It seems that we’re not quite there yet. Not only does Obama need to (and so far, has failed to, and will probably continue to fail to) secure the all-so-important Bigot Vote, but he also needs to win the War of the Low Signals.
Quotes from the Time article:
In his 1991 book, The Reasoning Voter, political scientist Samuel Popkin argued that most people make their choice on the basis of “low-information signaling” — that is, stupid things like whether you know how to roll a bowling ball or wear an American-flag pin. In the era of Republican dominance, the low-information signals were really low — how Michael Dukakis looked in a tanker’s helmet, whether John Kerry’s favorite sports were too precious (like wind-surfing), whether Al Gore’s debate sighs over his opponent’s simple obfuscations were patronizing. Bill Clinton was the lone Democratic master of low-information signaling — a love of McDonald’s and other assorted big-gulp appetites gave him credibility that even trumped his evasion of military service.
The audacity of the Obama campaign was the belief that in a time of trouble… the low-information politics of the past could be tossed aside in favor of a high-minded, if deliberately vague, appeal to the nation’s need to finally address some huge problems. But that assumption hit a wall in Pennsylvania. Specifically, it hit a wall at the debate staged by ABC News in Philadelphia — viewed by an audience of 10 million, including a disproportionate number of Pennsylvanians — that will go down in history for the relentless vulgarity of its questions, with the first 40 minutes focused exclusively on so-called character issues rather than policy. Obama was on the defensive from the start, but gradually the defensiveness morphed into bitter frustration. He kept his cool — a very presidential character trait — and allowed his disdain to show only when he was asked a question about his opponent’s Bosnia gaffe. “Senator Clinton deserves the right to make some errors once in a while,” he said. “What’s important is to make sure that we don’t get so obsessed with gaffes that we lose sight of the fact that this is a defining moment in our history.”…
[Obama’s] point, and Bill Clinton’s, is indisputable: there is a need for a big election this year…
But Obama is going about it the wrong way. “After 14 long months,” he said in his concession speech, “it’s easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit for tat that consumes our politics…” What’s wrong with that, you might ask? It’s too abstract, too detached. Too often, Obama has seemed unwilling to get down in the muck and fight off the “distractions” that are crippling his campaign. Obviously, this is strategy — his appeal has been the promise of a politics of civility (and as a black man, he wants to send low-information signals that he is neither angry nor threatening). But what if, after ABC had enabled the smarmy American-flag-pin question from an “average citizen,” Obama had taken on George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson directly, “Why aren’t you guys wearing pins? Why isn’t Hillary?” Indeed, this was Clinton’s strategy in an earlier debate, upbraiding her questioners from MSNBC — and it may have turned the tide in her favor in Ohio and Texas.
Another article (this time on the division within the Democratic Party between those with a post-secondary education and those without and, in general, about demographics) by David Brooks here.
Regarding the Wright controversy (which I still don’t understand how people so far removed from the situation as to never having attended an African American church or trying to understand the ideas and justifications for the Black Power movement can even begin to condemn – not to mention the fact that many conservative White pastors say largely the same thing [Pat Robertson, for example] for different reasons), Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich are still continuing to drag that cat out and toe and extol the Fox News Party Line. I was bothered by the fact that, on “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart pretty much let Newt have his ridiculous and racially-ignorant say. Yet Hillary Clinton, on O’Reilly’s own Fear-Mongering Factor, pretty much put him in check and played him like an accordion.
Don’t get me twisted. Obama all the way. He’d still be the best option for this country, especially in terms of our international appeal. And that is absolutely crucial during this time of the so-called War on Terror. Strengthening our ties and the livelihood of developing nations throughout the world will make our job easier, as it will be harder to recruit new blood to the terrorists cause, because there will be nothing to justify that way of life/death/killing. His reluctance to support a federal gas-tax is also promising (even if it’s political suicide) that his plans for the future are sustainable; that we should stop worrying about the rising cost of energy and instead start thinking about changing how we do things (cf., this Stephen Colbert interview with James Howard Kunstler).
But it just may be the more politically savvy (if not exactly trust-worthy) Clintons who may win the fight against the McCain power play.
h/t for the Time and Times articles to Scot McKnight
oh. And there’s this: