There is probably no president in history who entered the White House with higher expectations—or a higher opinion of himself—than Barack Obama. He was the miracle worker who would bridge the gap between white and black and usher in a post-racial utopia.
Of course, he didn’t; the rapture that greeted his inauguration is just plain embarrassing now. After his two terms as president, Americans think race relations are worse than they were at the time of Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Few dared say so at the time, but it was foolish to think that any man—even one heralded as a savior—could solve the race problem. The racial delusions prevalent since at least the 1950s make the problem impossible to solve, and Barack Obama made it worse.
Lavished with praise
When Mr. Obama first began to attract national attention, the press lavished praise on him that would make a PR flack blush. In 2006, before he was even a candidate for president, Time wrote this:
Obama seemed the political equivalent of a rainbow—a sudden preternatural event inspiring awe and ecstasy. . . . He transcends the racial divide so effortlessly that it seems reasonable to expect that he can bridge all the other divisions—and answer all the impossible questions—plaguing American public life.
Mr. Obama’s hometown paper the Chicago Sun-Times said he “has a movie-star smile and more than a little mystique. Also, we just like to say his name. We are considering taking it as a mantra.”
During MSNBC’s coverage of the 2008 primary elections, Chris Matthews got excited:
I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My—I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.
After the election Time lost all control:
Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope. Barack Obama . . . .
ABC News correspondent Terry Moran said that “Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office.” Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times that if Mr. Obama’s election “didn’t leave you teary-eyed and proud of your country, there’s something wrong with you.”
The Washington Post wrote about how Mr. Obama spent the time between election and inauguration:
Between workouts during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.
Mr. Obama did nothing to discourage idolatry. During the New Hampshire primary, he told an audience of Dartmouth students:
My job this morning is to be so persuasive . . . that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Barack.
After he clinched the Democratic nomination—before he had even won the election—he gave what must be one of the most self-absorbed speeches in American political history:
I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.
The whole world was giddy. After Mr. Obama won the election, Britain’s Sun newspaper ran the headline, “One Giant Step for Mankind,” and the Toronto Sun said the victory was “an historic milestone like no other.” The Danish newspaper Politiken wrote in an editorial that “Obama is, of course, greater than Jesus.” Mr. Obama’s press secretary Dee Dee Myers was right to call him “the most famous living person in the history of the world.” Mr. Obama had been president for less than a month when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and had been president for only eight months when the Nobel Committee declared him the winner.
Enthusiasm brooked no dissent. Just before the inauguration, I was on a radio program about the significance of the election. Another guest, a Yale professor, used the word that was on everyone’s lips, calling the election “transformational.” He said Barack Obama would dramatically change the lives of both blacks and whites.
I said I didn’t expect “transformation” or even much change at all. I asked how the fact that we had a black president would reduce black crime, illegitimacy, and school failure, and why it would make whites suddenly want black and Hispanic neighbors. I pointed out that in 1990, Virginia—the heart of the old Confederacy—elected a black man, Douglas Wilder, as governor, and that all sorts of wildly happy predictions never came true. The host of the program got angry and accused me of trying to deceive his listeners.
Ordinary people caught Obama fever. The day after the election, a Gallup poll found that seven out of 10 Americans believed race relations would improve because of his victory, and shortly after he took office the number of Americans with positive views of US race relations reached an all-time high of 66 percent.
Eight years later, we have sobered up. The number of Americans with positive views of race relations has hit a record low of 26 percent. Sixty-nine percent say race relations are bad—a figure even higher than the 68 percent who said they were bad at the time of the 1992 Los Angeles race riots. In 2014, there were three times as many people who thought race relations got worse under President Obama than who thought they got better. Mr. Obama performed no miracles.
In fact, our “first black president”—as the press likes to refer to him in obvious anticipation of many more to come—made things worse. How much worse? When he was elected, I knew he would be objectively anti-white. On the other hand, if his primary opponent Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have been anti-white too. Which would have been worse? Judging from the way she slobbered over minorities during the 2016 election, there was not much Mr. Obama did that I couldn’t imagine Mrs. Clinton doing.
In his first year in office, Mr. Obama accused a white police officer of behaving “stupidly” for arresting Harvard professor Henry Gates for disorderly conduct. He didn’t back down even when Prof. Gates’ childish, spiteful behavior was widely reported. Mrs. Clinton might have said the same thing.
When George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, Mr. Obama took Martin’s side, saying “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Mrs. Clinton probably would not have said that, but you never know.
When a Missouri grand jury refused to indict the white officer who shot Michael Brown, Mr. Obama held a rare late-evening press conference to spend seven out of his 10 minutes criticizing the police. Instead of berating blacks for rioting or saying that Brown behaved “stupidly” by punching a policeman and trying to grab his gun, Mr. Obama said the rioters had raised “legitimate issues of how communities and law enforcement interact,” called their anger “an understandable reaction,” and called Ferguson an example of the “broader challenges that we still face as a nation.” Mrs. Clinton could have done that.
The Black Lives Matter movement has probably done more to infuriate whites and discredit blacks since the brothers exploded with joy after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of killing his white wife. Mr. Obama repeatedly defended the movement and even invited its leaders to the White House for a meeting with governors and police chiefs.
In 2016, Mr. Obama flew to Dallas to address a memorial service for five white officers who were killed by a BLM supporter while they were protecting a BLM demonstration. He said police departments must root out bias in their ranks because it contributes to violence in the streets. He defended BLM, saying whites must not “simply turn away and dismiss those in peaceful protest as troublemakers or paranoid.” Would Mrs. Clinton have spoken this way to an audience filled with family members of the dead officers? I’m not sure.
Certainly the most race-crazed member of Mr. Obama’s cabinet was his first attorney general, Eric Holder. Right after he got the job, Mr. Holder said that in their private lives Americans live in “race-protected cocoons,” as if we were still living in “the country that existed almost 50 years ago.” He said Americans were “a nation of cowards” because they won’t talk about race.
Mr. Holder quashed what would have been a near-certain conviction of New Black Panthers who intimidated voters in Philadelphia, and he referred to blacks as “my people.” He went on a hiring binge in the Civil Rights Division, and more than half of his new lawyers were from just five lefty organizations: the ACLU, National Council of La Raza, NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights. Many made no secret of their view that anti-discrimination laws do not protect whites.
In 2012, when Mr. Holder was asked when affirmative action should end, he replied: “The question is not when does it end, but when does it begin . . . . When do people of color truly get the benefits to which they are entitled?” He harassed dozens of police departments over bogus discrimination claims, and handed out billions of dollars under the Pigford settlements to just about any black, Hispanic, or American Indian who claimed he had tried to get a loan from the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Holder was so stubborn about turning over documents related to the Fast and Furious “gun walking” fiasco that he became the first sitting cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress.
I’m not sure Mrs. Clinton would have appointed Eric Holder as attorney general, but I’m not sure she wouldn’t have. Lickspittle whites do that sort of thing. On the other hand, if Mrs. Clinton had been elected, Michelle Obama would not have been in the White House, and she didn’t use her perch to pour oil on trouble waters either. She spoke at many graduation ceremonies, and never failed to roar against “racism.” Here is a typical line from her May 2014 talk at a high school in Topeka, Kansas: “As you go forth, when you encounter folks who still hold the old prejudices because they’ve only been around folks like themselves, when you meet folks who think they know all the answers because they’ve never heard any other viewpoints, it’s up to you to help them see things differently.”
At the historically-black Jackson State University’s graduation ceremony, she told the students to “take a deep breath” and not lash out in the face of discrimination:
Lift up your head and do what Barack Obama has always done. As he says, “When they go low, I go high.” That’s the choice Barack and I have made. That’s what’s kept us sane over the years.
In other words, “racism” could drive even the most coddled Ivy League blacks insane. Mrs. Obama claimed to have felt its scourge many times even as first lady. When she was visiting a Target store, a woman asked her to help reach something on a high shelf. This was “racism,” and not because Mrs. Obama is 5 feet 11 inches tall. Mercifully, she “took a deep breath” and did not lash out.
Mount Rushmore material
Needless to say, in some circles Barack Obama has still lost none of his luster—certainly not in his own eyes. Just before leaving office, he had his underling, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, award him the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. Recipients must have “rendered exceptionally distinguished service to the Department of Defense as a whole” and “at considerable personal sacrifice and inconvenience.”
In his farewell address in Chicago in January, Mr. Obama said he “knows” race relations are better than before he took office. Just this month, after four blacks held and tortured a young white man, he said, “I think the overall trajectory of race relations in this country is actually very positive.”
Some white people will surely go to their graves convinced that Mr. Obama was Mount Rushmore material. As late as 2012, Chris Matthews was still saying, “This guy’s done everything right. . . . He’s the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect American.” In 2015, even after seven years of Obama, the Washington bureau chief for Scripps news, Dick Meyer, wrote: “Americans are lucky to have Barack Obama as President and we should wake up and appreciate it while we can. President Obama will go down in history as an extraordinary president, probably a great one.” Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” said in 2016 that “President Obama is the most noble man who has ever lived in the White House.”
What explains this bootlicking?
The fact that he is black explains everything—yes, everything—about Barack Obama. He glided into Harvard Law School, the Senate, the presidency, and sainthood only because he is black. His supporters expected miracles, the Nobel Committee awarded its peace prize, economist Paul Krugman went teary-eyed, and Chris Matthews felt thrills in his leg only because Barack Obama is black. Take away his blackness and we have a genial nonentity who can read a teleprompter with conviction and who probably would not have gotten much farther than the Illinois state house.
And the adoration for this nonentity says a great deal about the United States. Whites hoped for a miracle-worker because at some deep level they knew that only miracles could save us from the curse of race. Whites have spent more than a half century atoning, apologizing, fawning, and sacrificing—and what did they get? More demands, more browbeating, and yet more inventive ways—“white privilege” is only the latest—to blame them for black failure. Whites were naive to think that voting for a black president meant accusations of “racism” would stop, but they didn’t expect Eric Holder to tell them they were cowards. They were foolish to think Barack Obama was “transformational,” but they didn’t expect him to take up with a con-man like Al Sharpton and to make excuses for people who claim that white policemen hunt down and kill blacks with impunity.
White people have had enough. The victory of Donald Trump—the deeply flawed and harshly reviled Donald Trump—over the white-shrew version of Barack Obama is a sure sign that we have had enough. For whites, the presidency of Barack Obama was the zenith of foolishness and the nadir of self-loathing. For years to come, there will still be whites who believe blacks are nothing less than white people in dark skins, and that it is our eternal responsibility to lift them up. Such people are not yet an endangered species, but their numbers have begun to wane. They will continue to wane because we understand race and they don’t. Again and again, we will be right and they will be wrong. The egalitarian illusion will eventually crumble, and with it all obstacles to the white pride and courage that are all it would take for a true American renaissance.
And what about Barack Obama? He is only 55 years old, so we are stuck with him for another 30 or 40 years. I predict that the miracle worker will be simultaneously famous and insignificant. He will collect honorary PhDs. He will publish ghost-written memoirs that no one reads. He will give hearty talks at the Barack Obama Elementary Schools that spring up in black neighborhoods. He will be a guest commentator on ESPN during basketball season. And he will play an awful lot of golf. Mr. Obama went golfing 333 times while he was president, and now that he is out of office the lure of the links will be even stronger. There might even be a Barack and Michelle Obama Foundation—modeled on the Gates foundation—but it won’t amount to much.
Despite his everlasting fame, Barack Obama will be insignificant because he has never been driven to achieve. He never had to work for anything. Everything he ever had was handed to him, and what is there left to hand him? A Democrat president might hand him a seat on the Supreme Court, but he would be just another liberal cipher. Ex-president Obama will go back to being the genial nonentity he always was—perhaps the most famous nonentity in the history of the world, but still a nonentity.
We are the ones who have work to do.