By Jack Cashill
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the New York Times ran an article on what psychologists call the “impostor phenomenon.” To measure it, they ask test subjects questions like, “At times, I feel my success has been due to some kind of luck” or “I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am.”
Although the article had nothing to do with Barack Obama, he would surely have scored off the charts had he answered those questions honestly. He was a reasonably bright guy but not the “brilliant” author and savant white liberals thought him to be. His “luck” derived from the fact that he grew up almost exactly as those liberals had but in the body of a black man. Hearing him they heard themselves. Seeing him say what he said surprised them, validated them, delighted them with its very whiteness. Although they would be the last to admit it, they suffered conspicuously from what George Bush has called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
In speaking of Obama in early 2007, Joe Biden framed those expectations with dunderheaded clarity. “I mean you got the first mainstream African-American presidential candidate who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Not to be out-patronized, Senate majority Leader Harry Reid found comfort in Obama’s having “no Negro dialect.” The always-observant Shelby Steele summed up the phenomenon, “Blacks like Obama, who show merit where mediocrity is expected, enjoy a kind of reverse stigma, a slightly inflated reputation for ‘freshness’ and excellence because they defy expectations.”
Throughout his ascendancy, Obama has had to fake something else besides competence, namely a belief in America. This trumpery was on full display during Tuesday night’s Syria speech. “When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act,” said Obama at the conclusion of his disjointed speech on September 10. “That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional.”
Exceptional? As Russia’s Vladimir Putin promptly made clear in a taunting New York Times op-ed, Obama did not believe in American exceptionalism any more than he did. Indeed, Putin’s old KGB pals had been working to undermine that belief since the agency’s creation.
Obama’s rise was, in no small part, a testament to the KGB’s success. From his childhood on, Obama had been learning that just about the only thing exceptional about America was Barack Hussein Obama. In Hawaii, his communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, reinforced his mother’s casual anti-Americanism. “You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going there to get trained,” Davis reportedly told Obama. “They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that shit.”
Obama drank deeply from Davis’s well. In his acclaimed 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, Obama described the Americanization of Hawaii in Marxist terms as an “ugly conquest.” Missionaries brought “crippling diseases.” American companies carved up “the rich volcanic soil” and worked their indentured laborers of color “from sunup to sunset.”
After hitting the mainland Obama surrounded himself with Davis’s spiritual heirs. “I chose my friends carefully,” he wrote in Dreams. “The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.” With his new friends, Obama discussed “neocolonialism, Franz (sic) Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy” and flaunted his alienation. Dr. John Drew has confirmed that the Obama he met at Occidental College was a “Marxist planning for a Communist style revolution.”
The literary influences Obama cited include radical anti-imperialists like Fanon and Malcolm X, communists like Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and tyrant-loving fellow travelers like W.E.B. DuBois. “Joseph Stalin was a great man,” DuBois wrote upon Stalin’s death in 1953. “Few other men of the 20th century approach his stature.” In Dreams, Obama gave no suggestion that this reading was in any way problematic or a mere phase in his development. He moved on to no new school, embraced no new worldview.
In April 2009 in Strasbourg, France, in response to a question about America’s role in the world, Obama let that worldview slip through. “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” he said. In other words, he did not believe in American exceptionalism at all.
In these last few months, the world has seen what happens when an intellectual lightweight with no fixed principles beyond the vestigial Marxism of his youth faces off against an unscrupulous post-Marxist survivor like Putin. For those paying attention, it wasn’t hard to predict.
In 1975, when Obama was goofing off through his freshman year at an elite Hawaiian prep school, twenty-two year old Putin joined the KGB. The opportunistic Putin stayed with “the organs” until 1991 when he schemed his way out of the abortive KGB-backed putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev. “As soon as the coup began,” said Putin later, “I immediately decided which side I was on.” That same year Obama — in his own words, “someone who has undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career” — secured an unearned berth in the Ivy League at Columbia University,
In 1995, both Putin and Obama got political. The wily Putin, always one step ahead of the law, took control of the Saint Petersburg branch of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia political party. In 1995, terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers, recognizing Obama’s puppet potential, finished writing Obama’s memoir, got Obama appointed chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge grant, and held a fundraiser for his state senate run in his Chicago home.
For the next eighteen years, the resourceful Putin finessed his way through the occasionally lethal minefield of Russian politics. Obama meanwhile was wafted aloft by his own breezy rhetoric and the overheated passions of his deluded followers, including, unfortunately, most of the mainstream media.
When Putin shot Obama’s balloon down over Syria no one should have been surprised. As America first learned at Benghazi, you can fake your way through college, fake your way through the Senate, even fake your way through the presidency, but you can’t fake your way through a civil war in the Middle East.