Monday, August 25, 2008

Obvious Injuries of Class

The convention is a snooze until Bill & Hill show up, so here is the fourth post in the Affirmative Action series. Actually, the mess that is the convention is a perfect opening to the post. Obama did not do the politically intelligent thing and ask with total seriousness (if no discernable ethusiasm) that Hillary be VP. Yes, I think she would have taken the job (more fully explained below) and I would have been obliged to vote for her. In his bungling of this, the most important decision a party nominee can make prior to actually being president (though I think, this year, given the sad-sack choices, we have to say they are running for the office of Preznit), Obama and his backers in the DNC show once again that they cannot hear what is being said directly to their faces and they do not see has been written large on every political screen since New Hampshire.

People don't give a fuck about race. Iraq isn't motivating them all that much, either, since it's obvious the question is not if but when we leave. They are scared to death of the brutal economic times ahead and they want someone to have some answers that will make their own lives more secure.

Is the campaign even talking abut this? Have they said anything concrete about helping ordinary Americnas get through the coming financial storm? Not according to Krugman or Somerby whose opinions I trust even if I don't want to hear what they say. Instead, we're getting week after week of whining about race and personal smears and impugning patriotism and who owns how many houses and whose more "in touch" with the middle class. Given the crap Biden has spewed about Obama in combination with his history of borderline racist and misogyistic remarks, it all sounds like the Obamacans are substituting their own guilty consciences for the opinion of the general public. They are so certain that the attacks will be on race and Obama's foreign/exotic presence that they appear to only be on the offensive for these kinds of arguments. They presume racism, xenophobia, accusations of elitism, questioning of patriotism. They are not wrong, because these are under attack as they are in every battle with the Republicans, but the expectations and responses are focused on these things to the exclusion of more dangerous inroads.

Also, these are the obsessions of the Stevensonian class. The power brokers of the party long ago hitched their wagons to race as the beast of burden that would pull them through to moral victory. They were on the side of the right and the good. The part of the party that would not align on this matter has been jettisoned, a necessary act that had to be done. But now the tunnel vision about race hasd become a political and cultural straight jacket. The race baiting of the campaign. Labeling Ohio voters "Archie Bunkers" for supporting Hillary. Belittling Pennsylvania voters who won't see themselves being delivered from their benighted lives by Obama. Dean's repeated references to Republicans as "the white party." The deafening howls that the only reason voters like me fail to vote for Obama is because we are racist.

The big question for me is how many Obamacans truly in their hearts believe that race explains everything in this campaign. That number is the measure of the vulnerability of the party.

The Republicans, who regard racsim as a strategic weapon and not as an evil to be eradicated, refuse to join the party. Why waste money and resources when the Democrats are doing the damage all on their own? They will, of course, throw in racist appeals before the end because they are Republicans, but they have a more effective approach for now. Where has Obama lost ground among Democratic voters? In the populations most endangered by the faltering economy and the long term erosion of socio-economic standing. He did not address what mattered most to them, which was their increasing vulnerability to the ordinary dangers of life - insurance, health care, retirement, wages, job security, housing. To fail to do this was what makes Obama come across as elitist.

The assault on AFAC by the Republicans is yet another example of how they use personalization and moralizing to turn an argument about institutions and government policy into one about personal benefit. The focus on the individual who is not hired or admitted is turned into a narrative of dark forces colluding to deprive a deserving, hard working person of their rightful place and giving it to some unqualified person, completely ignoring the larger cultural context of the program. When the college admissions process is gamed by elites to gain access to the most desireable institutions, then the broader argument becomes harder to defend.

Some have mistaken my earlier arguments about Obama and affirmative action to mean that I am attacking him from a Republican, anti-AFAC position, that I support people who make such arguments, or that I think this is a "valid" criticism of him.


I'm not going to do their work for them, which is one reason I have remained silent on this topic for so long. There is a difference between saying that someone is not the best choice because he lacks experience and using false representations of affirmative action to smear a prominent Democrat in order to increase the efficacy of your campaign to destroy affirmative action.

I'm talking about the Democratic leadership's inability to understand how the simple facts of Obama's personal history combined with the blatent favortism and machinations of the DNC on his behalf is being used to effectively undermine the campaign and, more importantly, the liberal policies of the party. To respond "Racist!" when the charge is "Unqualified!" is stomping right into the sterotype of how Republicans say Democrats use AFAC - to place unqualified minorities into positions they have not earned, do not deserve and cannot perform. This is the real mesage behind the latest attack ad trying to use Hillary. It was not primarily about whether Hillary said Obama was not qualified (Like Republicans care about Hillary? Puh-leeze...), but about getting the optics in front of the viewers - white person who is really well prepared pushed aside for brown person who isn't. And with the Stevensonian fanaticism about race, they are providing all the wrong responses to this assault. The Republican campaign theme, now that Hillary is not on the ticket, is this: Look at the Democrats engaging in reverse discrimination with the office of the Presidency itself. If they will do this, they will stop at nothing to give your jobs away.

The problem is that the Democratic leadership have nothing to promote except Obama himself. They don't have policies that distinguish them from the Republicans (Sorry, we tried "I'm not Bush!" with Kerry. Didn't work out so well.), there is not a measure or cause Obama can claim as his own (AUMF is off the table with Biden as the VP), and the people most harmed by current conditions have been told that they are not wanted in Whole Foods Nation, that they are racist panhandlers at the door (Keep building that unity!).

Bill Clinton always talks about the powerful interests that try to keep us down. This is a child of the South, a man whose perceptions and convictions were forged in the middle of the battle against segregation. He was then, as he remains today, on the right side of the battle. When he talks about powerful interests, he is talking about the political and economic elites who purposefully set the poor, working and lower middle classes against each other over race in order to maintain their privilege. When the Big Dog advocates unity, it is to fight the divisions that keep people poor, disempowerd and vulnerable. He's talking about political unity to craft the policiy that will create and defend institutions that make people's lives materially better. This is unity for the sake of power.

Unity itself, taken as a good and a goal for its own sake, is powerless. It is the great High Broderistic wet-dream of perfect bipartisanship under God, party bosses indivisible, with lobbyists and cocktail weenies for all. It is ponies for everybody when what people really want is annual medical checkups and their privacy protected. "Unity or else" is a dead end because it does nothing for people. Which is why the Republicans and The Village like it. Keep the rabble in its place.

Unity for the sake of power has always been Bill's message, and now we see he was never alone with it as we listened to Hillary patiently discuss wonky topics with intent townspeople all across the country. If we do not unify for the sake of our goals, then those who profit from our disunity have won. That is what I see motivating Hillary's current campaigning, even as she is being assailed within her own party for daring to be an inspiring figure and unify voters in November. For the sake of her constituents, she will not yeild an inch to either the Republicans or the Obamacans' attempts to drive her out of public life.

The obvious injuries of class are being dismissed by the DNC and other Democratic power brokers this round, in a year when going to the policy left made perfect sense. The Republicans are eagerly pursuing the votes of those who feel injured on this count, but do so to fan the flames of resentment and division. The Stevensonian wing is all too enamored of its own moral superiority on race, too contemptuous of the Bubbas and the Bunkers, to make the slightest move to win back and thus defend this constituency.

At this point, I can no longer believe that it is just bad judgement, though stupidity is on full display. The rejection of Clinton Democrats is real. Why?



Anonymous said...

I believe that Obama genuinely adores Reagan. Obam's wants to be adored the way Reagan was as agreat communication and great everything. He also would like to have his own Obama-Republicans that will relieve him of the disdained need to deal with the poor and the bluee collared.

In his running TV ads, Obama tells us that he'll fight for the middle class. That is the goal and f**k the poor, we don't care about them. Unity is a localized term which means all these Hillary women should side with him to shove him over the wall and win. He does not offer them anything, doesn't want to do the leg work to gain their support. Hillary should do it. Dean gave him the real push to cross the line and Pelosi, who showed her inferior political skill in the fight aganst Bush, was only glad to stay by Dean's side.

Obama is a privileged son of a white middle class family. He is not Clinton and does want to be one. He wants to be like his fellow white Midwesterner Reagan.

gendergappers said...

Not an easy answer as there may be many causes, however consider that the power behind the winning BO campaign is the same power behind McCain.

Whoever wins the general election, that power will still rule.

Hillary would not go along with them so she and Bill are being shunted to a dead end rail.

If she had been allowed to win [which she did] by the election manipulators, it would have awakened women in this country to a degree that has sorely been lacking and that would surely be fatal to the power brokers.

Anonymous said...

Why? Because it's not just classism but rabid misogyny. Obama, the DNC, and the media (right, mainstream, and so called progressive) hate women who "don't know their place".

Hillary and her female backers "don't know their place". It's been an interesting primary in that we saw blue collar men (of all races) backing Hillary and recognizing the gross misogyny directed at Hillary and the women who backed her.

The populist liberal Democratic men have proven to be more enlightened on gender oppression than the elite "progressives"- the Stevensons. Perhaps because they've worked right beside the "Norma Raes" and seen the female coworkers impressive work right beside them. They may not see the crossive subtle sexism that plagues all women's lives (no matter what race or social class) but they recognize gross misogyny and they don't like seeing women being treated so vile. (The same goes for rural men who also backed Hillary more and more as the attacks on her by Obama, the DNC and all sides of the media- right, mainstream, and so called progressive media.)

The fauxgressive version of the Stepford wife is the image presented of Jackie Kennedy in the media. They find feminist women intolerable- whether it be Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalyn Carter, Hillary Clinton or PUMA women.

show me said...

Great post and great comments.

The answer I agree is complicated and difficult. Mostly I think it is class. When I listened to Nancy Pelosi speak last night, after hearing Chuck Todd's earlier comments that it was she who aimed to take the party away from the Clinton's and she had succeeded, I was thinking this women has NOTHING in common with the average American.

She is such a representitive of that elite class. The Italian princess daughter of Baltimore's mayor, educated in private Catholic schools, marries a wealthy man,enjoys lifelong status as Democratic royality and she thinks we should all fall in line with her priorities and if we don't we are beneath her comtempt.

This is were the elitist charge comes from, it's the people who champion him. He embodies their highest asperations, their support of him proves their moral superiority.

What they have always had against Bill Clinton is that he is not of their class. He and Hillary represent to me the real change the entire establishment has feared forever ....all those workerbees out there achieving a toe hold on real power.

I loathe Pelosi.

Bob Harrison said...

"...The populist liberal Democratic men have proven to be more enlightened on gender oppression than the elite "progressives"- the Stevensons. Perhaps because they've worked right beside the "Norma Raes" and seen the female coworkers impressive work right beside them. They may not see the crossive subtle sexism that plagues all women's lives (no matter what race or social class) but they recognize gross misogyny and they don't like seeing women being treated so vile. (The same goes for rural men who also backed Hillary more and more as the attacks on her by Obama, the DNC and all sides of the media- right, mainstream, and so called progressive media.)"

Amen to that. I am a militant feminist (I'm male) because we can never achieve true enlightenment in this country until it is in fact the content of people's character that matters not a set of relatively random genetic characteristics. Both genders use sex to promote and dominate so that is not really the issue. We need candidates that will lead us to not only post-racial paradise but to post-gender paradise, a place where women and men are rewarded for what they can do and have done, not for the tissue betwixt their legs.

Sexism must be fought with the same intensity as racism.

Anne said...

Why does the elite of both parties hate the Clintons? Because they give a damn about the average person and work successfully to better people's lives .The Clinton don't mind the sausage making part of getting reforms though, hell they love it. Because that's how reforms actuallt hwppen. But that's just too much working class for the Stevensonian wing.It gives them the vapors. Obama's message of reform just " happening" is music to their ears. And the fact that Barry does not ever elaborate on how is fine.In fact Obama's very vaguness is what in part attracts Stevensonians to him. Reform never has to come to pass with the Stevensonians. Reforms can remain a simply a goaland a dream. Because Stevensonians , the whole food nation , themselves are removed from consequences of the reforms never coming to pass. They want to dream on and Hillary insists on waking them up. Of course they will follow the dream weaver

For the sake of her constituents, she will not yield an inch to either the Republicans or the Obamacans' attempts to drive her out of public life.

People wonder why Hill puts up with the insults...that's why. She is very aware that her removal from public life is the goal.Well good luck with that....she has more guts than all of them put together.

Oh and Anglachel, I know it didn't escape your notice that Jim Leach was one of the speakers last night. But perhaps the younger readers wouldn't realize it , but former GOP congressman James Leach was a huge mover and shaker in Bill Cliton's impeachment . So there is time in this convention for a persom who worked to destory a sitting Dem POTUS ,but Charlie Rangel and Wes Clark are told to stay home? The Clinton hate has long ago reached the pathological stage.

Thank you so much for your writings

pm317 said...

At this point, I can no longer believe that it is just bad judgement, though stupidity is on full display. The rejection of Clinton Democrats is real. Why?

My answer is that it was never about doing the hard work as a public servant for Obama. To appease Clinton Dems they have to do the real heavy lifting because these dems are asking the legitimate question -- if we give you our votes, what will you do for us? They will not fall for the word illusions the Obamas have created. Unfortunately for Obama, Clinton came on the scene and offered a genuine alternative (This is why they wanted her to quit early.) But Obama's campaign put themselves in a box thinking they had to reject everything Clinton (to defeat them and ran a risky campaign shooting himself in the foot) that they could not go back and embrace them later and have them be his surrogates. Even now, he can not adopt their language and ideas, because then why would the voters go to him when they have/had the genuine article. In a nutshell, it appears to me that the Obama minions underestimated the love and respect people still have for the Clintons and Clintons' own genius politics. Their only resounding message has always been "we're not Clintons." They don't know how to get out of it. Without a good message what do they have? It is not like their candidate has a substantive record.

Kathie said...


Really enjoy your thoughtful posts.

To respond to your question, I am going to have to quell my natural idealist/optimist self. There are two reasons why Obama prevailed in the primary cycle: money and data (which equals more money). I have seen the Obama campaign as analogous to my local supermarket's "buyer rewards" program.

pm317 said...

To Kathie, I half agree with your "Buyer Rewards" analogy. People who have a use for the product bought it and may get rewarded but the people who don't think the product is any good and have no use for it, are not buying it and he will probably go out of business for that reason. Going for universal appeal at least in your own target group is a necessity they overlooked.

Unknown said...

I also think it's about class.

I have yet to find a vote by Senator Clinton, including the Iraq vote, that surprises me. But I was amazed to learn that Biden was one of three Dems who voted for Bush's Bankruptcy Bill of 2005. And Biden lives in Wilmington, DE!

Is not just the cronyism. It's that it is so obvious today.

Obama strikes me as a crony, a man's man who will probably just transfer favor from a corporate oligarchy on the right to one on the left.

Did anyone watch the hero worship ritual of Matthews and Olbermann last night, just before the convention? They clearly enjoy their jobs, especially now that they can focus only on men, "great men" to prop up and get all tingly about. I believe that has a lot to do with why the Super's went with Obama and not Hillary. I have a great pic of Pelosi and Obama embracing and she is giving him bedroom eyes. Actually it creeps me out.

Anglachel, did you coin the term "Whole Foods Nation"? I use it all the time. I love it! Thank you for your great posts.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Like you mentioned at the beginning of this post, Obama lost his last chance for my vote by not picking Hillary as VP. As much as I love Hillary, I am not a blind acolyte - I will not vote for Obama just because she asks me to. However, if Hillary were asking me to vote for herself as VP, I simply could not resist no matter how much I detest the elitist, misogynistic Obama.

With polls showing Hillary defections as high as 25%, this VP decision could really cost him the election. Which makes me wonder - why didn't he select Hillary? Really?

None of the obvious choices make sense:

(1) Doesn't think Hillary defections will effect him. Surely Obama is looking at the same Hillary defection polls I am. He can't, in all sobriety, really believe this.

(2) He thinks we'll all come around and, if not fall in love with him, at least vote for him. But if it hasn't happened by now, I'm not sure on what basis, what magical moment, will make us all suddenly come around.

(3) He knows it will hurt his chances in the national election but he just hates Hillary so much he's willing to take the risk. This couldn't possibly be the reason, could it?

It's such a no-brainer. All the Obamabots will vote Obama even if he selected an armadillo as VP. With Hillary as VP, he gets even ME to vote for him. What does Biden get him?

As much as we all despise Obama, his VP selection just doesn't make rational sense. I really, truly thought that all the talk about "not even vetting Hillary" was just a smokescreen to make it even more exciting and surprising when he announced Hillary as his VP selection. This is just so strange it's hard to understand the practical politics of it.

Anonymous said...

I would have reluctantly voted for Obama IF he had chosen Hillary. It would have showed me that he could put himself aside for the good of the party and the good of the country.

Instead he chose Mister 1% and that told me all I needed to know.

This FDR Dem will not vote for that ticket.

Kathie said...

At the risk of boring everyone silly, I just wanted to elaborate on my earlier analogy of Obama's campaign to my local supermarket's "buyer rewards" program. This point came home to me the other day when I stopped to pick up a few things for dinner on my way home from work. My grocery store recently introduced handheld scanners--the idea is that you scan your rewards card when you pick up your scanner so that your data is now available to the store. As you walk around, the scanner keeps track of what you purchased and by proximity and your purchase, offers "special savings" on items in the current aisle. Each time this happens, your scanner makes an audible "cha-ching!" sound. Not only is the whole thing very Orwellian/Huxley creepy--it can be quite annoying when you hear it on someone else's scanner and wonder what deals they are getting that you aren't.

I had a similar feeling when my first good friend invited me to an Obama event and I found that by responding I was bombarded with continual emails from my new buddies, Barack and Michelle. This sense of being tracked and emotionally manipulated was a huge turn-off for me, but I wonder how many found it intrinsically rewarding--such that it induced them to not question Obama's past or his stance on the issues?

pm317, you are right--branding and brilliant marketing tactics will only get you so far. Obama's campaign has not addressed the deep uneasiness that so many of us are feeling--and if they do not do it in a meaningful and compelling way--I am afraid they will lose in November.

glennmcgahee said...

Its as simple as the fact that the majority of voters did not choose Obama. He made it this far because the caucus' shenanigans. They weren't representative of the real people who vote. He couldn't bother with the poor folks of West Virginia, Kentucky and the Appalachian Region. The poor there are a disgrace to the nation. He has no idea who these people are and apparently doesn't care. But, they do vote.

pm317 said...

Kathie, thanks for elaborating on your post. I agree with what you say having known a thing or two about Data Mining and privacy issues. May explain why companies like Google have joined his bandwagon and wonder what they are trying out with his huge database. You got turned off (I would too) but I bet some people got flattered by all the attention (and impressed with the technology, or wait, may be they think he is God because he knows so much about them!) I have heard other similar stories -- very Orwellian.

soopermouse said...

(Long time lurker here delurking)

Ok, this is hearsay but might be worth noting. My partner has a friend , A., who works for the Obama campaign. A. claims that everyone but Obama himself is aware as to how deeply the country is divided. A. and the rest of the peons are the ones who slave away on the phones and try to gte people to vote and donate... and apparently in 9 cases out of 10 they are met with refusals and hostility.

My belief is that Obama is a strawman just as much as Bush is one. There are forces behind him that aren't very different than the ones who brought Bush into power. As I have said it on my blog months ago, the people who got away with stealign elections twice WILL stick with what has already worked.

Much as I hate this, it feels like the best option this year IS to vote McCain. And I hate that bastard. Yet, rewarding the Democrats for stealing votes and lying seems like a rather dumb thing to do in my opinion. Not only that, but it is that exact attitude that led to the current situation. Year after year the Democrats put forward shitty candidates and people voted for them even if they hated said candidate's guts. The result is that the elite of the DemoRats feels that they are owed votes and don't have to do shit in return. The Democratic Party is the only fuckign organization in he world where failure gets rewarded and valor gets punished.

red rabbit said...

I've always thought the hostility toward the Clintons is based on their perceived relationship to each other. Bill, with all his faults, sees Hillary as his equal. How many men with egos big enough to run for President would marry a woman who they perceived as their equal in a professional sense?

Unknown said...

I'm down with soopermouse. He put's it very sucinctly. 'Dems don't even give a damn about winning anymore. In fact, they do not want to win because then they'd be responsible for fixing things.

The vile Pelosi is a Dem for today. Agreeable to every immoral, unethical scam she or her pal George an think to run on the rubes who think her 'progressive'.