April 27, 2008

Your Turn: Obama's Bubba Gap


Yes, arugula and beer.  It’s your BAG.

(If you’re interested, by the way, there are summaries from all four related articles after the jump.  Otherwise, I think you’ve got it all right here.)

(photo-illustration: not attributed on-line.  Newsweek Cover: May 5, 2008)

From PR Newswire:

COVER: “Obama’s Bubba Gap” (p. 28). Editor-At-Large Evan Thomas, White

House Correspondent Holly Bailey and Senior White House Correspondent

Richard Wolffe report on why Obama’s opponents are tapping into Americans’

fears of an “other” and painting Obama as an out-of-touch elitist, while

the working man worries about layoffs at the plant. Americans do not like

to talk about class, and they want to believe racism is a thing of the

past. But there has long been a dark side to democratic politics, a

willingness to play on prejudice, to get men and women to vote their fears

and not their hopes. Those prejudices fade and seem to die down, but they

never quite go away. They remain embers for cunning political operatives to

fan into flames. In a new Newsweek Poll, 19 percent of American voters say

that the country is not ready to elect an African-American president. The

poll also shows that more than half the voters said they think “most” (12

percent) or “some” (41 percent) of the voters will “have reservations about

voting for a black candidate that they are not willing to express.”


    “Hope vs. Fear” (p. 36). Senior Editor and Columnist Jonathan Alter

writes that a President Barack Hussein Obama would pose a shock to the

country’s system. “Opposition to him is not so much old-fashioned racism as

fear of the ‘other,’ with the subtext not just our tortured racial history,

but tangled views of class and patriotism,” Alter writes. “Fortunately for

him, different strains of the American character often work to ease our

anxieties: openness, optimism, hope.” Alter adds that the big question this

year is whether voters are sick of fear campaigns.


    “McCain’s Hidden Advantage” (p. 37). Contributing Editor Ellis Cose

writes that the surprise in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary was that

recent events had virtually no effect on the result. “Barack Obama and

Hillary Clinton could have stayed home for the past month and a half and

the outcome would have been essentially the same. Women and older voters,

for the most part, would have come out for Clinton; blacks, young people

and the highly educated elite would have backed Obama,” writes Cose. “This

is good news for Obama — at least in the short term … But what is good

for Obama now might be fatal later. Demographics don’t necessarily favor

him, or any Democrat, in the general election.”


    “An Unfamiliar Narrative” (p. 38). Associate Editor Raina Kelley writes

that “the idea that the black candidate is successfully being portrayed as

an elitist by the two white candidates is priceless, and may be the truest

indicator of how far African-Americans have come since the assassination of

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 40 years ago,” she writes. “If Obama seems

alien, it may not be simply because he’s the African-American presidential

front runner, but because he’s an African-American politician who doesn’t

flaunt his scars. As he says again and again in speeches, only in this

country would his story be possible.”

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Michael Shaw
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