Sunday, May 11, 2008

"It's Still Early Yet" And Other Election Ruminations

No, Hillary. It's too late for you. But early days yet for this election season. Today's Bob Herbert Op-Ed, "Party Like It's 2008", rips our clueless political establishment and punditocracy. Their antiquated pre-2000 notions have found them unable to "tell the difference between Facebook and, say, AOL." Blinded by nostalgia these dinosaurs of democracy are "too busy salivating over the Clintons’ vintage 1990s roster of fat-cat donors to hear the major earthquake rumbling underground."

These folks' state of oblivion is far-reaching and oh-so-painful to behold:

Hillary Clinton’s attempt to impersonate a Nascar-lovin’, gun-totin’, economist-bashin’ populist went bust: Asked which candidate most “shares your values,” voters in both North Carolina and Indiana exit polls opted instead for the elite and condescending arugula-eater. Bill Clinton’s small-town barnstorming tour, hailed as a revival of old-time Bubba bonhomie, proved to be yet another sabotage of his wife, whipping up false expectations for her disastrous showing in North Carolina. Barack Obama’s final, undercaffeinated debate performance, not to mention the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s attempted character assassination, failed to slow his inexorable path to the Democratic nomination.
This occurred despite the talking heads' and the (non-Obama) political strategists' best concerted efforts to ensure the exact opposite effect. What a bunch of witless bastards:
Almost every wrong prediction about this election cycle has come from those trying to force the round peg of this year’s campaign into the square holes of past political wars. That’s why race keeps being portrayed as dooming Mr. Obama — surely Jeremiah Wright = Willie Horton! — no matter what the voters say to the contrary. It’s why the Beltway took on faith the Clinton machine’s strategic, organization and fund-raising invincibility. It’s why some prognosticators still imagine that John McCain can spin the Iraq fiasco to his political advantage as Richard Nixon miraculously did Vietnam.

The year 2008 is far more complex — and exhilarating — than the old templates would have us believe. Of course we’re in pain. More voters think the country is on the wrong track (81 percent) than at any time in the history of New York Times/CBS News polling on that question. George W. Bush is the most unpopular president that any living American has known.
Our country's political topography is changing at a rate so fast it's leaving the dinosaurs in the dust:
The demographic reshaping of the electoral map, though more widely noted, still isn’t fully understood. From Rust Belt Ohio through Tuesday’s primaries, cable bloviators have been fixated on the older, white, working-class vote. Their unspoken (and truly condescending) assumption, lately embraced by Mrs. Clinton, is that these voters are Reagan Democrats, cryogenically frozen since 1980, who come in two flavors: rubes who will be duped by a politician backing a gas-tax pander or racists who are out of Mr. Obama’s reach.
No great shock. When you put a gaggle of simpletons in a studio, the only possible result is a simplistic (and completely wrong) assumption. Adding the sum total of their misperceptions and preconceived notions to the mix creates an intellectual quicksand of sorts. To wit, the harder these know-it-alls struggle to understand this new political paradigm, the further away from the truth they drift:
But this isn’t 2004, and the fixation on that one demographic in the Clinton-Obama contest has obscured the big picture. The rise in black voters and young voters of all races in Democratic primaries is re-weighting the electorate. Look, for instance, at Ohio, the crucial swing state that Mr. Kerry lost by 119,000 votes four years ago. This year black voters accounted for 18 percent of the state’s Democratic primary voters, up from 14 percent in 2004, an increase of some 230,000 voters out of an overall turnout leap of roughly a million. Voters under 30 (up by some 245,000 voters) accounted for 16 percent, up from 9 in 2004. Those younger Ohio voters even showed up in larger numbers than the perennially reliable over-65 crowd.
It's fascinating to watch these political "experts" ignore the demographic actually driving the upcoming election. Instead they choose to concentrate on older white folks like them. Through this classic Freudian projection, these "experts" have deluded themselves into believing they, and only people they perceive to be like them (read: blue collar), will be the arbiters deciding our next President. What's worse is that, intentionally or otherwise, they're working overtime to fool the rest of us into believing it too. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Herbert has plenty o' gold today. Read the whole thing here.