It's the Sex, Stupid.

September 07, 2008 by susan
brown cow

The original title of this post was, "It's the Gut, Stupid", because I heard a pundit say today that people vote with their gut, and in their gut they like Sarah Palin. I repeated this to a friend, a nice older retired judge, also an Obama supporter. He told me that it wasn't the gut, exactly. Lower. "She's sexy," he said. So I changed it. Besides, if I put sex in the headline, the CLB gets more hits.

I watched two things on CNN last night, McCain Revealed and Obama Revealed.

I thought the McCain one was adoring, glossing over his Keating 5 era and Cindy's drug and drug-theft era. I guess if I were a Repub I might see it differently, like why did they even bring those things up, but it gave McCain, and lots of responsible looking people around him, a chance to explain it all away.

By comparison, the one on Obama seemed almost sinister, complete with a musical score that sounded like something from Jaws, or the Bourne Conspiracy. And it had to pad his shorter life with lots of goofy clips, including footage of him in foreign places like Jakarta and even, gasp, Hawaii (it's not like Alaska you know) and playing basketball in high school, and then walking on the mean streets of Chicago. They showed him talking with Rev. Wright, getting married by Rev. Wright, posing with his girls -- and Rev. Wright. More, as always.

The narrator spoke of his "confusion" over his racial identity and his experimentation with drugs, and although it's in his own book, I thought it played badly on video, at least to older people and the great white nation at large. Instead of making him seem like one of us, it makes him look like he's from a very different place.

Of course moose-huntin' Sarah's the one from a remote state that most people don't really know either, but it's a state romantically associated with the frontier, populated by independent go-it-alone, we're-what-made-America-great sorts of people. The people milling around the streets in Chicago, mostly black, waiting for government, and community organizers, snicker-snicker, to come in and help them when the steel mills closed, or to remove the asbestos from their public housing, symbolize to many people everything that's wrong with America. And with Democrats.

Of course Alaskans get an oil subsidy check every year --a government hand-out of sorts, and the drill-baby-drill oil and gas companies get a hefty gubmint subsidy as well, and that much of that feisty boot-straps talk is a bunch of moose plop.

The Obama Revealed video went on to chart his rise to the state senate in Illinois, interviewing all the worst of the Chicago pols, mostly black, and one white journalist who repeatedly describes him as "cut throat" and "politically ambitious", impatient with the pace of things, from street organizing to the state legislature, to the US senate.

In one of the interviews, someone says, as if revealing the soft underbelly of the man, that he set his sights on the top, on the presidency. Um, yeah? Isn't that the usual trope we all live by -- strive to be the best, shoot for the stars, anyone in this country can become the president if they work hard enough, all those little girls seeing Hilary will now dream of being president some day, bla bla blah. But said with the right slant, it can sound malevolent, like he's the megalomaniac that Batman must defeat. At that point I turned it off. Maybe it went on to paint a glowing picture of the more mature man.

Well, it was very late and I was very tired. To be fair, I only saw the second half of McCain's bio, and only the first half of Obama's.

And I'm seeing things deeply shaded by the rural ambience that surrounds me here in northern Michigan. Last week Jim drove home to Minneapolis and stopped for lunch at one of our favorite joints, a place where he chats up the locals, banters with the dough-armed old waitresses and the doe-eyed young ones. He said that this time everyone nervously shied away from him, he assumed because of his Obama pin.

I don't know if these people will come to feel comfortable with Obama in the next 60 days, if they'll sort this all out and realize that in the Bush years, six of them under Republican control, including lobbyist-lovin' John McCain, their lives have gone from hard-scrabble to hard-core unemployment. But as someone among the pundits on this morning's yak shows pointed out, in the end Americans tend to vote with their gut. And their gut, in this election, seems to have been won over by John Crusty McCain, thrown in a cell in Hanoi to die, and Sarah Palin, that little brown mav'rick winking her eye. Oh what a beautiful morning.

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Penny (not verified) | September 8, 2008 - 12:34pm

It ain't over til its over! Do not underestimate the power of Obama's intellect and tenacity.


susan | September 8, 2008 - 1:24pm

Agree totally on Obama. One of the hallmarks of this campaign has been grace under fire. When the polls dip, many candidates go into a panic and the campaign makes adjustments that never feel right. The Obama campaign is like none I've ever seen in that there's been almost zero staff turnover -- and this has been a LONG tough race -- and the response to low blows has been calm and rational. Whether or not America likes calm and rational -- witness the panicky and irrational choice of Palin -- remains to be seen. I don't underestimate Obama, but I guess I do underestimate my fellow Americans. George Bush, twice??


DKNY (not verified) | September 9, 2008 - 7:33am

Agreed. And to get the gut vote, or to win debates, anyhow, "ya need zingers",.
Did anyone catch the trailer for PBS' upcoming documentary on the debates, in which Dubya himself points out that no debate is won without "zingers"? And then we're treated to a replay of the Gore/Bush debate in which Gore sighed, after Bush accused him of "fuzzy math" for the umteenth time.

That fuzzy math thing worked, Bush happily points out.


susan | September 9, 2008 - 8:36am

Zingers and sex. A CNN poll just out shows men overwhelmingly prefer Palin to Biden, and think she's ready to be president. Women aren't so sure. So, for the first 150 years of this nation (fuzzy math, sorry) women didn't have the vote. Maybe it's time to try 150 years without the men.

Speaking of zingers, in a congressional race in MN years ago, a dopey TV anchor named Rod Grams beat an intelligent woman named Ann Wynia. In a debate they were both asked about their plans to reduce juvenile crime. Ann gave a 3 part plan, which included opening school gyms on weekends and evenings so kids could play basketball or other sports, and how she'd pay for it. Buildings are heated and sitting empty, let's us them. With a big doofy grin, Grams answered, "There's the difference between me and Ann right there. She wants the throw these trouble-makers a basketball. I want to throw them in prison." Roar of approval from the crowd. Yep, it's in the zingers. And in the one debate I watched of Palin during her gubernatorial campaign, she got in a few zingers. But don't forget Biden's good one on Giulliani, the three word sentence thing. We can do this.