Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Audacity Of Dopes: Bitters and Absolute

Previous electoral losses left Democrats wondering why it was that wide swaths of the electorate seemed to vote against their economic interests and favor Republican candidates whose policies kept them poor and desperate. So people like George Lakoff and Thomas Frank took up the matter, identified solutions and suggested strategies that, by all appearances seem to have been taken to heart by the Democratic party for some time now. Obama's now famous "bitter" comment was an inartful way of explaining the matter, but, nevertheless, anyone familiar with the strategic shifts in the Democratic party is going to recognize what he was trying to say as being perfectly in keeping with the current strategic philosophies of the party.

What's more, they're likely to agree. Bill Clinton once said, "When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them." That's what's so annoying about Hillary Clinton's attempt to run game on these remarks - there are races all over the map where Democrats face this challenge, and are instructing their people to approach the matter in a similar way, and now she's gone and poisoned the well, making the task of running races that much harder. Besides, it's an absolute certainty that Obama's comment reflect a foundational precept of her own primary strategy. Her beefing is absurd: it's like Obama said, "I'm for ending the Iraq War," and Clinton countering, "I'm five ending the Iraq War!! I'm six ending the Iraq War!!"

Ultimately, this is a primary problem for Obama, but less so a general election obstacle. Conventional wisdom says that Obama's remarks give McCain the opportunity to paint Obama as a "liberal elite." That's totally true, but McCain and the GOP were going to do that anyway! In fact, if there is, as they say, a "pony" in this for Obama, it's that his own remarks have shaped that attack in advance, so McCain's choices will be to manufacture a newer, lamer means of crafting the "liberal elite" smear, or fight the matter out on Obama's home court. And insecure white Presidential candidates can't jump.

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