Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hillbillies hate Hope

OK, it's probably unfair to stigmatize West Virginians with the word "hillbillies" -- contrary to stereotypes, it's not all incest, moonshine and bad teeth over there -- but they really don't seem to dig Obama:
In Hardy County, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2 to 1. But there is little enthusiasm for Barack Obama in this mountainside enclave, a portent of trouble for the Illinois senator in next week's West Virginia primary and the general election beyond.
Nearly 97% white, the county is as conflicted as any rural and working-class Democratic bastion as it struggles to adjust to the likely prospect of the party nominating its first African American presidential candidate.
The L.A. Times reporter then gets quotes from Democratic mouthpieces to help him develop the none-too-subtle theme that anybody who votes Republican in November is a racist:
"My worry is there's just too many people in this country who aren't ready to elect a black president," said Charles L. Silliman, a retired Air Force officer who is Hardy County's Democratic Party co-chairman. "There's a lot to like about him. But I'm just afraid that too many people will vote against him based on their fears and prejudice."
Never mind the elitism, the "57 states," the radical anti-American preacher, the Hamas connection, the Weather Underground connection -- never mind any of that, and never mind that policy-wise, Obama's just a clone of John Kerry.

No, none of that matters at all. The L.A. Times knows why you don't support Obama, you inbred banjo-plucking bigots.

Please note that it is the Democrats and the MSM -- is that redundant? -- who are setting up this election as a referendum on racial rectitude. Except for his Philadelphia speech, Obama himself has tried to avoid making race front-and-center in his campaign, but the Democrats and the media just won't let well enough alone.

We're going to hear this theme endlessly reiterated for the next six months. Win, lose or draw, the MSM will portray the November results as a plebiscite on ethnic tolerance. If Obama wins, we'll get two months of uninterrupted op-eds and Page One analyses of "what it means." If Obama loses, the MSM will tout it as permanent proof of endemic American racism.

The worst part? The only way to prevent this nightmare is for Hillary Clinton to steal the nomination. So thank you, MSM, for forcing Americans to pray for a Clintonian swindle.

UPDATE: Dan Riehl has a similar reaction:
The media obsession with the racism meme, without acknowledging the entire picture, is simply a symptom of a media that's stuck on old stupid, offering little if any genuinely intelligent, deep, or honest analysis of the entire picture.
Yet the media swoons for Obamessiah, and anyone who doesn't share Chris Matthews' tingles is a benighted bigot.

UPDATE II: Wow, even liberal Democrats like Jerome Armstrong are getting tired of the racism meme:
I'd humbly suggest, to all the Obama supporters that join us here on this blog, that if you can't stand the heat of the West Virginia primary, you stay out of the kitchen. While I'm at it, I also suggest that you refrain from accusations against West Virginians as being racist. . . .
Racism is ignorance, but unfounded accusations of racism are just as low on the scum-radar.
This is probably as good a place as any to recount a conversation I had yesterday with my brother Kirby, who's a truck driver in Georgia -- and also one of the most insightful political analysts I know. Kirby said that these bogus accusations of racism are going to destroy the Democrats in the general election if Obama is their nominee.

Every bit of negative news for Obama -- every gaffe, every scandal, every time he dips in the polls -- is going to be viewed through the prism of race by the media and the Democrats, who are then going to use it to spin this theme: If you don't like Obama, you're a racist. And nothing infuriates the white working class more than bogus accusations of racism.

Kirby said that the backlash against this tactic could be so bad that it could even put California in play. I scoffed at this, but Kirby was serious. "Think about it, Stacy. They've got Schwarzenegger as governor out there. . . . If the Democrats have to fight for California, it's going to be a serious drain on their resources."

Kirby suggested the possibility of an electoral blowout along the lines of 1972 or '84, which I consider unlikely, but he's definitely got a point about the explosive danger to Democrats if they overplay the race card.

Working-class whites don't have the reflexive "white guilt" reaction toward minorities that is so common among the affluent elite. When you start pointing the finger of "racism" at the white guy who's punching a clock and struggling to pay his bills, what he hears is, "Feel sorry for me." And his reaction is, "WTF?" It's not that he's about "hate," it's just that his life is hard enough that he doesn't have time to go around oozing empathy toward others.

I think this is part of what Team Clinton has been trying to explain about the demographic trends in the Democratic primaries, though without much success. Paul Begala's "eggheads and African-Americans" quote might sound callous, but it touches on the danger to Democrats if they nominate a candidate who alienates white working-class voters. John Kerry's snooty attitude hurt him in this regard, and it's not hard to imagine Obama having a similar problem -- especially if you get a bunch of talking heads on TV insinuating that opposition to Obama is purely a function of white bigotry.

If I were handling media for Team Obama, I'd be coming down like a hammer on anybody in the MSM who's playing on this racism meme. The dynamic is a lot more complex than that, and there's serious potential that this could generate a backlash.

For years, Kirby has been tipping me to "under-the-radar" stuff that people inside the Beltway don't notice, and he's very perceptive -- like the time he alerted me that Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes had alienated school teachers, a harbinger of the historic Republican midterm sweep of the state in 2002. When Kirby forecasts trouble for Democrats in November, I feel obligated to record his forecast. He's been right about these things so often, and it's fun to point out that sometimes the big-shot pundits have less political insight than a truck driver.

UPDATE III: How many truck drivers does Andrew Sullivan know? . . . Wait a minute. I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

UPDATE IV: Linked by Don Surber, who notes:
Perhaps if Obama actually tried to win here, he could. But Obama has spent more time in the Virgin Islands than he has spent here.
Of course, he evidently thinks the Virgin Islands is a state.
To be sure, the Chicago political machine has sent a squad or two down here. But it is more like a training exercise for teh young. Cannon fodder.
The main team is elsewhere, perhaps catching its breath.
Yeah, lots of GOTV and honk-and-waves on Team Obama's West Virginia schedule, but no Obama. Maybe they're afraid one of those toothless moonshiners might mistake Obama for a revenuer and blast him his shootin' iron.


  1. Expect Obama to have a monster GOTV program ready for November. It may not be targeted to West Virginia--polls will determine that--but it should scare Sen. McCain and the RNC. Heck, it scares me.

    Sure, young people aren't reliable for votes, but they do provide cheap labor.

  2. Here's something that's not getting any comment. Obama is not a descendant of slaves. We are talking about him like he is part of Rev. Wright's "African disapora" but he isn't. He doesn't have any of the history of blacks in this country, yet for them to vote en block for him is not a racist statement.