Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Lost, Yet Won

Obama got crushed in the Democratic primary in Kentucky yesterday. He lost to Hillary Clinton worse than I thought he would.

Worse still was the reason he lost. Obama held his core -- nearly all the academics I know voted for him, and the college Democrats were overwhelmingly for him. Clinton kept her core of old women and some workers. The big margin seemed to come from people who admitted to pollsters, in face-to-face conversations, that race was a factor in their voting. Chris Matthews reported that a fifth of those voting yesterday -- taking both primaries together -- said this. And he reasonably noted that if a fifth of voters admitted this in public, another X percent vote racially in the privacy of the voting booth.

Still, John Kennedy faced sizable percentages in 1960 who openly said religion was a factor in their voting - yet he still won.

In the larger race for the nomination, though, Obama all but won. Clinton will carry on through the last primary. I believe that the party elders have already arranged for the superdelegates to settle the issue immediately after that. Obama was very gracious in his Iowa speech last night to both Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain. This bodes well for the fall.

I think the past election that will most resemble this one is 1960. That was a squeaker, which could have gone either way. Senator McCain is no Nixon, but his position as a last-chancer with enemies in his own party is somewhat similar. The parallels between Obama and Kennedy are so striking that I hear about them all the time from people old enough to remember the 1960 election - my birth year.

Last night after Obama spoke they played Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising," as they have as the first song in several rallies recently. A little later, while the talking heads will still chewing over the night's events with the Obama rally in the background, we could hear Brooks and Dunn's "Only in America." Springsteen broke his political silence last time to campaign actively for John Kerry. Brooks and Dunn have been the most prominent musicians performing at recent Republican conventions. I expect the musicians will not change parties this time. But their music can be a symbol of unity. Only in America.


Fran Engle said...

I personally would rather be governed buy "old women and workers" than by "acedemics and college democrats". Lately you sound a bit more elitist than centrist. How about "The gruntled elitist left of center"?

Gruntled said...

Elite and elitist are not the same thing. Educated people with a sense of social responsibility should be trying to give back to their country.

Mac said...

I remember the election of 1960--the first that I can clearly recall. My Dad, a Catholic, was a strong supporter of JFK, veery bit as much because of his war record as his faith, but if asked, would have mentioned JFK's faith as a reason for voting for him.

My maternal grandmother was opposed to the election of a "cathlick," but she was a yellow dog Democrat and ultimately, party loyalty prevailed over religious bias.

So, I agree that the comments made in the heat of battle will change for many.

I have thought for some time that Hillary must cringe every time someone compares (correctly, I think) Obama to JFK.

And where will the next president take us? Who knows? As a disillusioned 17 year old, I worked for Barry Goldwater's campaign in a heavily Democratic county in southern Illinois. My mother, an LBJ supporter (1960 and 1964), was aghast. "You'll end up in a war if you work for Goldwater."

Four yerars later when I left for Vietnam, I reminded her of her prediction. "I never thought Lyndon would do that," was her only reply.

Anonymous said...

As an educated person with a sense of social responsibility, I have to say that you should be deeply ashamed of your party's pro-abortion record. Do I agree with some of the Democratic Party's social ideas? Yes but until they stop deceiving themselves about abortion, those other issues pale in comparison.

José Solano said...

Obama I understand is the most pro-abortion presidential candidate there's ever been.

“Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.” (See

He also "respects" the recent despotic decision of the California Supreme Court to impose same-sex marriage over the expressed will of the people in Proposition 22 and he is ready to undermine DOMA.

Can you imagine what kind of judges he would put in the US Supreme Court?

Clinton is not much different but is not quite as callous with respect to killing babies.

That leaves only McCain for those of us seriously concerned about the ongoing massacre of the innocents, the conjugal relationship of man and woman and children being raised by a mother and a father.

And I speak as a life-long liberal Democrat who does not wear Birkenstocks and thinks people are paying too much for coffee these days.

brax4444 said...

Is it only race or a popular perception that Obama is extreme and Clinton is more of a "safe" or moderate candidate among the masses on in the traditionally less liberal areas of the country?

I've only met one person who is concerned about Obama's race to the point of mentioning it and she basically feels that his wife's attitude leans toward discrimination as a solution to discrimination problems much like affirmative action ideals can be. I'm surprised if race is indeed such a huge factor by itself.

Gruntled said...

In fairness, the exit poll question asked whether race would be a factor in one's voting. This would draw a "yes" response from racists and active anti-racists. There clearly are racists, so some of that "factor" figure really does have the bad meaning I fear.

From the polling that I have seen, people who think Obama are extreme are also likely to think that Clinton is extreme.

Anonymous said...

What about black racists who only voted for Obama because he is black? It may not have happened in KY, but it has happened all across the country.

Anonymous said...

The one great thing about democracy is that "old women and workers' vote count just as much as yours and mine, regardless of how much better you think you are than them!