Barack Obama's inaugural day is upon us…and Obamamania has reached such comic dimensions that I can't bring myself to think seriously about it.
So let's step back and consider Obamamania's closest analog: the extravagant "Trudeaumania" that propelled an obscure law professor to the prime ministership of Canada in the fateful year 1968.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau had only three years' experience in Parliament. But, much as Obama introduced himself to the public in his 2004 Democratic convention keynote address with 380 words about how he was the offspring of a mixed-race marriage, Trudeau was famously the son of a Francophone father and an Anglophone mother, making him accent-free in both languages.
As Time Magazine burbled in "Man of Tomorrow" on July 5, 1968:
"He seemed a man neither of the left nor of the right, but a man for the future. His campaign was based on the simple, unequivocal proposition: 'One Canada.' As a bilingual French Canadian, he appears to be the right man to bring the French-and English-speaking peoples closer together."
Trudeau was Canada's half-blood prince. J.K. Rowling made this term famous in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but the concept has long had a shadowy salience in politics. In the Foreword to my book, America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance," the Editor of VDARE.COM, Peter Brimelow, defines a "half-blood prince" as:
"An archetypal ambiguous figure in whom the various parts of a deeply-divided society can jointly invest their contradictory hopes. Such figures spring up regularly in conflicted polities."
Of course, under Trudeau, the French and English-speaking peoples of Canada only moved farther apart. But that wasn't the point of Trudeau's policy, it was merely the effect.
Trudeaumania didn't last, but Trudeau did, clinging to power for a decade and a half. In that time, Trudeau fundamentally remade Canada in his own bilingual image—imposing French on English-speaking Canada and allowing Quebec effectively to ban English in French-speaking Canada—and driving the country permanently to the left.
Like Obama in 2008, Trudeau had a gaudy ideological history that the media decided to forget about.
Back when Trudeau was a law student in Montreal in the early 1940s, Fascism looked like the Wave of the Future so it appealed to the Man of the Future, especially the Nazi's Vichy puppet regime in France. He even planned a revolution against les Anglais to take Quebec out the war.
Trudeau's Fascist sympathies, which lasted until as late as 1944, were no doubt well-known in French-speaking circles, but came as a surprise to the English-speaking media in 2006, a half-dozen years after his death, when Young Trudeau: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada, 1919-1944, a biography by Max and Monique Nemni, who were the editors of the political magazine founded by Trudeau, revealed what he had been up to in his twenties.
When Trudeau's boys started losing the Big One, he switched his allegiances 180 degrees and became a markedly anti-nationalist man of the left. For example, the 32-year-old Trudeau got himself invited to a Communist front conference in Stalin's Moscow in 1952, where he bragged to an American diplomat's wife that he was a Communist. When alarmed American State Department officials queried their Canadian counterparts, they were reassured that Trudeau was merely naïve enough to be fooled by Stalin. But 1952 was rather a late date for that, and Trudeau was no longer a child.
By 1968, Quebec nationalism was on the upswing. Unlike black nationalist emotions in America, it was a problem that had a variety of feasible solutions:
Quebec, a perfectly plausible nation-state, could secede (as the American colonies had left the British Empire in 1776) and set up shop as an independent country.
Or, if Quebec didn't want to go, Canada could expel it, as the Czechs more or less tossed out the Slovaks in 1992 (to the benefit of both).
Trudeau's solution, however, was much more complicated, combining his newfound post-D Day hatred of the nation-state, and his insight that majority rule was so pre-1968. Minority privilege would be the new touchstone.
Therefore, Trudeau set about to bribe the French Canadians, at the expense of the British Canadians, to stay in the federation. That Trudeau was French Canadian made this task not unpleasant for him.
The energy riches of the West were taxed to support the welfare state of the East.
More fundamentally, Canada's official bilingualism started being enforced aggressively in 1969 in an attempt to cajole French-speaking Quebec into not seceding.
In reality, though, the minority's language is legally privileged over the majority's tongue. In Lament for a Notion, MP Scott Reid wrote,
"In practice, although not in public pronouncements, the Canadian government actively promotes enforced bilingualism in nine provinces, and tolerates enforced French-only unilingualism in Quebec."
Even outside Quebec, French speakers benefit from civil service bilingualism, while speakers of the majority language lose government job opportunities.
That's because — despite the national government's pro-French bias — French Canadians are much more likely to be bilingual. After all, English is the dominant language of North America (and, increasingly, of the world). French, for all its venerable literary glories, is merely treading water on the global second language market.
Thus, at the beginning of the decade, a full 38 percent of Quebec residents were able to converse in both languages, compared with only 10 percent of the rest of Canada. Outside of Quebec, 85 percent of Francophones are bilingual in contrast to just 6 percent of Anglophones. Thus, overall, French Canadians are about 2.25 times more likely to hold civil service jobs in Ottawa, Canada's capital.
In 1988, an English-speaking Albertan wrote
"Of deputy ministers and senior administrators the proportion is now 32% francophone. The Privy Council Office is 48.2% francophone. The Federal-Provincial Relations Office is 49.1%, the Canadian Intergovernment Secretariat a resounding 81.8%. The big-spending Department of Supply and Services, which decides whether a contract will go, say, to Montreal or Vancouver, is 41.1% francophone The Secretary of State Department, which hands out federal largesse, is 67.9%. The Public Service Commission, which chiefly decides on promotions within the civil service—will the job go to Peter Black from Winnipeg or Pierre Leblanc of Trois Rivieres?—is 60.5% francophone. And if the francophone proportion of the armed forces during the Second World War was somewhat lacking, the francophone proportion of the Department of Veterans Affairs compensates. It is 41.2% francophone"[Here are a few percentages Mr. Masse hasn't mentioned, By Ted Byfield, Alberta Report, July 25, 1988]
Finally, Trudeau invited in a massive amount of legal immigration, along with the accompanying government-backed ideology of multiculturalism.
This had multiple benefits to Trudeau. The immigrants were quickly turned into Liberal Party supporters by his political machine.
Moreover, the huge influx of immigrants helped the government cajole and bully the polite British Canadians into surrendering public expressions of their ancient ethnic identity for a synthetic new "propositional identity" (see Canadian blogger Pithlord's insightful discussion) centered on celebrating diversity, the single-payer health finance system, and anti-Americanism. English-speaking people were taught to be embarrassed about being an English-speaking people, thus demonizing and pre-empting what would have been the natural response to Trudeau's new special privileges for Francophones: an officially Anglophone political party.
Like that village in Vietnam, Trudeau had to destroy Canada to save it.
The analogy of Trudeau to Obama shouldn't be pressed too far. Trudeau went through a genuine conversion moment away from French Catholic ethnocentrism to an ideology of post-ethnicity (on, roughly, D-Day).
In contrast, although I've speculated that Obama gave up on the Dreams from His Father of becoming a black leader after his plan of becoming the second black mayor of Chicago was shattered in 2000 by his defeat at the hands of a former Black Panther who taunted him for not being black enough, we simply don't know what he his "fundamental commitments" are today.
Although Obama spent the last two years running for President, nobody in the media asked him about the flagrant contradictions between his 1995 autobiography, which is obsessively devoted to his struggle to prove himself "black enough" to become a black leader, and his purportedly "post-racial" 2004-2008 campaign image.
For example: will Obama push hard for more affirmative action?
I don't know. However, we can be sure that he will protect the huge array of existing racial quotas.
Normally, an economic catastrophe would inject some hard-headed rationality into American politics. But, Obamamania serves as a mind-numbing distraction from considering how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it.
At present, the American economy resembles a rapidly deflating hot air balloon heading for a rough landing in deep water. In that situation, normally, the balloon's pilot would be tossing overboard useless luxuries in his effort to keep the balloon aloft. Affirmative action is the single most obvious impediment to our economy that could be easily shed to boost our overall efficiency.
Anybody familiar with Obama's chosen city, Chicago, knows that affirmative action injects even more corruption and incompetence into public works. For example, Obama's old friend and fundraiser Tony Rezko, a white Syrian Catholic, long used Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad's son Jabir as his minority business enterprise beard to get lucrative contracts. I can still remember the taste of the horrible hot dogs that Rezko sold as a result of his minority set-aside contract to run the Park District's hot dog stands. (Obama showed no interest in reforming how Chicago politics is played. His focus has always been on winning at Chicago-style politics.)
Yet is anybody talking about dropping quotas?
Obama has been banging on about his huge infrastructure spending plan for a month. But nobody has asked him if he'll suspend minority set-aside contracts to make it more effective.
Of course, he wouldn't. But in the current state of national delusion, it doesn't even occur to anybody to ask.
On the other hand, Obama would be foolish to push so hard for more quotas that it could lead to the public noticing. (Although in the current media climate, I'm not sure if that's even possible.)
The Bush-Rove fiasco has provided Obama with a huge opportunity to turn America into a Trudeauvian social democratic state with massively increased government spending and government intervention. All he has to do is go with the flow to win a permanent triumph for the left.
And in that respect, Pierre Trudeau seems an unmistakable precursor of Obama. Trudeau did not solve the nationalist alienation of Quebec, which continues like a rock under the water of Canadian politics. But English Canada was permanently damaged by him and has never recovered.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]