I don’t have an enormous amount to add about Obama’s comment. Evidently, on the merits the controversy is stupid; as Roy says, the comments were a takeoff for politics-of-resentment silliness “in the precise manner Obama described.” And, yes, I wish that Clinton wasn’t discussing it using Page 1 of the Republican playbook, but that’s just another way of saying that I wish Obama had already knocked her out of the race. As long as she’s in, not using it would be to fail Campaigning 101, especially given her base in Pennsylvania.
It does, however. remind me to link to this fine recent piece by Eric Alterman about the ridiculous use of the epithet “elitist” by conservatives:
John Podhoretz, the son of neoconservatism’s second couple, Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, who attended elite private schools and the University of Chicago before his father’s connections helped him secure jobs in the media empires of Sun Myung Moon and Rupert Murdoch, also professes to see America through rose-hued glasses. “Bush Red is a simpler place,” he explains, on the basis of a visit to Las Vegas. It’s a land “where people mourn the death of NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, root lustily for their teams, go to church, and find comfort in old-fashioned verities.” His comrade in anti-intellectual arms, former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg, who has spent a career working within what conservatives would call the “liberal media elite” and who wrote a book comparing his former friend Dan Rather to a “prison bitch,” has sworn off all association with liberals even when he agrees with them, he says, “because of their elitism. They look down their snobby noses at ordinary Americans who eat at Red Lobster or because they like to bowl or they go to church on a regular basis or because they fly the flag on the Fourth of July.”
In red-state America, explains the slumming blue stater David Brooks, “the self is small”; whereas in blue-state America, “the self is more commonly large.” Unlike the citizens of the states that voted for Al Gore, according to Andrew Sullivan, they can even be trusted not to betray their country on behalf of Islamic terrorists. Yet while unelite America is wonderful in every way, it’s just not a place where Laura Ingraham or Rush Limbaugh or Bernard Goldberg or Ann Coulter or John Podhoretz or Newt Gingrich or Peggy Noonan or Andrew Sullivan or David Brooks would ever choose to live.
This isn’t to exculpate Obama for his comments; it was bad politics to frame his perfectly banal point in the precise way that he did. But wealthy urban conservatives and quasi-liberal pundits pretending to be offended on behalf of working-class rural people is a stupid kabuki, as well as considerably more condescending than anything Obama said.
Brad DeLong makes a stronger case for Sean Wilentz’s assertion that Hillary Clinton deserves the Democratic nomination than Wilentz managed, and as he says it remains highly unconvincing. Since I assume the only possible purpose of Wilentz pointing out that given some arbitrary, post hoc changes to the Democratic nominating process Clinton might have done better is to convince superdelegates to back Clinton, it’s worth making one additional point. Like DeLong, I disagree with the claim that Clinton is more electable, but given her potential strength in some important swing states it’s at least plausible enough to potentially justify a vote for her in the first instance. To make Clinton the nominee now, however, means that one has to argue that that she would be the most electable candidate after superdelegates awarded her the nomination over the pledged delegate and popular vote winner who also would have otherwise been the first African-American candidate for president. It’s quite obvious that Clinton would not be the most electable candidate under than scenario. Given that she has much less ability to enlarge the Democratic coalition, a Clinton candidacy with significant parts of the Democratic base demobilized because they think the nomination was stolen would be very poorly positioned in the general.
The latest in arbitrary ex post facto means of determining the legitimate Democratic nominee. And this doesn’t even address the crucial point that Clinton has carried the states of the most recent World Series, Stanley Cup, and Super Bowl winner! I think the superdelegates will know what to do.
I wouldn’t say that this changes anything much about the outcome of the Democratic race; Clinton had essentially no chance before this, and she still has essentially no chance. Obama will win the pledged delegates easily, delegates from the Florida straw poll will not be a decisive factor, and the vast majority of superdelegates voting to overturn this lead is Not. Going. To. Happen. (Obama is now almost certain to win the popular vote as well, although why this is supposed to be an important factor in a race in which obtaining the most popular votes per se isn’t the goal, states use radically incommensurate systems, and some states don’t even report popular vote totals I can’t tell you.) This latest example of Florida electoral ineptitude, however, may make the obvious apparent to a greater number of people.
Wow. YouTube certainly does create entirely new possibilities for profound embarrassment.
Having said that, I think Matt is being too quick to cede the large tacky middlebrow vote to Clinton, although the lameness of the particular manifestations that sometimes emerge from Clinton supporters has been striking. Middlebrow is not a monolith! For example, correct me if I’m wrong, but the Oprah Winfrey Show strikes me as…not un-middlebrow. And while The Wire I’ll concede, I find it very puzzling to cite will.i.am’s musical support in behalf of the proposition that Obama is too cool to win.
Above: middlebrow schlock.
If Obama can just get a supporting video from an American Idol contestant, he’ll be back to par!
Speaking of which, since I was stuck at a hotel in exburban Virginia earlier in the week because I was in D.C. to give a lecture and waited too long too book a hotel at this time of year, I actually for the first time saw some American Idol as part of a captive audience at the hotel restaurant. Apparently, involves a bunch of fourth-rate singers murdering the Lennon/McCartney songbook, and doing an unspeakably atrocious arena-rock “Eleanor Rigby” gets you talked about as if Sam Cooke came back to earth and inhabited your body. (Note: I do not speak for the Obama campaign.)
Apparently Geraldine Ferraro is taking a page from Dylan Thomas. Yes, it’s true that she submitted her resignation last night from Senator Clinton’s “very large” finance committee (those are Sen. Clinton’s words in quotes). According to NY Mag, Ferraro’s resignation included this tidbit:
“If anybody is going to apologize,” she said defiantly, “They should apologize to me for calling me a racist.”
Right. And apparently she plans to continue hitting the campaign trail, so she can “speak for herself.” If I were a member of the Clinton staff, I would fund a long vacation somewhere very remote for Ms. Ferraro…and stat.
Geraldine Ferraro refuses to back off her claim that Obama has gotten so far in the presidential primary because he is black. In fact, she’s made things worse, saying: “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?” How’s that, Geraldine? Well, it’s both (1) blatantly untrue and (2) undermining the history of racism in this country. So how about you remove your foot from your mouth and apologize, Ms. Ferraro? How’s that?
I agree with K-Drum and Atrios about this Orlando Patterson op-ed. I mean, even if there was a potential racial subtext that the ad should have avoided — and Patterson’s case that there is, to put it charitably, strained — to compare it to a film that was not merely pro-Klan and anti-Reconstruction but actually played a major role in mobilizing private terror is really far, far beyond the pale. I think a couple criticisms of Clinton campaign’s use of race have been valid, and many more have not been, but if you’re going to make this kind of analogy your case has to be far stronger than Paterson’s is.
The Obama campaign hits back on Clinton’s allegedly extensive foreign policy “experience.” (Admittedly, they don’t seem to be counting the time she went to Albania with Amy Grant and Nipsey Russell in their rundown.) And, of course, the bottom line remains the most important thing:
Barack Obama has a very simple case. On the most important commander in chief test of our generation, he got it right, and Senator Clinton got it wrong…He possesses the personal attributes of a great leader — an even temperament, an open-minded approach to even the most challenging problems, a willingness to listen to all views, clarity of vision, the ability to inspire, conviction and courage.
That’s the way to do it, in both the primary and the general. Even if Clinton had the foreign policy experience she claimed, if she thought that the Iraq War was a good idea it can’t have done her much good. And although Clinton may think McCain would be a bang-up Commander in Chief his own misjudgments make clear that this isn’t true.