Terry McAuliffe, the erstwhile bagman for the Clinton Organized Crime Family and for the Teamsters, as well as the erstwhile Governor of Virginia, is running again for his old job (Governor of Virginia, that is).  He should be cruising to an easy victory.  But he’s not – for a variety of reasons.

Last week, in a panic, McAuliffe invited the “big guns” in Democratic politics to cross the Potomac and help him out a little bit.  Unfortunately for him, those big guns are Jill and Joe Biden, who are less popular these days than scabies, which is to say that they didn’t help and may even have hurt.

In an even bigger panic, therefore, over the weekend, McAuliffe had Barack Obama show up to say a few words on his behalf.  This too is unlikely to help.  Indeed, by inviting the 44th President to join him on the campaign McAuliffe demonstrated that doesn’t have the foggiest idea what he’s doing and is flailing wildly.

Historically, Barack Obama is DEATH for candidates he “supports” with a personal appearance.  A visit from Obama is not all that unlike a visit from the Grim Reaper himself.

The big problem, you see, is that Obama tends to believe that everything is about him.  And given that most elections are actually NOT about him – but, rather, about the candidates on the ballot – his penchant for instinctive self-absorption draws attention away from its presumably proper locus, the candidate whose campaign he is ostensibly “helping.”  This is all the more of a problem – for the on-ballot candidate, that is – when Obama turns a campaign appearance into an airing of HIS grievances, which inevitably are either unrelated to the race in question or, worse yet, damaging to the candidate he’s supposed to be helping.

And that’s precisely what he did for to Terry McAuliffe on Saturday night, as noted by The Hill: “Former President @BarackObama: ‘We don't have time to be wasted on these phony trumped-up culture wars, this fake outrage, the right-wing media's pedals to juice their ratings.’”


Believe it or not, this one short sentence, these scant 24 words, are CLASSIC Obama on (someone else’s) campaign trail.  It’s arrogant.  It’s snarky.  It’s WRONG.  It’s something McAuliffe doesn’t want voters fixating on at the moment.  And most importantly, it’s strictly about Barack Obama.  It’s his defense not of McAuliffe or Virginia Democrats or the Biden presidency or whatever.  It’s his defense of HIMSELF.  He brought the “culture wars” up, turned them into the theme of the day on the trail, and generated national headlines all because he thinks that HE and his belief system are under attack.  And he simply cannot let it go unanswered.

To explain what we mean here, we want to ask – and answer – two questions, borrowing an old format from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial pages.  The first of these is:

Who is Barack Obama?

It’s easy to forget now, given that he turned out to be the friendliest, most accommodating, most helpful chief executive the entrenched ruling class has ever known, but Barack Obama was a trained radical.  He was a “community organizer,” recall, who studied at the feet of the great masters, one of whom was a man named Derrick Bell.  Follow the link here.  The relevant part starts at about the 6:37 mark.  Watch Obama – then a 28-year-old law student – sing the praises of Derrick Bell.  Watch him talk about how Bell speaks the truth.  Watch him talk about the influence Bell has had not just on legal scholarship but on him personally.  Watch him warmly embrace Derrick Bell.  And then ask yourself the obvious second question:

Who is Derrick Bell?

Mike Gonzalez and Jonathan Butcher provide some of the particulars:

Harvard academic Derrick A. Bell, the recognized godfather of the CRT movement, does not mince words in one of the essays laying out the radical aims of the theory: “As I see it, critical race theory recognizes that revolutionizing a culture begins with the radical assessment of it.”…

Unsurprisingly, given its name, CRT makes everything about race the prism through which its proponents analyze all aspects of American life—and do so with a degree of persistence that has helped CRT impact all aspects of American life.

Derrick Bell, referenced above, the widely-acknowledged “godfather” of CRT, explains in the essay cited earlier that the work of CRT authors “is often disruptive because its commitment to anti-racism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures.”  Bell quotes Angela P. Harris as explaining that CRT inherits from its Critical Legal Theory ancestor the commitment to dismantle all aspects of society through unremitting criticism—and at the same time eschews the wooly deconstructionist excesses of the postmodernists and adopts the practicality of the Civil Rights movement. Bell points to theorist and professor Charles Lawrence and says he “speaks for many critical race theory adherents when he disagrees with the notion that laws are or can be written from a neutral perspective.”  Because the law “systematically privileges subjects who are white,” CRT calls for a “transformative resistance strategy.”…

Helen Pluckrose provides even more detail:

Within Critical Race Theory, the key figure is Derrick Bell, who developed Interest Convergence Theory. This holds that white people only allow rights to black people when it benefits themselves. Bell also argued that racism has not improved at all and is, in fact, permanent….

[Fictionalization] was used often by Derrick Bell who included stories about a fictional island that only black people could breathe on, and a scenario in which aliens demanded all the black Americans in exchange for great benefits, to the agreement of white Americans….

The theories of [Robin] DiAngelo and the other Critical Social Justice anti-racists are clearly not identical to the earlier legal theories, however. They contain less materialism, focus much less on law and much more on culture, draw more explicitly on Foucauldian notions of discourse, make little to no mention of storytelling and are much more simplistic and accessible. But their work quite clearly consists of critical theories of race that have been significantly influenced by Critical Race Theory. In Nice Racism, DiAngelo cites Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw among her influences alongside other Critical Race Theory scholars and more contemporary Critical Social Justice theorists of anti-racism and decolonial studies.

In short, then, Derrick Bell was the “godfather” and “key figure” in the development of Critical Race Theory.  He was Barack Obama’s friend and teacher, a man whom Obama believed spoke the “truth.”

Does this mean that Obama is a Critical Race Theorist and a disciple of Bell’s?  Well…no.  But as we argued in the pages of our flagship publication, Politics, Et Cetera for almost a decade, Obama was raised and educated in the milieu of postmodernism and general anti-realism and embraced, as his own philosophy of governance, the Richard Rorty-an conception of pragmatism (also the motivating scheme behind “stakeholder theory,” by the way).

In other words, the “culture wars” are and always have been a staple of Obama’s belief in the necessary process of “transforming” America.  The culture wars are his bread and butter.  He IS the cultural Left in microcosm.

Now, any of you who have been following the race in Virginia know that the culture wars that Obama mocks involve both the indoctrination of children with Critical Race Theory and the application of identity politics in a manner that facilitated the rape of (AT LEAST) two girls in Loudon County schools.  They are anything but phony.  They are real, and many voters think they are of supreme importance – which is why McAuliffe is struggling in the first place.  They are issues McAuliffe would almost certainly do well to avoid discussing, which, as an old-school Clinton-ite, he likely could do.

But that’s not going to happen now.  Instead, he’s going to spend the next week answering the same question over and over: “Are the culture wars in Virginia really phony?”

Obama couldn’t help himself, you see.  The only thing that irritates him more than people talking about him and dismissing his worldview as destructive is people NOT talking about him.  He’d trade the latter for the former in a heartbeat.  And, in fact, he DID just that on Saturday, at Terry McAuliffe’s expense.

Thanks, Obama!


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