Jay Reding.com

Barack Obama Versus Alexis De Tocqueville

Armed Liberal, an Obama supporting blogger, has one of the more interesting takes on the whole Obama “bitter-gate” flap from a liberal perspective:

Here’s another thought: Obama believes that the people he’s discussing – poorer, gun-owning, church-going economic left-behinds in rural America are bitter and negative toward government because it hasn’t delivered.

There’s an alternate hypothesis, which is that they don’t think it’s supposed to. That there are a solid body of Americans who believe – with whatever justification or historical validity – that government’s role is to leave them alone. I’ll bet that people who believe those things tend to migrate away from major cities or never move to them, tend to go to church a lot, believe in guns, and in American culture. They are – wait for it – culturally conservative.

I think liberals can reach them, should reach them, and must reach them. I think they can because I think there are ways to reframe the ‘values’ issues that have divided us, and because I think that there is a key issue to bridge – the perceived value of what those poorer, gun-owning, church-going folks in small towns actually get from the government. . . .

I’ve asked for a long time what, exactly the Democratic Party has done in the last 20 years for a typical 35-year-old single mother who works as an administrative assistant in a big city. The answer: not a hell of a lot. Not anything I can think of.

To that I’ll add the question of what the Democratic Party has done in the last 20 years for the 35-year-old son of a factory worker who manages to get temp manufacturing jobs, alongside his wife, and tries to support his three kids doing it. He’s getting by because his dad had a great retirement plan and equity in his house. To him, the government wants to close his hunting areas to protect spotted owls, let his 14 year old daughter get an abortion without his consent, and charge him more and more for the priviledge.

So in a way, I’m agreeing with Obama – without the cultural baggage, which may be devastating to his candidacy.

Armed Liberal is doing something that the Democrats have failed to do—and that is take people who don’t agree with them seriously. That is something that Barack Obama isn’t able to do—because he has absolutely no cultural connection to Middle America. Obama’s statement about “bitter” voters was one of those rare moments in American politics where a candidate does something absolutely fatal: says what he or she actually believes. Obama’s appeal is all about the rhetoric of “hope” and “change” and other empty terms, but Obama’s substance is that of a man of the left. His statement was one in which the “hope” façade briefly slipped and the real Obama slipped through.

Barack Obama really does believe that the reason why cultural conservatives vote the way they do is because they’re “bitter” and they need to be shown the way. That attitude is arrogant and condescending to those who don’t share that viewpoint—but to those who agree, it’s “truth.” It’s the same argument that George Lakoff has been making for years—if one just “reframes” the issues, then Democrats will win the heartland.

It is, unsurprisingly, wrong. The left never really gets America. They don’t understand that cultural conservatism isn’t a recent backlash, but it’s the default state of American political life. Barack Obama, while a very educated and erudite candidate, should probably read some Tocqueville before spouting off again. The values of those Pennsylvania voters isn’t an aberration from the “real” American electorate, it is the real American electorate. Those Pennsylvania voters are the descendants of the largely Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women who settled this nation in the first place. They, for lack of a better term, are America 1.0—the people who made this country what it is.

Obama is from another culture entirely. The reason why he fails to understand the voters of the American Midwest is he has absolutely nothing in common with them. He doesn’t share their culture, their philosophy, their worldview, and he certainly does not share their view of government.

Armed Liberal gets it right: Pennsylvania voters do see government as a problem rather than as a source of all solutions. The problem is that the Democrats aren’t going to change that by promising more government solutions. It isn’t about getting “value” from government—although that is important—it is that every time that the power of the state is increased, the power of the people is necessarily decreased. They don’t understand that opposition to Big Government isn’t pig-headed obstructionism, but it’s entirely pragmatic. They don’t get that there’s a reason while Middle America would rather get help from their neighbors and their churches than from a government agency. They don’t understand concepts like subsidiarity (which even though most Middle American voters don’t know the term, they understand the concept) and how important it is to have solutions that are close to the people rather than diffused to Washington. This country was founded on the principles of limited government by and for the people, supported and enriched by an innumerable array of voluntary organizations. That is the America of Alexis de Tocqueville and Andrew Jackson, and that is the America that still represents a key plurality in American politics today.

Barack Obama is a very intelligent person, a fantastic orator, and certainly someone who cares for people. He is also from a culture that is relatively alien to traditional American values. Despite all the passion from his supporters, the cold, hard reality remains that Barack Obama will never be President of the United States. He can’t reach out to Middle America because he is not of Middle America, and he doesn’t understand the culture of Middle America. His rhetoric of “hope” and “change” may enthrall those who see American culture as drastically needed a realignment towards “progressive” values, but to those who have a justified suspicion of putting all one’s trust in government, his message does not resonate.

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder also gets it wrong. It’s quite fascinating to me to see progresive commentators make arguments such as this:

At his San Francisco fundraiser, Obama was sketching out a variation of the Thomas Frank argument about working class voters who seem to choose candidates whose policies cut against their economic interest. In Obama’s version, working class voters in the Midwest have been inured to promises of economic redress because both Democrats and Republicans promise to help and never do; since government is a source of distress in their lives, they organize their politics around more stable institutions, like churches or cultural practices, like hunting. The outlet for their economic duress is in lashing out, in giving voice to their grievances; In Obama’s formulation, Republicans are especially eager and willing to exploit cultural trigger points.

What Ambinder and most of the modern-day progressives keep failing to understand is that churches and cultural practices existed before the current economic downturn, before the Rust Belt existed, even before the Industrial Revolution reached the New World. The key mistake that Ambinder, Obama, and the rest make is assuming that cultural conservatism only exists because government hasn’t done enough for people—as though there’s something intrinsically wrong about not wanting more and more government services. They completely forget that this country was founded upon a justified skepticism and distrust of government—and far from being an aberration, the attitudes of Middle American voters are more true to the American tradition than their pro-government progressivism is.

7 responses to “Barack Obama Versus Alexis De Tocqueville”

  1. Mark says:

    “That is something that Barack Obama isn’t able to do—because he has absolutely no cultural connection to Middle America.”

    What possible connection could Barack Obama have to Middle America, being a Senator from Illinois and all?

    “His statement was one in which the “hope” façade briefly slipped and the real Obama slipped through.”

    I don’t see how the statement was that different than the inconvenient truths he pointed out in much-celebrated speech following the Jeremiah Wright debacle. Not one word of what he said is even remotely disputable by any serious person. Thankfully for the GOP, there are no serious people left in their ranks so they’ll demagogue it into oblivion.

    “That attitude is arrogant and condescending to those who don’t share that viewpoint”

    It remains to be seen which statement will be perceived as more arrogant and condescending….that bitter blue-collars cling to guns and religion when times get tough….or that their jobs are gone and will never come back, so get used to poverty and vote McCain!!!!

    “Those Pennsylvania voters are the descendants of the largely Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women who settled this nation in the first place. They, for lack of a better term, are America 1.0—the people who made this country what it is.”

    And the very people you and the GOP prescribe a strict starvation diet for, be it opposition to steel tariffs or an extension of unemployment benefits as part of the economic stimulus package. You have alot of chutzpah pretending you respect or care about these people when your inevitable diagnosis for their hard times is a recommendation that they move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where unemployment is lower.

    “It’s the same argument that George Lakoff has been making for years—if one just “reframes” the issues, then Democrats will win the heartland….It is, unsurprisingly, wrong. The left never really gets America. They don’t understand that cultural conservatism isn’t a recent backlash, but it’s the default state of American political life.”

    Democrats from Sherrod Brown to Bob Casey to Jim Webb to Brad Ellsworth won big in the Scots-Irish belt in 2006 by running a populist “reframed” message that was well to left of Clintonian centrism, even though you’ll undoubtedly attempt to claim all of these Democrats are actually Republican-lite. The meat-and-potatoes Democratic message DOES sell to the very voters Obama describes. The region’s flirtation with Republicans is entirely based on cultural wedge issues, which is why Republicans will stop at nothing to exploit these issues over and over and over again.

    “Armed Liberal gets it right: Pennsylvania voters do see government as a problem rather than as a source of all solutions.”

    With that in mind, PLEEEEASE go to rural Pennsylvania boisterously selling your “there will be NO help for you folks” message and see how much good it does for McCain. The GOP’s let-them-eat-cake worldview was the primary cause for the party’s 2006 meltdown and will play even less effectively in the economically troubled 2008 election. So I’m really happy you people get it. That places like Pennsylvania are committed to cowboy governance where trade agreements are signed, tariffs are eschewed, and where Wall Street are the only beneficiaries of government aid amidst the financial crisis. Jay, you are soooo reading these people right!

    “he doesn’t understand the culture of Middle America.”

    Uh, Jay….born in Kansas, representing Illinois in Congress. Are you really THAT stupid?

    But then again, I’m as big of a cultural elitist as Obama right, what with my growing up on a dirt road in rural Minnesota and attending a high school in a town of 1,200, then attending college in a town of 8,000, right? I can’t possibly understand Middle America either! Thankfully, enlightened law students who hobnobbed with the elites at Gustavus Adolphus and now lives in the richest suburban county in the Twin Cities can keep me and others apprised on how rural Middle America really thinks!

  2. Jay Reding says:

    What possible connection could Barack Obama have to Middle America, being a Senator from Illinois and all?

    Yes, of course, why being a Senator from Illinois means that Barack Obama really understands Pennsylvania voters… is that really your argument?

    I don’t see how the statement was that different than the inconvenient truths he pointed out in much-celebrated speech following the Jeremiah Wright debacle. Not one word of what he said is even remotely disputable by any serious person. Thankfully for the GOP, there are no serious people left in their ranks so they’ll demagogue it into oblivion.

    You do realize how seriously arrogant that statement is, right? That no serious person could ever dispute that the only reason that cultural conservatives believe what they do is because they’ve lost faith in the power of the state?

    Again, if that’s going to be the argument, it’s a losing one.

    It remains to be seen which statement will be perceived as more arrogant and condescending….that bitter blue-collars cling to guns and religion when times get tough….or that their jobs are gone and will never come back, so get used to poverty and vote McCain!!!!

    Except Sen. McCain has the integrity to tell those people the truth: technology means that the future is not in heavy manufacturing. The only way to rebuild that area of the country is to remove the barriers that are keeping good jobs away. Barack Obama would put more barriers in place. He’s firmly in bed with the unions, a promoter of higher taxes and more regulation, and would take away jobs through engaging in yet more protectionism. He’s wrong for Pennsylvania in the same way he’s wrong for the rest of the country—but that argument is an aside from the main point here.

    And the very people you and the GOP prescribe a strict starvation diet for, be it opposition to steel tariffs or an extension of unemployment benefits as part of the economic stimulus package. You have alot of chutzpah pretending you respect or care about these people when your inevitable diagnosis for their hard times is a recommendation that they move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where unemployment is lower.

    Nice straw man, but that’s another one of your rhetorical tricks—if you can’t understand the subject, attack the messenger. The real way to help the people in Pennsylvania is to reduce the burdens imposed by government, not increase them. The real way to help the people of Pennsylvania is to end the corruption of the union, not feed their lust for more power and control over the lives of workers.

    Democrats from Sherrod Brown to Bob Casey to Jim Webb to Brad Ellsworth won big in the Scots-Irish belt in 2006 by running a populist “reframed” message that was well to left of Clintonian centrism, even though you’ll undoubtedly attempt to claim all of these Democrats are actually Republican-lite. The meat-and-potatoes Democratic message DOES sell to the very voters Obama describes. The region’s flirtation with Republicans is entirely based on cultural wedge issues, which is why Republicans will stop at nothing to exploit these issues over and over and over again.

    Jim Webb ran on a gun control platform? 2006 was less than two years ago, and already the revisionists have ignored the fact that these candidates all ran as centrists, not leftists. If the Democrats want to run as a party of the hard left, that’s their prerogative. It won’t work any better than it did when they tried the same in 1968 or 1984.

    With that in mind, PLEEEEASE go to rural Pennsylvania boisterously selling your “there will be NO help for you folks” message and see how much good it does for McCain. The GOP’s let-them-eat-cake worldview was the primary cause for the party’s 2006 meltdown and will play even less effectively in the economically troubled 2008 election. So I’m really happy you people get it. That places like Pennsylvania are committed to cowboy governance where trade agreements are signed, tariffs are eschewed, and where Wall Street are the only beneficiaries of government aid amidst the financial crisis. Jay, you are soooo reading these people right!

    If all you’re going to do is insert your own argument in place of the one made, then don’t even bother reading the site, just engage in your own fantasies. If you don’t have the intellectual courage to argue on the actual argument, then you’re wasting your time.

    Uh, Jay….born in Kansas, representing Illinois in Congress. Are you really THAT stupid?

    Born in Kansas to a Kenyan father, lived in Indonesia and Hawaii, went to Yale and Harvard Law School. Of course, Barack Obama is just like the average American.

    If you’re going to accuse someone of being stupid by making an argument that is itself stupid, then you’re best keeping your mouth closed.

    But then again, I’m as big of a cultural elitist as Obama right, what with my growing up on a dirt road in rural Minnesota and attending a high school in a town of 1,200, then attending college in a town of 8,000, right? I can’t possibly understand Middle America either! Thankfully, enlightened law students who hobnobbed with the elites at Gustavus Adolphus and now lives in the richest suburban county in the Twin Cities can keep me and others apprised on how rural Middle America really thinks!

    So now someone who went to Yale and Harvard is not an elite, but someone who went to a small liberal-arts college in the middle of Minnesota is? Are you even trying to make sense, or just ranting?

  3. Mark says:

    “Yes, of course, why being a Senator from Illinois means that Barack Obama really understands Pennsylvania voters… is that really your argument?”

    Pennsylvania is more Middle America than Illinois? Is that your argument?

    “You do realize how seriously arrogant that statement is, right? That no serious person could ever dispute that the only reason that cultural conservatives believe what they do is because they’ve lost faith in the power of the state?”

    Now who’s invoking strawmen. I was simply agreeing with the context of Obama’s thesis that embittered blue-collar voters in rural America cling to guns and faith during hard times, and are thus persuadable on such issues in the voting booth when Republicans are successful in exploiting it….which they were not in 2006.

    “The real way to help the people in Pennsylvania is to reduce the burdens imposed by government, not increase them. The real way to help the people of Pennsylvania is to end the corruption of the union, not feed their lust for more power and control over the lives of workers.”

    South Dakota has the kind of business-humping environment you endorse, but outside of a few population centers, the rural regions of South Dakota continue to lose population at a rate considerably faster than anywhere in Pennsylvania. The shelled-out rural steel towns of western Pennsylvania are no more likely to experience an economic boom by putting their faith in big business doing what’s right than Mobridge or Winner, South Dakota, have benefitted from their state’s deregulatory and predatory business climate. And you know it. You and McCain are being just as dishonest as the anti-NAFTA demagogues if you’re gonna try to tell Johnstown, PA, that it’s on the road to comeback if only they did away with unions and trusted business.

    “Jim Webb ran on a gun control platform? 2006 was less than two years ago, and already the revisionists have ignored the fact that these candidates all ran as centrists, not leftists. If the Democrats want to run as a party of the hard left, that’s their prerogative. It won’t work any better than it did when they tried the same in 1968 or 1984.”

    Quit being a fraud. On the very business and regulatory issues you’re discussing in this thread, Jim Webb is well to the left of Barack Obama. So is Sherrod Brown. So is Bob Casey. They are pro-gun rights, but otherwise endorse a hard-line Democratic orthodoxy that scares you the most….because you recognize that these Scots-Irish voters you disingenuously celebrate are happy customers of the Democratic party message so long as it’s cloaked in acceptance of gun rights and religion.

    “Born in Kansas to a Kenyan father, lived in Indonesia and Hawaii, went to Yale and Harvard Law School. Of course, Barack Obama is just like the average American.”

    The guy just paid off his student loans like last year. He was raised by a single mother and worked his way through Yale and Harvard on his own merit, not because his daddy was a Texas oil baron. That profile hardly smacks of elitism. And much as you try to deflect it, this guy who “doesn’t understand Middle America” is a Senator in ILLINOIS who got elected with 70% of the vote in every nook and cranny of the state.

  4. Jay Reding says:

    Pennsylvania is more Middle America than Illinois? Is that your argument?

    No, my argument is that Barack Obama is not in tune with Middle America.

    Now who’s invoking strawmen. I was simply agreeing with the context of Obama’s thesis that embittered blue-collar voters in rural America cling to guns and faith during hard times, and are thus persuadable on such issues in the voting booth when Republicans are successful in exploiting it….which they were not in 2006.

    Then those voters have been going through “hard times” since before there was a United States of America. Obama is wrong, and so are you. Saying that the culture of Middle America is just something that embittered voters “cling to” in times of trouble is a statement that instantly pegs the speaker as someone with no clue about Middle America.

    South Dakota has the kind of business-humping environment you endorse, but outside of a few population centers, the rural regions of South Dakota continue to lose population at a rate considerably faster than anywhere in Pennsylvania. The shelled-out rural steel towns of western Pennsylvania are no more likely to experience an economic boom by putting their faith in big business doing what’s right than Mobridge or Winner, South Dakota, have benefitted from their state’s deregulatory and predatory business climate. And you know it. You and McCain are being just as dishonest as the anti-NAFTA demagogues if you’re gonna try to tell Johnstown, PA, that it’s on the road to comeback if only they did away with unions and trusted business.

    There’s a region why North Carolina’s Research Park is booming and other places are not. It’s not that hard to figure out, if you make it difficult for businesses to open, they won’t open and there won’t be jobs. If you have high taxes, the people who make the jobs come will go elsewhere.

    Your policies have already been tried. That’s why Michigan is the most economically depressed state in the Union, and places that are embracing pro-growth policies are where the jobs are. You can sit and petulantly accuse big business of being evil all you want—but then the places that aren’t blinded by an ideology of envy will get the jobs.

    Quit being a fraud. On the very business and regulatory issues you’re discussing in this thread, Jim Webb is well to the left of Barack Obama. So is Sherrod Brown. So is Bob Casey. They are pro-gun rights, but otherwise endorse a hard-line Democratic orthodoxy that scares you the most….because you recognize that these Scots-Irish voters you disingenuously celebrate are happy customers of the Democratic party message so long as it’s cloaked in acceptance of gun rights and religion.

    Prove it. Down the line, Obama’s positions are hard left. The Democrats won in 2006 for two reasons: they pretended they were centrists and the Republicans were clueless. None of the Democrats ran on a hard-left cultural platform. Certainly not Jim Webb, John Tester, or even Bob Casey. You can’t, in any reasonable terms, say that a pro-life Democrat like Bob Casey is to the left of Barack Obama,. It simply isn’t true.

    The guy just paid off his student loans like last year. He was raised by a single mother and worked his way through Yale and Harvard on his own merit, not because his daddy was a Texas oil baron. That profile hardly smacks of elitism. And much as you try to deflect it, this guy who “doesn’t understand Middle America” is a Senator in ILLINOIS who got elected with 70% of the vote in every nook and cranny of the state.

    Obama made over $200,000 every year for the past 8 years, and over a million in the past two. By your own standards, he’s one of those rich plutocrats you constantly decry. He won an election in Illinois against a sacrificial lamb candidate after the real candidate dropped out.

    Trying to paint Barack Obama as a “man of the people” doesn’t work. He is an academic liberal and part of a culture that is quite alien to the values of Middle America. All the desperate attempts to turn him into something he’s not won’t work—for all the spin, the American voter can smell a phony a mile away, and Barack Obama will lead the Democratic Party straight into electoral defeat.

  5. Mark says:

    “No, my argument is that Barack Obama is not in tune with Middle America.”

    And we’re right back where we started. Obama was elected Senator of Illinois with 70% of the vote. Illinois is as Middle America as it gets….and a supermajority of the state’s voters decided he was “in tune with them” and continue to believe that today as he is one of the most popular Senators in America today among his home state’s residents. You’re entire argument has been debunked by those pesky facts.

    “It’s not that hard to figure out, if you make it difficult for businesses to open, they won’t open and there won’t be jobs. If you have high taxes, the people who make the jobs come will go elsewhere.”

    The argument that you gave us earlier in this thread is that rural Pennsylvania’s economy can be saved with yet another layer of deregulation and tax freebies for business. Why would rural Pennsylvania see any more benefit from such a pro-business climate than has rural South Dakota, which has been among the fastest-shrinking regions of America for the last half century?

    Your argument is as much if not more of a manipulation of these voters than the anti-NAFTA demagogues you disparage for convincing rural Ohioans that they will get manufacturing jobs back.

    “None of the Democrats ran on a hard-left cultural platform. Certainly not Jim Webb, John Tester, or even Bob Casey. You can’t, in any reasonable terms, say that a pro-life Democrat like Bob Casey is to the left of Barack Obama,. It simply isn’t true.”

    I said Casey is to the left of Obama on trade issues…or at least he ran to the left of him on it. All of the 2006 Democrats in the Scots-Irish belt ran on an economically populist campaign message and won. You recognize that the message is a winner in blue-collar America, which is why you’re determined to raise the culture war flag at every opportunity. As complicated as you attempt to make it, it’s really quite simple. Blue-collar social conservatives think like Democrats on the economic issues that you are most concerned about in American politics. They’re NOT like you, Jay.

    “Trying to paint Barack Obama as a “man of the people” doesn’t work. He is an academic liberal and part of a culture that is quite alien to the values of Middle America. All the desperate attempts to turn him into something he’s not won’t work—for all the spin, the American voter can smell a phony a mile away, and Barack Obama will lead the Democratic Party straight into electoral defeat.”

    A phony? How is he any more or less of a phony than any other politician? Particularly the chameleon your party’s running who publicly denounces Jerry Falwell in 2000 then snuggles up to him in 2006, among many other high-profile flip-flops.

    Americans are never gonna elect some guy straight from the factory floor to the Presidency, so in your worldview, that means the Democrats will always be “phonies” by running as the people’s party yet nominating a wealthy and educated candidate. Better for “the people” to vote for a Republican nominee who makes no bones about his cheek-and-jowel connection to big-money interests, right?

  6. Jay Reding says:

    And we’re right back where we started. Obama was elected Senator of Illinois with 70% of the vote. Illinois is as Middle America as it gets….and a supermajority of the state’s voters decided he was “in tune with them” and continue to believe that today as he is one of the most popular Senators in America today among his home state’s residents. You’re entire argument has been debunked by those pesky facts.

    No, it is not. Barack Obama ran against Alan Keyes, a sacrificial lamb candidate, and only after Jack Ryan dropped out. Just about anyone could get 70% against Alan Keyes. Obama’s election to the Senate proves nothing. He was practically running unopposed.

    The argument that you gave us earlier in this thread is that rural Pennsylvania’s economy can be saved with yet another layer of deregulation and tax freebies for business. Why would rural Pennsylvania see any more benefit from such a pro-business climate than has rural South Dakota, which has been among the fastest-shrinking regions of America for the last half century?

    Because they have little in common? Have you ever looked at a map? Rural South Dakota is losing population because there’s less of a need for agricultural jobs. Rural South Dakota is, to be blunt, the middle of nowhere. The reason why more jobs aren’t developing there is because there’s a lack of infrastructure. That isn’t the problem in Pennsylvania or the rest of the Rust Belt.

    You’re not comparing apples to apples, you’re comparing apples to kumquats.

    I said Casey is to the left of Obama on trade issues…or at least he ran to the left of him on it. All of the 2006 Democrats in the Scots-Irish belt ran on an economically populist campaign message and won. You recognize that the message is a winner in blue-collar America, which is why you’re determined to raise the culture war flag at every opportunity. As complicated as you attempt to make it, it’s really quite simple. Blue-collar social conservatives think like Democrats on the economic issues that you are most concerned about in American politics. They’re NOT like you, Jay.

    Odd then, that one of the things that Obama singled out as the sign of a “bitter” electorate was opposition to trade. Obama may not actually believe his own anti-trade rhetoric (in fact, he almost certainly does not), but he is running on a protectionist agenda. Obama is not running as a free-trade supporter, and he is not running to the right of the Democrats in 2006. Your argument on that point is simply wrong.

    Do people tend to think poorly of trade? Sadly, yes, but that doesn’t mean protectionism will help. If anything, more tariffs and trade barriers will cause more Americans to lose their jobs. If we start slapping tariffs on China, that means the $2.8 billion China spends on US steel goes away, along with the $10.7 billion China spends on US electrical equipment. That’s hardly a good thing for American manufacturing.

    A phony? How is he any more or less of a phony than any other politician? Particularly the chameleon your party’s running who publicly denounces Jerry Falwell in 2000 then snuggles up to him in 2006, among many other high-profile flip-flops.

    He’s a phony because he’s lying about his trade position, he’s slamming the voters he needs to court, and behind the façade of being about “hope” and “change” he’s just another liberal extremist. He gets points on rhetoric, but on substance he’s anything but what he makes himself out to be.

    Americans are never gonna elect some guy straight from the factory floor to the Presidency, so in your worldview, that means the Democrats will always be “phonies” by running as the people’s party yet nominating a wealthy and educated candidate. Better for “the people” to vote for a Republican nominee who makes no bones about his cheek-and-jowel connection to big-money interests, right?

    Of course, Sen. McCain of McCain-Feingold is “cheeck-and-jowel (sic)” with “big-money interests”… to borrow from the great WFB, I won’t insult your intelligence by assuming you believe anything you just said…

  7. Mark says:

    “No, it is not. Barack Obama ran against Alan Keyes, a sacrificial lamb candidate, and only after Jack Ryan dropped out. Just about anyone could get 70% against Alan Keyes. Obama’s election to the Senate proves nothing. He was practically running unopposed.”

    And how do Illinoians feel about Obama since they elected him with 71% in 2004? The most recent poll by Survey USA gives him a 71% approval rating among Illinois voters. It seems Middle Americans don’t agree with you that Obama doesn’t understand Middle Americans.

    “Because they have little in common? Have you ever looked at a map? Rural South Dakota is losing population because there’s less of a need for agricultural jobs. Rural South Dakota is, to be blunt, the middle of nowhere. The reason why more jobs aren’t developing there is because there’s a lack of infrastructure. That isn’t the problem in Pennsylvania or the rest of the Rust Belt.”

    Your making excuses, Jay. Isolated rural Pennsylvania can raise the same disclaimers about less of a need for steel-related jobs (or manufacturing jobs in general) and a lack of infrastructure as isolated rural South Dakota can make about less of a need for agriculture jobs. They’re not nearly as different as you’re trying to make them out to be….and the bottom line is you’re deluding everybody, including yourself, by suggesting that more and more and more union-busting, deregulation, and corporate tax giveaways will revitalize Fayette County, Pennsylvania, any more than it has Walworth County, South Dakota.

    “he’s slamming the voters he needs to court”

    I’m gonna be interested in finding out just how “slammed” these voters really are. By and large, the only people who are gonna be exasperated by this are the very people stirring the culture war brew every election cycle hoping you can once again convince enough blue-collar voters that the Republicans are the anti-snob party, 30-point country club membership gap notwithstanding.

    There’s a huge risk for Hillary Clinton overdoing it here, feigning insult to the same effect that got her booed on national TV demagoguing “change you can xerox”. The long-term risks for John McCain are potentially larger, given that the real “insult” to hardscrabble working-class Middle Americans is his “let them eat cake” position on the financial crisis, a position he thinks he’s so clever for taking. When McCain gets cocky, as he was in Michigan when he told Michigan voters their jobs were gone forever, he loses.

    Beyond that, tens of millions of voters are angry….even bitter. It’s ultimately riskier pretending that they aren’t than publicly recognizing that they are.

    “and behind the façade of being about “hope” and “change””

    And for all the media’s adulation of McCain being a “maverick”, it’s unlikely to escape notice for the next six months that he’s to the right on Bush (and light years to the right of the voting public circa 2008) on most of the prominent issues of our time. If Obama is a “phony”, then McCain is a full-on snake-oil peddling huckster.