Monday, May 31, 2010
In yesterday's New York Times Book section, Jacob Heilbrunn reviewed Jonathan Alter's hagiography of Barack Obama, The Promise: President Obama, Year One.
"Obama himself had two sides -- Chicago community organizer and Ivy League meritocrat. The meritocrat won out. According to Alter, 'Obama's faith lay in cream rising to the top. Because he himself was a product of the great American postwar meritocracy, he could never fully escape seeing the world from the status ladder he had ascended'."
Heilbrunn and Alter are glossing over one inconvenient fact: Obama has employed an army of lawyers and has spent over $950,000 making sure that his academic records remain sealed. If his SATs or LSATs or his transcript were anything to boast about, why would he spend this much effort keeping those scores a secret? And if they were mediocre -- as his actions suggest -- would he have gotten into Columbia and Harvard Law School without affirmative action?
Of course not.
What Obama is a product of is the great American post-Viet Nam War affirmative action-ocracy.
But the very concept of affirmative action is antithetical to merit. If you believe in a meritocracy, then, ipso facto, you should believe in judging people on their merits, not by the color of their skin. You should also believe in the value of SAT scores (whose correlation with IQ is .9). Or better yet, you believe in the concept of IQ itself.
But IQ differentials are the type of thing that liberals prefer to sweep under the rug, unless it suits their purposes. They're willing to say that cream rises to the top, as long as Obama is the cream you're talking about. When it comes to Obama's success, his sheer native brilliance -- IQ, if you will -- explains all. But if you want to look closely at any objective measures of his intelligence -- say, his SAT or LSAT scores, or his excessive reliance on the Teleprompter, forget it. And if you use IQ differentials to explain or analyze anything else, well, then you're a bad person.
The other misleading implication here is that Obama himself has faith in "cream rising to the top." Obama's entire career -- from community organizer to Illinois state Senate member to US Senator to President -- has been all about supporting racial set-asides, which, again, have nothing to do with merit and everything to do with skin color.
If Barnes and Noble and Borders have any sense, they'll place Alter's book in the fiction section.