What’s profoundly depressing about the current chapter in the presidential election race is that the smart, informed, semi-educated segment has pretty much made up its mind about Obama vs. McCain, and from here to November the race is necessarily about appealing to the asleep-at-the-wheel types — under- educated podunks, racists, citizens of Bumblefuck, slow on the pickup.
And these people — say it, admit it — have a way of bringing everyone down that is truly relentless and numbing. They’re basically the slow, scowling pudgy guy in the back of the class who rarely does his homework, is always scratching himself and smells like he’s just scarfed down some fast-food chicken.
In her 8.3 N.Y. Times column, Maureen Dowd has portrayed this sinister situation by the lights of Jane Austen:
“In this political version of Pride and Prejudice, the prejudice is racial, with only 31 percent of white voters telling The New York Times in a survey that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 83 percent of blacks.
“And the prejudice is visceral: many Americans, especially blue collar, still feel uneasy about the Senate’s exotic shooting star, and he is surrounded by a miasma of ill-founded and mistaken premises.
“So the novelistic tension of the 2008 race is this: Can Obama overcome his pride and Hyde Park hauteur and win America over?
“Can America overcome its prejudice to elect the first black president? And can it move past its biases to figure out if Obama’s supposed conceit is really just the protective shield and defense mechanism of someone who grew up half white and half black, a perpetual outsider whose father deserted him and whose mother, while loving, sometimes did so as well?
“Can Miss Bennet teach Mr. Darcy to let down his guard, be more sportive, and laugh at himself?”