IN WHICH I DEFEND WHITE WORKING-CLASS VOTERS (SORT OF)
Before Pennsylvania was called for Hillary Clinton, John Riley of Newsday critiqued her spin, and Jake Tapper's seconding of it:
Everyone expects Obama to lose in Pennsylvania. The conventional wisdom seems to be congealing that "how much" is the important question -- less than double-digits is good for him, more than 10 is good for Hillary.
Hillary, however, is rebelling at the idea that Obama shouldn't be expected to outright win: "Why can't he close the deal?...With his extraordinary financial advantage, why can't he win a state like this one if that's the way it turns out?"
And some in the media are buying. ABC's Jake Tapper: "What's so crazy about the idea that the Democratic frontrunner -- flush with cash and outspending Clinton 3-to-1, running against a candidate with such high unfavorable ratings -- should be able to win a blue state primary?...Why can't the frontrunner win working class voters?"
As Riley notes:
...Tapper apparently didn't notice that Obama is having no problem at all with black working class voters. The problem is with white working class voters -- especially women -- who have suddenly, inexplicably become attached to Hillary Rodham Clinton of Park Ridge, the White House and Chappaqua just at the very moment she runs against a black guy. What an incredible coincidence!!!!
Does it occur to him that part of the problem -- not the whole problem, just part -- is race? And that Pennsylvania is a state that has a lot of white working class voters for whom race may be an issue?
I think Riley's right and wrong.
I think the white working class has been sold a line of BS in virtually every presidential election since 1968: I'm just like you. Maybe they believe it every four years, or maybe they're just flattered that rich, privileged guys would pretend to want to be just like them. But they generally buy one rich, privileged guy's act, even if that guy is, say, a successful Hollywood actor or an old-money Connecticut preppie.
This year, one guy just can't pretend to be just like them. He looks in the mirror and he knows that, so he rarely tries. And a lot of them react to that. Maybe it's not that they don't like the color of his skin; maybe it's just that he can't possibly convincingly sell them the BS they want to have sold to them. (The rich, privileged woman, on the other hand, can.)
So, yes, there's a barrier there, and it's racial. But maybe it's not truly racist. These people don't get much out of the political system -- the most they get is completely phony imitation. But they want it. It's a form of flattery.