Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Maureen Dowd, of all people, thinks it's wrong for Karl Rove to call Barack Obama an elitist:

...This was Rove's take on Obama to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club Monday, according to Christianne Klein of ABC News:

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Actually, that sounds more like W.

The cheap populism is really rich coming from Karl Rove. When was the last time he kicked back with a corncob pipe to watch professional wrestling?

Rove is trying to spin his myths, as he used to do with such devastating effect, but it won't work this time. The absurd spectacle of rich white conservatives trying to paint Obama as a watercress sandwich with the crust cut off seems ugly and fake....

Dowd's outrage actually seems genuine. But don't worry -- she's just letting her hatred for the Bushies trump her hatred for Democratic girly-men, and it's probably temporary. And she actually points Rove in the direction of ways he might demonize Obama with more impact:

...Obama can be aloof and dismissive at times, and he's certainly self-regarding, carrying the aura of the Ivy faculty club. But isn't that better than the aura of the country clubs that tried to keep out blacks? It's ironic, and maybe inevitable, that the first African-American nominee comes across as a prince of privilege....

He might be smoking, but it would be at a cafe, hunched over a New York Times, an Atlantic magazine, his MacBook and some organic fruit-flavored tea, listening to Bob Dylan’s "Blood on the Tracks" on his iPod....

Yes, she makes what seems to be a sincere declaration that all that Ivy League elitism is OK:

...Rove's mythmaking about Obama won't fly. If he means that Obama has brains, what's wrong with that? If he means that Obama is successful, what's wrong with that? If he means that Obama has education and intellectual sophistication, what's wrong with that?...

But clearly she's long thought there is something wrong with that. Let's go back to Dowd in April, just before the Pennsylvania primary:

...Obama comes across less like a candidate in Pennsylvania than an anthropologist in Borneo.

His mother got her Ph.D. in anthropology, studying the culture of Indonesia. And as Obama has courted white, blue-collar voters in "Deer Hunter" and "Rocky" country, he has often appeared to be observing the odd habits of the colorful locals, resisting as the natives try to fatten him up like a foie gras goose, sampling Pennsylvania beer in a sports bar with his tie tight, awkwardly accepting bowling shoes as a gift from Bob Casey, examining the cheese and salami at the Italian Market here as intriguing ethnic artifacts, purchasing Utz Cheese Balls at a ShopRite in East Norriton and quizzing the women working in a chocolate factory about whether they could possibly really like the sugary doodads....

And in March:

...Obama's multiculturalism is a selling point with many Democrats. But his impassioned egghead advisers have made his campaign seem not only out of his control, but effete and vaguely foreign -- the same unflattering light that doomed Michael Dukakis and John Kerry....

I said yesterday that Rove's "country club" remark clashed with the right's attempt to portray Obama as a sinister non-Christian foreigner. The mythical scary Moo-slime is unkempt -- Saddam in the hidey-hole or KSM looking like a slob. Scary Muslims wear robes and long beards; their ideology is medieval; yadda yadda yadda. Your brain gets whiplash going from that to an effete guy drinking a martini.

I don't want to give wingnuts any more advice, but I can't help noticing that the critiques Dowd is still throwing at Obama would actually dovetail better with the scary-foreign-Muslim archetype than Rove's remarks do. A guy in a cafe? Smoking and poring over a computer? In a college town? That could be a terrorist! Or the 21st-century equivalent of a Cold War commie or 1920s anarchist! Who might not even have been born in this country!

But if there's a message-discipline problem among Obama's antagonists -- and don't worry, Dowd will go back to being one sooner or later, trust me -- I'm not complaining. Let them struggle to figure out how to trash him, and may their attempts to reprogram our reptile brains continue to clash.

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