Veep Search and Obama’s Appalachian Problem

Jim Webb, the junior senator from Virginia has been saying some very interesting things in relation to Obama’s Appalachian problem. it seems to me that Webb would make a very interesting choice to join Obama on the ticket, that he could at a stroke indicate his determination to reach out to the one constituency that has resisted his charms, and Webb’s comments suggest why it is so important that they should be included. Pat Buchanan posed the leading question to Webb in the above interview, who appears to back up Buchanan’s point that people have been showing extraordinary insensitivity to those people, and this points to some very real problems with real elitist attitudes in the Democrats that allow the Republicans to exploit. I think Obama actually is one of the very least-worst offenders and, as Webb suggests, given a chance to make his case he could appeal to them. This whole issue of ‘elitism’ in American politics and culture is one that I want to address soon. It is a fascinating area that says a great deal about modern ‘progressive’ and ‘intellectual’ assumptions.

It also strikes me that Obama is very wise to defer selecting his running mate for as long as possible, and to defer any official start to the process until Clinton has conceded. It is bad enough smashing the dreams of the junior senator from New York and her supporters without adding a string of bitter VP hopefuls to the trail of destruction. As things stand he has them rallying to the cause of the inevitable nominee, training their fire on McCain (and setting aside their friendship with the senior senator from Arizona). This could become a powerful unifying force to counter Clinton’s refusal to concede.

Update: Matt Yglesias points out an interesting Al Jazeera report on Obama’s Appalachia problem that he reckons wouldn’t air in the US.

Update II: Al Giordano explains who is not going to be on the ticket. It appears Clinton has approached Obama and he has declined, which explains the recent Florida antics. George W Bush took the presidency through his adversaries systematically underestimating him, and it looks as if the same is happening with Obama. HRC may be finding out that Obama’s a tougher negotiator she bargained for and no appeaser. She surely burnt her bridges a long time ago and put down the hammer while she is behind. She will surely make much better headway with the new power centre in the Democratic party with a lot less attitude.

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4 responses to “Veep Search and Obama’s Appalachian Problem

  1. Elitism and progressivism go hand in hand. When working class people are cowed into accepting dependency on government programs, then they are effectively ceding control over their fate to elites. How could it be different?

  2. The Kos types are clueless on Obama’s weaknesses in Appalachia. They can’t imagine that a white person would vote against Obama unless it was because of race. Obama’s Appalachian problem is cultural, not racial. Remember his “bitter” comments, condescendingly attributing their clinging to guns and religion because of their economic despair? That is as clueless as it gets. Guns and religion are part of the Appalachian culture, not some aberration borne of economic desparation.

    This gets back to the elite issue. When you set yourself up as a savior, it is hard not to condescend to those you are trying to save. People don’t like being condescended to.

  3. Hi Robert. I hear what you are saying. I think Obama’s original words have been blown way out of context. Originally he was briefing a young staffer who was setting off to canvas in territory that was highly unreceptive to his message and he was trying to explain to the kid why he had to be careful. The whole thing about clinging to guns and religion sounded dreadful, but he was using a shorthand and I really think he would be far more empathetic and understanding of their situation. I think he was right not to back off the bitter part because he was right about them being angry and neglected.

    Actually I am in the middle of writing an article on just this topic (the elitist condescension of liberal intellectuals) so I will be interested to hear what you think.

    I liked what Webb was saying, pushing back and defending his people. Do you think Webb would make a good choice for the Veep?

  4. I like Webb. I think he would give Obama much needed military and foreign policy experience and credibility. I think he would serve better as Secretary of Defense.

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