RaceWire: Bigots for Obama


Bigots for Obama

A friend who lives in Philadelphia recently sent me this City Paper article, “The Fishtown Effect: Can You Be Racist and Vote for Obama?”, about a notoriously racist, low-income white neighborhood in the City of (Not for that Kind of) Brotherly Love. Will white racism cost Obama the election in key states like Pennsylvania and Ohio? I think any pollster who tells you she knows the answer for certain is probably full of it, given all the unknown factors.

But, this Fishtown article seems to suggest Obama can win the support of bigots at the polls given these hard economic times. It’s an interesting read for several reasons, including choice quotes like this one that give us a preview of what the policymaking climate around racial justice could be like under a President Obama. Asked if race would be an obstacle to the Illinois senator’s quest for the White House, a union carpenter supporting Obama responded:

“Not at all — not for anybody who’s a working man paying taxes. First of all, he’s not all black. And maybe if a black person gets in there to be president, it’ll keep all the crybabies from crying discrimination.”

Ahhh, can’t you just feel the warmth and coziness of “Post-Racial America,” y’all?


RedState: Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen’s DCCC makes $84,000 ad buy in attempt to save Murtha from himself


Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen’s DCCC makes $84,000 ad buy in attempt to save Murtha from himself

Two weeks ago, John Murtha (D-PA), the Vietnam veteran who is currently being suedby two former Marines for slandering them on national television as “cold-blooded killers,” let his “tolerant man of the people” mask slip and told his constituents outright what he thought of them: that they’re pathetic, dirty, unrepentant and unvarnished racists (video below).

Now, Congressional Democrat leaders are fighting to save his seat, dropping $84,000 on a Pittsburgh ad buy designed to smear Murtha’s Iraq war veteran Republican opponent worse than Murtha has already smeared himself.


Politico: ‘Rednecks’ cracks may cost Murtha


‘Rednecks’ cracks may cost Murtha

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) is in an unexpectedly tight race for an 18th term after effectively calling the constituents of his southwestern Pennsylvania district racists and rednecks.

Earlier this month, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board that “there’s no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area” in response to a question about Barack Obama’s prospects in his district. A week after apologizing, he told a local Pittsburgh TV station that “this whole area, years ago, was really redneck.”

Both comments were captured on videotape, and replayed constantly on local and cable news. Even “Saturday Night Live” got in the act, airing a parody of Murtha at a rally with a Joe Biden character making offensive comments. 

Though Murtha, the influential chairman of the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, has brought back $160 million in earmarks to his economically struggling district in the southwest of the state so far t

Newsweek: Keystone Politics: Murtha Backpedals from “Really Redneck” Comments

Newsweek: Keystone Politics

Murtha Backpedals from “Really Redneck” Comments

When John P. Murtha, a Democratic silverback from a nearby stretch of Appalachia, called western Pennsylvania a “racist area,” everybody seemed outraged, but no one was surprised. The truth or falsity of his remark factored into almost no one’s assessment —there was just horror that somebody said it at all. Trying to mend fences, Murtha later told a TV station that the area is vastly better than in years past. A scant five or 10 years ago, he said, it was “really redneck.” 

As the howls of outrage bounced off the hillsides, my mind turned back to the last day of November 1976, when I sat with some colleagues at the Old Keg bar on Main Street in Portage, Pa., in Cambria County. Then and now, it was the heart of the 12th Congressional District—the one Murtha had represented for nearly three years. Another 31 lay ahead of him and, behind him, an ageless history of race, immigration, ethnic identity, and class that had framed the place.

Washington Independent: ‘Real’ Pennsylvanians & the Murtha Backlash

Washington Independent

‘Real’ Pennsylvanians & the Murtha Backlash

Longtime Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Johnstown, Pa., is still revered in many circles for speaking out early against the Iraq war. But conservatives think he might be vulnerable this year because of his recent observation that “there is no question that Western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”

Murtha was explaining why he thought Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, faced a tough fight in that part of the state — though he expected Obama to win Pennsylvania. Later, Murtha inflamed voters even more when he noted that he actually meant to say people in his district were ” redneck” rather than “racist.”

Republicans were quick to jump on his remarks. Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee, cited Murtha’s remarks at a rally this week in Moon, Pa. McCain mangled his delivery a bit, but still managed to declare that “Western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most patriotic part of America.”

RedState: Jack Murtha expounds on his district’s redneck racists


Jack Murtha expounds on his district’s redneck racists

Congressman Okinawa Jack Murtha (D-PA-12) said that Obama would win his districtdespite the innate racism of his constituents. That did not sit very well with those constituents, and Murtha has finally decided to clarify his bad self to Pittsburgh’s WTAE Channel 4 Action News on Monday. According to Jack, naught buy five to ten years ago, the people of Western Pennsylvania were “rednecks.”

“What I said, that indicted everybody, that’s not what I meant at all. What I mean is there’s still folks that have a problem voting for someone because they are black,” Murtha said.

Murtha said the history of southwestern Pennsylvania is rife with racism.

Some, not all, of his constituents hate African Americans because they are black. Has he spoken to these people? Do they write to him to express these thoughts? What does he do about this? Does he warn businesses which might want to relocate into Pennsylvania’s 12th District that they’d better watch out because whole swaths of his constituents are hardened racists?

You know, this could be projection on Jack’s part. Jack Murtha, at 76, fits the profile of racists he just gave to WTAE. But no, it’s no more fair for me to assume that Murtha is an old racist than it is for him to assert the same of his older constituents.


Iowa Independent: Rural voting expert: ‘Just like you’ effect not as compelling this year

Iowa Independent

Rural voting expert: ‘Just like you’ effect not as compelling this year

In these increasingly anxious times, rural Americans won’t be as focused on the personality appeals that worked for George W. Bush in the last two elections, says an expert on rural voting patterns.

“The whole luxury of trying to find a president just like you may have worked under a certain circumstance,” Peter Francia, an East Carolina University political science professor, told the Iowa Independent

Francia predicts McCain will still win in rural America. The Center for Rural Strategies recently released a poll showing the Republican presidential ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin picking up support over Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But McCain has less of a lead this September than President George W. Bush did over John Kerry at around the same time in the 2004 election.

“The question is whether he wins rural American by a bigger margin than George W. Bush,” Francia said.

Francia said McCain is clearly going to continue attacking Barack Obama’s character, and going with the patriotism angle.

“That message plays well in rural America,” Francia said.

This cycle is challenging to compare to past ones because of the unprecedented strength of Obama’s grass-roots organizing and voter registration efforts.

There is still a “Bubba factor” in play.  White working class/rural voters may not be fessing up to pollsters about the racism that will ultimately inform their votes in November, Francia said. But Obama may have the organization to counter that.

“We’ll have to see which way that tug of war (goes),” Francia said.

Tahoo News: ‘Rednecks for Obama’ want to bridge yawning culture gap

Tahoo News

‘Rednecks for Obama’ want to bridge yawning culture gap

When Barack Obama‘s campaign bus made a swing through Missouri in July, the unlikeliest of supporters were waiting for him — or rather two of them, holding the banner: “Rednecks for Obama.”

In backing the first African-American nominee of a major party for the US presidency, the pair are on a grassroots mission to bridge a cultural gap in the United States and help usher their preferred candidate into the White House.

Tony Viessman, 74, and Les Spencer, 60, got politically active last year when it occurred to them there must be other lower income, rural, beer-drinking, gun-loving, NASCAR race enthusiasts fed up with business as usual in Washington.

Rednecks4obama.com claims more than 800,000 online visits. In Denver, Colorado, Viessman and Spencer drew crowds at the Democratic convention, and at Washington University last Thursday they were two of the most popular senior citizens on campus.

“I’m shocked, actually, but excited” that such a demographic would be organizing support for Obama, said student Naia Ferguson, 18, said after hamming it up for pictures behind the banner.

“When most people think ‘redneck,’ they think conservatives, anti-change, even anti-integration,” she said. “But America’s changing, breaking stereotypes.”

A southern comedian, Jeff Foxworthy, defines the stereotype as a “glorious lack of sophistication”.

Philistines or not, he said, most rural southerners are no longer proponents of the Old South’s most abhorrent ideology — racism — and that workaday issues such as the economy are dominating this year’s election.

“We need to build the economy from the bottom up, none of this trickle down business,” Spencer said. “Just because you’re white and southern don’t mean you have to vote Republican.”

To an important degree, however, race is still the elephant in the polling booth, experts say, and according to a recent Stanford University poll, Obama could lose six points onelection day due to his color.

Racism “has softened up some, but it’s still there,” Viessman acknowledged fromBelmont University, site of Tuesday’s McCain-Obama debate in Nashville, Tennessee.


Weekly Standard blog: Bill Clinton on the ‘Cracker Vote’

Weekly Standard blog (9/24/08)

Bill Clinton on the ‘Cracker Vote’

Via Ben Smith, Bill Clinton tells CNN’s Larry King in an interview about his plans to help Obama win Florida:

“You know, they think that because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the ‘cracker vote’ there.”

Is Clinton intentionally trying to stir up racial resentment by saying that “they” (presumably the Obama campaign) want him to “hustle up … the ‘cracker vote'”? According to a search in Nexis, Clinton has never publicly used the phrase “cracker vote” before now. Lawton Chiles did use the word “cracker” in a non-pejorative manner, once during a campaign event with Clinton in 1996 according to a Hearst newspapers story:

“I know this fella from Arkansas,” boasted Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles as he introduced Bill Clinton to a Democratic fund-raising reception in this GOP stronghold. “And I can tell you he knows how to speak cracker.”

There’s been a lot of paranoid speculation in this election that certain people are trying to play the race card. Clinton’s usage is the latest evidence that it’s the Democrats who are the race-obsessed party in this cycle.

USA Today: Armey: ‘Bubba vote’ to hurt Obama

USA Today(9/3/08):

Armey: ‘Bubba vote’ to hurt Obama

The “Bubba vote” and underlying racism will hurt Democrat Barack Obama in key battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, former House majority leader Dick Armey said Wednesday. “The Bubba vote is there and it’s very real and it is everywhere,” Armey told reporters for USA TODAY and Gannett News Service. “There’s an awful lot of people in America, bless their heart, who simply are not emotionally prepared to vote for a black man in this country.