Has there ever been a political debate that has been oversimplfied more – if you want to dignify it with the word debate — than the punditocracy’s current Obama versus white voters storyline?
Barack Obama has a white working class problem, we’re told, except, of course, in Oregon, Wisconsin and a bunch of other places. But, according to that great oracle, Pat Buchanan, speaking on MSNBC last night, Oregon doesn’t count because it’s one of those weird latte drinking states.
Wisconsin also doesn’t count, I suppose, because eating a lot of cheese warps people’s minds.
Now, at least according to Buchanan, West Virginia and Kentucky do count, since, as we all know (or at least presume), they have the lowest per capita latte consumption in the western hemisphere.
And what better way to define “real Americans?”
All silliness aside, there’s no question Obama has an Appalachian problem. So does the entire Democratic Party, at least in terms of presidential elections. No Democrat is going to win West Virginia or Kentucky this year. The trending in both states is very much in the opposite direction. And there are a lot of other states neither Obama nor Clinton will win, including Kansas, where Obama smoked Clinton, and Texas, where Clinton beat Obama (in the primary).
The truth is that the Democratic Party is taking a chance this year with Obama. We’re betting that America is ready to elect an African American president. I believe we’ll win that bet, but it’s still only a bet. If we had chosen Hillary, we would have been making a different sort of bet, of course — one involving a female candidate. For what it’s worth, I think we probably would have won that bet as well, but it also would still have been only a bet.
The Democratic Party, for better or worse, passed on its one realistic chance for a “safe candidate” this year when it gave thumbs down to that (very good) white guy from North Carolina with the good hair and the well polished teeth.
Undoubtedly, Obama will lose some white votes based upon race that would have gone to, say, John Edwards, or even Hillary Clinton: on the other hand, Obama will likely pick up other votes — including many from new voters — that might not have fallen to a more traditional candidate due to other unique qualities he brings to the table.
And around and around the wheel will spin and where it will stop nobody knows.
That’s why they call it gambling — and democracy.