Shelby is a classic black conservative. He likes to call out black folks and liberals for being too lazy and disingenuous, and he praises the conservative ethos and their (so called) honesty.
Anyway, Mr. Steele has struck again. [h/t to David for e-mailing this article to me) This time he has penned an article for the Wall Street Journal about Obama. (Shelby is fascinated with Obama. He is still pissed that the first black president came from the left and not the right.) In it, he lets America have it for not calling out Obama for his incompetence and giving him a pass because of his exotic skin and charisma.
"The president's success in having Osama bin Laden killed is an exception to a pattern of excruciatingly humble and hesitant leadership abroad. Mr. Obama has been deeply ambivalent about the application of American power, as if a shameful "neocolonialism" attends every U.S. action in the world. In Libya he seems actually to want American power to diminish altogether.
This formula of shrinking American power abroad while expanding government power at home confuses and disappoints many Americans. Before bin Laden, 69% of Americans believed the country was on the wrong track, according to an Ipsos survey. A recent Zogby poll found that only 38% of respondents believed Mr. Obama deserved a second term, while 55% said they wanted someone new.
And yet Republicans everywhere ask, "Who do we have to beat him?" In head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama beats all of the Republican hopefuls in most polls.
The problem Mr. Obama poses for Republicans is that there has always been a disconnect between his actual performance and his appeal. If Hurricane Katrina irretrievably stained George W. Bush, the BP oil spill left no lasting mark on this president. Mr. Obama's utter confusion in the face of the "Arab spring" has nudged his job-approval numbers down, but not his likability numbers, which Gallup has at a respectable 47.6%. In the mainstream media there has been a willingness to forgive this president his mistakes, to see him as an innocent in an impossible world. Why?
There have really always been two Barack Obamas: the mortal man and the cultural icon. If the actual man is distinctly ordinary, even a little flat and humorless, the cultural icon is quite extraordinary. The problem for Republicans is that they must run against both the man and the myth. In 2008, few knew the man and Republicans were walloped by the myth. Today the man is much clearer, and yet the myth remains compelling.
What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation—and the most powerful nation in the world at that. And so not only is he the most powerful black man in recorded history, but he reached this apex only through the good offices of the great American democracy.
Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it. "
Let me jump in here: Barack Obama is no worse than any of the previous presidents before him. So Shelby, you lost me at hello. Your article, from its outset, is poisoned by ideological prejudice. And you give Americans credit for enlightenment where they deserve none. I would argue that electing Barack Obama only highlighted the fact that America is still stained by its sad racial legacy. And it has created more bigotry, ignorance, and uncontrolled hostility by not only the usual suspects, but by those who we never expected to become so afraid and fearful of losing their country to those other people.
"..Conversely, the media hold the president's exceptionalism against Republicans. Here is Barack Obama, evidence of a new and progressive America. Here are the Republicans, a cast of largely white males, looking peculiarly unevolved. Add to this the Republicans' quite laudable focus on deficit reduction and spending cuts, and they can be made to look like a gaggle of scolding accountants.
How can the GOP combat the president's cultural charisma? It will have to make vivid the yawning gulf between Obama the flattering icon and Obama the confused and often overwhelmed president. Applaud the exceptionalism he represents, but deny him the right to ride on it as a kind of affirmative action.
A president who is both Democratic and black effectively gives the infamous race card to the entire left: Attack our president and you are a racist. To thwart this, Republicans will have to break through the barrier of political correctness.
Mr. McCain let himself be intimidated by Obama's cultural charisma, threatening to fire any staff member who even used the candidate's middle name. Donald Trump shot to the head of the Republican line by focusing on Mr. Obama as a president, calling him our "worst" president. I carry no brief for Mr. Trump, but his sudden success makes a point: Another kind of charisma redounds to those willing to challenge political correctness—those unwilling to be in thrall to the president's cultural charisma.
Lastly, there must be a Republican message of social exceptionalism. America has more social mobility than any heterogeneous society in history. Isn't there a great Republican opportunity to be had in urging minorities to at last move out of their long era of protest—in which militancy toward the very society they struggled to join was the way ahead? Aren't Republicans uniquely positioned to offer minorities a liberation from both dependency and militancy?
In other words, isn't there a fresh new social idealism implicit in conservative principles? Why not articulate it and fight with it in the political arena? Such a message would show our president as unevolved in his social thinking—oh so 1965. The theme: Barack Obama believes in government; we believe in you." [Article]
Let me jump in here: Republicans don't applaud social exceptionalism,they view it with scepticism. Your claim that Obama is an affirmative action president is proof of it. Telling the truth isn't political correctness, and honestly and openly questioning something isn't necessarily racism. But claiming that only republicans can move minorities out of their "long era of protest" because only republicans can show us how to work hard and achieve in America, is an insult to every hard working person of color who helped to make this country what it is. "Militancy" isn't always such a bad thing. Just ask the founding fathers to whom you and those of your ilk pray to every day. Without that "militancy" you wouldn't be able to speak of this great country that you seem to love so much. You wouldn't be able to collect a nice check from Stanford University. And you certainly wouldn't be able to collect what your publishers give you in advances for those wonderful books you like to churn out like pablum for the wingnut soul.
Shelby, I credit my success in life to my parents and the work ethic that they gave me, not the benevolence of white America. I have succeeded in America in spite of American -so called- exceptionalism, not because of it.
I wonder if you can say the same thing?