Submitted by the County Bureaucrat
For a class project, I read “Audacity of Hope” by BO recently. Despite having campaigned for Obama in 2008, I always had a suspicion of the kind of mental peasants (to put this in the ugliest terms imaginable, true goyim) who read and believe Presidential campaign books. During my time in DC, on a bet from a friend, I always made sure to cite Mike Cernovich’s “Gorilla Mindset” as my favorite conservative book to illuminate both my own opinion of the typical potboiler released that year and point younger Rightists in better directions than they’d find from reading the works of court conservatives (George Will comes to mind). I regret not having finished AH earlier. It is a charming and perhaps unintentionally insightful little book.
In particular, I can see why conservatives went ballistic when Obama took power. In this book, he demonstrates essential mastery over the conservative vocabulary and policy framework and repurposes it for late 2000s liberalism. The writing more or less completely eclipses what you can find from “conservative” movement at the time (compare with Jonah Goldberg’s “Tyranny of Cliches” or anything Buckley wrote after the Cold War’s end) and in doing so shows the fragility and rhetorical useless of their views. It is not that Obama hasn’t read the latest issue of National Review, but that he has done so and found it wanting, especially as a black man in America. Obama explicitly agrees with conservative critiques of nihilism (Allan Bloom and all that) and uses this stupid conservative trope to jujitsu his way in a defensible manner to the left-edge of the Overton Window of that time. He also does so in a likeable way.
The book was written after Sam Francis perceptively highlighted Obama as the kind of politician embodying an explicitly internationalist, academic perspective who would signal the end of the historic American nation and who did so along the dimensions forecast by the paleocons; Obama specifically cites Lincoln’s moral vision as his own – and in doing so morally disarms conservatives. Objections by conservatives along the lines of “Lincoln properly understood!!” simply fail for 97% of the nation on their face, who is more likely to have understood Lincoln – a BLACK Constitutional Law Professor at Chicago with elite backing? Who was President of law review at HLS? Or the people who had destroyed the country in the financial crisis and Iraq War? Who were simply less credentialed than their opposition and likely had lower test scores?
I can’t really recommend the book to others. Page for page, it is not a good use of time. Nonetheless, the illustrates the danger of what Bramwell called “Abstract Conservatism” and illustrates the sheer fragility of an ideology that cannot develop a true, separate elite and must rely on abstract philosophical propositions to justify its own existence. Virtually no group that has survived EXCLUSIVELY relies on such proofs.
Overall, in the face of someone like Obama, and having abandoned their own co-ethnics, foresworn the science of race and IQ, accepted the logic of political correctness (for the younger of you reading this, look into the columns and sad fate of Sobran), who outsourced most of their hard thinking to a single ethnic lobby with foreign policy commitments which if pursued seriously would push the country to the brink – the rise of lower IQ charlatans and cranks like Glenn Beck is unsurprising. What was the Right even supposed to run on?
In many ways, the book was inspiring. By all rights, Conservatism should have been put to rest in the first two years of the Obama administration – given the relatively sensible economic and foreign policy of that time. But instead, with help from AstroTurf, confused baby boomers, and Leftist apathy the right held on. I will refrain from documenting an alternate history in which the Right was competent enough to say, put together a workable health plan, but it is not hard to imagine a movement with a few changes and, in the grand scheme of things, a minor boost in competence, taking on Orban-like power in America and perhaps delaying the inevitable for a few more decades.