Racists? Fuggeddaboudem!

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Aren’t you sick of hearing about how important racists are to the 2008 election? I certainly am. It’s one thing to slice and dice the vox populi into soccer moms and nascar dads, or even brie eating, latte sipping liberals (latte with brie? ewwwww). It’s another thing to uphold racists — errr, hard working white people, as THE swing vote of swing votes upon which election 2008 depends.

So Hillary Clinton won a big one in West Virginia yesterday, almost as big as Obama’s wins in Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Georgia, and Colorado. But West Virginia matters, because, because… well, as the Queen of Snarkiness (snarky before there was such a word as snarky) put it:

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall. He was dismissed not only by the voters Hillary usually gets, but was also edged out in blocs that usually prefer him — the under-30 set, college graduates and affluent voters.

Interviews with West Virginians leaving the polls showed some profound weaknesses that could haunt the Illinois senator in the fall. More than half said they would be dissatisfied if Obama was the nominee. Half believe he shares the views of the Rev. Wright, and more than half said he does not share their values. More than half also said that he is not honest and trustworthy. Just under half of the Clinton voters said they would not support Obama in the fall.

O.K., so West Virginians don’t keep up with current events very well. But Queen Maureen hints that there is a widespread, how-you-say, issue to take seriously:

Two in 10 white voters said race was important in how they voted, and more than 8 of 10 of these went for Hillary. This echoes an article in The Washington Post on Tuesday that chronicled the racism that some Obama volunteers found in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

The story quoted Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, who could take only one night on an Obama phone bank in the nearly all-white Susquehanna County, Pa.: “One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: ‘Hang that darky from a tree!’ ”

So shall I quake with fear and spill my chablis onto the seat of my pants?

Strangely, her prescription is to be more like Jack Kennedy, who overcame West Virginia’s anti-Catholicism in 1960 (West Virginia’s anti-Catholicism evidenced by her father’s car being flipped over in West Virginia for having an Al Smith sticker on it in 1928). As if Catholics were equivalent to African Americans in America’s sadder stories.

Dowd isn’t the only one making a big deal of the idea that the racists of Appalachia are the key to White House. So shall we veer right? Shall Barack Obama go all oreo on us?

Naaah. How about considering a bit of reality instead? Two words: Mississippi One. The Democrats last night completed a trifecta of wins in special elections to Congress in solidly red districts — Dennis Hastert’s seat in Illinois, a seat in Louisiana that’s been Republican since Richard Nixon whispered “Southern Strategy,” and now a district that voted for George W. Bush almost like West Virginians voted for Hillary Clinton.

It’s not as if Barack Obama’s name didn’t come up in this Deep Southern District. Consider this:

Yep. The Republicans ran against lied about Barack Obama in an open election in Tupelo and environs and still lost.

So to all you pundits who party write like it’s 1928, two words again. Mississippi. One.


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