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April 27, 2008

Your Turn: Obama’s Bubba Gap


Yes, arugula and beer.  It’s your BAG.

(If you’re interested, by the way, there are summaries from all four related articles after the jump.  Otherwise, I think you’ve got it all right here.)

(photo-illustration: not attributed on-line.  Newsweek Cover: May 5, 2008)

From PR Newswire:

COVER: “Obama’s Bubba Gap” (p. 28). Editor-At-Large Evan Thomas, White

House Correspondent Holly Bailey and Senior White House Correspondent

Richard Wolffe report on why Obama’s opponents are tapping into Americans’

fears of an “other” and painting Obama as an out-of-touch elitist, while

the working man worries about layoffs at the plant. Americans do not like

to talk about class, and they want to believe racism is a thing of the

past. But there has long been a dark side to democratic politics, a

willingness to play on prejudice, to get men and women to vote their fears

and not their hopes. Those prejudices fade and seem to die down, but they

never quite go away. They remain embers for cunning political operatives to

fan into flames. In a new Newsweek Poll, 19 percent of American voters say

that the country is not ready to elect an African-American president. The

poll also shows that more than half the voters said they think “most” (12

percent) or “some” (41 percent) of the voters will “have reservations about

voting for a black candidate that they are not willing to express.”

    “Hope vs. Fear” (p. 36). Senior Editor and Columnist Jonathan Alter

writes that a President Barack Hussein Obama would pose a shock to the

country’s system. “Opposition to him is not so much old-fashioned racism as

fear of the ‘other,’ with the subtext not just our tortured racial history,

but tangled views of class and patriotism,” Alter writes. “Fortunately for

him, different strains of the American character often work to ease our

anxieties: openness, optimism, hope.” Alter adds that the big question this

year is whether voters are sick of fear campaigns.

    “McCain’s Hidden Advantage” (p. 37). Contributing Editor Ellis Cose

writes that the surprise in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary was that

recent events had virtually no effect on the result. “Barack Obama and

Hillary Clinton could have stayed home for the past month and a half and

the outcome would have been essentially the same. Women and older voters,

for the most part, would have come out for Clinton; blacks, young people

and the highly educated elite would have backed Obama,” writes Cose. “This

is good news for Obama — at least in the short term … But what is good

for Obama now might be fatal later. Demographics don’t necessarily favor

him, or any Democrat, in the general election.”

    “An Unfamiliar Narrative” (p. 38). Associate Editor Raina Kelley writes

that “the idea that the black candidate is successfully being portrayed as

an elitist by the two white candidates is priceless, and may be the truest

indicator of how far African-Americans have come since the assassination of

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 40 years ago,” she writes. “If Obama seems

alien, it may not be simply because he’s the African-American presidential

front runner, but because he’s an African-American politician who doesn’t

flaunt his scars. As he says again and again in speeches, only in this

country would his story be possible.”

  • Some Guy

    Newsweek has it in for Obama, that is pretty clear. I am sure the editors consider themselves to be doing a fine job, but all they seem to care about is the distorted narrative about Obama’s “character.” They did not give a shit about Bush’s character in 2000, even though there were plenty of signs he was not up to the job. Here is is just about Obama not being an ordinary Joe. Like anyone really wants someone like that for President after 8 years of Bush. Yick.

  • Books Alive

    Bernie Smith introduced Barack in Marion, Indiana, the other day, calling it the “coolest thing he’d ever done.” The Smith story, ditto for many in the town and across the country, was especially poignant because when the RCA plant closed in 2004, he had to tear out “carts” (earlier callled “n-lines”) which were being shipped to China. The kicker: Smith’s father had worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week, for six months, when installing this upgrade in 1966. Personally, I say let the corporate press fuss and fume, because they’re not covering what’s going on in the town hall meetings. Good heavens, Maureen Dowd is reduced to calling Obama ascetic because he gave someone the French fries that came with a Philly cheesesteak sandwich while campaigning.

  • futurebird

    Nothing makes me feel insignificant like watching media fawn and hand wring over what the white voters will do and “how can Obama appeal to them if he is so black” –I can’t even comment on the image much except to say the white background is about right– all of the beer-drinking black working class people vote for this guy, but do they count? What is this really about?
    No one even bothers to ask why Clinton could only get 8% of the black vote in PA. That’s pathetic– and way beyond the simple explanation that black people are excited at the idea of having a black president. In fact, it’s as if our vote is a liability– our strong support makes him too black.
    Those should not be arugla laves, but rather collard greens. That’s the real issue her

  • futurebird

    One other way to look at this: the healthy choice vs. the beer you really want.
    What this country needs vs. what feels good and is simple, but it’s still bad for your gut.

  • joe

    I’m still trying to make sense of this a few days later. Of all the Newsweek fumbles you’ve shown us (wherein they fail so utterly at describing the perception problem without creating/reinforcing it), this is the most bizarre. Arugula isn’t really all that upper class a food, is it? But I think the real point is in those pronunciation keys. It’s got one uh them darn fancy-soundin’ names? Is that it? Whereas beer is a nice simple monosyllable? This is the kind of media discourse that ends up being pretty offensive to the “average working class Americans” it seeks to understand.

  • cds

    “Those should not be arugla laves, but rather collard greens. That’s the real issue her”
    Ah yes, but doing so would require impartial analysis and hamper their ability to catapult the propaganda.

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