Elite are very tired of losing presidential elections. In the natural order of things, the national elite (media, entertainment industry and arts, academia, govern- ment bureaucrats, Wall Street and Silicon Valley, liberal churches, nonprofits, foundations)—the meritocracy—run America from their bi-coastal base. Since 1968, several Republican presidents have gotten in the way, even though the media, by undermining the president’s popularity (media's biggest failure: Ronald Reagan in his first six years), still control the national debate. The elite believe the country runs better when one of their own is in the White House. Obama preaches change, but his election is about restoring the meritocracy's control of Washington, the status quo that prevailed from Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy, and again under Bill Clinton.
Obama is non-threatening. Here from Linda Chavez, a former Reagan and Bush 41 administration official, quoting from Obama’s memoir to explain how Obama has gotten away with avoiding discussions of his drug use. “It was the same technique he used on his mother when she confronted him in his senior year of high school: ‘I had given her a reassuring smile and patted her hand and told her not to worry, I wouldn't do anything stupid. It was usually an effective tactic, another of those tricks I had learned: People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves.’" Obama’s people skills have helped him with voters who don’t share his liberal policies. The media revel in Obama’s skills, spotted them early, and believe he will win where earlier liberals Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, and McGovern lost.
Elite/Obama know best. Southerners Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter ran centrist, evangelically-friendly campaigns that successfully gained Middle America’s support. But Obama isn’t compromising his liberal orthodoxy to reach beyond the elite’s natural base: the meritocracy including special interest groups led by their own elites (feminists, labor, minorities). He believes he can win by emphasizing pocketbook issues—jobs, healthcare, direct payments—rebuilding the Democratic coalition of 1932-64, when the Great Depression and popular mistrust in business led to greater government control. It’s good old Marxism, socialism, or what Isaiah Berlin called “positive liberty.” An elite, the proletariat’s vanguard, uses government power to bring the masses nearer to equality (even if the overall economy weakens). Thus for over a year, the media have helped Democrats pursue their classic path to power by emphasizing America’s economic difficulties. And now we have Wall Street’s financial crisis.
Elite’s straw enemy: business. Roosevelt viewed the enemy as “malefactors of great wealth.” Unregulated expansion of business power, among other factors, helped produce the Great Depression. But those who sought to expand government needed an enemy, and rich capitalists (class warfare) worked for Democrats as they had for Bolsheviks in Russia and democratic socialists in Western Europe. By 2008, it’s wearing a bit thin. The movie “Iron Man” includes some Taliban-like villains in what seems to be Afghanistan, but the Afghans (?) are in fact manipulated by an evil, rich American capitalist, the movie’s true villain. It's so strange. Democratic fundraisers feast off the fruits of capitalism, Democratic national convention delegates out-earn their Republican counterparts, and liberal Democrats represent four of the five richest congressional districts. It’s all fake—a straw man. Democrats, rich, prosperous, successful, the national elite, struggle to find an enemy to mobilize against. An enemy, that is, other than the real one.
Real enemy is yahoos. Before the Panic of 2008, just two weeks ago, Obama was in trouble because once again, elite Democrats were caught looking down their noses at average Americans, as represented by Sarah Palin (see here and here.) Of course, educated Easterners and their West Coast cousins know more, know the world, and have earned the status they strive to protect. Screaming peasants, er right-wing Christians, armed with pitchforks, er guns, aren’t going to take the leadership’s castle, er positions, away from them. Don’t yahoos know that without the nobility, er meritocracy, the common folk would be much worse off?
For us, the peasants, the real enemy is the media. Quoting Dallas Morning News columnist Mark Davis:
This is the year that the mightiest networks and newspapers shed all pretense of even-handedness and willfully joined the Barack Obama campaign in a blood oath to defeat John McCain and savage Ms. Palin in the process. . . if the campaign staffers posing as reporters manage to succeed, the celebration will soon be dampened by the cold realization that the clout they once enjoyed is fading fast. . . The once-venerable media giants who used to be our only spigot for news may strive to win back audiences by rediscovering objectivity, but one wonders how many will notice that they are even trying.
An Obama victory may yet save the media.