Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Obama’s Victim Strategy: The OJ Defense

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Victim of Racism?

Barack Obama may be a terrible President, but like so many awful chief executives of the past, he’s a very skilled politician.  The word has gone out since the start of his Presidency that critics should be branded with the scorching iron of racism at every opportunity, but this is more than a mere smear aimed at his opponents.  It’s part of a strategy, and I believe that to some degree, it is working.  He may be presiding over the worst economic conditions in memory, and he may indeed be worsening the lot of every person in America whether they have the foresight to know it or not, but President Obama is counting on the African-American vote to deliver well into the ninetieth percentile at the polls.  Every rational person can read the statistics as well as you and I, and there is no denying that by all measures, African-Americans have been hit harder by the prevailing economic conditions, worsened by Obama’s policies, than any other group.  What is he counting on to deliver the vote of black Americans?  What is it he seeks to accomplish?  In order to prevent mass defections, Barack Obama is seeking to portray himself as the ultimate victim of racism, a regular latter-day Jesus on the way to his crucifixion at the hands of a legion of white racists.

It is not unusual for race-hustlers to try this approach, even when it has nothing to do with their situation.  In point of fact, this has become the standard tactic in the whole period following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  What most don’t realize is that Obama’s ploy is made substantially worse by the fact that he’s relying on good old-fashioned identity politics played to the hilt.  All politicians do this to some extent, and it’s the reason a jerk like John Kerry buys a hunting license and wears a flannel hunting jacket: It’s an attempt to identify with those whose votes one wishes to secure.  Candidates spend bizarre sums of money in order to get their target audiences to identify personally with them.  After all, is this not the reason the proverbial wolf dons the clothing of sheep?   One can wear any clothing one likes, but what one cannot do is to change the color of one’s skin.  Part of Obama’s approach is to exploit this common characteristic with black Americans in a way no politician’s appearance at a NASCAR race ever could.

Of course, if beauty is only skin-deep, so too is the pageantry of politics, and if your policies have harmed one identifiable group of voters more than any other, it is inevitable that some will take note, wherever their visceral loyalties may lie.  One must concoct a way to strengthen that sense of identification among the group to withstand even the self-evident fact that the candidate is causing that very group of voters more harm even than he is causing others.  One of the most effective ways to make this connection is to demonstrate a kinship of battle, loss, or victimization.  Groups composed of crime victims assemble, as do former warriors, and survivors of family members lost to dread disease.  There is a deep-seated presumption of commonality in understanding among groups defined by these sorts of things, and few are more powerful than the claim of victimization on the basis of race.  Since every person is the member of one race or another, every person can imagine what it is like to be victimized solely on that basis.  Naturally, there are many who refuse to be seen as victims, no matter the monstrous ravages they’ve suffered, but also quite naturally, it is very easy for such victims to multiply out of all proportion on the slimmest conjecture of victimization.

Victimization becomes a sort of built-in, ready-made excuse for all sorts of people, not merely defined by race, sex, or other immutable characteristic, but also on the basis of anything imaginable.  Consider the “Occupiers” who see themselves as victims of “corporate greed,” and the like.  Too often, the notion of victimization becomes an excuse for the sorry choices one makes in life.  Sadly, no group in America has fallen prey to this thinking more than African-Americans.  We have whole departments at public universities coast-to-coast dedicated to the notion.  To my knowledge, the incidence of acts of racism perpetrated by whites against blacks has declined throughout the entirety of my life.  My generation was mostly raised without any particular animus on the basis of race, although I am certain there are always outliers.  It is stunning to read polls that most African-Americans consider themselves to be the victims of an inherently racist culture in America.  Rather than spend time debunking those thoroughly bankrupt notions, however, I would prefer to examine its consequence in the electorate.

Whether America is the racist hegemony some would have you believe is irrelevant, as we often recognize in politics that perceptions become reality, no matter their inherent absurdity.  Let us therefore stipulate that whatever the justification, or logical lack thereof, many African-Americans believe themselves to be victims of racism.  Whether it is true or not, the fact of the matter is that many believe it.  On this basis, Barack Obama is well-positioned to make the claim that he too is the victim of this alleged American racism.  More, he can make the astonishing claim, and sadly, it will stick with far too many people, that his entire presidency has been the victim of institutionalized racism aimed at his administration simply on the basis of his skin color.  Laugh if you like, for the preposterous allegation this constitutes on its face, but also understand that as maniacal as it may sound, it is not ineffective.  Why do you think that Bill Clinton suddenly became the “first black President,” being “lynched” by a Republican Congress over his perjury before a grand jury?  It was a coldly-calculated attempt (with some success) at cultivating the same sense of togetherness as victims.

This was made clear to me today when once again, some daft liberal commenter on this blog insisted that the only basis for criticisms of Obama must be due to his race.  Never mind the preposterous nature of the allegation, the poster didn’t stick around long enough to try to make the case.  It was only cast out there to lay like a land-mine to explode in the face of an unsuspecting passer-by.  Nobody who knows me, or who reads this blog could believe that race had the first thing to do with my criticisms of the Obama administration.  Not even a mad-cap leftist could be so foolish to think such a charge would stick, and yet there it was, with all its vitriolic implications.  Why then do it?  It is not that the writer had any honest expectation of making such a charge stick, but instead to cry out with the clarion call to intended members of the victimized group, in an effort to recall and strengthen the claim of victimization, thereby strengthening the bond to President Obama.  It’s a simple form of propaganda, but it is pernicious in its use.

This is why Barack Obama expects to retain the same percentage of African-Americans in the coming election, and his agents of propaganda are now coming out in the full bloom of the season.  If he is to retain the Oval Office, he must no lose any part of his support among African-Americans, and his campaign is fully aware that energizing his base may not be so easy in 2012.  The propaganda of victim-group identification is in play, but this tactic has been used before.  The man was guilty, everybody knew it, but the mostly African-American jurors had been predisposed to believe he had been a victim too.  Whether he was actually guilty of the crimes made no difference against the identity of victimization.  In the same way, President Obama hopes to side-step the charge that his has been a disastrous presidency, particularly for blacks.  When future analysts consider the tactic of this President’s campaign, the sharp ones will recognize his living example, but the irony is that as a child, I once cheered for that same man from the nose-bleed seats of Buffalo’s old War Memorial Stadium:

Orenthal James Simpson

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why Timing Wins Races

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

She Knows Racing

Having been a fan of NASCAR for decades, I’ve noticed what some others may have realized about Sarah Palin, and the importance of timing in official entry into the race for the nomination.  Sarah Palin’s been in the race, whether anybody realized it or not, since November 5th, 2008. Her position as McCain’s running mate and the very positive influence she had on the race meant that the party’s base would look to her for leadership in that position unless she openly demurred.  After stepping aside from her office in July 2009, Governor Palin began to carry the burgeoning Tea Party’s banner.  The Tea Party was born as a reply to Obama’s over-reaching, and Palin’s relation to it merely accentuates the point: She’s exactly the right candidate for America, but to win, she’ll need to consider timing like a NASCAR veteran. It looks as though she has.

Have you ever watched a NASCAR race at a super-speedway like the tracks at Daytona or Talledega?  These races really come down to a good deal of tactical thinking in the last few laps.  First, you must survive the first 490 miles or more to be present for the finish.  Through much of the early portions of these races, you will notice generally fewer cautions as drivers are usually very patient.  They don’t wish to cause pile-ups early on, or worse, become involved in one, and at speeds exceeding 200 mph at times, it’s really not difficult to upset the carefully balanced racing machines.  It’s a test of driver, pit-crew, and machine, but more importantly, the mind.  These high-speed tracks are for strategic thinkers.  Early, you simply must stay out of harms way, conserving your equipment and fuel, while not permitting yourself to fall too far out of the running.  Drivers are generally conservative in the early and middle stages of the race if they hope to be around for the finish.

As the laps near the end of the race approach, drivers begin to make much more risky moves.  They’re less apt to wait patiently in line, and a specific tactical positioning becomes all-important.  If you’re not familiar with NASCAR, or the peculiarities of the super-speedways, generally considered to be the tracks of two miles or greater in some sort of oval configuration, you may not understand why it’s so very important that drivers ride along in line for most of the race.  In racing at the high speeds attained at these larger tracks, there is a phenomenon known as “drafting,” whereby two cars nose-to-tail can together go much faster than one car by itself.  This is because at those high speeds, one of the biggest limiting factors to going even faster is the resistance of drag from the air the car must punch through in order to go around the track. By lining up tightly, two cars still have the mass of two cars, and the power of two cars, but only the drag of 1-3/4s(approximate.)  This means that the two cars together can push to slightly higher speeds, perhaps 5-8% more, but in the vicinity of 200 mph, that’s not insubstantial.

If you watch one of these races, you’ll quickly realize that they become most exciting in the last ten or fewer laps. At that point, pairs of cars will split off in order to press for the lead, but a car left hung out without a drafting partner is in big trouble.  Worse, if two cars get a short distance out front, and get out of line too soon to battle for the lead, what often happens is that those who have remained behind are able to quickly catch up, because while two cars in line may have the drag of 1-3/4 cars, two battling side-by-side have the drag of nearly three cars because the air compressed between them can’t flow off of their front ends smoothly.  In this scenario, those staying in line in 3rd, 4th, and 5th place quickly catch up the front-runners and usually overtake them because they became too greedy, too soon.  Think of it as NASCAR’s version of “peaking early.”

The most thoroughly crafty drivers are those who put themselves in the position to be near the front at the end, in order to take advantage of another phenomenon called the “sling-shot.”  This consists of using the draft of a partner in front of you to actually gain more speed than the car in front.  If you’ve ever passed a large tractor-trailer on the highway at speed, you may have experienced something similar as you found your car being pulled toward the areas of low pressure immediately behind the truck or inside the wake it cuts through the air. This can accelerate you toward the truck, and in a similar way, a skilled driver can use the drafting partner in front of him to gain speed.  What the “sling-shot” requires is using this phenomenon in tandem with a wide sweeping break away from the stream, and frequently, a drafting partner or two will fall in behind. The key to carrying this out is timing.  If you do it too soon, you’ll have the same thing done to you.  If you wait too long, you won’t have the space to get it done, and because you’re not out front, it will be easier to get caught in another driver’s wreck.  Timed correctly, this maneuver yields the best chance for success, and in race after race, the people who led most of the way are eclipsed by this maneuver within seconds of the finish.  You might wonder why the driver in fourth would go along with the driver in third, and the driver in fifth would go with them.  The answer is that in choosing to do so, you increase your chance to finish higher, in this scenario finishing first, second, and third, rather than third, fourth, and fifth.

You may ask how this could apply to Sarah Palin.  Simply put, despite not being officially in the race, only Palin is in double digits other than the two alleged front-runners.  That’s right.  She’s sitting in third, and the front-runners have begun to battle side-by-side.  In two consecutive debates, Perry and Romney have been hammering one another, and it’s beginning to take its toll.  The two are beginning to induce a great deal of drag for their efforts, and the rest of the field will begin to catch up.  All that is now required is the momentum of a sling-shot maneuver, and only one person is really positioned to carry it out, but timing will be critical.

What does a NASCAR fan in Texas know about the competition that would apply to politics?  I can tell you without flinching that just as the race of 500 miles frequently comes down to the maneuvers executed within sight of the finish, so it is also true that a presidential primary can come down to those last weeks before state ballots begin to close to new entries.  As we turn and burn toward that date, the front-runners are now all the more conscious of their rear-view mirrors.  They can see the lady from the north bearing down on them with steely resolve, and she may well have drafting partners, but if she can gain enough momentum, and time it correctly, she won’t really need them. There’s still a lot of track ahead, but the front-runners know she’s back there, and much like her comments Monday night about Perry, she occasionally gives them a little bump to remind them she’s back there.  The closer to the end we get, the more tempting the side-by-side battle between the two leading egos will become, and then, when they will have thought themselves safely ahead, and beyond her reach, the crowd will start roaring “Run Sarah, Run” and the real race for the nomination will begin in earnest, as with a momentum her competitors hadn’t thought possible, she suddenly roars up to fill their mirrors.  She drops down to the inside in turn four with the field following her, and suddenly the two-car race has come down to three, but she has the momentum…

As they come to the line, the crowd thunders: “Game on!”