The Phony Campaign

2012-05-06 Update

[phony baloney]

President Obama continues to lead in the phony poll, but his margin continues to shrink. This week, it's 23.5-to-1.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 29,600,000 -1,000,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 1,260,000 +20,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 280,000 +6,000

A veritable flood of phoniness this week.

  • Our first note isn't even at the presidential level, but it is classic phony: Massachusetts US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren claimed to be "Native American" as she was climbing up the academic career ladder, culminating with her faculty appointment at Harvard. She based this on dimly-remembered "family lore", but eventually tracked down a poorly-sourced document that gave her (at most) 132 Cherokee DNA.

    As I type, Google hits for "Elizabeth Warren" phony number 532,000. Which means she's moving into Mitt Romney levels of perceived phoniness. That can't be good for her.

    It also shines a little light on how the "Affirmative Action"/"diversity" movement plays out in higher ed hiring. As Hans Bader points out at, the Warren case is a prime example of "how elites milk racial preferences for their own gain." Fun fact:

    Ordinary people have been fired from their jobs in Massachusetts for falsely claiming to be minority. As law professor David Bernstein notes, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the firing of two brothers from their jobs as Boston firefighters for racial fraud, since they had red hair and looked white, although they cited the existence of a black great-grandmother. But they weren't law professors. Politically speaking, they were nobodies.
    Also worth reading is John S. Rosenberg at Minding the Campus, who points out "the bigger, more significant issue of this kerfuffle is what it reveals of the commonplace wink-and-a-nod corruption of the entire affirmative action enterprise as it is currently practiced."

    One of Warren's previous employers, the University of Texas has budgeted nearly a million bucks for defending its race-based admissions policy. Modern universities, which like to pride themselves on their devotion to truth, literally can't afford to be open and honest about their hiring and admissions processes.

  • David Maraniss is coming out with a biography of President Obama, and a published excerpt in Vanity Fair concentrates on his New York love life in the early 1980's. A lot of people have been having fun with the differences between Obama's story of the "composite" New York girlfriend depicted in his Dreams from My Father, and the actual New York girlfriend, Genevieve Cook.

    There is much for the phony connoisseur here, but let's just quote one letter from Barack to buddy Alex, where he discusses, as young people do, T.S. Eliot.

    I haven't read "The Waste Land" for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements--Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he's less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there's a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism--Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it's due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance. (Counter him with Yeats or Pound, who, arising from the same milieu, opted to support Hitler and Mussolini.) And this fatalism is born out of the relation between fertility and death, which I touched on in my last letter--life feeds on itself. A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times. You seem surprised at Eliot's irreconcilable ambivalence; don't you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?
    Best comment is this headline from Diane Ellis at Ricochet: "Young Obama May Have Been Even More Pretentious Than Current Obama".

  • And last but not least, the Obama campaign released "The Life of Julia", a heartstring-tugging slide show that urges us to "Take a look at how President Obama's policies help one woman over her lifetime--and how Mitt Romney would change her story."

    For example, when Julia is 25:

    Under President Obama: After graduation, Julia's federal student loans are more manageable since President Obama capped income-based federal student loan payments and kept interest rates low. She makes her payments on time every month, keeping her on track to repay her student loans.

    Under Mitt Romney: Under the Romney/Ryan budget, interest rates on federal student loans would be allowed to double, affecting Julia and 7.4 million other students.

    This was, of course, ripe for parody. Iowahawk:
    Under President Obama: Julia is graduating college with a degree in feminist website design. Thanks to President Obama, she will receive the federal help she needs to pay back her $100,000 debt. No wonder her professors - and the bank who gave her the loan - fully support President Obama's re-election!

    Under Mitt Romney: Romney will make fun of Julia for taking 7 years to graduate. Also, science will be outlawed.

    And Frank J is also not to be missed:
    Under President Obama: Julia graduates college and looks for a job. No jobs are currently available, so she is given more contraceptives. She watches on TV as President Obama, now immortal in his robot unicorn body, is democratically elected god king. Thanks to the new two-way TV design, she is comforted by the fact that Obama could be looking back at her.

    Under Mitt Romney: Julia ventures out only at night to make it harder for Bain Capital's hunter/seeker robots to find her.

    Neither Frank nor the Hawk should be excerpted, but I did it anyway.

    For a slightly more serious take there's JPod: "O's campaign gets creepy". He notes that as Romney charges that Obama is trying to create a government-centered society, the whole message of Julia says: "You bet we are!" Conclusion:

    The November election results will go a long way toward telling us what kind of country Americans want the United States to be -- whether they want to continue down the road to a European social democracy.

    The response to "Julia" over the next few weeks will offer some early hints. If it really does go viral, maybe grown Americans really do want to be treated like children.

    If it doesn't, that will suggest even Obama enthusiasts don't appreciate the condescension toward the value and virtue of independent human endeavor that is at the root of Obamaism.


Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:55 PM EDT