September 8, 2008

IF BOTH SIDES JUST HOLD SERVE...:

The Blues: Obama’s effort to convince voters he’s a new kind of Democrat isn’t working. (Michael Knox Beran, 9/08/08, National Review)

Instead, conscious that no blue-state Democrat has won the White House since JFK nearly half a century ago, he’s signaling to swing voters in purple-land that he’s a less stereotypically bluish pol than Michael Dukakis or John Kerry, the last two blue men atop the Democratic ticket.

Obama, in this reading, is not a post-partisan idealist but a brilliantly partisan realist. He knows full well the depth of the divide between blue states (molded, David Hackett Fischer demonstrated in his classic history of American folkways, Albion’s Seed, by the cerebral culture of New England) and red states (shaped by a Backcountry fightin’ faith of guns ’n grits ’n God). That ditch couldn’t be bridged by the high communitarian oratory of Pericles himself.

Is Obama right, then, to bet that his post-partisan communal-values rhetoric, however meaningless it is as a governing philosophy, will convince purple people that he’s different from the repudiated blue-state partisans of the past?

Or, conversely, has McCain been the shrewder tactician in dusting off his red-state credentials and telling blue-blooded America to take its hoity-toity hauteur and shove it? In emphasizing his red-state warrior heritage and choosing, as his running mate, a backcountry girl, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain is betting heavily on enthusiastic reddish constituencies in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and southern Ohio showing up at the polls and making the difference in a close election.

Critics of the strategy contend that whatever gains McCain makes among energized reddish voters will be offset by losses among independents turned off by red meat.

If McCain’s strategy works, it will be in part because Obama’s efforts to cast himself as a new kind of blue-state pol aren’t working. Obama has so far been unable to close the electoral sale because, though he comes from the midwest, he hasn’t broken with a bluish style of leadership that drives much of the rest of the country crazy.


...we end up with President McCain and a Democrat-controlled Congress. But if this election is focused on WI, MN, MI, & PA in late October, with Democrats just trying to hold on for dear life, then all bets are off. That's the sort of climate where Maverick can carry the House.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 8, 2008 12:37 PM
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