Obama, Street Money, and Webb's Kidz

Pat Ryan

On this day before the latest Big Tuesday I should be out edging the lawn or something because it looks like Clinton is gonna take Indiana by a few points and Obama is gonna take North Carolina by a few more points. Rachel Maddow had the best summary of the whole deal going forward (roughly):

If Clinton wins both races by even one vote, she will have ammo for the Fully Automatic Super Duper Delegates. If Obama wins both races by even one vote, she's done. If they split the two states, regardless of margin, we're exactly in the same place on Wednesday that we were in on Monday.

After the Pennsylvania/Rev. Wright primary, we were assured by Clinton and the majority of the Chattering Class that if Obama couldn't win with all that money, there was simply something wrong with his campaign. Like a bunch of Republican pinheads going after the Evil Soros, while ignoring the actual Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (TM Sidney Bumenthal) to subvert the national dialogue, funded over decades by Murdoch,Coors, Scaife, Olin, Bradley, and Ford; Ms. Clinton and Mr. Blumenthal have now happily thrown in their lot with their erstwhile tormentors and they are all BFFs. So too, have the Clintons and the press forgotten to mention the ancient and creaking Democratic Machine that still dominates elections in the Rust Belt and in New England. No surprise, as that Machine, although orginally started by Irish immigrants and perpetuated for decades by a variety of ethnic groups, is currently backing Clinton across the board and across the Northeastern United States.

There was a little noticed story about Obama's flat refusal pay Street Money to the ward heelers in Philly and Pittsburg, but this is in keeping with his quixotic belief that telling voters the truth might be a welcome........er....... Change. So too, when the McClintons decided to pander on the gas tax, Obama called 'em out. Risky stuff, but this incessant pandering is one of the main excuses used by the Boys at the Diner, The Hardhats and their ideological ancestors The Hillbillies in the Hollers to stay disengaged, because:

They're All Crooks

In defense of The Boys, every time they've interacted directly with the gummint since around the time of the Roman empire, It's gone badly for them. These Celtic brawlers are described by Senator James Webb in his book Born Fighting: The Scots-Irish first emigrated to the U.S., 200,000 to 400,000 strong, in four waves during the 18th century, settling primarily in Appalachia before spreading west and south. Webb's thesis is that the Scots-Irish, with their rugged individualism, warrior culture built on extended familial groups (the "kind of people who would die in place rather than retreat") and an instinctive mistrust of authority, created an American culture that mirrors these traits.--From Amazon review

Now the way that Dems have won in my lifetime has been to go after all of the various self identified downtrodden greivance groups individually, pull them into one big net before the general and try to eke out a win. It's a poor, tired, and divisive strategy that is made most effective in recent decades by demonizing White males as the Oppressors. They then pay The Machine, which of course is often run by the self same White males, to turn 'em out in the northeastern cities, write off the South (those hillbillies again) and, by pandering to the Likud Party Line in the fifty first state of Israel, try to get Florida and California. The whole concept actually feeds and perpetuates the corruption that we all supposedly repudiate.

Obama imagines that he can talk directly and honestly to the members of this culture, IDed variously as NASCAR Dads, Blue Collar Voters, Rednecks, Reagan Democrats and so on. I personally think that he needs a little help. In Dreams From my Father, Obama goes on an oddessy of discovery and gets some real insight into a variety of flavors of America and the World, and we see that in his Race Speech, delivered in Philly following the First Wright Eruption. In that speech, he does reach out to these White Guys that are not part of the fabled White Male Power Structure.

In order to go up against The Machine, and The Vast Hillary Clinton/Right Wing Conspiracy, he really needs someone like Webb at his side, or at the very least, he needs to study up on Webb's take on this hugely influential subgroup of American culture.

Obama/Webb in '08. 

Comments

  • Greg (unverified)
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    That would be a great idea, but don't you think it's dangerous to open Webb's seat back up to George "Macaca" Allen so soon after it was flipped?

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    I had read something briefly about the Street Money and wondered how it played out in Philadelphia for Obama. But, of course, no whisper of it ever reached the MSM. This stubborn attachment to principle is not something newspapers (or, god forbid, television) likes to acknowledge, nor are they keen on taking a hard look at political machines across the country -- not in this century, anyway. Perfectly OK to talk about Tammany Hall, which is all quaint history, but nothing about how politics is still done, especially in the northeast and mid-Atlantic.

    It's a damn shame that the great writers on The Wire aren't cranking out copy for the Times and the Post.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    As someone who has McElroy and McHenry blood in the veins, my first response to your story here Pat was to get in the car, drive to Sandy, and punch you out. (Well, not really, but it did cross my mind.)

    But, unfortunately for my street cred as a fighter, I happen to agree with you.

    It's really time for a new paradigm for the "Democratic Majority" - like "rational people", or "patriots", "making government work", etc.

    As for Webb, we have talked here in Prineville about him being the "ideal" VP.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    The Philadelphia "street money" rigamarole was in fact covered in The Oregonian, I believe. And if you do a Goggle search on the key words

    philadelphia "street money"

    the first result returned is a Los Angeles Times article. So I don't know what in the world Mr. Ryan is referring to when he writes that this was "a little noticed story," or why Jeffrane writes that no whisper of [the street money story] ever reached the MSM." If the LA Times isn't MSM, please tell me what it is.

    As for Jim Webb's ethnographic speculations, beats me. You can still find people flogging the idea that the English spoken in the Appalachians is a relic Elizabethan English. Problem is, professional linguists will tell you this idea is ludicrous.

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    I had read something briefly about the Street Money and wondered how it played out in Philadelphia for Obama. But, of course, no whisper of it ever reached the MSM.

    Actually, to the extent it was covered, the question was all about how stupid Obama was to take the stand he did and how the "volunteers" would suffer economic hardship.

    As someone who has McElroy and McHenry blood in the veins, my first response to your story here Pat was to get in the car, drive to Sandy, and punch you out.

    Two points:

    1) Hey, they're my people too, Steve. 2) I'm just about positive that I can outrun you.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Re the Scots-Irish portrait. They are like any other large grouping of people. They have and have had the best and worst of people with most somewhere in between. That comes from someone of Farquharson heritage.

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    So I don't know what in the world Mr. Ryan is referring to when he writes that this was "a little noticed story," or why Jeffrane writes that no whisper of [the street money story] ever reached the MSM." If the LA Times isn't MSM, please tell me what it is.

    One article in the LA Times and virtually no follow-up after the primary is little-noticed. And little-covered. All that was reported later was that "Clinton won Pennsylvania" (just like she "won" Texas), with no analysis at all other than "them white hicks just won't vote for a black man."

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    Pat,

    As an almost full blooded Scots-Irish I loved this piece even if I resent the implications to my heritage. My children laugh at the stories of our family's disastrous record in clan fighting, which is probably why my side of the family left for Canada instead of West Virginia.

  • John Mulvey (unverified)
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    The street money thing gave Obama the kind of press most candidates would kill for. (I'm not sure how you folks are searching, but I found it covered in both Philly dailies, the NY Times, and Reuters, just on the first page of hits.)

    The only reason it doesn't seem so is that Obama fans have gotten so used to the press's double standard that they get irate when it isn't fawning enough.

    just like she "won" Texas

    This is another of the canards that Obama's "progressive" supporters toss around: as if to say, "isn't it great that our guy managed to scam more delegates, even though Hillary got more votes?"

    Yet again, principles fall by the wayside...

    John

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    First, as far as walking around money, I've heard at least two African-American talkradio hosts in addition to Michael Smerconish say that Obama completely misunderstood how "walking around money" works in Philly. They swore that it's a very different process than New Jersey's in that the money is actually doled out to cover your gas if you're driving voters to the polls, your lunch and some snacks if you're volunteering the whole day, etc. It is, in their opinion, a pretty legitimate process. One guy guessed that Obama fell 200,000 votes short in greater Philly because of his righteousness... enough to have taken the state.

    Second, you make a good case but I'll buy it only if you can show me an election since John Kennedy's when the Vice President actually moved electoral votes. I grew up in the rural south and I have college educated friends back home who are beer-drinking, gun-owning NASCAR fans (two out of three of which describe me) who also believe that Obama is a Muslim mole. Nobody in the Veep slot is going to change that.

    Finally, Obama has said quite openly that his Vice President is going to be somebody with strong organizational skills and an even stronger expertise in domestic issues. I propose Russ Feingold- as liberal as Obama, as intelligent as Obama, an even better debater, and an asset in certain religious communities. AND we just barely won Wisconsin in 2004.

  • Taylor M (unverified)
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    This is another of the canards that Obama's "progressive" supporters toss around: as if to say, "isn't it great that our guy managed to scam more delegates, even though Hillary got more votes?"

    Yet again, principles fall by the wayside...

    Are you joking John? The Texas Democratic Party rules called for seating 1/3 of the state's primary delegates via a caucus. Where's the scam in having a strong caucus turnout and playing by the rules? You can argue with the structure of the primary system, sure, but its no given that a primary vote is inherently more principled than a caucus.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Per the Texas caucus, there is a lengthy posting on the Taylor Marsh (gag) website alleging widespread fraud and coercion by Obama supporters in the Texas primary.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Jeffrane--Hillary Clinton most certainly did win the Pennsylvania primary (bummer), so I don't know why you put the ironic quotes around "win". I wish she hadn't, but reality intrudes.

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    They swore that it's a very different process than New Jersey's in that the money is actually doled out to cover your gas if you're driving voters to the polls, your lunch and some snacks if you're volunteering the whole day, etc. It is, in their opinion, a pretty legitimate process.

    I think that we get that, but I've been volunteering on Oregon camaigns for the last four cycles, and the money always flows the other way. No one's paid me a thin dime to get out there for my candidate.

    The process whether legal or no, fosters the corruption of connections that is prevalent in those geographic areas. People raised in a sewer do not gag at the smell of excrement, but it doesn't mean that the are clean only that they are normal.

    Obam is trying to redefine normal.

    And no, I don't know if it's gonna work, but if it does, the country can say we've taken at least one step out of a thirty year nightmare.

    Risky but worth a try.

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    Sorry, Pat-

    I don't know you but I have to suspect that you're not living in and under the conditions of people in Philadelphia's ghettos and slums. I suspect you don't work for minimum wage. I suspect that you could afford to take off a day (or two) from work without putting your utility bill at risk.

    I could go on, but I suspect you get my point. There are people who can afford to volunteer in political campaigns and people who can't. Sometimes, in some places, "walking around money" makes the difference and it doesn't have to be all about corruption and slime.

    It can simply be about reality as we find it.

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    Interesting post, Pat, though I think that Webb's stuff is historical bunkum, and that if you look at the folks you're talking about around the country a lot of them have ancestors from Poland or Slovenia or Italy or or or -- and of the Irish descended ones, the Catholic Irish Irish outnumber the Protestant Scots-Irish considerably.

    But your basic point remains. However, one should also say that liberal multi-culturalism that fails to deal adequately with class issues affecting white men did not invent that divide. White working men are not part of the ruling class an never have been. But large chunks of them were getting persuaded that it was in their own best interests to support Jim Crow (even when the disfranchisement laws prevented a significant group of poor whites from voting) or to participate in a long string of urban anti-black pogroms not only the Southeast but in the Northeast, the northeastern Midwest, and the Midwest, between the 1890s (Wilmington NC) and 1940s (NYC and Detroit). Until the 1960s, that's what "race riot" meant -- white crowds invading black neighborhoods.

    But the working class of all colors has been getting hammered for several decades now, and the scapegoat politics of Reaganism has about run its course, and one of the good things that could come from an Obama victory is if he really does follow up on the vision he laid out in that speech, which refuses the lie that looking at the just claims of any of those who have been hurt requires denying the claims of others.

    I noticed an Obama ad the other night that used the phrase "repair the world." That is an ancient Jewish ethical injunction about what we are meant to do, tikkun which I have always liked since I first learned of it. There's a quotation from a Jewish sage that seems in the same spirit and also a good expression of the ideals Obama is standing for rhetorically: "If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?"

    Your Likud line seems somewhat off to me -- actually it applies if at all to New York and its retirement extension in Florida (though we saw how well that worked for Rudy Giuliani). But California? C'mon. Tom Lantos was one guy.

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    Oh, and I forgot the struggles within the working class and the white working class over racial exclusivism in unions, and the 2nd KKK aimed as much at Catholics and Jews as blacks and hispanics (& filipinos on the West Coast), and let me tell you some time about my interesting experiences in renting in New Haven, in terms of some of the "advantages" some potential landlords & landladies used to tell my white self about their neighborhoods.

    I know you know all that's real an are agin' it, it's just that the problem is holding it all in our heads at the same time without having them explode. That was what was so remarkable about Obama's speech.

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    Larry,

    Suspect what you will. I know both poverty and corruption up close and personal. I've lived it for years at a time in my younger days. Corrupt societies that work on the spoils system are directly destructive to the poor whether they are in Paraguay or Philadelphia, and the mindset needed to thrive in such a culture does additional long term damage in breeding cynicism and hopelessness.

    Getting a bribe once every two years from the Democratic Party is not a make or break for any individual.

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    Chris, I do believe that you miss the point when you write:

    I think that Webb's stuff is historical bunkum, and that if you look at the folks you're talking about around the country a lot of them have ancestors from Poland or Slovenia or Italy or or or -- and of the Irish descended ones, the Catholic Irish Irish outnumber the Protestant Scots-Irish considerably.

    First, I'm more generally citing the Celts, while Webb is focusing more specifically on the Scots-Irish.

    Second, the argument is that rather than being culturally aligned with English culture like say Canada or New Zeland, we are more culturally aligned with the remnants of the Outliers of the island kingdom. What Webb alleges is that this culture strongly informs American culture whther they be of Irish, Polish, African, or whatever antecedent, similar to the way that Australian culture has the distinctive flavor of its penal colony roots while New Zeland doesn't.

    <hr/>

    One example is of a friend who while stationed in Germany in the early 70s, American GIs would routinely brawl and make up in bars while the German customers were mystified and horrified by the behavior.

    So too, the German and Scandinavian immigrants may have offered their discreet flavors to the American mix in the upper midwest, but the warrior culture described by Webb now defines Americans regardless of ethnicity, in some ways worldwide, for both good and ill.

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