Having had the national media at his feet for more than a year, Barack Obama now finds them at his throat.
The fault is his. He has disappointed us. He is not winning every voting bloc in every state. He cannot close the deal.
Running against an older, white candidate, Obama has been losing the older, white vote.
Zounds. What did we ever see in this guy?
The Bubba voters, the NASCAR voters and the Joe Six-Pack voters don’t seem to like him. (This is according to exit polls, whose accuracy is an open question but whose results are the crack of media analysis.)
Pennsylvania proved to be the turning point. Even though it had been clear since the earliest polls that Obama would lose Pennsylvania, the press was shocked by Obama’s loss of Pennsylvania.
The significance of this loss becomes clear when you see it as part of a larger picture: The superdelegates, the party insiders who will decide the nomination, are watching events very, very closely. And what do they see?
Obama has now lost the popular vote in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. He has been hurt by the irresponsible statements of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and Obama insulted small-town Americans when he accused them of “clinging” to guns and religion.
Hillary Clinton has accused Obama of being “elitist and out of touch.” (And Clinton should know: She lived in a governor’s mansion for 12 years and in the White House for eight, and you can’t get more in touch with real America than that.)
So far, however, there has been no great stampede of superdelegates to Clinton. (Since Super Tuesday, Obama has picked up 87 and she has picked up seven, according to his campaign.) Which just goes to show how out of touch and elitist the superdelegates must be. Or else, how politically savvy they are: They don’t find it shocking that Obama can’t win every demographic group in every state.
Not that he has to. No Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has won the white vote. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton found that if you win enough of the white vote and an overwhelming percentage of the black vote, you can get to the White House.
But what about Obama’s bigger problem? Comparisons are already being made between Obama and Adlai Stevenson, who was an intellectual (read: loser). Obama used to teach law at the University of Chicago, one of the brainiest universities in the country.
And Americans don’t want presidents who are too brainy. (Obviously.) We would rather plunge into foreign wars or fall off economic cliffs than have presidents who know too much. That is because braininess is elitist, and being an elitist is the worst thing you can be if you want to be president.
Obama now gets this. Since his loss in Pennsylvania, he has been emphasizing his non-elitist roots. At a recent news conference at a gas station in Indianapolis, he said, “I basically buy five of the same suits and then I patch them up and wear them repeatedly.”
(I guess Obama thinks this is supposed to appeal to the working classes, but my father was a truck driver, and he would have thought that owning five suits was a lot.)
At the same news conference, Obama said that what he ate while growing up also reflects his non-elitist upbringing: “I was raised in a setting with my grandparents who grew up in small-town Kansas, where the dinner table would have been very familiar to anybody here in Indiana: a lot of pot roasts and potatoes and Jell-O molds.”
That settles that, I guess. Diet is destiny. But does anybody besides me find it a little dismaying that a person feels he has to campaign for president in this country based on whether he ate Jell-O molds as a kid? (Though, now that I think of it, how did my mother actually suspend those little marshmallows in the Jell-O? Wires?)
Wouldn’t it be more refreshing if Obama was saying what he used to say: that it is wrong to &lduo;slice and dice” voters into isolated groups and that it would be good for America to emphasize what unites people and not what divides us?
But Obama’s new approach is valuable for one thing: It teaches us that everything our parents told us was wrong.
“Study hard so you can go to a good school and get a good job,” parents say. “And stop dressing like a bum!”
But not if you want to be president.