Commentary Magazine


So It Does Matter?

Remember the flood of anger that poured forth from the Left over the temerity ABC’s moderators displayed in asking Barack Obama irrelevant, petty, and distracting questions? Well, now a few are letting on that this is the stuff that really matters. Joe Klein writes that

most people make their choice on the basis of “low-information signaling” — that is, stupid things like whether you know how to roll a bowling ball or wear an American-flag pin.

He goes on:

In the course of six weeks, the American people learned that he was a member of a church whose pastor gave angry, anti-American sermons, that he was “friendly” with an American terrorist who had bombed buildings during the Vietnam era, and that he seemed to look on the ceremonies of working-class life — bowling, hunting, churchgoing and the fervent consumption of greasy food — as his anthropologist mother might have, with a mixture of cool detachment and utter bemusement. All of which deepened the skepticism that Caucasians, especially those without a college degree, had about a young, inexperienced African-American guy with an Islamic-sounding name and a highfalutin fluency with language. And worse, it raised questions among the elders of the party about Obama’s ability to hold on to crucial Rust Belt bastions like Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey in the general election — and to add long-suffering Ohio to the Democratic column.

I imagine the apology letters to ABC’s moderators are in the mail. Klein is not alone: more pundits are stepping forward to acknowledge sheepishly that all this “noise,” all this distraction, is precisely what has decided many elections. There is an air of “Obama is just too good for us” about this. But we already knew that–from the man’s own lips, via Snobgate.