Alright, just for the record, I started today’s topic a full fifteen minutes before I saw Newsweek‘s cover for this week on Meet The Press, after an issue I broached two weeks ago. I’d already saved the document, and besides, I’ve got a better headline.
Barack ran into a tribal buzzsaw three weeks ago when he wouldn’t eat the cheesesteak in Pennsylvania. This coupled with his now-infamous “bitter” comment–said in, of all places, that hotbed of liberal elitism, San Francisco–probably spelled the difference between a 4-point and a 9.7 point defeat in Pennsylvania. I recommended at the time that all future Democratic Presidential candidates be forced to go through an intense lunch bucket boot camp before they hit the trail, where they have to get their hands and their souls dirty with a variety of experiences that so many of us do every day. I knew that it was too late for Obama and Pennsylvania, but I thought he could mitigate the damage with a Deliverance-style weekend getaway with the boys in the Pennsylvania outback (without anyone with a purty mouth getting raped from behind, of course). He’d come back with a few new profanities that he picked up over the weekend, and an appreciation for venison and monster trucks. Then would come a nationally-televised speech where he would show off a cut he received skinning a smallmouth bass and accurately yet seamlessly work into his oratory Steve Carlton’s ERA from the Phillies’ 1980 World Series win.
That would have meant a 3-point defeat for Obama and would have been a perfect slingshot trajectory into Indiana, and Team Hillary would be hammer and tongs this weekend fighting over whose credit card they were going to use to pay for the new catalytic converter for the campaign bus, and not crowing about how much money was being tossed over the Internet transom since she cleaned Barack’s clock Tuesday night.
Oh, what could have been, if only he’d read my blog two Saturdays ago.
There’s some evidence that he might be starting to figure out his dilemma with the dirty middle on his own. He’s apparently eating everything in sight on the campaign trail, and in his recent advertisements airing in Oregon he’s lost the suit and is working in his shirt sleeves more. It’s not quite Huey Long, and he could definitely benefit from a little more flopsweat, but he’s starting to look less like he’s in his Communion suit and more like a man of the people.
He’s working a tough room here. These aren’t the most enlightened stars in the firmament. Consider this from the Newsweek cover piece (I had to look it up; I’m always curious to see what the competition is doing): Brenda Spreitzer, a 42-year-old Clinton supporter from Indiana, took nearly hysterical umbrage at Obama’s facetious comment that he was going to tear out the White House bowling alley and put in a basketball court. “That freaked me out because no matter if he bowls or not, it’s a historic thing that should never be changed.”
This is what you’re dealing with out on the hustings. If these people don’t trust you, your jokes are the first thing that are going to fall flat. If they don’t trust you, they’ll take everything you say at face value. As tempting as it is, “Jesus, lady, here’s a buck–go buy a sense of humor” isn’t the most helpful thing you could say to a person like this. You have to find out where they live and break bread with them on their level. Ask her about her kids, and as long as they’re not in juvey for shooting a Roman Candle up the tailpipe of their homeroom teacher’s car, you’ve got common ground right there.
He’s a smart guy, though, and as a Chicago organizer, he knows the importance of street cred. There’s been a disconnect thus far and he hasn’t made the association thus far that as brilliant as his speeches are he needs to move beyond the dais and get down and dirty with the people who get dirty everyday. We’re not talking killing a bobcat with his bare hands (though that would guarantee Pennsylvania and West Virginia in the general). The next several weeks if he does what he should know he needs to do.
And for God’s sake, don’t mention arugula again.