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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Steve Sailer explains why Barack Obama doesn't give money to his "Auntie Zeituni"

Steve Sailer has been a columnist for National Review, The American Conservative, and VDARE.com, he writes primarily on issues of race, genetics, and immigration. On his blog and in his writing, he's spent much of the last two years challenging the popular narrative that Obama is a transcendent post-racial candidate whose election could bring America beyond its racially divisive past, this narrative has been encouraged by Obama's present campaign where his remarks on race have emphasized his transformative potential and multiracial background. Recall the memorable and beautiful line from his speech at the 2004 Democratic Naional Convention "There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.” Instead, drawing on Obama's life story and a close (but plain) reading of Obama's own words from his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Sailer searches for the "real Obama" and concludes that he sees himself as a "black American" deeply invested in uplifting the black race through his political career. 

Sailer's first book, whose mere title is sure to raise the heckles of the politically correct, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of Race and Inheritance is the culmination of all this writing. The book will be on sale later this month but is already available in draft online. In the introduction, Peter Brimelow explains the book's theme and draws an interesting comparison to a figure in Canadian politics:

In this book, Steve argues that Barack Obama has been presenting himself since 2004 as a “half-blood prince,” an archetypal ambiguous figure in whom the various parts of a deeply-divided society can jointly invest their contradictory hopes. Such figures spring up regularly in conflicted polities. A classic example in my own experience: Pierre Trudeau, who appeared to have pulled off the same trick in reconciling English and French Canada in 1968. But, in such situations, someone is going to be disappointed. In Canada, Trudeau turned out to be an epiphenomenon of French Canadian nationalist debate.

In the U.S., Barack Obama turns out to be a man of the left who seeks to use government to redistribute wealth to his own race, but who has sought white support because he has found he is perceived as not really “black enough” to be a black leader—greatly to his distress.

When reporting the story of Barack Obama's Kenyan Aunt Zeituni Onyango living in public housing in Boston, Adam asked: "how can a man talk about sharing, love, compassion, and so forth while he lets his aunt live in a run-down slum on welfare - indeed, accepting her money?" It's an intersting question to which I didn't have much of an answer, but I thought Steve Sailer, whose book I'm presently working through, might be able to give me some insight. Here's what he had to say in response to a few of my questions:

"If you look at the Obama family’s income from 1996-2004, before they got rich in 2005, they were doing well (peaking out at about $250,000 in income – funny, isn’t that the dividing line in Obama’s tax plan between getting a tax cut and tax increase? Must be just a coincidence). But, they were spending like crazy, too, partly because for political reasons they have to live in the city and thus pay for their kids’ private schools and private lessons (similar families usually move to nice suburbs outside Chicago, where, in return for a big property tax bill, you get excellent public schools and parks). And partly because Michelle is high maintenance – works out with a personal trainer four times per week. (And you know that’s not at the local YWCA or whatever – I’m sure she’s at the East Bank Club or the like.)

So, the bottom line was that they were kind of broke. Not bad broke, but Obama makes a big deal about how hard it was for him to rent a car at the 2000 Democratic convention because he was maxed out on his credit card.

The money started pouring in by the millions in 2005, but they didn’t start a Self-Employed Pension plan to tax shelter some savings from Obama’s book earnings until 2007, presumably because they spent the first two years of windfall.

So, their charitable donations up through 2004 were pretty meager. They were in the business of giving away other people’s money (e.g., Old Man Annenberg’s), not their own. Since then, after they got rich, they’ve become more generous (e.g. $53,770 to Rev. Wright’s Church in 2005-2007).

Anyway, that’s a long way of setting the table to say that Obama’s views on charity, as shown by his actual behavior, are pretty standard American yuppie. Nuclear family comes first.

As for his gigantic extended family in Africa and elsewhere, well, there doesn’t seem to be any limit to how many he is supposed to help out with. The more money he makes, the more relatives he is supposed to support. And they mostly seem pretty lazy and happy to be supported by a Big Man.

And what would Michelle say if he had diverted some money to his side of the family? And how does he know that all his half-siblings are really his father’s children? (The paternity of one born to Obama Sr.’s first wife shortly, perhaps less than 9 months, after Obama Sr. returned to Africa, was long litigated in probate court.)

And doesn’t all this nepotism get in the way of forming large “coalitions of power?” Obama, after all, wants to be President of the U.S., not Kenya, so he plays by the rules here."

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 2, 2008 in U.S. politics | Permalink


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Isn't it obvious why he doesn't give to his aunt? He isn't in power yet! Once he is, he'll give someone else's money to her, like he will for lots of other people. Cool, huh!

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-11-02 6:11:18 PM

That is absolutely the biggest load of horseshit I've read all weekend.

Posted by: Richard Evans | 2008-11-02 9:06:05 PM

Great piece KK. You continue to surprise. Coyne, in a more lucid moment, confirms Brimelow's assertion.


The question is, 'How will Obama entrench the transfer of wealth?' A constitutional amendment?

Posted by: DJ | 2008-11-03 12:47:03 AM

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