I keep thinking about what Steve M. said of Pennsylvania Clinton voters:
I think the white working class has been sold a line of BS in virtually every presidential election since 1968: I’m just like you. Maybe they believe it every four years, or maybe they’re just flattered that rich, privileged guys would pretend to want to be just like them. But they generally buy one rich, privileged guy’s act, even if that guy is, say, a successful Hollywood actor or an old-money Connecticut preppie.
This year, one guy just can’t pretend to be just like them. He looks in the mirror and he knows that, so he rarely tries. And a lot of them react to that. Maybe it’s not that they don’t like the color of his skin; maybe it’s just that he can’t possibly convincingly sell them the BS they want to have sold to them. (The rich, privileged woman, on the other hand, can.)
So, yes, there’s a barrier there, and it’s racial. But maybe it’s not truly racist. These people don’t get much out of the political system — the most they get is completely phony imitation. But they want it. It’s a form of flattery.
I’m not interested in splitting hairs over racial and racist. Things are what they are, and choosing a label for them doesn’t always help us understand them better.
The bigger question is, why do white working-class, less-educated voters screw themselves by falling for this act election after election? You’d think after the George Bush debacle they would have wised up. I guess not.
Amy Chozick and Nick Timiraos write in today’s Wall Street Journal that Senator Clinton won votes by persuading white working-class Pennsylvanians that she is one of them. That she is so not one of them is beside the point; she knows how to act the part.
For some time my allegory for Senator Clinton has been Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. I voted to send her to the U.S. Senate in 2000 with great enthusiasm. Her win that year was one of the few bright points in an otherwise dreary election. She didn’t accomplish much, to tell the truth, but I was willing to give her the benefit of many doubts until the October 2002 vote that allowed Dubya to invade Iraq. That and her subsequent support for the war — and the fact that for a long time her efforts to cover Bush’s ass were surpassed only by Joe Lieberman’s — killed my enthusiasm for kicking the bleeping football.
Still, plenty of people, including people I had thought to be clear-eyed about politics, are lined up for another kick.
If she succeeds in becoming president, you know what difference she will make in the lives of white working-class voters? Is there a word for a measurement just below squat? As a TPM diarist, Dan K, wrote,
The best Clinton will be able to accomplish in office, then, through her customary secretive, insider-based, power-broker approach, is another set of very middle of the road, incremental legislative changes: half a loaf here and there that helps us feel just a little bit good about doing just a little bit, but nothing that really solves any of the huge problems facing the country.
Yet the very voters who most need real change turn out for her, as they have turned out for so many other politicians who somehow persuaded white, working-class voters that the best candidate for the office is the one they most want to have a beer with.
This was not always true. Certainly, presidential candidates since Andy Jackson have trotted out their born-in-a-log-cabin routine to woo voters. But there were limits. Franklin Roosevelt was patrician to the core and never pretended to be otherwise. Nor do I recall that John Kennedy had to prove he had working-class connections, and the working class voted for him, anyway.
For that matter, nobody wanted to have a beer with Richard Nixon. If ever there was a man uncomfortable in his own skin, as the pundits like to say, it was Tricky Dick. Yet he won two presidential elections.
How exactly did we get to the point at which packs of highly paid media and political elite use their positions at the top of the power/communication pyramid to lecture working class folks about Barack Obama’s alleged elitism? And that the only people who notice how bleeped up that is are a few of us bloggers?
Mass media has played a part in this, but you’d think that 50 years into the mass media age people would be a little more sophisticated about media packaging. I guess not.
Elsewhere — See Josh Marshall on how the Pennsylvania primary left us exactly where we were before the Pennsylvania primary; Simon Jenkins on America’s love affair with war; John Cole on Clinton’s “vanity campaign.”
“Somethin’s happenin’ here”…
Maha sez: “I guess not”.
Maha’s startin’ to catch on…
Breathe deep, Barb…And see just how wide you can open those eyes…
This all goes to show us all that the Presidential Election is nothing but a battle over who has the better marketing campaign. These campaigns appear to be won and lost on 30 second sound bites. This prohibits any form of complex ideas being spoken about, so its literally a race to dumb down the race. Since Obama will not allow discourse to be demeaned he might just lose.
I know this much: we need a smart, competent, mostly-honest president who can attract smart, competent, mostly-honest people to their administration; who acts to shift the tax burden off the backs of the working people and back onto the wealthiest Americans; who acts to end our military involvement in Iraq; who acts to substantially reduce greenhouse gases and promote green industry; who understands and supports separation of church and state; who knows torture is illegal, and refuses to allow it, in no uncertain terms.
I also know this much: that sure as hell doesn’t describe John McCain.
You know, here’s the thing that bugs me about this. It’s hypocrisy.
Call it common-folk elitism. “If you’re not one of us, you’re garbage!”
And it’s just another aspect of the politics of hatred, of setting American against American in a war of words and emotions. Divide and conquer; break people into enough hateful little groups, then play the game to sweep enough of those groups into your corner.
And you don’t have to do right by your little hate groups… you just have to be not like the folks they hate, and they’ll vote for you because they don’t want to vote for the thing they hate.
Philadelphia is the only liberal part of Pennsylvania. Although Pittsburgh is largely Democratic, it is conservative. Hillary Clinton used conservative Democratic framing in Pennsylvania.
To be very clear: liberal is still a dirty word in Pittsburgh-area politics.
This morning some media types commented on Obama’s final speech last night. Their critique? Saying absolutely nothing about the content or substance of his exemplary speech, they faulted him for wearing a suit and tie saying that he should have appeared in casual, folksy attire.
I’m afraid that the ‘vast wasteland’ has laid waste the thought processes of the American people. Television news, programming, advertising are all about image – Hitler’s propagandists would have had a field day with the medium.
Image, not substance, has become the criterion of worth and we may have reached the point where the former so obliterates the latter to make it undiscernable. (I really appreciated your article.)
I noted that Charlie Brown always landed with a “Wham!”, “Thud!” or AAUGH!
oh so much like all of us these miserable chimpy years. So I offer this:
Whose wounds are these so full of blood.
Their house was in the N’awlins flood;
They will not see him stopping here
To watch them shovel endless mud.
Their SUV is stocked with gear
They need stop ‘n get more beer
And though we know the man a fake
He makes the terrorists disappear.
He gives harshness to lungs that ache
Concede they must to their mistake.
The only other sound’s the Veep
A sleazy constitutional fake.
The wounds thereof so stark from sheep
The blood of misled yet to weep
And wars to start from guarded keep,
And wars to start from guarded keep.
-with apologies to Mr Frost
First, a reality check. The real fight this year is for Congress. We need a lot more progressive Democrats in the House and Senate or nothing much is going to happen no matter who becomes president.
I was for John Edwards but he’s gone. So I voted for Barack Obama in the California primary. I was impressed at how he was able to get new voters to come out and he’s a heck of a speaker.
To be honest, after John Edwards left, Hillary Clinton could have won me over but she kept doing and saying things that made it difficult. Actually, she was my fourth choice behind Christopher Dodd but she never became a nonchoice.
The last week has not been good for Barack Obama. The press has interjected itself into the campaign and that is not good for America. I expect Barack Obama to win the nomination but he could do more to help himself and I hope he does. What has reassured me is his capacity for growth and he needs to keep growing.
As things now stand, Barack Obama is not guaranteed a win. Hillary Clinton thought she was guaranteed a win and is now pretending to be the underdog when it’s a bona fide underdog who’s leading in the delegate count. I’m irritated with her but a quick look around the country and the world and I’m forced to say it: if by some chance, she wins the nomination, I’ll not only vote for her, I’ll work hard to support her. If there’s going to be a future for this country, it ain’t going to start with John McCain.
There’s a notion out there that maybe the nation has to reach rock bottom before it’s ready for change. Uh, where exactly are we if we aren’t at the lowest point in decades? Unfortunately, things are likely to get worse but there isn’t much of a window of opportunity to turn things around. Waiting another four years is as ideologically flawed as anything George W. Bush has done. Most Americans still don’t understand the trouble we’re in but the polls suggest that just maybe they’re finally catching on. Maybe.
John Edwards had a reasonably good sense of where we’re at. Barack Obama isn’t far behind. Stuck in the 1990s, Hillary and Bill have been amazingly obtuse but if by some chance she’s elected president, any number of problems are going to hit her full in the face and she’ll respond, particularly if there is a strong Democratic Congress. But McCain? The bubble he lives in is almost as lethal as the one George W. lives in. Not good.
In the fall, I hope to vote for Barack Obama. Otherwise, I’ll vote for Hillary, even if I have to hold my nose. It’s that critical.
Pandering to tribalism seems to define a lot of what happens in politics. I think a lot of people vote against their economic interests for 2 reasons.
1. They don’t believe that their input would make a difference.
2. Spite towards those know it all liberal educated types.
I’ve seen it in my own family. The willingness to turn a blind eye to unpleasant facts is equaled only by a hostility to those of different cultural tribes. Of course one has to consider the “I don’t know and I don’t give a dam” antipathy towards doing the work to get informed.
Who was it that said – we think we are thinking but we are only rearranging our prejudices. One more kick at that football.
Pennsylvania actually had an opportunity to do something for the Democratic party and for the country. But, they didn’t.
How exactly did we get to the point at which packs of highly paid media and political elite use their positions at the top of the power/communication pyramid to lecture working class folks?
Television forced political news to become entertainment.
You have 2 candidates who are damn similar on issues. But very different in their approach to governement. Obama says you can’t get change by sending the same crowd back over and over. And he says the WAY he can get change is by enlisting the people who elected him AFTER he’s elected. HRC appeals to people who want to elect a president who will change stuff without bothering the electorate. A lot of voters are NOT comforatable with the idea of participatory democracy.
This is my opinion, but if you consider that Obama has used the Internet better than any candidate ever has, this is not far fetched. An issue is coming up in Congress, and your Senator is on the fence. Obama identifies you as an activist in the state or district that’s pivotal. So you get an Email from the President of the Untied States asking you to call or Email your representative on xyz. That’s an example of participatory demcracy and Obama supporters like it.
A lot of voters want a presidential tooth fairy who waves a wand and fixes things. They vote every 4 years – from the gut not the mind – and their wishes are magically transformed into reality. Though I exagerate to make my point, there are a lot of voters who are WAY out of their comfort zone being asked to DO stuff – like think. It’s not just racist or demographics; there’s a philisophical thing here that has to do with active vs passive democracy AFTER the election.
For that matter, nobody wanted to have a beer with Richard Nixon. If ever there was a man uncomfortable in his own skin, as the pundits like to say, it was Tricky Dick. Yet he won two presidential elections.
Yeah, but he bowled. He ate cottage cheese with ketchup. He liked pro football; he talked pro football to anti-war protestors. And from the “cloth coat” reference in the Checkers speech on, he played up his less-than-posh upbringing. And he sent his VP out to use phrases like “an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”
Watching the John Adams series on HBO should have educated a few voters, and maybe it did. Obama over and over says Washington must be changed. Well, the John Adams series showed us that Washington, as set up by our founding fathers, has always been the way it is today. Our government has had lobbyist and special interests and an adverserial Congress from the very beginning. People are plain and simply naive to think a Chicago politician who certainly hasn’t shown that HE is any different from the Chicago politicians who have come before him is going to change Washington?
“The bigger question is, why do white working-class, less-educated voters screw themselves by falling for this act election after election? You’d think after the George Bush debacle they would have wised up. I guess not.
This conjures up images of Willie Stark from All the Kings Men” shouting at a crowd of rednecks who had come to a rally. He told them they were dumb as dirt and that they were so ignorant that they continued to let themselves be used by every politician wanting their vote. He could say it. He was one of them. They knew he was telling them the truth.
But who would do that today? It would take someone who would make Obama’s “bitter” remarks and, instead of clarifying or backpedaling would stand his ground and continue the attack. However, Obama might not be the best one to intervene with white rednecks.
“For some time my allegory for Senator Clinton has been Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. I voted to send her to the U.S. Senate in 2000 with great enthusiasm. Her win that year was one of the few bright points in an otherwise dreary election. She didn’t accomplish much, to tell the truth, but I was willing to give her the benefit of many doubts until the October 2002 vote that allowed Dubya to invade Iraq.”
I’m shocked and disheartened at Hilary’s recent pandering with her contention that she would “Obliterate” Iran. Jeez, the lack of care with words…the potential to inflame already strained relations, all for the angry/scared vote.
If it were true it would best be said face to face, in private. But that would take someone who was willing to meet with those cast as enemies, wouldn’t it? This type of reciprocal inflammation is the type of garbage we expect from professional wrestling…hardly presidential.
I’ve had about enough of her.
Choosing a justification for election results doesn’t really help us to understand what’s happening here.
I remember that after four years of the bush administration, voters stood out in the rain for hours on end to make sure he was re-elected. Since then, I have withdrawn my faith in elections and whatever the media tell me about them. Somehow, I am unable to resist talking about the show.
I love the idea of an Obama presidency, and will work toward it, but don’t expect it to happen.
People are plain and simply naive to think a Chicago politician who certainly hasn’t shown that HE is any different from the Chicago politicians who have come before him is going to change Washington?
Yes, that’s the Hillary Clinton message in a nutshell. Everything’s bleeped up, it will never get any better, nobody’s going to do shit to change it, so vote for Hillary Clinton. You can count on her not to do much.
I never said there was anything wrong with the way our founding fathers set us our government. I think lobbyist perform an important function in our system of government. Even the Catholic Church employs lobbyists. What I am saying in my comment is not that the system needs changing, but why would anyone believe a politician from Chicago who has done nothing to clean up the dirty politics in Chicago is going to clean up anything in Washington.
why would anyone believe a politician from Chicago who has done nothing to clean up the dirty politics in Chicago is going to clean up anything in Washington.
Obama was never an elected official of the city of Chicago, nor is he “from” Chicago. So your criticism is dishonest. You’re learning well from Hillary Clinton, I see.
Obama was in the Illinois Senate, yes, and while he was there he was instrumental in reforming ethics and health care laws, enhancing tax credits for low-income workers, and increasing subsidies for childcare, among other things.
However, Hillary Clinton has been in Washington for 15 years and has accomplished very little in all that time. She goes on and on about how she fights for people, but when you look at what she has actually accomplished, it doesn’t add up to much. Little tweaks here and there; that’s about it. Why should I believe she’s going to do anything at all for anybody?
You ask why would anyone believe in Obama. I can tell you why I choose to believe in him and you may think it’s naive and silly, but here it is.
I spent 25+ years as a psych nurse in addition to exploring Eastern ways of seeing the world in addition to learning to eliminate fear and shoot for the stars. In my way of thinking, we (humans) need to have our head in the heavens while having our feet firmly planted in Mother Earth. So, in my analysis, yes, it is trusting a lot to think Obama will do what he claims he will do but I’m willing to take that chance. He comes across to me as a genuine person who does not let fear keep him from trying impossible things. And I know he generates that feeling in others cause I feel it even through the TV screen. All of his expressions, beginning with his smile, are natural and uplifting. That is what we need. Our problems begin in the spirit and can only be solved in the spirit. On the other hand, Clinton appears regimented, her smile and expressions look forced and phony. I’m sure there is a real person in there somewhere but she is too scared to let us know it. And if she gets elected, she definitely will not show it because that will prove to her that she got what she wanted by acting the way she does and she will continue. McCain is simply a military man, has been all his life and is not about to change at this point in his life. This is his last chance to become something more than what he became in the Navy. His father and grandfather were Admirals and I guess his career was over when he got captured and tortured. So now he is angry but Commander-in-Chief sounds so much better than Admiral so he desperately wants that and probably will do anything he can to get it.
Yes, I got very jaded working in psych but that is my burden to overcome and I work on it every day. I want a president I can feel proud of and look forward to seeing his face and listening to him speak. I see that in Obama. I know he is only human but I do believe that we need a LEADER and I have faith in him. This country needs to be turned around NOW, why should we wait until he gets more experience. Just because Washington has always been the way it is doesn’t mean it is supposed to be that way or that it has to go on being that way. If that makes me naive, so be it. IMHO, you need to get out of the doldrums and think more positively.
‘Cling to religion’ within the context of the ‘bitter’ speech? (April 28 ‘New Yorker,’) “Obama was not saying that people acquire religious belief on account of worldly troubles. He was saying that when such troubles appear insurmountable the already religious seek comfort and help from a higher power.”
Hillary’s take on the ‘religious’ part of the speech? Not only is Obama an elitist, he’s condescending and demeaning to those he considers beneath him.
My daughter is an elementary school principal, and she thinks CHIP is a great program. Before CHIP children were coming to school sick and parents said they couldn’t afford to take them to the doctor. Ask any elementary school nurse or principal if they believe CHIP is a huge achievement in the lives of American children.
I also know a personal trainer and her sister who is an OT. They tell about how their mother as a geriatric nurse in Arkansas went to Governor Clinton with her concerns about the quality of the lives of seniors in their state. She asked Clinton if he would support a statewide program to help improve the lives of seniors. He said he supported the idea and appointed her and Hillary to co-chair the committee that put the program together and got it started. They say their mother is proud of her work on that program and the improvement in the quality of life for seniors. They also say that their mother told them it would not have been possible without the tireless work and energy that Hillary put into the project. These are just two examples. I realize, however, that some people have been brainwashed and will never believe anything good about Hillary. That is their right, but please stop exulting (as he says in his campaign ads that are running in IN) a politician “from the southside of Chicago.”
hettie — Hillary Clinton lied about her role in passing SCHIP. She claimed credit for it, but several lawmakers, staffers, and healthcare advocates involved in the issue say she actually had little to do with it.
And may I say it’s pretty pathetic that the only other example you can come up with is something her HUSBAND did nearly several years ago.
And didn’t I already ban you for insulting everyone else’s intelligence? I believe I had. Well, you’re banned again.
Maha, my understanding is that Hillary Clinton was instrumental in getting Bill Clinton to sign the SCHIP bill.
I’m on the fence about whether she deserves to be credited for it. I mean, no questions asked, she knew it was a good idea, but then, a lot of people did.
But she’s playing it up as part of her “experience” claims. And I’m willing to grant that she helped save it from a veto, and I grant that it was a good action for her to take. But I’m not sure you can call that “experience”. It’s one thing to haggle with lawmakers, and another to convince your spouse.
It’s like (I have *NO* idea what charitable contributions the Clintons have made; I’m going to make up an example), if they made a charitable donation to food banks, I wouldn’t count that as “experience in helping feed the hungry”. But I wouldn’t deny that it proves that she and Bill *care* about the hungry, and that matters too.
GrannyEagle sez (how do you do italics?):
“In my way of thinking, we (humans) need to have our head in the heavens while having our feet firmly planted in Mother Earth. So, in my analysis, yes, it is trusting a lot to think Obama will do what he claims he will do but I’m willing to take that chance. He comes across to me as a genuine person who does not let fear keep him from trying impossible things. ”
Nothing sets my threat klaxons blaring like a politician or one of their blind followers who starts by telling me why not to trust. I tend not to even want to go there because that descends to a level that we all need to rise above. I usually throw it right back at them and suggest that if they have any positive and compelling reasons for trusting a candidate then let them be known.
It should be easy to spot arguments from the rhetorically bankrupt. We hear things like “they rose from the same slime as all the rest of them” or “he did nothing to fix it” as caricatures that take a step back from the actual words and deeds of the candidates. This is what those who do not want to be confronted with the words and deeds of those who they advocate do.
You have my respect for being willing to state just why you trust but I doubt anyone who is more inclined to spout unsubstantiated ad hominem will be moved. I could easily have a discussion with you regarding my reasons to trust Obama over Clinton without being unduly negative but I’d be more inclined, with hettie, to ask “whaddya got?”, because I hear very little and see little willingness to answer that sort of question given the tired old negative myths with which she leads.
Maha, reminds me of Hillary’s claim of responsibility – if not the sole mover and shaker – for establishing the Children’s Defense Fund. Actually it was Marion Wright Edelman who was responsible. I find it interesting that Edelman, a black woman highly respected in the black community, has yet to back Hillary???