Plus--Today's Obama Gaffe-to-Ignore
He's also 3) reluctant to think white resentments over welfare and affirmative action are justified as objections to welfare and affirmative action, and 4) prefers to see them as expressions of "legitimate" frustration over uncertain living standards.
Candor is surely the necessary starting point for a useful national conversation on race (the one that Obama didn't seem to want to have until his pastor got him in political hot water). One side says, "You're scared of young black men." The other side says, "Yes, and here's why." Progress becomes possible. One side says, "You get all these breaks just because of your race." The other side says ,"We have to be twice as good to get the same respect." If you don't ever have the argument you probably can't get over the argument.
But candor isn't a sufficient--or maybe even necessary--quality in a President. That depends more on what you think about what Obama thinks.
For myself, I tend to agree with Obama's point 1), the passage that rightly impressed Abigail Thernstrom. But I disagree with 2), and suspect a lot of other "typical" voters may also (and not like to be lectured about it). More important, on (3) and (4), it's hard to believe we're about to nominate a Democrat who doesn't acknowledge the lesson of the 1990s--that voters are worried about issues like welfare because they are worried about welfare, not because "welfare" is a surrogate for "lack of national health insurance." Can a Dem who hasn't learned that lesson can be elected in a two-candidate general election? That's no longer unthinkable, but it would require not only that the old Carter-Ford-Reagan-Clinton issues like welfare, crime, etc. recede into the background (replaced by Iraq and the economy). It would also require Republicans who are too stupid to find a way to bring them back into the foreground.
For those Democrats worried about Obama's seemingly old-fashioned liberalism--sorry, progressivism!-- the great hope has been that of course he'll pivot and turn toward the reformist, Clintonian center once he's got the nomination in hand. But what if The Pivot never happens (as David Frum, for one, has predicted)? That's a big issue--maybe the big issue--raised by Obama's "race" address. That's a big--maybe main--reason that it's a gaffe. Obama's honesty is bracing. But he honestly doesn't seem to be the sort of neoliberal politician who wins national elections. ... 2:17 A.M. link
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The 'Bradley Effect' is Back? Gallup's national tracking poll has Obama retaking the lead over Hillary after bottoming out on the day of his big race speech. Rasmussen's robo-poll, on the other hand, shows Obama losing ground since last Tuesday. True, even Rasmussen doesn't seem to be putting a lot of emphasis on his survey's 6-point shift. But isn't this week's primary race exactly the sort of environment--i.e.., the issue of race is in the air--when robo-polling is supposed to have an advantage over the conventional human telephone polling used by Gallup? Voters wary of looking like bigots to a live operator--'and why didn't you like Obama's plea for mutual for understanding that all the editorial pages liked?'--might lie about their opinions, a phenomenon known as the Bradley Effect. But they might be more willing to tell the truth to a machine. ...
P.S.: I take no position on this issue. I say wait for Pennsylvania. I've previously argued that the robo-pollers' truth-divining advantage might well have disappeared because, with all the computers now tracking expenditures and generating credit ratings, etc.--people are scared to tell the truth to machines too. But this theory was dismissed by Pollster.com'sMark Blumenthal as lacking "supportive evidence." Picky! But maybe Blumenthal's right, in which case Obama should be worried. ...
P.P.S.: Of course, the 'Bradley Effect' could be inflating Obama's numbers in both the Gallup and Rasmussen polls to at least some extent, in which case Obama should be very worried. ...
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images. Photograph of Barack Obama on Slate's home page by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.