Thursday, February 7, 2008

Another shortie

Apparently some other people have also noticed what I mentioned the other day: Hillary Clinton was, at least on the Democratic side, far and away the winner with working-class voters, defined in this context as people making less than $50,000 a year.

That is a big, big point, because the median household income in this country is well under that figure--meaning that her appeal is strongest to the clear majority of households. Putting that another way, the vote and delegate counts from "Super Duper Tuesday" are deceiving, because they do not reflect the population as a whole. The demonstration is obvious when one considers that Obama prevailed chiefly in the caucus states, where a relative handful of devout activists can swing the outcome.

The problem for the Democrats is that the general election is just that: an election. There are no caucuses involved in selecting the next president. Having an appeal to a class that can waltz in and dominate caucuses, whether because (as the higher-income and thus better educated class) they are more persuasive or whether they are simply more ardent, does not make Mr. Obama a strong candidate in an election, and that Mrs. Clinton outdid him in most states where people voted as the term is generally understood ought to be a waving red flag to the Democratic Party.

Mind, I suspect that in this age of appearance over substance, Obama still has a good chance of being elected, even if not as good as Clinton's; after all, we don't know how the appeal of either plays out in Republican demographics. But still . . . .

My chief problem with Mr. Obama is that while I believe in his intelligence and sincerity, those things are not--as Jimmy Carter (who had both galore) so regrettably demonstrated--enough to get anything done in Washington, D.C. My fear is that Obama will get the nomination, be elected, then be eaten for lunch by the Republicans and even the less-dealistic members of his own party (is Obama ready to tell harry Reid to go to the place in Hell he so richly deserves?). After four years of muddling about and getting little done on the economy, the war, or much of anything, the nation will be left vulnerable to a Republican return under the slogan "See? We told you so."

I hope I am wrong about at least some part of that, but I have yet to see clear and convincing evidence to suggest it.

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