In Richard Fernandez piece - Bayes and Nice People – he presumes that people like “Peretz, Brooks, and Noonan to be taken for a ride. Not because they were dumb, but because they were “quality” people.” They didn’t understand that Obama was a huckster because their life experiences did not include people like Obama:
But these unpleasant memories were largely absent in middle class, college educated, white America. These were nice people. They didn’t routinely associate with the con-men, hucksters, pawnshop brokers, and street corner grifters. To them the perfect hair, the nice suit, and the emphatic speech were simply proof of good personal grooming and culture.
To those who saw through the façade,
It would be interesting to study whether the same group of people who tended to view Barack Obama unfavorably in 2008 also saw John Edwards as a sharper. There was something about Edwards’ hair, the unnatural emphasis with which he delivered his messages, some oleaginous quality that hung about him that, like the burglar example in the Amazon review, stirred memories of something unpleasant in the viewer.
Of course the people who surrounded Obama: Rezko, Ayers, Wright, the whole Chicago political machine, even his autobiography which bragged about his ability to project a false image should have given everyone enough clues to reject him. For Peretz, Brooks, and Noonan his race, his appearance and his speech overwhelmed their senses; they were prepared – the whole Liberal world was primed to accept – the first “clean, articulate” black man. Obama was truly the “one” they had been waiting for. He was their fantasy in a single attractive package.
But Fernandez ends his essay on an ominous note.
But there’s one last thing that nice people don’t know. It is that hucksters aren’t confined by the same boundaries they assume everyone else is contained by. They are capable not only of sucker-punching you, but of exceeding limits you never thought could be transgressed. Grifters are in some sense not part of the same civilization that Peretz, Brooks, and Noonan inhabit. Maybe they don’t believe this yet. But they will. They will.
The assumption we all make is that Obama is enough like the traditional American politician to follow the broad rules even as he transgresses the little ones. But we should be warned that we really don’t know the bounds that Obama observes. Not only are grifters not part of the same civilization that saps like Peretz, Brooks, and Noonan inhabit, but they may exceed the limits that even his political opponents imagine exist.