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Jan 6

Written by: Diana West
Sunday, January 06, 2008 12:42 PM 

In a column noting the faux-histrionics that animate the politics of John Edwards and Mike Huckabee--both of whom invoke fighting powers that be, being on the outs with establishment, etc.--George Will today ends up with what NRO characterized as a valentine to Barack Obama. Will writes:

Barack Obama, who might be mercifully closing the Clinton parenthesis, is refreshingly cerebral amid this recrudescence of the paranoid style in American politics. He is the un-Edwards and un-Huckabee - an adult aiming to reform the real world rather than an adolescent fantasizing mock-heroic “fights" against fictitious villains in a left-wing cartoon version of this country.

Haven't noticed the "refreshingly cerebral," myself yet--but I was drawn to the invocation of adulthood, particularly since George Will was kind enough  blurb my book The Death of the  Grown-Up. Have I missed something in Obama? Is he really the "adult" here who is wise enough to know better that to  fantasize "mock-heroic `fights'  against fictitious villains in a left-wing version of this country"?

Last month, Steve Sailer reviewed A Bound Man, Shelby Steele's new book about Obama. I thought about the review when I read Will's piece because it places Obama's ruminations on race in America in precisely the context of such mock heroics. Sailer writes:

All the media excitement over how Mr. Obama "transcends race" reveals that most pundits have barely glanced at the candidate's ethnicity-obsessed first memoir, which he aptly subtitled "A Story of Race and Inheritance." Mr. Obama's book, Mr. Steele demonstrates, reveals "a man nothing less than driven by a determination to be black." Many have bought "Dreams," but, despite Mr. Obama's graceful prose style, few have finished it because the Preppie from Paradise's lifelong fixation with proving himself "black enough" makes his tale tediously self-obsessed.

After slogging through "Dreams," Kevin Drum, blogger for the liberal Washington Monthly, complained, "Obama routinely describes himself feeling the deepest, most painful emotions imaginable . . . but these feelings seem to be all out of proportion to the actual events of his life, which are generally pretty pedestrian." Mr. Steele observes, "Obama's racial quest springs from a personal angst, not from an oppression in society."

Something to mull as we wait to see which grown-up--or, at least, which presidential candidate--is left standing.


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