Ed Driscoll

Obama: The Affect of Adlai Stevenson, The Effect of Jimmy Carter

In “Revenge of the Hillary Voters,” Rich Lowry writes, “It’s long been an occupational hazard of liberalism to get crosswise with working-class whites:”

Obama is particularly vulnerable because he combines the affect of Adlai Stevenson with the economic performance of Jimmy Carter. He came into office with working-class voters suspicious that he didn’t understand their concerns and proceeded with an agenda — health care, cap-and-trade, and all the rest of it — that didn’t address their concerns, and didn’t work.

At the start of his piece, Lowry notes:

Two-thirds of West Virginians approve of the job performance of Gov. Joe Manchin. In ordinary circumstances, that would be enough to get him any promotion he wants. Not in 2010.

Manchin trails Republican businessman John Raese in a key Senate race. As soon as he stepped off the state stage into a federal race, he became associated with Obama liberalism, a deadly virus against which personal popularity — and even moderation — provides only limited immunity.

Manchin has the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce, but so what? As long as he’s a vote for a Democrat as Senate majority leader, he’ll be an Obama enabler. Manchin has been reduced to plaintively showing reporters an old picture of himself with George W. Bush in the Oval Office. If he loses, he’ll be a victim of the revenge of the Hillary voters.

In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton had persistent appeal among working-class whites, loosely defined as whites without college educations. As Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute notes, 94 percent of West Virginians are white, and only 17 percent of them have a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the 2008 primary, Clinton beat Barack Obama in West Virginia by 67 percent to 26 percent. Today, Obama’s approval rating in the state is . . . 29 percent.

The continued disaffection of the white working class is the backdrop for the growing Democratic debacle in the heartland. Republicans could well win both a Senate seat and the governorship in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the governorship of Michigan, in a rout. The party reputed to be exclusively a creature of the South after 2008 is on the verge of a Rust Belt sweep.

Democrats have undertaken an experiment in whether you can be the self-styled party of working people if you don’t have much appeal to a swath of working people.

Remember that back in early 2008, when Obama had his Kinsley-esque bitter clingers gaffe? Around that same time elites such as writer-director Nora Ephron were writing at the Huffington Post that “This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women.” In both cases, these leftwing elites were dumping on their fellow Democrats, simply because they preferred Hillary over Obama, during the all Democrat primary in Pennsylvania.

And while many of those middle class, middle American Democrats obviously did go on to vote, however reluctantly for their party’s candidate in November of 2008, as Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently noted, for those who consider themselves Democrats, but are more centrist than the far left president, there’s an enormous sense of disappointment:

President Obama blames everyone but himself, shaking a finger at Republicans and tea partyers for stirring up the anger. Last week, he and Vice President Biden started blaming their own supporters, insisting they need to “buck up” and vote.

“Why should we?” wonders Canton, Ohio, native Cheryl Guy as she and husband Rudy visit Fort Necessity in Western Pennsylvania. A Democrat and registered nurse who is very disappointed with Obama, she has no intention of supporting Democrats in the coming midterm election; neither does her husband.

Americans voted for change in 2008 in record numbers. Voters of every age, color, shape and size, in red states and blue ones, registered as Republicans, Democrats or independents, then voted for something different. They bought into the dream that Obama was not elite; he was for the middle class and would champion reform.

What they got was no different from the guy they voted against in 2004: John Kerry.

Obama is no less out of touch than the Kerry whom America watched windsurf before the 2004 election — the same man who said last week that one reason Democrats will lose this year is that “we have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.”

Here’s where Kerry and Obama are both wrong: The electorate that was influenced by a simple slogan — “Yes, we can” — in 2008 actually is very well-informed.

This time, that electorate isn’t voting for a dream, but for its pocketbook.

And if Republicans are lucky enough to win, they’d best remember that those voters will hold them accountable.

And even today, the attacks on Democratic voters from Democratic elites continues:

Extending his sense of empathy into perhaps dangerous territory, he tells a local newspaper how his mother struggled to afford Christmas presents. He says the experience helps him understand why people might blame him for their economic plight. “I wanted to get some presents on Christmas morning,” he told reporters and editors at the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I was a very selfish little boy, and I was upset that my mother had to go through all this. Whose fault is this? And that’s what people are going through. I didn’t know who to blame but I wanted to blame somebody.”

Yes, compare the voters to children, play the race card — that’ll sell.

And while Reid could still skate through to re-election (particularly if the election is within the margin of Acorn, as Stephen Kruiser would say), note that at the moment, Harry is having the same moment of epistemic closure that fellow Democrat LBJ had 40 years ago, when he was ultimately rejected by his fellow Democrats, despite his own largess with taxpayer money:

“How’s it possible that all these people can be ungrateful to me after I had given them so much?” Landslide Lyndon asked of Doris Kearns Goodwin.

How indeed?