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The person I really don't want to have a burger and a beer with is Jeffrey Goldberg. After some of the revolting neo-con crap he has had peddled in "The New Yorker" over the last six years, I don't see how he feels capable of lecturing anyone else about anything.

And David Remnick, the editor, has still not apologized for his "Notes and Comments" piece urging us to invade Iraq, but somehow everyone seems to have forgotten about that little boo-boo. A pox on both their houses, and sorry to come off so angry, but really, how stupid do they think we all are?

Kevin Wolf

The wonder of all this is that anybody bought (or buys) the idea that Bush has the common touch.

Good analysis, Lance.

blue girl

Ever see the video the Heretik had up awhile aback of some of Bush's greatest moments as POTUS? (No fishing clip)

He was waiting to go on Letterman, I think, and used this one woman's blouse shirttail to clean his glasses.

It was a spontaneous moment caught on film that showed exactly what Bush is. Takes what he wants when he wants it.

He's got the common touch all right.

Exiled in New Jersey

I can still remember Bush the Father going shopping back in 1991; that was probably the last time our Media Elite said something disparaging about a GOP candidate.

David Parsons

Oh, I *hate hate hate* these stories about farmers getting irate about people even suggesting that they go organic. My father-in-law is part owner of a large chunk of fields that used to be a dairy farm before he decided to shut the thing down because it wasn't profitable.

Since I live in (and grew up in a [different] part) a part of the country where small farms have jumped over to being organic farms (not much of a jump; it's more like jumping back to the 1940s) as a way to actually make a living from farming, I had to ask "did you consider switching to organic farming?"

Oh, no, not even worth considering. You see, organic farms Are Not Profitable(tm), and the only thing to do was to close down this farm
(non-organic) because it was not making any money.

So now the only thing this farm does (to avoid being rezoned as housing, which would make the land worth (and taxed at the value of) approximately 100 million dollars) is to grow feedstock for the contract horsefarm that sits on one-third of the land.

But, heavens, a politicians wife, particularly one who was involved with a family that made its money producing food products, can't make any suggestions about farming methods because it would offend factory farmers.

Argh. The one farming method that the factory farms can't do or compete against and YOU CAN'T MENTION IT BECAUSE IT WILL OFFEND SOME FARMERS. Sheesh. Whatever happened to "listening to what the customers want?"

(Actually, I should be pissed off at Mr. Goldberg for retelling this little story, because it's part of the traditional mau-mauing of the left that's so in fashion these days, but I've come to expect that the east coast press will act like a mob of inbred courtiers. The equally traditional spectacle of farmers cutting off their noses to spite their faces annoys me more because I've seen and heard it repeatedly inside my own family.)


Just to follow up on your point about "someone like me"; I never -and still don't- felt Bush is anyone's "someone like me". The guy's never had to work hard, he pro'lly never knew the price of a pint of milk, and you would get escorted off his ranch if you came to him with your troubles. Or leave the White House surrounded by Secret Service men. Unless there were a camera-team present. Bush's common-man touch is a myth, it's little more than knowing to play up a few populist hot-buttons that makes you think he's there for you.


I think this is basically Tom Frank's point in What's the Matter with Kansas. I think his argument is flawed in places but basically right. While I do think that organic farming is more ethical, etc, i know that many southerners would have regarded THK's speech as condescending, as a way of saying "we know better." I'm not saying that organic farming isn't better--I believe it is--but I do know many southerners who found THK arrogant or pushy (which isn't really fair to her, of course).

While Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" became something of a joke, it worked. People felt like they could have a burger (or ribs) and beer with the guy, that he was learning from the people who spoke to him (and not the other way around).

As someone who has spend a fair amount of time in the south, I'd agree that Gore is not perceived as a southerner. That might not be fair, but perception matters. Elections are very much about affect and only marginally about policy. I don't think a candidate has to be from the south to win the presidency, but Kerry and Gore, to a lesser extent, come across as elitist, and that plays into the populist fervor that Republicans use so well.


There is a starkly obvious and completely unstated case of discimination here. There is a myth propogated in our culture that liberal elite Northeasterners look down patronizingly on those in "the heartland". The real truth is that those in this alleged heartland have an unreasoning hatred for those from the Northeast.

I remember talk from the primary season of '04. Pundits questioned the wisdom of Democrats intent on nominating someone who was not from the south. It was widely accepted as close-minded to nominate Kerry or Dean, because they couldn't win any Southern states. This was stated without any shame or irony. It didn't occur to these pundits that it was the people of the South who were being close-minded.

No - it just goes without saying that nobody from Pennsylvania or points upward and Eastward has ever worked for a living, experienced hardship, cooked an ordinary non-gourmet meal, played with their children or genuinely loved their wife.

Voters in the Northeast are perfectly willing to believe that politicians from the midwest are brilliant, or that those from the South are true humanitarians. We will vote beyond the stereotypes. Those in the South and Midwest will not.

You can go ahead and say that a Northeasterner can't win the presidency, it is probably accurate. But don't back it up with this "have a beer" garbage. The truth is that the preponderance of people in the South and Midwest have foolish, inaccurate prejudices against those from the Northeast that are not nearly reciprocated, therefore, it is logical to cater to those prejudices if you want to win.


Blech, I'm so tired of this theme. Very few people are great public speakers. Very few people have an effortless public presence. It would be great if we could have Gore's integrity and Clinton's charisma all wrapped up in one perfect package. But Clinton's charisma can't be isolated from the rest of his political legacy, because it's all part of the whole package, and that package contains a lot of flaws. So I wish people would stop being so nostalgic about him. It seems to me that if you can get a candidate with some integrity and a good mind and a pragmatic streak, you're in pretty good shape. Gore has these things, and he won the popular vote in 2000. Not that you'd know it from reading or hearing about him in the media (the New Yorker included). Bush was packaged from Day One. He has no political skills beyond his detachment from reality and his incredible partisan instincts -- these have taken him a long way, thanks to Karl Rove and . . . yes, the media. But they have nothing to do with being a man of the people. And another thing: I'm tired of hearing about how elitist the Democrats are -- this is a rightwing talking point that has been spoonfed to the media and rammed down our throats ever since Roosevelt (FDR, that is). It's garbage.


This seems to be one of the few blogs where I feel like I shouldn't leave short comments, but instead put some drive into it.

Alas, can't do that at the moment. ... as I have to drive somewhere else, soon.

Lance's piece bugs me and it doesn't quite strike me as accurate, or maybe it's trying to say too much. But I'm not sure exactly why.

I think Mary was closest with her point that a lot of peoiple have bought into the idea that the American public didn't like Gore and that's because they saw him through the NATIONAL media filter, which sought to break him apart as a person.

But he won the popular vote. Popular. He WAS the popular "kid", not the nerd.

That's all I've got ... for now.


Temple: Winning the "popular" vote does not imply that there was NOT a perception of Al Gore as (for lack of a better term) a "nerd" Nor does it imply the opposite. The point is that there was a general perception of him being more aloof and standoffish than his competitor, who was perceived (or presented by the MSM) as more accessible, more down to earth.

More people cast their vote for the aloof candidate than the homey guy. That in itself does not diminish the fact that, to some, Al Gore was (and possibly still is) perceived, or presented in the MSM, as a "nerd."


Voters thought they'd like to have a beer with Bush I? With Nixon? And JFK had the common touch?

Sorry, I don't buy this. This is yet another one of those intellectual exercises for Dems to get lost in their own heads thinking about, while Republicans take us to the cleaners. If Heartland voters really think that people like George W. Bush and Ann Coulter really want to hang out with them, and think they understand their issues (let alone give a fuck about them), maybe they really are as stupid as they think we think they are.


Nobody, certainly not me, is arguing that Gore was the perfect candidate. Quite the opposite: I'm arguing that there are, by definition, NO perfect candidates. Gore's shortcomings as a public speaker and personality were, however, more than outweighed by his strengths. And, despite a media that harped on his inauthenticity (which was, I'd say, much more damaging than the the focus on his "nerdiness," and a much more egregious media creation), people voted for Gore, Enough people to get him elected. That's the point. The Democrats getting lost in their own heads about this because people like Goldberg keep writing articles that urge the Democrats to get lost in their own heads about this. I do wish the Dems would stop worrying about what the media says, esp. given the fact that over the past several years the media's day-to-day coverage of conservatives vs. progressives (i.e., Republicans vs. Democrats) couldn't be more biased -- if you don't believe me (or your own eyes and ears), see a recent Media Matters piece:

So, in other words, the media is a huge obstacle for the Dems. It's not insurmountable but it's substantial. And most of us, in one way or another, have internalized the message that the Dems are weak, ineffectual, inauthentic, gutless, out of touch with the heartland, or some such garbage. They're no more gutless than they've ever been, and certainly no more inauthentic than the Republicans. So please, please, can we please stop writing blog posts about this non-issue?

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