Pennsyltucky for Obama?
Over in Indiana, PA and Northern Cambria, PA, volunteers fielded complaints of a massive wave of ugly robocalls both paid for by John McCain’s campaign and those paid for by third parties. The third party call was interactive, and purported to be from Barack Obama himself. The call starts out reasonably, and then “Obama” asks what the listener thinks is the most important issue. Whatever the response, “Obama” then launches into a profane and crazed tirade using “n***er” and other shock language.
From what we’ve seen, this IS the McCain ground campaign. Robocalls count as “touches” on voters, as do direct mail pieces such as this one. As David Plouffe said in today’s fundraising letter to supporters, “These tactics are all that the McCain campaign and their allies have left.”
That’s infuriating of course, or would be if it hadn’t become banal by repetition (I’m shocked, shocked , to find racism in this campaign) but what’s really fascinating about it is the writer’s suggestion that this tactic is not working, not because people aren’t racist, but because, as he puts it, “in this economy, racism is officially a luxury. How is John McCain going to win if he can’t win those voters?” And we get absolutely strange episodes like this:
So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”
Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”
It isn’t exactly clear whether the writer actually heard this exchange or whether it’s a sort of useful story people are telling each other. But regardless of whether or not it’s really true, it might be true in a more important sense. After all, people in Pennsyltucky are actually lining up behind Barrack Obama in numbers people thought were unthinkable not so long ago, and while Obama might not actually win a state like WV (though it seems close enough to dream about), it’s not unthinkable anymore. Not because race is over, of course (and click those links if you’re feeling congratulatory); I think that actually, aside from moronic pundits and haters wielding ludicrous straw-men, very few people actually think of Obama’s race (and his race) in those old Gunnar Myrdal “American dilemma” terms any more, least of all the white racists themselves. Instead, it’s because race and class are, if related, also not reducible to each other, and sometimes the one can trump the other in opposition to historical trends. It’s good, sometimes, to remember that.