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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration day and alumni notes

I have to admit I never thought I would see this day.  You know, I was pretty much convinced that Bush and Cheney would declare martial law, have Obama arrested, shut down the nation’s only remaining opposition newspaper (the Santa Cruz Anarcho-Syndicalist Bugle) and impound every vehicle with a “1.20.09” bumper sticker.  I admit it, I was wrong.

Actually, I meant the part about having a black president. 

And you know what else?  Obama is the only Columbia graduate ever to win the presidency.  So my alumni magazine has been kinda bursting with pride and joy, especially in the 1983 column of the Class Notes section.

Well, no, things are a bit stranger than that.  It seems that the guy in charge of the Class of 1983 notes isn’t all that thrilled with Obama, on balance.  In the last issue, he made a point of saying that he didn’t agree with Obama politically, but had become friendly with the Class of 1983’s other “major”-party nominee, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate and sports-gambling impresario Wayne Allyn Root, to whom much of last issue’s column was devoted.  And why not?  Root is not only one of the most recognized sports celebrities in America; he is telegenic, dynamic, charismatic, enthusiastic, fiery, passionate, opinionated, and OUTSPOKEN in his Libertarian beliefs for limited government, lower taxes, dramatically reduced spending and more freedom for the American people.  As you can see for yourself if you click that last link.

This time around, in the issue that arrived last week, the Class of 1983 column reproduces in full the September 11 Wall Street Journal editorial, “Obama’s Lost Years”.  It’s kind of a gem, really, and you should (as they say on blogs) read the whole thing if you didn’t have a chance to savor it the first time around.  But because I’ve got a great big party to prepare for tonight (I’m hoping to get the hors d’oeuvres finished before Obama starts bombing Pakistan at 5:30 this afternoon, or perhaps by 6, when he converts the U.S. to Islamic socialism), I’m just going to comment on my two favorite things:

The Columbia years are a hole in the sprawling Obama hagiography. In his two published memoirs, the 47-year-old Democratic nominee barely mentions his experience there. He refuses to answer questions about Columbia and New York—which, in this media age, serves only to raise more of them. Why not release his Columbia transcript? Why has his senior essay gone missing?

Now in our view, the college years shouldn’t normally be used to judge a politician’s fitness for office. We’re not sure the transcripts of Al Gore, John Kerry and George W. Bush—which showed them to be C students—illuminated much for voters. The McCain campaign won’t release his records, but we know he graduated at the bottom of his Naval Academy class.

But Mr. Obama is a case apart. His personal story, as told by him, made possible his rise from obscurity four years ago to possibly the White House. He doesn’t have a long track record in government. We mainly have him in his own words. As any autobiographer, Mr. Obama played up certain chapters in his life—perhaps even exaggerating his drug use in adolescence to drive home his theme of youthful alienation—and ignored others.

Leaving aside the possibility that Bush’s record in college might, in fact, have provided some illumination as to the kind of intelligence and hard work he would bring to the Presidency, let us marvel instead at the remarkable prescience and craftiness of B. Hussein.  Exaggerating his drug use to drive home his theme of youthful alienation while saying nothing about his two years as an undergraduate at an Ivy League college: has any presidential candidate ever devised a sneakier form of political self-promotion?  Inquiring minds need to know: President Obama, why did you admit to using drugs—while refusing to answer questions about Columbia and New York? Was it part of your lifelong plan to hoodwink the American people into electing you?

Well, the WSJ has an idea or two about why Obama has been so cagey in today’s media age in which we live in today:

Such caginess is grist for speculation. Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference. Yet he later graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, so he knows how to get good grades. Others speculate about ties to the Black Students Organization, though students active then don’t seem to remember him. And on the far reaches of the Web can be found conspiracies about former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who became the candidate’s “guru and controller” while at Columbia in the early 1980s. Mr. Brzezinski laughs, and tells us he doesn’t “remember meeting him.”

Uh, Wingnut Street Journal dudes?  We know how you feel about racial preference, because it messes with the intellectual meritocracy that gave us George W. Bush and Jonah Goldberg, but if indeed Obama were an affirmative action admit, wouldn’t that, like, be a good argument for affirmative action?  Or do you imagine that if white guys learned that Obama had been a mediocre student, thousands of them would be muttering darkly to themselves that Obama took their spot at Columbia University, and proceeded to waste the opportunity?

And as for those speculations about the Black Students Organization and the conspiracies to be found on the far reaches of the Web: c’mon, boys, don’t be shy.  If you’re going to try to mainstream the serious hardcore wingnuttery out there, provide the links.  Or at least mention the name of Webster Tarpley, the man who first uncovered Brzezinski’s recruitment of Obama in the early 1980s!  I mean, credit where credit is due, guys.

Well, I have to say that my little alumni magazine isn’t always such fun reading.  Here’s to President Obama.  May he lead the country with wisdom and kindness, at least until he suspends the 2012 and 2016 elections.

Posted by Michael on 01/20 at 09:27 AM
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