McCain's Keys to the Keystone State
"Pennsylvania is a John Wayne state, not a Jane Fonda state."
-- Former PA Gov. Bob Casey
April 22, 2008, was supposed to be a bloody battle across the vast Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It wasn't. Despite seven weeks of polls reporting that the state was a dead heat, Hillary Clinton blew away Barack Obama by over 200,000 votes.
Not only were Pennsylvanians enraged at being called "bitter" by a candidate speaking in America's wealthiest city, but many Hillary fans thought sexism was rampant, as is believed currently. I journeyed along the southwestern part of the Keystone State on a brilliant fall weekend to discover more.
Based on my travels this election season, I feel confident in saying that, aside from the "white guiltists" and the liberal intelligentsia, most Americans over 30, of all political stripes and religious affiliations, are morally conservative. While they may differ on abortion or gay marriage, the vast majority seek to enforce tighter borders, keep their families safe, get honest news, lower their taxes, and rid themselves of programs and policies that they feel are antithetical to how we became the world's superpower. This is true in Indiana where I live, in my native California, and it sure as heck is true in 99% of Pennsylvania.
In 2008, most Pennsylvanians are not concerned with whether "America is ready for a black president," but rather, whether the next leader will be honest with them and keep our nation prosperous. Others are miffed by their own congressmen deeming them redneck bigots. Some also may wonder why Obama's two books are hagiographies of himself and his father, instead of his "typical white" grandparents, who, after his mother left him to pursue her studies in Asia, raised him, and worked hard to put him through the most exclusive prep school in Hawaii.
"This year's election will come down to whether or not Americans can feel comfortable with Barack Obama as our next president," said Michael Barley, spokesman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, in an email to me. "He lacks experience, and now that he is finally beginning to be challenged by the mainstream media, Americans are seeing that his plans lack substance."
Much to the chagrin of the pro-Obama media, Hollywood, snooty Brits, the French, envious "feminists," yuppies, and even some conservatives, Sarah Palin entered the fray. From week one, the strong-willed and telegenic hockey mom took aim at Obama, saying people in small towns like the one she grew up in "don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening."
Seeing a female on a national Republican ticket caused the Democrats to become apoplectic. They panicked, espoused hatred, made up stories, and called her names. They hid out at her rallies. Professors gave assignments to "critique" her, and juvenile journalists mocked her "accent" while tainting her photos. As they ignored the mishaps of their own female leader and their nominee, it seemed Democrats truly believed Palin was running for president -- not second in command.