Hillary Clinton, Dems And White Working Class Voters

E.J. Dionne points out that while Barack Obama's problem with white working class voters is more acute than normal, this is a Democratic problem, not just an Obama problem:

Cartoonists and satirists mocked Hillary Clinton's incarnation as a fighter for blue-collar voters. Yet those who know her well think the fighting Hillary is closer to her self-image -- as someone who has had to overcome many blows in life -- than the inevitable nominee who wove a web of entitlement around herself and ran on experience, much of which was derivative of her husband's.


. . . Clinton did her party and Obama a favor by focusing on the Democrats' potential weaknesses among blue-collar whites. This problem is not unique to Obama. Both Al Gore and John Kerry underperformed with these voters, particularly among males. That Obama has been pushed off his oratorical pedestal and encouraged to connect with disaffected whites will save him trouble in the fall. Clinton, widely seen as the champion of older, well-educated feminist women, could be remembered as the politician who brought the party back to its working-class roots.

Of course, Dionne cannot completely break with his Media brethren so he has to take his shots at Clinton too. But this central point of Clinton's focus on working class concerns is the lesson Dems need to learn. If instead they choose to play Ostrich on this, then Dems could very well lose in November.

By Big Tent Democrat

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    It is nice to see E J saying a few nice (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by bjorn on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:50:22 AM EST
    things too.  This is smart, focus on what she has done for the party because if and when the time comes, and I believe it will, it will be easier for her to exit gracefully and with respect.  If the media wants to help Obama, like they have been, they would do well to stop demonizing Clinton.  As BTD say, it really serves no purpose, other than to avoid talking about McCain and Obama.

    What does "exit gracefully" mean. A (5.00 / 6) (#11)
    by derridog on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:04:51 AM EST
    great big shove from the media and the Dem party leaders in spite of her greater strength and the fact that neither of them can win without the Superdelegates?  Just your saying that makes me furious! It's so damn patronizing. Hey, we raped you, but no hard feelings right?

    I am sorry it (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by bjorn on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:20:51 AM EST
    infuriated you. I did not mean it that way.  I love Clinton and will continue to do so.  I am just trying to come to my own peace about her not winning.  If she still pulls it out I will be pleased beyond belief!  When I said exit gracefully what I meant was just that I don't want people to see her exit as "ugly," and just have more hate spewed at her. I want the media people to see her with respect and present a more accurate picture of her contributions.  I guess what I should have said was that I hope the media handle it gracefully.

    Her exit can't be anything but ugly now. (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by davnee on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:42:18 AM EST
    It's the nature of the calendar.  The calendar turned out to backload her best states OH, PA, and especially WV and KY which are demographically pure for her, and then PR.  And of course, her states of FL and MI have been left hanging to the end, through no fault of her own.  Fairly resolving them at the end only makes the race tighter and more of a question mark.  

    So she's going to trounce him if she stays in, even without maximum campaigning.  And if she got out now she would fail herself, women, and democracy.  So she must stay in, but in staying in she highlights Obama's glaring weaknesses.  It is embarrassing and humiliating to have a candidate win and that win not make him even competitive in some places.  But that is Obama's fault, not Clinton's fault.  He is a flawed candidate.  Accept it.  Deal with it.  Attempt to remedy it.  But blaming someone else for being more popular with a key demographic is no solution.  It only makes the problem worse.  Never tell the voters they are wrong to feel what they feel, like who they like, or want what they want.  Tell them you've heard them, learned from them, and want another shot at winning them over.  Isn't that kinda politics 101?


    I disagree (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by DJ on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:52:28 AM EST
    with this

    So she must stay in, but in staying in she highlights Obama's glaring weaknesses.

    Obama highlights Obama's glaring weaknesses.  That is why he quit debating, cut the press of for 10 days before Penn. and needs to "eat his waffle" or "have a work out" instead of talk to the press.

    Does anyone see the similarities to Bush Jr?  Although I will say that Obama gives a better speech.


    I don't think we disagree. (5.00 / 0) (#82)
    by davnee on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:03:17 PM EST
    Simply by requiring Obama to continue to be Obama, Clinton is undermining him.  That was my original point.  Clinton isn't doing anything to Obama other than making him face an electorate that isn't impressed by him.  The fact that he can't connect with these people is not her fault.  She didn't make him out himself as an elitist in San Francisco.  She didn't recommend Jeremiah Wright's church to him when he moved to Chicago.  She didn't tell him to go bowl a 37.  She didn't tell him to eat waffles instead of debate or hold press conferences.  She didn't insist he run for POTUS with less than 1 term of national experience under his belt.  And she certainly didn't tell him to run a process-oriented campaign that shied away from bread and butter issues that working class voters desperately need resolved NOW.

    I get it. Thanks n/t (none / 0) (#110)
    by DJ on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:19:13 PM EST
    I do not want her (none / 0) (#106)
    by Molly Pitcher on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:11:22 PM EST
    to exit gracefully.  That's elite talk.

    Yep, Clinton is doing Obama a favor (5.00 / 5) (#2)
    by angie on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:51:51 AM EST
    the only reason she didn't drop out of the race is so that she could point out Obama's failure to connect with the white working class so that he could continue to ignore it by not even bothering to try to connect with those voters in WV & KY. Asking people to vote for you is so boring! Much easier to write them off as uneducated racist hillbillies.

    Appeal to different voters (none / 0) (#52)
    by 1jane on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:34:30 AM EST
    Obama and Clinton appeal to different and opposite voters. There are 3 congressional districts in WV and all three are similar to the Obama worst performing districts in PA.

    Average wage in WV is 35 thousand
    Youth vote 18-29 20%
    65+ vote is 19%
    AA - 3%
    Vets - 12%
    WASP - 30%

    Poplano says Clinton has to do better than 68% to take more of the 7 delegates available in WV than predicted.

    Obama does better in congressional districts in all states that have a presence of tolerance and high tech. Obama picked up 4 more superdelegates this morning and leads in the Oregon polls 55-34.


    "[P]resence of tolerance and high tech" (5.00 / 4) (#58)
    by oculus on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:37:42 AM EST
    So WV Dem. primary voters really are racists, eh?  

    Intolerance does not mean racist (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by Prabhata on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:04:08 PM EST
    Race is often not the reason most people don't like  outside groups.  That's why BO is accepted by many White voters, and it's why Wright changed BO's image.  Middle America, was intolerant of the 60s counter culture.  Most intolerance is due to culture intolerance not race, but race is the first face of different cultures.

    Bottom line is (5.00 / 2) (#90)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:19:00 PM EST
    Q:  How do we do a better job of appealing to intolerant voters?

    A:  Stop calling them intolerant voters.


    And then don't know what LOL means. (none / 0) (#68)
    by ahazydelirium on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:47:37 AM EST
    I grew up thinking WASP was a slur. What say you? (5.00 / 0) (#67)
    by ahazydelirium on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:47:08 AM EST
    queer was once a slur (none / 0) (#76)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:53:23 AM EST
    now universities have Queer Studies.
    maybe WASP Studies are next.

    I like queer though. (none / 0) (#77)
    by ahazydelirium on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:57:24 AM EST
    Also, queer is still a slur for some people. (none / 0) (#79)
    by ahazydelirium on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:58:49 AM EST
    I just ain't one of them.

    WASP and queer (none / 0) (#105)
    by Molly Pitcher on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:09:19 PM EST
    White Anglo Saxon Protestant should NOT be a slur--except when voiced by Native Americans.  
    Queer--I don't like it; I much prefer gay--comes from being an old crone, I suppose.

    A "Presence of tolerance" (5.00 / 0) (#87)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:14:51 PM EST
    Wow.  That's amazing.  Who came up with that?

    are working class Latinos intolerant ? (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by bigbay on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:41:31 PM EST
    cause Obama has bombed with them as bad as, or worse, than whites.

    Those intolerant voters (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by makana44 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 02:01:47 PM EST
    My Dad had an expression: "I'm only allergic to one thing: bull sh--."

    You might say those voters are BS intolerant.

    And most readers of this site, who have developed a strong aversion to some unnamed other sites, are high-tech BS intolerant.


    Who is this mysterious Pueblan? (none / 0) (#84)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:09:05 PM EST
    This Poplano? Poblana?

    No no it's Poblano!

    ay mi!

    Anyway. The Democrats now deserve a good kick in the teeth from the lumpen proles.  Year after year I could not figure it out: We put forward  well educated men, experienced, dutiful and conscious of the demands of service. They have considered the issues and put forward good proposals.  Those are the nominees we have put forward. So many have simply failed.

    It's a party that aspires to represent the common man or woman. The working class, the doers, the salt of the earth etc...but this dear party always seems to misunderstand the contemptable little people who make the world go round. Labour pulled off the trick in the UK and have dominated various periods in history.  Why have the Democrtas blown it so much?

    Really, our nominees didn't need to go to Harvard or Yale, they don't need to be Huey Long.  They just needed to connect.  They don't have to be populists and they don't have to look down their noses on te electorate either.


    Has Anyone Seen Any Evidence (5.00 / 4) (#3)
    by flashman on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:51:54 AM EST
    that Obama can change his campaign to accomodate the "fact on the ground?"  I've watched him roll out the same rhetoric over and over, and never has he changed the message.  That's has been one of his biggest failures in the last stages of the campaign, and why he hasn't been able to close the deal.  I'm not sure he will be able to make the turn, and besides, one can't spend months telling a large part of the electorate to jump in the lake, then trun around and expect to be able to court them.

    He hasn't (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:55:10 AM EST
    been able to adjust. He did nothing to change this problem after it became obvious in OH. This is why I believe that he will just write off these voters and hope for the best. And it's also why I think he is unlikely to win in Nov.

    He Is Heading For MI...Why I Am Not Sure (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by PssttCmere08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:18:25 AM EST
    FL is next.  NOW he cares about them....he should be run out of town.

    Macomb County, MI (none / 0) (#30)
    by Emma on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:21:05 AM EST
    Very white, very rural, very working class.  Known around here for being racially hostile.

    He's going to show he doesn't have a problem with white working class voters.  I just don't know who he's going to be talking to.


    "who he's going to be talking to" (none / 0) (#56)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:35:42 AM EST

    Rural? (none / 0) (#59)
    by cmugirl on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:39:08 AM EST
    Where in Macomb County do you live?  I'm from Macomb County and it's suburbs all the way, with horrific traffic.  More money in the northern section, more working class in the south.

    I also wouldn't say racially hostile, but it's not Boston, either.

    I think Obama was going to Grand Rapids, but I agree I can't think of who he'd be talking to.  Nice that he cares about MI/FL now when he wants to do fundraising....


    My bad (none / 0) (#66)
    by Emma on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:45:42 AM EST
    then.  The parts of Macomb I've seen are rural.  I think.  I guess I might be thinking of something else.

    No prob (none / 0) (#73)
    by cmugirl on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:50:56 AM EST
    I thought I just missed something!  :)

    Heh (none / 0) (#112)
    by Steve M on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:23:33 PM EST
    Macomb County is an interesting place.  I used to work for one of the major Detroit law firms, and when we had a case in Macomb, we would always hire "local counsel" because, in some ways, it feels like practicing in a foreign jurisdiction.  My colleague who grew up in Warren used to refer to a court appearance in Macomb as "going in-country."

    Both Oakland and Macomb counties have had historical issues concerning race.  But since Oakland has the money, those people are just, you know, "turned off by racial politics."  It's only the poor folks in Macomb, like the residents of West Virginia, who get stuck with the "racially intolerant" label.

    Not that either place has been a monolithic white bloc for decades.  Heck, consider the massive Chaldean population in Sterling Heights, for one.  The problem has never been racism in a vacuum, it's been animus specifically against Detroit and blacks from Detroit.  Not that I'm making excuses for it or anything.


    Far too early to tell (none / 0) (#41)
    by contrarian1964 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:26:33 AM EST
    I don't think he has tried to adjust yet.  That hasn't been part of his primary strategy.  His overall strategy to win the primary has worked, however.

    Many commenters on this blog think that future events must mimic past events with respect to candidates and campaigns.  That's a logical error.  


    The question is.. (5.00 / 0) (#51)
    by Emma on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:31:54 AM EST
    how much as Obama been defined to voters already?

    They've campaigned hard in every state.  It's more like a general in terms of level of campaigning than it is a primary.  He seems to have been defined already as having a problem with working class and/or white voters.  Will that definition stick, no matter what he does?  

    I think people are saying, in part:  his mistake in not addressing this weakness now, or his inability to address it now, may mean it follows him into the general no matter what course adjustments he makes.  And there's already a pretty well entrenched narrative against Democratic elites that he seems to fit into pretty well.  And, given all this (and other points), McCain is more likely to be able to win over Clinton's Reagan Dems than Obama is.


    No (5.00 / 0) (#54)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:34:47 AM EST
    it's not too early. He has known this was a problem for 2 months and does nothing. Why do Obama supporters think that he can suddenly change a problem when he has failed to do so already? His campaign has made it extremely hard to attract white working class voters since he started repreatedly playing the race card. He won't get enough of these voters to win in Nov.

    They are (none / 0) (#99)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:39:16 PM EST
    interested in doing what Brazille stated.

    Younger, hipper, urban, well educated.

    She thinks it's about having a good drinking party.


    That's Obama's operational style (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by JavaCityPal on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:10:28 AM EST
    He is unable to shift. When he spoke in San Francisco, he was so positive about what he said, and why he said it (the media made a big deal about the wrong sentences) that he couldn't dig himself out with more words.

    In all things Obama, if the piece doesn't slip nicely into place, it must not be necessary to complete the puzzle. So, he works around it.

    Obama has only one thing in his focus right now, IMHO, the $50M book deal post-presidency.


    Yes (none / 0) (#18)
    by ineedalife on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:11:47 AM EST
    He has switched from bowling to shooting pool.

    I Did See A Video Of Him Shooting Pool.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by PssttCmere08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:16:55 AM EST
    Will that count?

    Heh! (none / 0) (#108)
    by flashman on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:15:52 PM EST
    Wake me up when he goes to shoot a 'varmit' or bass fishing.

    Yeah...Maybe He Can Go Quail Hunting With (none / 0) (#118)
    by PssttCmere08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 03:43:04 PM EST
    dick cheney.  I suspect their agendas are similar and are probably great friends.

    He should not adjust (none / 0) (#85)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:12:26 PM EST
    I think he should get back to his original schtick.

    Let the voters scratch their head at him.


    And (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:52:54 AM EST
    we want to nominate the candidate that does worse with these voters? The candidate less likely to get their vote? The candidate who has all the same problems Kerry had? Obama can not fix his problems with these voters. He's been hanging out in Hyde Park too long. He thinks they are aliens and talks down to them.

    Man, this party is perpetually stuck on stupid.

    And the media and the pundits are the biggest bunch of idiots in this country. They haven't a clue. They are going to be like Pauline Kael in 1972 who said "I can't believe anyone voted for Nixon. Nobody I know did." Ugh!!!

    Will it matter? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by cmugirl on Tue May 13, 2008 at 10:58:43 AM EST
    If these people don't vote Dem in the fall because Obama is the nominee? Many of these people came back to the Democratic Party because of Hillary (but you won't see that in the MSM).

    I posted this the other day on another thread, but Aaron Sorkin, writing for The West Wing was prescient when the character Leo McGarry said:

    "Im' tired of voting for the lesser of who cares.

    That's how I, and many others will feel if Obama is the nominee.

    new coalition members (none / 0) (#43)
    by contrarian1964 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:28:47 AM EST
    Many probably did come back because of Hillary.  She also has brought in new voters.

    So has Obama.  And that will continue.

    This is a coalition we all are in.  It's not about "OUR candidate" always winning.  We don't always get everything we want.  

    Yet this primary has been good for the party, for all of us.  


    The problem (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:37:17 AM EST
    is that Obama's coalition isn't new, it's old. It's the same one Dukakis had in 1988.

    egg-heads, African-Americans (none / 0) (#89)
    by Iris on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:15:56 PM EST
    and Clinton-haters.  That's his coalition.

    No (none / 0) (#96)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:36:49 PM EST
    it's the tsongas coalition.

    Bll Clinton appears to have been a fluke.

    If a well funded Jesse Jackson had run in 1992 Bill would be a footnote in primary history.


    Obama is playing right into Republican (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by txpolitico67 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:00:53 AM EST
    strategy.  Keep up ignoring the rural/white vote.  Screw WV.  Screw KY.  The R's are going to paint him as the ultimate racist/elitist.  They will point out Obama only went after NC because of the large AA vote he captured there.

    Man the Democrats are clueless.  They deserve to lose.  SS Obama...there she blows and there she sinks!

    SS Obama... (5.00 / 0) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:07:36 AM EST
    I see a lot of rearranging of the deck chairs.

    Not enough. Those endorsing Super-Ds. (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:23:25 AM EST
    want to back the winner, at least of the nom.  Don't know what they will do when he loses the GE.  

    They'll do what they always do... (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:26:59 AM EST
    Try to explain it away and blame someone else - right before they hide under their desks until they feel enough time has past so that people will have forgotten - I won't forget though - I wish I could, but I won't.

    What Else? (5.00 / 2) (#45)
    by flashman on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:29:13 AM EST
    blame Hillary.

    flashman (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by cal1942 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:01:29 PM EST
    That's exactly what will happen.

    If she's the VP running mate they'll call her the poison pill.  If she's not the VP running mate they'll say her primary campaign as the reason for the loss. Or that she refused to be second fiddle to an inferior candidate caused the loss.

    Either way it will be her fault. The press will echo that message.

    The last few weeks I've wondered what the press would have said if Hillary had dropped out as they demanded.  I have a feeling I know and I believe it would have been ugly.

    The past few days while getting nominating petition signatures for a local Democrat I ran into a number of Republicans who have become impressed with Hillary's breadth and depth of knowledge.  Impressed enough to vote for her even if they don't totally agree with every policy proposal. Their reason?  They want competence and they're knocked out by her competence.


    Great Point (none / 0) (#107)
    by flashman on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:12:48 PM EST
    The last few weeks I've wondered what the press would have said if Hillary had dropped out as they demanded.  I have a feeling I know and I believe it would have been ugly.

    She would probably be harassed out of politics.


    But Obama could really carry the day and (none / 0) (#116)
    by TomLincoln on Tue May 13, 2008 at 02:17:05 PM EST
    select Nancy Pelosi as his running mate. I would love to see him do that! Would Nancy say no? How would she view their chances of winning?

    Blame Hillary. (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Stellaaa on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:30:53 AM EST
    The DNC message is clear (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Stellaaa on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:03:35 AM EST
    Move aside New Deal Dems, move aside Great Society Dems, move aside women, move aside working class, we got some new friends with money.  The folks that are conservative and don't want government to work for you, but they want to feel good about themselves.  The boors of the Republican party plutocrats, don't make the Creative Class and their plutocratic brethern feel or look good.  

    By the way BTD, I changed my mind on unity.   Had my dinner last night  and thought about it.  BTD you thought my idea that Hillary could rewrite the role of VP was" absurd".  

    Therefore I think that BTDs and any Obama offer for unity is not genuine and therefor I made a mistake.  I take my unity card back.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.  Only if Hillary finds a use for it would I accept it.

    Stellaaa! (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by kenoshaMarge on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:53:19 AM EST
    you just made my day!

    Now be prepared to be run over by those mounted on the High Horse of Unity and armed with Rhetorical Self-righteousness.

    If you ain't with em, you are an enemy or not a patriot or not a real Democrat. You OWE the Democratic Party your vote because they ain't Republicans you silly woman. And all the rest of us silly women that aren't willing to validate actions we deem dishonorable and unconscionable with our vote.

    One rah-rah Democrat posted on another thread that there are "No bad Democrats" and "No Good Republicans". I can't even think of a way to respond to such nonsense that wouldn't get me banished.


    Welcome back Stellaa! n/t (none / 0) (#14)
    by angie on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:07:47 AM EST
    An Aside (none / 0) (#39)
    by flashman on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:24:40 AM EST
    Sorry I didn't get to read your comment about "re-writing" the role as VP.  I'm not fond of labeling people's opinions the way you've described, rather I like to consider any valid opinion's merits.  That said, I don't think VP is the best place for Hillary.  I believe her talents are best used elsewhere.  What would you think if she were Sec. Of State?  I know it's a streach of the imagination to think she would get the appointment, but just think of how she would be able to effect policy.  Her toughness, intelligence and, despite of the MSM's opinion, her authenticity could help bring about the restoration of America's esteem around the world.

    Well, I thought that (5.00 / 0) (#46)
    by Stellaaa on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:30:03 AM EST
    the Bush/Cheney model sort of has rewritten the President/VP role.  If Obama was smart, he would do that, but I guess it's about wrenching the party from the Clintons and they would never do that.  

    I don't think they want the pragmatic Clinton governing style.  They want this be everything to everyone, do nothing and sustain the image while keeping the power.  

    The DNC and the Democratic party leadership Pelosi etc, have really really proven that they could not broker a deal for the party.  If they don't want to make an effort to hold the party together, what obligation do we as voters have?  


    Isn't Obama Considering A Republican (none / 0) (#48)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:30:46 AM EST
    for Sec. of State? Lugar IIRC.

    Yes to perpetuate the mythology that (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:44:35 PM EST
    Democrats aren't as good at foreign policy as Republicans are.  ugh.

    Good at defining problems (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:03:45 AM EST
    Not good at finding solutions.

    What are these voters looking for?

    Economic viability and opportunity. nt (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:13:53 AM EST
    Yes (none / 0) (#33)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:22:20 AM EST
    I do believe the populist message is part of it.

    I spent October of '06 in Alabama (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:30:26 AM EST
    with my family and I was talking to people who told me that they had always voted for Republicans, but had had it with them because they were finding it harder and harder to get by, watching a war they no longer felt we should be paying for and wanted better opportunities.  I haven't checked in with those folks recently, but given the fact that gas prices are where they are and just about every other staple of their lives has gotten even more expensive, I believe that they are probably even more ripe for the taking now than they were then.  The problem is that Obama doesn't seem to want to go there.

    That's true (none / 0) (#60)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:39:30 AM EST
    But to transcend the primary and go further with the discussion big picture, I want to just say, again, I do think the populist message is a key part of it.  But while it's part of it, there are things about the populist message that seem to land with a thud on the demographic in question.

    To put it as bluntly as possible:  They want a fair shake, but they don't want a hand out.

    They are very receptive to the counter-message of self-reliance, that they should be able to make it in America without government intervention.

    That Dems choose elitists to implement that intervention is awful enough as it is, but even when they chose someone who wasn't an elitist (Clinton), the fine line was still just as fine.

    How does government provide opportunity to people who want to believe that they did it without the government's help?

    knotty question, eh?


    The corporations (none / 0) (#72)
    by magisterludi on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:50:42 AM EST
    seem to handle acting like they are where they are now by sheer dint and enormous brainpower- not by tax payer subsidies, government contracts, and bail-outs.

    Let's ask them.


    LOL (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:00:20 PM EST
    Corporations have no self-respect.  But point taken.

    The difference is in attitude.. (none / 0) (#95)
    by FlaDemFem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:36:31 PM EST
    The government needs to lend a helping hand rather than dole out charity. The theme should be that "This is your tax money at work, helping you make your life better." NOT "Here, have a handout since you can't make it on your own." The problem with so many of the government assistance programs is that they actively stifle any self-help the recipients try to do. The programs should encourage that instead of stomping on it. That is the difference between the elitist attitude and the attitude that the government should take, and doesn't.

    Yes yes (none / 0) (#102)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:48:26 PM EST
    One of the reasons why "dole out" leftists hate Clinton is he reformed welfare AND decreased poverty.

    There could be no greater insult to their mindset.

    At the very least it was a bad thing for Clinton to do it because now people think it can be done again.  Clinton should have known what being successful would do to the Democratic brand.


    Most of the folks I was talking to at (none / 0) (#103)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:49:02 PM EST
    that time were coming to the realization that we weren't going to shut down the IRS and that it might be better to get something for their tax dollars rather than having all the money go to painting Iraqi schools.

    I think that that "charity" thing has run its course.  It was only a matter of time.  Ironically, some of the only people I know who use a lot of government services geared towards the poor and working class live in that town. The GOP cuts to those programs had made an impact on them and the "hand outs" didn't look so bad to them once they started to have to live without them.


    To me, he is not good at (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by oculus on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:42:54 AM EST
    defining problems.  What he is good at is speaking in vague sound bites about hope and change to young people at huge rallies.  

    IMO He Doesn't Emphasize Any Solution (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:49:59 AM EST
    other than vote for me.

    BTD (none / 0) (#70)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:48:38 AM EST
    And maybe even EJ is better at defining the problem.

    For Obama, framing a problem in a way makes him look good is better than defining it in a way that helps one find a solution.  All politicians do this.  Obama does it to the point where the solution becomes impossible to implement.


    As a member of the working class.... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by jerry on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:09:42 AM EST
    Thank you Hillary and you go girl!

    It will only save Obama trouble in the Fall (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:12:54 AM EST
    if his campaign actually responds to the problem.

    He hasn't done so yet and I've been thinking since the PA results came in that he may choose not to do so just like many Dems have in past contests.

    I really don't understand why it is that the Democratic Party gives up on these folks.  They are a natural constituency for the party and yet every presidential election it seems we just write them off.  They are also a pretty large voting block.  It would be nice to be at least competitive among them...

    Meanwhile the buzz and hum from the Obama bloggers is that Appalachia is a reasonable write off for Obama.  And people wonder why I don't buy into Obama being a devote of the 50-state strategy.  I think he employed a scaled back version of it because he knew it was the only way to beat a well-known candidate like Clinton.  But I don't think he really believes in the core principles of the 50-state strategy though.  I think if he had had the choice and had not had Clinton to contend with, he would have stuck with the big states and cities just like so many other Dems have done in the past.  Without him, she might not have gone outside the normal comfort zone either although her NY Upstate track record shows that she can connect with this voting block.

    I like the fact that this primary has gone on for a long time and that it has been hotly contested because it has forced our party leadership to go deeper than they have in a very long time - it has forced them to go out and ask for votes in person and not just rely on last-minute meaningless/mindless ads which never really help when your opponents have taken the time to actually make live appearances in the state.  John Kerry didn't spend one minute - one lousy hour - in Alabama in '06.  It seems to me that a national candidate could spend one lousy hour in each state even if they know the state won't be a winner...

    Here's the problem for Obama.... (5.00 / 5) (#50)
    by cosbo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:31:48 AM EST
    with white working class voters...he can't win them. He outspent Clinton 4-1, 3-1, 2-1, 5-1, in places like OH, PA, TX, IN, and he still didn't win them.

    Are you telling me he's going to have the money to outspend McCain 3-1 to get these voters?

    Is he going to outspend McCain 3-1 to get the Hispanic voters? Disaffected women? Older voters?

    It's not like his only problem is white working class voters. It's not.


    No common touch (none / 0) (#91)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:21:41 PM EST
     basically Bush had a common touch. One obvious thing that separates Bush and Obama. What unites them is the certainty of their own correctitude and judgementalism.

    I believe that Obama could win them over (none / 0) (#104)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:55:18 PM EST
    if he would get his head out of the clouds and stop talking about processes and theories of government; and instead focus on what government can and should do for the citizens of this country.  Clinton gets it and he doesn't it seems.

    I also agree with Salo that Obama doesn't have the common touch which puts him at a disadvantage with that crowd - but I still think that if Obama could offer up real policy solutions to this crowd, it would be hard for a lot of them to go with McCain.  McCain is telling them they can't have anything and that they are on their own.  It is not like McCain is setting the bar very high for Obama here.


    I think that would be thrown out... (5.00 / 1) (#114)
    by cosbo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:54:36 PM EST
    the window when the definition of Obama starts. That has not begun as yet. Republicans are still holding back waiting to see who the eventual nominee is before they start defining Obama, who will have little defense for Wright/Rezko/Auchi or whatever they have waiting in the wings. Obama's greatest strength is also is greatest weakness, being an unknown fresh face senator from Chic, with a muslim name. They'll believe the McCain definition because negative is more impressionable than positive and they have nothing with with to base Obama's goodness/badness factor on. Nothing substantial, little or no foundation to build a solid impression of what Obama really thinks.

    His disavowal of his pastor is also now problematic because, if this pastor was such a big part of is life for 20 years is now no longer a crutch...so what does Obama REALLY believe?

    I just don't think ambiguity works well in the General, but we'll see.


    In a very real sense, I am advocating (none / 0) (#117)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 02:18:48 PM EST
    for him giving up this game of ambiguity that he is playing.  It worked well for Bill Clinton in 1992, but there weren't nearly as many elements of "mystery" about a Southern White guy running for the presidency as there are about Obama who is very "exotic" in this role - for lack of a better term.  I think Obama looks like more Americans than most people realize, but still in this role he looks different - for some different is good and for others it is something that is difficult to trust.  All of that is about appearances though.  If he defined himself by offering appealing ideas and solutions that made sense to these folks, he would be competitive.  He has to abandon the hide and seek approach and put something authentic of himself out there that these people care about.  

    I Just Don't See It Happening (5.00 / 7) (#26)
    by BDB on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:18:41 AM EST
    I would love for the democratic party to get back to representing working people, but I have no confidence that Obama has any interest in leading it in that direction.

    Many of his remarks, particularly his bitter-cling, lead me to believe he doesn't understand these voters.  Add to that, Axelrod's easy dismissal of them as unimportant and, of course, all of the ObamaPress accounts calling them as racists.  I don't believe Obama will suddenly become man of the people.  Because while I think it's natural for Hillary, it is not natural for him.  Even if he tries, he will come off an inauthentic, in part, because that's what he will be.

    I've seen absolutely no evidence that Obama's movement wants to appeal to non-AA working class voters.  Indeed, I believe part of Obama's appeal to some democrats is that they don't want this part of the base to remain powerful within the party.  

    It was clear when (5.00 / 4) (#32)
    by Stellaaa on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:22:02 AM EST
    his big endorsers were the plutocrats, Maria Shriver, Oprah and the other Kennedys.  They were making a statement, we are the "enlightened rich" and we will tell you how to vote.  Make us feel good about our power and wealth, we will not give you what you want, healthcare etc, and just sit and watch us take over from the boorish Bush rich people.  It's simple.  

    or not (none / 0) (#36)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:24:05 AM EST
    Maria Shriver as Obama VP?? (none / 0) (#100)
    by FlaDemFem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:41:56 PM EST
    I heard something today that was really weird. I was talking to a friend who watches Nightline and she said that Stepho floated the idea of Maria Shriver as VP on Obama's ticket. Anyone else heard about that? I don't watch political programs much, so I missed it. And what do you all think of that?? I am still laughing at the idea.

    The press (5.00 / 0) (#63)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:42:01 AM EST
    calling them racists makes it even worse for Obama. They're likely to vote for McCain just to spite Obama.

    A plausible commander in chief (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by ruffian on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:19:34 AM EST
    I think this is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.  Hillary was absolutely right to identify it as such - Obama has to demonstrate the knowledge needed to cross the commander in chief threshold.  It does not require having been in the military, but it does require having some expertise and being able to speak the language.  

    It is more than just promising things to veterans, and it is not about acting tough and 'hawkish'.  A huge chunk of our economy is defense related, like it or not, and the president has to understand how that works ad how it effects working class people everywhere.

    For me, this was the main reason I picked Hillary over Obama to begin with. Hillary has done her homework on military affairs. I don't see how Obama can overcome this deficit in the time he has left.  A solid VP choice would help, but maybe not enough.

    The news I have for Dionne (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by Anne on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:20:30 AM EST
    is that just because the media narrative and the one you can find on a lot of formerly credible blogs is that somehow, we have a "new" Democratic party, and Obama and his unity and change and transcendence are the face of it, does not mean that that actually is the party, and it needs to "come back" to its working class roots.  The traditional base of the party would be happy to be there for Democratic candidates - even Barack Obama - but they like to think that the tail is not supposed to wag the dog, ya know?  It's this little quirk we have where we actually want to see that the candidate is there for us.    And we are not seeing it with Obama.

    This "New" party has no interest that I can see in bringing the party back to those working class roots, or even being identified as the party of the working class.  And that has been evident since Obama got the brush-off from Ohio and Pennsylvania; he took his bat and his ball and went in search of people more in tune with his message.  Pardon me while I gag.

    I think it's too late for Obama to sell himself as something he clearly is not.

    Oh and Dionne and others (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:21:34 AM EST
    Really need to stop calling them "White."

    They happen to be white but that has nothing to do with figuring out a solution.

    It's like looking at a car that won't start, we're all standing around wondering why it won't start.  talking about how we don't know how to make "Gas powered" vehicles start.    Democrats have a hard time making "gas powered" vehicles start.  How can we make this "gas powered" vehicle start?  What's wrong with "gas powered" vehicles" that they won't start when we turn the key.  Do Democrats have a problem with "gas powered" vehicles??!!!

    Only to find out after the election, all that was wrong is the battery was dead and it needed a jump start.

    How you define the problem, if you define the problem INCORRECTLY can prohibit a solution and be a big giant DIVISIVE distraction!

    So I take back my previous comment.  The problem here is not being defined very well.

    Yes.  They are white, insofar as they aren't black, but that is irrelevant to the solution.

    "Working class" is a better way to define the demographic in question because it's less divisive, but even then I think it misses the point.

    It Also Hides The Fact (5.00 / 3) (#55)
    by BDB on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:35:31 AM EST
    That Obama has gotten his butt kicked with latin@ and asian working class voters as well.  The only working class voters he's done well with are AAs.

    Hell (none / 0) (#62)
    by Edgar08 on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:41:13 AM EST
    It even provides some inclination to regard AAs as something other than Working Class.

    Bad idea.


    Wasn't it Brazille (none / 0) (#69)
    by DJ on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:47:47 AM EST
    who said when you say "working class" voters you are insulting the "black working class" voters?

    Did anyone else hear that?


    It's one of (5.00 / 0) (#78)
    by kenoshaMarge on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:58:04 AM EST
    those you can't win no matter what you say things. If a Clinton supporter says "white working class" then they are being racist and insulting black working class people. But if they just say "Working class", then everyone rushes to point out that Hillary Clinton isn't getting the black working class because 80-90% of AA are voting for Obama. Demographics is racist if mentioned by anyone in the Clinton camp. Obama Rules.

    But are they the roots the DNC wants? (5.00 / 0) (#38)
    by davnee on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:24:37 AM EST
    That's the real question.  Will Obama be pushed to go outside his comfort zone and court these voters or will they be written off as unwanted and unnecessary?  It is patently obvious now that the Obama wing of the party has zero interest in serving the interests of this demographic, but will they at least bother to market the Democratic Party to them?  What if the DNC pulls it off and gets in the White House without the Bubbas?  We'll never see universal health care or anything else useful to the growing underclass of this country.

    Interesting observation (5.00 / 7) (#44)
    by ahazydelirium on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:28:52 AM EST
    Clinton, widely seen as the champion of older, well-educated feminist women, could be remembered as the politician who brought the party back to its working-class roots.

    I think this holds true if she is the nominee; however, I only see the Democratic Party once again hemorrhaging these voters with Sen. Obama as the nominee.

    What seems to be staring me in the face when I read just this one sentence is the fact that Hillary has constructed a vast coalition of voters, and this coalition is reflected in her: she is a feminist, but she is also a populist; she is a Democrat through and through, but she doesn't shy away from "nasty" foreign realities; she possesses an extensive knowledge of policy details, but she speaks with the language of a non-expert. In a sentence: Her political appeal is not singular, and the same holds true for her base.

    I think this poses the most significant benefit in a match-up against McCain. The Democrats will have nominated a candidate who can appeal to the independents and Republican women. That is real Party building: she has the potential to reach out and take votes from the opposing Party. With the exception of youth, Sen. Obama has not expanded the base of the Party; he has simply helped increase the numbers of already Democratic groups. Although, I do not think he can take all the credit for the increased youth vote (but he does have the biggest share in it).

    At this point, I really do think it is whistling past the graveyard. The comparisons between Sen. Obama and McGovern, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry should frighten everyone. We seem locked in an awful tradition, and (ironically) another Clinton seems the only way to break it.

    The Democratic party (5.00 / 0) (#88)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:14:58 PM EST
    seems happy to be mired in an upper middle class and NE regional identity.

    It's a nice comfort zone.


    It Is The Superior Place To Be (none / 0) (#92)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:25:44 PM EST
    Don't you know.<snark>

    Yes, she expanded her base (none / 0) (#109)
    by ruffian on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:17:15 PM EST
    Unlike Obama, who has narrowed his.

    Great to point that out (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:01:12 AM EST
    I think it is indeed an exaggerated version of the same problem Kerry, Gore, and Dukakis had.

    One of the things I hope we can tease out from the data being collected from Hillary's support is how much of the Dem problem with these voters has to do with the issues and how much it has to do with the personalities of the candidates.

    Well since we Dems persist in foolishly (5.00 / 5) (#37)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:24:20 AM EST
    running Presidential campaigns on personalities rather than issues, I'd say it has to do with personalities.

    I will never ever forget how completely stupid I thought that overblown "Reporting for Duty" pagentry was when Kerry was nominated at the DNC in 2004.  I will also never forget how quickly what they thought was such a great idea turned into a campaign nightmare because of the Swift Boaters' attacks.

    What the hell did any of that have to do with the issues the country was facing in 2004 anyway?  We found ourselves talking about a war that had been done for decades and completely ignoring the one that we were fighting at the time - the one that continues on to this day - although you'd never know it from the so-called debate they are engaging in now.  Again we find ourselves back to old wars - Bosnia - and God debates - with some flag pin BS thrown in just to spice it up - meanwhile people are losing ground on just about every front in this country and we are still fighting in TWO wars.


    Rove must have ordered: (none / 0) (#93)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:29:33 PM EST
    "roll the tapes of him protesting the war! Los Torpedo."

    Kerry's pageantry may have prevented a complete melt down though.

    It must be a dillema for McCain. He tends to allow sycophants talk about his service record.


    Pageantry focused on the wars we (none / 0) (#98)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:37:58 PM EST
    were fighting at the time rather than the war we fought decades before would have done more to undermine the effects of any of Rove's plans to discredit Kerry on that front.

    It is funny because the two speeches I remember best from that convention were Clinton's and Obama's.  Clinton's was about Kerry being "a serious man for a serious time" and I thought she hit exactly the right note.  Then they did that contrived military pageant and it was clear that the Kerry camp really thought people would be mindlessly engaged by a superficial parade rather than the issues and the ideals we were supposedly fighting for at the time.


    I didn't see it as pageantry (none / 0) (#111)
    by ruffian on Tue May 13, 2008 at 01:21:53 PM EST
    I saw it as an attempt to stress that he has 'crossed the commander in chief threshold' as Hillary put it. Like it or not, we had/have troops in the field and that is important.  

    Maybe it came across clumsily, and it definitely went by the wayside with the swift boat attacks. But it was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition to winning that election.


    Kerry, Gore and Dukakis Redux (5.00 / 0) (#61)
    by stillife on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:40:53 AM EST
    I was talking about this with a Republican co-worker this morning.  She hates Hillary, but she expressed amazement that the Dems are on the verge of nominating a candidate who has such problems connecting with large segments of the Dem base and who will be such an easy target for the Repubs in the fall.  For once, I found myself agreeing with her.  

    The Dems are (none / 0) (#94)
    by Salo on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:31:30 PM EST
    a middle upper class party with a distinctive New Englandy identity.  You either had to go to school there or grow up there.

    BTD did you notice that E.J. came out (none / 0) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:07:08 AM EST
    totally against the unity ticket?  In fact, he went so far to say that if her supporters continue to push this issue, she will lose all standing in the party.

    Her supporters are pushing the issue? (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by stillife on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:34:43 AM EST
    I haven't seen many Hillary supporters pushing for a Unity Ticket.  Most of what I see is coming from the MSM and some Obama supporters.

    I did (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:13:35 AM EST
    As I wrote, EJ wrote some nonsense in that column as well.

    I think I made myself clear in my post.


    if you think about who will be most upset (none / 0) (#24)
    by Capt Howdy on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:18:18 AM EST
    the pro unity people or the anti unity people, I think you have to admit the anti unity people would be far more upset and would squeal by far the loudest.
    this is why I doubt it will happen.
    they will threaten to throw a tantrum if they dont get their way.

    wasn't this actually Chuck Schumer and his (none / 0) (#20)
    by Salt on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:13:10 AM EST
    vision for the 2006 Senate Races which he expressed in his book Positively America
    ..its one of the reasons many I know, hmm the Dem platform might include ua and gave them a reason to take a second look at a Party who they believed left them behind.  

    Keep your comments On Topic please (none / 0) (#40)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 13, 2008 at 11:25:44 AM EST
    I deleted some off topic comments.

    I don't think this is off topic but: (none / 0) (#86)
    by Monda on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:14:37 PM EST

    From Washington Post.  I suggest you guys take a look.  The title of the article is

    Racism alarms Obama's backers
    Candidate's foot soldiers encounter name-calling, vandalism, bomb threats

    Pretty much the losses in PA, IN are attributed to racism and worse:

    Vandalism, bomb threats
    The bigotry has gone beyond words.

    So, BTD, it's set up already.  According to MSM it's not that Obama doesn't "get" white working class.  They don't "get" him.

    It's media pushback against (none / 0) (#97)
    by waldenpond on Tue May 13, 2008 at 12:37:28 PM EST
    Clinton's supporters being attacked.  There were a couple of articles from West Virginia and the inappropriate behavior of Obama supporters.  So the media pushes back... well Obama has it worse.  Of course they flip the narrative... Obama can't win without the media spinning for him and propping him up.  They just need to do it for another 6 months.

    Of course, people are catching on to the Obama rules meme.  If that keeps getting attention, especially how it was used against Clinton, I don't think that will go over well, the repubs will pick up even more of Clinton supporters.