes: "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind."[22] The book describes his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.[23] He wrote that he used alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind".[24] Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear."[25]

Anonymous said...

A man with two PhDs citing a secondary source? And one with multiple quotes stripped as they are of any context no less? I've read the article aswell. You would have enjoyed reading the second article I posted in my first post much more I think.

At any rate, it's immaterial what Obama thought of himself as a child. What matters most as far as what shapes his experience is how others viewed (and view) him, and to me, Obama looks black. Does he look white to you? I doubt it severely.

Talking about how black or white his experience is is about as useful as CNN dissapproving of the way Hillary Clinton dresses herself.

It doesn't take two PhDs to figure out that the individual who appeals to the largest variety of voters wins the election. As a kind of representative of McCain's, you should be smartly aware of the influence your demeanor carries on those individuals who share some but not all of your views; you do yourself and McCain no favour when you insist on posting inane assertions of what another individual's life experience was or was not. Someone who does not necessarily share all of your views be quick to generalize your behaviour to those of all McCain's supporters.

It's in yours and McCain's best interest to stick to the facts of the problems facing this country and McCain's proposed solutions to them. McCain will need this in order to elevate himself above the sea of Obama $hit out there. If you read the second article linked in my first post you'll see what I am refering to. McCain will need to forcefully and adamantly reject that kind of $hit while the media will sling it into his face. Calling it for what it is, laying it all out in plain speech will be his best tactic. Confronting the bully is the only way to beat the bully.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

I only have one Ph.D. You didn't get my point. I say what I believe is true; I don't try to cajole you or other to vote for McCain. He does well enough on his own. My points: Paul Krugman is a flack for left-wing politics and has no status as an economist. Second point: Barack Obama is a windbag. Does Barack Obama look "Black?" He looks like a mixed-race guy brought up with a silver spoon stuck in his . . . mouth.


Stephen R. Maloney said...

P.S. I've answered my last "anonymous comment," which I like about as much I do graffiti. I'm not a big fan of Barack Obama. I see as another anti-military, "socialist lite" candidate who talks big and delivers nothing. I love the 130 votes of "present" in the Illinois Senate. Not exactly a "profile in courage."


"Strip the bark off Barack." Sounds like a bumper sticker to me.