The writer whose work goes under the pseudonym of “Spengler” at Asia Times has made for some intriguing writing over the last year, usually on topics of geopolitics and modern history. He is at his most interesting when he is quoting someone else. More recently, however, he’s turned to psycho-babble, with disastrous results.

I don’t think it could have occurred to him that he was talking about himself when he wrote, about Barack Obama:

He appears to be an empty vessel filled with the wishful thinking of those around him.

And this is exactly what Spengler proceeds to do with Obama, making an ass of himself in the process, as he attempts to prove that Obama “hates” America. The thesis, I am sad to report, commits suicide with its own evidence, all in the first six paragraphs. Spengler provides quotes that belie his own paraphrase and a video that contradicts his own characterization.

But we’ve already seen this article a dozen times or so, registering the same gibbering fear of the loss of white male cultural hegemony. The only difference here is Spengler’s attempt to rationalize his way to at least the appearance of an intellectual reason to fear [sic] an Obama presidency, which involves desperately ransacking every corner of the author’s small and waning life. I guess this is to be expected when the Republican candidate-by-default is self-destructing, leaving America with an inevitable choice of either a non-white or a non-male. Putting the WASP identity in jeopardy built the modern right, but now that movement is a dead man walking and its last superannuated adherents are in hysterics :

Obama imbibed this hatred with his mother’s milk.

He deploys that zinger twice. Sloppy writing at best, but that’s the only thing Spengler has for us today: a mere slur. He also substitutes the common malapropism “malice of forethought” for “malice aforethought.” Apparently writing with trembling fingers, the alleged intellectual is inadequate to the task of maintaining the standards he would pretend to be defending. He is in absolute hysterics.

For example, Spengler claims that we cannot divine Obama’s character from his career, but then goes about doing precisely that, reading as tea-leaves the women in Obama’s life, and predictably finding the same terrifying spectacle of the Mandigo Warrior I could find by flipping on an AM radio, covering my eyes, and spinning the dial at random. Spengler is simply repackaging Michael Savage’s content with bigger words:

Be afraid – be very afraid. America is at a low point in its fortunes, and feeling sorry for itself. When Barack utters the word “hope”, they instead hear, “handout”. A cynic might translate the national motto, E pluribus unum, as “something for nothing”. Now that the stock market and the housing market have failed to give Americans something for nothing, they want something for nothing from the government. The trouble is that he who gets something for nothing will earn every penny of it, twice over.

If you’ve been following the campaign you’ve already seen this plagiarized article over and over. Spengler is just mailing it in, recycling tired old Limbaugh lines about the alternatives to a capitalism that we don’t have anyway.

If Obama truly were the Elmer Gantry of Spengler’s imagining, wouldn’t the candidate be on the opposite side of this “controversy”? But he isn’t. Gee, why isn’t the con-man taking the easy way out? Why is the all-fluff candidate taking a stand for substance? And isn’t it strange that the people who play at being intellectuals can’t be bothered to notice? Perhaps what’s really bothering people like Spengler is that Obama is making it harder for people them to pass off cynicism for insight?

Spengler’s only contribution to this limited little genre of Obama-bashing is the pseudo-analytical conceit of deriding women who happen to be politically to the left of himself. But Spengler can’t keep it up, and abandons the titular point of his article about halfway through. Even his use of “anthropologist” in the Nixonian/Reaganesque vein, as some egghead who hates your values and looks down on you, is not original in the least and has simply been dropped into the midst of things.

Spengler’s palpable fear of and disdain for both women and non-whites is most ludicrous in his misreading of Michelle Obama’s cheesy humanization of her supposedly too-iconic husband as a “bitch slap.” But once again, Spengler is so confident of his panopticism that he provides the quote in full, only to make a fool of himself.

Never underestimate the influence of a wife who bitch-slaps her husband in public. Early in Obama’s campaign, Michelle Obama could not restrain herself from belittling the senator. “I have some difficulty reconciling the two images I have of Barack Obama. There’s Barack Obama the phenomenon. He’s an amazing orator, Harvard Law Review, or whatever it was, law professor, best-selling author, Grammy winner. Pretty amazing, right? And then there’s the Barack Obama that lives with me in my house, and that guy’s a little less impressive,” she told a fundraiser in February 2007.

“For some reason this guy still can’t manage to put the butter up when he makes toast, secure the bread so that it doesn’t get stale, and his five-year-old is still better at making the bed than he is.” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported at the time, “She added that the TV version of Barack Obama sounded really interesting and that she’d like to meet him sometime.” Her handlers have convinced her to be more tactful since then.

We’ve all heard candidates’ wives deliver something very much like this. Spengler’s fear transforms a campaign corn-ball moment into a castration, in the process revealing a small man quivering in fear. I am reminded of a college acquaintance who bedded a girl, only to complain that her sexual behavior fell far short of her reputation as a ‘wild woman.’ He didn’t know that he was telling the world that he had left her cold. He had no idea that he was admitting he just wasn’t much of a man.

Not being much of a thinker, Spengler wanders around the lives of people who aren’t Obama, laying out the details of movements and ideas that aren’t Obama’s, which is as close as the author comes to justifying his mention of anthropology. Spengler also abuses the discipline of economics, though he does so in a way that is both more revealing and less pernicious:

Unlike the Reagan years, when cutting the top tax rate from a punitive 70% to a more tolerable 40% was sufficient to start an economic boom, no lever of economic policy is available to fix the problem. Americans have no choice but to work harder, retire later, save more and retrench.

[emphasis mine; ignorance his]

He sees no alternatives and knows no policy, having only an irrational, cult-like fear of Obama. If anyone really is interested in what Obama’s career, especially his legislative career, can reveal, it’s been blogged here and elsewhere. Though I admit, the facts aren’t nearly as fun a playground for the fears and self-loathing of some people.

The author is, apparently, the obsolete functionary of a dead empire who, for that reason, sees a black man with a following and thinks it’s the disaster of liberated Africa all over again:

Kenyan government officials in those days normally spent their nights drinking themselves stupid at the Pan-Afrique Hotel. Two or three of them would be found with their Mercedes wrapped around a palm tree every morning. During the 1970s I came to know a number of them, mostly British-educated hollow men dying inside of their own hypocrisy and corruption.

What a coincidence! I’m sure y’all had a lot to talk about.

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