Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Palin, Obama Activists, and the Working Class

Now that the race has tightened, and with centrist minded Democrats like myself swinging clearly to McCain, you are starting to see some of Obama’s more ardent supporters go off the deep end in trying to smear MccCain’s VP, Sarah Palin. If you are reading my blog, you have likely heard most of the internet rumors and smears about Palin at this point: everything from a list of books they claimed she banned to raising her daughter’s daughter as her own.

While I do not care for Sarah Palin, and on a slew of issues we disagree completely, I do think things have gone too far in trying to bring her down, and that it is going to hurt Obama’s campaign, even when he is not responsible for the rumors. Clive Crook wrote in the Financial Times:
"The problem in my view is less Mr Obama and more the attitudes of the claque of official and unofficial supporters that surrounds him.

Little was known about Ms Palin, but it sufficed for her nomination to be regarded as a kind of insult. Even after her triumph at the Republican convention in St Paul last week, the put-downs continued. Yes, the delivery was all right, but the speech was written by somebody else – as though that is unusual, as though the speechwriter is not the junior partner in the preparation of a speech, and as though just anybody could have raised the roof with that text. Voters in small towns and suburbs, forever mocked and condescended to by metropolitan liberals, are attuned to this disdain. Every four years, many take their revenge.”
I agree completely. There are plenty of reasons to stand against Palin and her views on a slew of subjects, but her opponents have taken to crass class based comments and innuendos rather than policy arguments. As Neo-Neocon writes:
“Forget that she’s a college graduate, with a father who was a teacher. She went to the wrong college—or colleges. She’s a redneck, even if she’s from the far North where the sun hardly shines for half the year. She’s a redneck at heart, don’t you see, with the “mess” of a pregnant daughter and five children herself. How very gross.

She hunts. She fishes. Hubby’s a Marlboro man, minus the cigarettes. She’s a working woman but not an oppressed “worker.” She probably even shops at Walmart and listens to country music.”
Christopher Hitchens makes clear that the left’s apparent revulsion to characters like Palin rarely ends in their favor.
“Walter Dean Burnham, one of the country's pre-eminent Marxists, used to attract ridicule back in the 1960s and '70s by saying that Ronald Reagan would one day be president. He based this on various calculations, one of which was what I'll call the attraction-repulsion factor. Previous candidates of the right, from McCarthy to Nixon, indeed, had expressed powerful dislike and resentment of their foes. That can work, up to a point, but the problem is that if you radiate hostility, you also tend to attract it. Reagan didn't radiate it and also didn't attract it. He went on, in a genial enough way, to destroy the Democratic "New Deal" coalition. I don't think Gov. Palin has quite that sort of folksy charisma, but I am still not sure it's entirely wise to patronize her.”
At this point, it’s almost necessary for Obama to come out swinging against some of his left leaning supporters. He cultivated them throughout the primary to beat Clinton, and when he was leading in the polls against McCain, there was no need to upset this aspect of his base. I don’t fault him for not coming out against these rouge elements earlier, but his chances of winning this election look weaker than they did 1 month ago, and he may need to take action if he wants to turn that around.

Turning on these people by publicly condemning them may reassure the centrist minded independents that he is not beholden to these morons, but it may also piss off the very people who put him where he is today. It’s a risk for sure, but all moves at this point in the campaign are risky.

People I personally know, that I find to be generally intelligent in their professional lives, many of which have PHDs, have been sending me links to bizarre Palin conspiracies and unsubstantiated rumors in the last few weeks. They accepted them as legitimate without asking for even the scarcest form of detail. It boggles my mind that these folks, all of which support Barak Obama, don’t see how damaging it is to push these smears, and publicly throw support behind Obama out of the other side of their mouth.

Yet, if Obama loses in November, they won’t bother reflecting on how their ghastly gossiping helped lose them the election. Democrats won’t bother considering the fact that Obama was too inexperienced to lead the country in the eyes of many Americans. No one on the left will say he lost because some of his policies are wrong and unpopular.

They will cry Racism. Or “election irregularities.” Or Fox News. They will be wrong on all those counts, and that will allow them to make the same mistakes yet again in the next election.

I agree with Johnny Guitar, who writes:
“I appreciate why some people are practically drooling at this contest featuring the old guy and the woman versus the black guy and the Catholic. And while it is nice to have a change from the usual election between four Caucasian males with great teeth and bad haircuts, I also can’t ignore the fact that policy seems to have been demoted to a distant second place behind personality.”
He also brings us this picture. It sure says something, I just don’t know what exactly that is.


DJ Baby said...

I have to admit she has great gams.

Roland Dodds said...

Dj Baby: You are single handedly elevating the level of debate in this election.

kellie said...

She is the Salvador Dali candidate.

NeoConstant said...

This has really just become an extension of the "cling to god and guns" gaffe. The more Palin is smeared, mostly for flaws that normal people can actually identify with, or with outright and blatant lies, the more regular, every-day people feel resentment toward what they view as an elitist, liberal attitude.

Then, it's not a far leap to associate Obama's gods/guns comment with the smears, and start to feel the he is also more about elitist politics rather than the working man.

I agree, not only does he need to denounce these tactics, he also needs to start working on his working-class appeal and quickly...

Anonymous said...

Class war is a winning strategy in any election. Democrats play the card often, but this shows that Republicans are not above evoking it either.

Daniel Stark said...

You know it's odd. Of those who are supporting Barack Obama and those (i.e. non-Obama supporters) who reluctantly are giving advice to him, they all have one word of advice to him, "stop mentioning Palin, mention McCain." It seems Obama really doesn't know what he is a doing, he needs to focus on McCain and speak at lengths about the economy (with a large U.S. sentiment against free trade, which puts me in the minority in that I support it, i.e. in a DLC style). That's the formula he should be using, and he isn't.

Yet again, as always, I want Obama to continue to use his failing strategy on focusing on the VP candidate Palin, because I want him to lose. So whatever, heh.

Anonymous said...

She's a hollow gimmick.

Anonymous said...

"with centrist minded Democrats like myself swinging clearly to McCain"

You know what, there's not need for this obnoxious concern-trolling. Why don't just accept the fact that you're nothing a GOP propaganda artist like Hitchens.

Come on. Come out of the closet.

TNC said...

"You know what, there's not need for this obnoxious concern-trolling. Why don't just accept the fact that you're nothing a GOP propaganda artist like Hitchens."

I can't speak for Roland or Hitchens but there are more than a few centrist Democrats (including me) who have never voted Republican in their lives and are voting for McCain.

Why don't you accept the fact that there are more of us out there than you think? Especially if you spend all of your time in echo chambers like the Daily Kos or reading the NYT.

Palin is much more than a "hollow gimmick". That much is evident by how much interest she has sparked among white, working-class, rural, religious voters. Plus she has more executive experience (really any experience) than Obama. Obama is an empty suit while she is the real deal.

Roland Dodds said...

Hey, if I am a Republican operative, they must be misplacing my checks, since I have yet to receive any.

I have never voted for a Republican in a presidential election, and my votes for state and federal government have been split between Dems, Repubs, Libertarians, and Greens throughout my entire voting life. The fact that folks like myself, are now apparently far right wingers in the eyes of the Democratic activist community does say a lot about where the party has gone in the last 10 years.

I will continue to “concern troll” because the United States needs to have a party that believes government has a role in society and is also strong on military and foreign matters. If we end up with only one political party that takes our position on the world stage seriously, and works to make sure our power is used accordingly, it will hurt the country as a whole.

The Democrats current direction is a losing strategy both electorally, and more importantly, bad for the country and the world. The Party needs to take back control from the Kos and Huffington crowd for its own good.