Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This is Not Your Grandfather's Presidential Nominee

Anybody who criticizes Obama for tacking swiftly to the center needs a reality check. We are in the framing stage of the campaign. Obama is keenly aware that he hasn't yet been put into a box by the public. If he's not incredibly proactive about his "Americanness" then he's in for a world of trouble. Check out this video of West Virginia voters before the Democratic primary.

We can cast this off as a distinctly Appalachian problem, but that's sticking out heads in the sand. Obama is fighting what Robert Putnam calls hunkering. Putnam finds that when confronted with diversity, people generally revert by withdrawing. This is still a majority white country and Obama's people are well aware that if he can't lower the hunkering instinct among a large segment of undecided whites, he's got an uphill climb.

Case in point is Noam Scheber post on Bill Carter's New York Times Article how comedians are finding it difficult to make fun of Obama. Carter notes that absence of a "comedic take" on him. Carter eventually taps into the core of the problem. He speculates that it's largely due to sensitivity about making fun of race. Scheiber astutely points out that this should be a major concern for Obama. Here is the money quote:

the problem for Obama is that people tend to vote for a presidential candidate they feel personally comfortable with. If people aren't comfortable with humor about Obama--if they're reluctant to laugh at him for fear of being thought racist, or of crossing some line of political correctness--then some of them probably aren't comfortable with him, period.

Hunkering people....this is not your grandfather's presidential nominee.

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