Obama visits southern Virginia
Barack Obama took his campaign through the solid "red" territory of south side Virginia today and yesterday, boldly going where no closet socialist has gone before. As the Washington Post reported, he lamented the "tough times" and the fears many people have for their futures. He traveled with another charismatic elitist, former governor and senatorial candidate Mark Warner, who has had some success with reaching out to voters in rural Virginia, courting NASCAR fans and hunters.
Can Obama transform worker discontent over jobs lost to China (whose economy is booming because they have ditched their Marxist ideology) into support for a party whose ideology is not that much different from the Chi-Coms themselves? Anything is possible, and this election will turn to a large extent on whether economic or cultural and security issues are the highest priority. How many voters can be persuaded that life is just too tough to bear in this harsh capitalist system of ours?
Meanwhile, millions of Mexicans, Central Americans, Asians, and Africans are desperately trying to get inside the United States so that they can work at below minimum wage. (Does anyone notice a disconnect here?) I suppose that if McCain had a stronger position on economic policy and immigration, the incongruity of the Democrats' populist appeal would become more obvious to more people.
Indeed, the ironies of this situation are almost too rich and too varied to be expressed. For most of the 20th Century, south side Virginia was solidly in the Democratic camp, loyally supporting Senator Harry Byrd. Meanwhile, the areas of the state which were historically more inclined toward the GOP -- Northern Virginia and the Mountain-Valley region -- are ironically two of the areas where Obama has devoted most of his efforts. It's a thorough role-reversal, very confusing to sort out.
Yet to be seen, however, is whether Obama will attend a NASCAR race. As I wrote on July 16, "That would be huge."
Obama's Veep choice
Obama says he has already made up his mind on his running mate, so we will probably know by this weekend. The "Dream Ticket" with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the #2 slot seems virtually impossible at this point, given the continued tensions between the respective camps over speeches, credentials, and the platform. Virginia Governor Tim Kaine lacks experience in national politics, and picking him would look like a craven, insincere bid for votes in the Old Dominion. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is young and reputedly moderate on some economic issues, which might help attract moderate voters who are afraid of socialism, but coming from the same region and age group, he probably wouldn't help Obama very much. That leaves Joe Biden (Delaware Senator) as the most likely pick. Biden is a rhetorical soul-mate of Obama, fond of making grandiose pompous declarations about human rights, etc., utterly divorced from practicality. He does come to his senses on a fairly regular basis, however, and by Democrat standards, he is a sober realist. He would be my pick if I were advising Obama.
Finally, here's something to ponder for all those folks out there who can't wait to pull the lever for Barack Obama: Isn't 16 years of having a young, genial, impulsive, and inexperienced president with a history of substance abuse problems enough already?
GOP VP litmus test?
On Fox News tonight, Laura Ingraham provided, unwittingly, a perfect example of why the Christian Right has become such a shaky, unreliable part of the Republican coalition. (I discussed this on August 15.) She was arguing with a pro-choice Republican woman (from the Hoover Institution, I believe), and kept talking about how many Catholic and other Christian voters would ditch McCain if he picked a [pro-choice] vice presidential candidate such as Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge. No amount of reasoning or pleading that we [should] not emphasize such a divisive issue would get Ingraham to acknowledge this sad predicament: that the Grand Old Party of today is beholden to a single-minded bloc of voters who refuse to compromise, even if it means losing elections. The widespread attitude of "my way or the highway" evidenced by many activists is another example of "the tail wagging the dog," and it's the surest road to defeat.