Pennsylvania minus five weeks

Another thread for discussion of matters American. Since the last instalment we’ve seen Barack Obama win Mississippi 61-37 (19-14 in delegate terms), before running into his first bit of serious campaign turbulence courtesy of the audaciously hopeful Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,202 comments on “Pennsylvania minus five weeks”

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  1. 51 – Diogenes

    Still its unbelievable he still has a higher approval rating then Brendan Nelson, given the monumental stuff ups of his adminstration. I really wonder at the mentality of those that still support Bush.

  2. Already I grow weary of the race debate, and it was only renewed a few days ago.

    But I would just recommend this: anybody who wants to comment on the Obama speech should – without doubt – actually go and watch/listen to the speech. Or at the very least read it, but watching it is an episode in itself. Even if it’s just in the background as you work on something else, do yourself this favour.

    Do not simply read media excerpts and form a judgement based on what a few CNN commentators say. Because you are just deluding yourselves – and some would argue depriving yourselves. It’s impossible to grasp the entirety of what he is trying to say with a few soundbites.

    Apart from that, I have nothing really to say on the issue. It’s one of those issues where I think my opinion is utterly unimportant. As to the politics of it, well, nobody has a clue until Gallop gives us one, right?

    Anyway, here is the speech if you fancy a quick and easy link.

  3. Jeez Ron – well if the electorate is that thick and fickle I guess there was nothing Obama could have done. Personally I’m not a bit concerned, because he said all the right things and did not fall into the trap of either/or. He came out stronger and more credible in my opinion. If the US voters think otherwise, well I can wear that, but I don’t believe they will dump him.
    This sort of dirt by association was always going to happen. There is nothing at all in this, nothing.
    Why has it changed so much for you Fletcher?

  4. 52 asanque-

    There’s a fantastic book someone here put me on to called “Deer Hunting with Jesus” by Baigent. I strongly recommend you read it. It’s about the huge hidden population of rednecks on the US. I’ve always used the term “redneck” as a derogatory remark but I really learnt a lot about them and came to understand why they see the world the way they do. I lost all of my contempt for them after reading it, and I sort of like them now, although I have nothing in common with them ideologically.

    These people like Bush, and the Democrats have totally stuffed things by disenfranchising an entire population who could easily be voting for them.

  5. Diogenes [jv @ 46- Sorry but Rhodes scholars go to Oxford not Cambridge.]
    Thanks for that – but I understood there was an arrangement between Oxbridge for the Rhodes dolphins to be accommodated on the Cambridge campus, as there is a pool 🙂

  6. 31% approve of Bush?

    That’s an astonishing proportion of the population who are medically braindead! LOL

    I watched a collection of US citizens on PBS tonight, and even for reasonably articulate people, their ignorance of even basic aspects of Iraq was astonishing. Even the woman of Arabic extraction and the guy who’d been there as a soldier, referred to things ‘getting better’ for those people who previously ‘feared Saddam’. They never uttered the words Shia or Sunni, never spoke of the deep ethnic cleansing which has turned say, Baghdad, into a predominantly Shiite city. So, if a Shiite neighbourhood was now ‘safe’, then to them, all of Iraq was somehow ‘safe’. They were of course Republicans, and they could only regurgitate the party propaganda of how grateful Iraqis were to be ‘liberated’!

    Of course none of them spoke of Iran’s influence and how it is now the dominant politcal force in the Shiite government…that’s off-limits to the Republican faithful.

    Talk about ‘brainwashed’!

  7. 20
    Ron Says:

    Blogers questioned if Reverend Wright expressed racist views:

    Obama thought so. In his speech he said:
    “they (Wright’s views) expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country
    – a view that sees white racism as endemic”

    Are you claiming there isn’t a great deal of racism directed against black American’s by white Americans? Until reatively recently not only was “white racism” endemic, it was institutionalised and mandated by law.

    Wright talks of “the BLACK Jesus vilified by the WHITE unbelievers

    If there was indeed a historical Jesus he was likely closer in colour to Wright than the blue eyed blonde Jesus depicted in many churches in this country and I assume also in American churches with predominately white congregations. It is also likely that whites have vilified Him far more than others, if only because they’ve had a longer association.

    Wright constantly says: “white Christianity” &

    For most of its history Christianity has indeed mostly been the religion of Europeans and most Christians belong to a domination with predominately white leaderships.

    the United States of white america

    Is not the U.S. a predominately white ruled nation where you are far more likely to succeed if you are white?

    Blogers questioned if Reverend Wright expressed extremist views:
    The USA is as bad as Al Quaeda

    Guess that depends on how you measure “bad” Certainly, the U.S. has killed and abused far more innocents than Al Queda in the last decade.

    The government (implied US) injected black people with aids to spread genocide

    In the early days there was a widespread belief that the AIDS virus was an engineered bug. More on that at

    While I don’t believe it occured, give that belief coupled with the history of abuses against African-Americans I can understand why some may continue to think this. It isn’t unusually for people to continue to hold onto a belief long after it has been disproved. A current example is the number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children because they believe these are contaminated with chemicals that cause disorders such as autism.

    The US brought 9/11 on themselves

    I could mount a strong case for this being so. Certainly, those responsible didn’t launch the attack on a whim, or pick America out of a hat. At the time bin Laden released a list of grievances against America. Interestingly, the U.S. government has since addressed most of them.

  8. #56 – jv – [Thanks for that – but I understood there was an arrangement between Oxbridge for the Rhodes dolphins to be accommodated on the Cambridge campus, as there is a pool] – just like Obambi’s technique, got caught out, then blame your grandma.

  9. #36

    MC, thanks for your views. I’m sure many Clinton supporters would agree with you.

    One point I would make is that Obama’s seemingly easy entry into the IL Legislature and into the US Senate does not mean that he doesn’t have the capacity to fight McCain for the presidency. (…or maybe his luck will continue on the road to the White House!)

    At any rate, his race speech this week just goes to show that this guy has real guts. If it were Clinton, she would have done the predictable thing and the Republicans would have already planned for it, that is, to disown Wright completely and probably even lie about how often she attended the church, anything to distance herself from the issue as much as possible.

    But, as Obama proved yesterday, and at other times in this campaign, he has an ability to change the rules, which will throw the Republicans into a tailspin. This is why the Republicans will find it so much harder to beat him than Hillary.

    While Hillary, as president, would provide some much-needed policies, such as healthcare, and maybe a (slightly) less hawkish foreign policy, she is really just cast in the same mold as many of the leaders who came before her, playing the same old game with the same old rules.

    Obama, however, reflects a new style of politics, at least for now. This is not a slogan. It is actually reflected in his views and his approach. While this difference irritates you, perhaps because it doesn’t fit the usual rules, it is nevertheless the reason why he has gained such a huge amount of support.

    Again, Obama’s speech this week was a perfect example of this. Yes, he is a politician. Yes, he plays politics. But it is a BETTER kind of politics, one that leans on the positive more than the negative, and doesn’t try to exploit the divisions and worst elements of human nature.

    Whether he lives up to his promise of change when/if he becomes president remains to be seen. But for now, what is most important is that Obama at least offers a chance to break away from old ways of playing the game that have led to so much cynicism, including your own, not to mention a great deal of human misery.

    You are unlikely to get that kind of shift with Hillary. And you definitely won’t get it with McCain.

    For me, THAT alone is enough to support Obama, plus of course, he is not actually the policy vacuum that some try to make out.

  10. 58 MF

    It’s funny you should mention the AIDS conspiracy (which I thought demonstrated Wright was a complete crank). I was just looking at a site that was complaining about Obama covering up for the AIDS conspiracy of the US Government in his speech! Only in America! :LOL:

    Obama Questioned on Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s AIDS Sermon – Denies Evidence of Genocidal Conspiracy to Save Candidacy

  11. Fletcher j/v ?

    you ask a question and I’ll give you the courtesy of a frank answer.

    You said he said all the right things , however I disagree on a number of grounds
    including political , the mood and the trend tactical.

    If you are not aware , I’ve listened to his speech 3 times and taken in the messages and also read the full transcript a number of times.

    If I can address for the moment the vast majority of the speech , ie. excluding the non Rev. Wright part, I rate it the equal of the Kevin Rudd ‘appology’ speech

    Both in terms of inspiration , capturing the essence of the moral ethical & social
    wrongs committed against a minority group both in historical & substance terms
    AND in painting a road map for a more harmonious & equitable future.
    This is what both Rudd and Obama stand for. I applaud both visions.

    Which is why I have & continue to politically support them both.
    Have I got opinions contrary to them both , yes.

    If you are interested in more at a later day , but if it has not become evident today , then may I say I passionately oppose left & right extremists and racial offensiveness be it defined as racism , prejuduce or offensive,its the same to me

    If you are interested in expansion ,fine , or alternatively disagree with my opinions which today have represented a massive number of blogers but as Davidoff used to blog to me ‘enjoy’

  12. MC #36: “Obama is from Chicago, arguably the most corrupt city in America. ”
    How’s about that for clutching at straws? Obama’s no good because he’s too pretty, talks too well and because he’s from Chicago and we know that Chicago is run by Al Capone so he must be a criminal. Then this little pearler: “Further, given (it’s a matter of public record) that Obama has yet to win any tough races to be elected to any office”. Apart from (given that we’re all now into dissecting logical fallacies and rhetorical tricks) that lovely “it’s a matter of public record” which implies that Obama’s easy run to office has been inscribed in stone and attested to by ombudsmen and the Supreme Court or something, there is the obvious question of how difficult it has been for HRC, coming from a humble background, a simple housewife from Pennsylvania Avenue, defied the opposition of the Democratic Party machine politicians (fortified only by the knowledge that her husband had half of them in his pocket) to secure the nomination for Dem candidate for Senator in that notorious deep-dyed Red State, New York. Since then she’s heroicly fought against the odds of being the front runner from the beginning to not quite be blown away by Obama and still win some big states by narrow margins.
    On another note, Ron finally coughs up with his “racism” example for Wright:
    “Wright talks of “the BLACK Jesus vilified by the WHITE unbelievers
    Wright constantly says:“white Christianity” & the United States of white America.”
    Well Jesus probably was at least brown, if not black. This has been a point of comfort for black christians and a defiant point to make in response to the oppression they have experienced at the hand of whites that call themselves christians.
    And that is the point, after all, the connection between racism and oppression. I don’t think, for example, that it’s useful to call women “sexist” when they say “all men are bastards”. I think they’re wrong (I would anyway, being a bloke). But I understand why they say that. It makes more sense after all than the bloke who sits drinking beer while his wife clears up in the kitchen and goes on about how women are “all bitches”. The point isn’t about the sentiment but about the social relationships the sentiment supports and embodies.
    In any case, Wright didn’t express hatred for white people, he simple pointed out that the US state is a “white” state. This is in, a profound sense unquestionable. It is a state founded by slave-owning WASPs and dominated by the same for the rest of its history (albeit that the slaves were freed and eventually enfranchised). Being a Marxist I would prefer to call it a capitalist or imperialist state. Others will have their own categories in which to pidgeohole it. But I think it’s perfectly understandable that an African/American would view the oppression of his people as the defining characteristic of the state which oppresses them. That may be wrong, but it ain’t very wrong. Is it racism? Only if you want to gut the term of any meaning.

  13. Obama for me is all style and no substance! Sure he speaks well and he makes people feel good, but where are his policies/solutions for fixing the malaise besetting the American economy? And, I hate to say it, but I fear a lot of poor white folks in states like Ohio wouldn’t vote for a black man!
    Hillary really isn’t a better option, but at least you know what you’re getting off her!
    However, my dream would be for the Democrats at the convention to award the nomination to John Edwards!

  14. The conspiracy theories were not only widespread they were at times supported by very influential medicos from what I can remember. So Wright was/is not totally off with the pixies on this. And lets not forget that the South African government’s position on AIDS was, maybe still is, based on some fairly wild ideas.

  15. America is really up shit creek and the three remaining candidates for POTUS really don’t inspire much confidence. In my opinion Obama is the best of the bunch; I quite like the man but is he electable?

    As for Dubyas popularity? he has totally screwed up America and for some esoteric reason plenty of Americans still support him, Strewth!

    We live in interesting times, this world will completely change in my lifetime.

  16. Ron – “Fletcher” as in Fletcher Christian the master’s mate on the Bounty who led the mutiny against the great man William Bligh. I was drawing an analogy between that incident and your own apparent mutiny on the Obama ‘ship’ you used to talk about as sailing to victory.

    Sometimes you are little difficult to follow Ron, but that may be me 🙂

    Finns @ 59 – Yeah got me. Me and Shane Warne, we both do it, although I think it was his mum. You’re right though, a classic Red Herring, a favourite of dolphins I believe.

  17. j/v maybe we are both alittle hard to follow !

    and you asked me a question and I answered it …and your reply was blank
    or perhaps a sign of complete disagreement

  18. We can argue about how many Superdelegates can fit on the head of a pin, or if crack cocaine was a government plot to eradicat urban blacks as much as we like, but this will be getting more attention in the months ahead:

    First-time claims for state unemployment benefits for the week ending March 15 hit 378,000, up 22,000 from the prior week’s revised level of 356,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of initial claims gained 6,000 to 365,250. For the week ended March 8, continuing claims for benefits rose 32,000 to 2.87 million – the highest since August 2004. The four-week average of continuing claims rose 19,750 to 2.83 million – the highest since September 2004

    …nothing like people losing jobs to get the nation’s mind focused on what really matters.

  19. Robert B @ 64 – Well encapsulated indeed.

    Ron 70 – I disagree completely with your attack on Obama via Wright. You have no justification for this in my opinion. Did you read Robert B’s piece above? And mine earlier in response to your current line?
    If you’re trying to place yourself in the mind af the typical US voter, I wouldn’t try too hard on that one – it could drive you to drink or drugs.

    Did I miss a question in your last post @ 63?

    KR – Did you read the article Asanque linked – try the last 3 paras if you have time.

  20. 72
    jaundiced view

    Yeah, just did, and it’s a pearler. Bush is mad, there’s no other word for him. It’s the madness of Prez George, a kind of idiot savant minus the ‘savant’ bit, a Chauncey Gardner that’s wandering around the Whitehouse smiling at the courtiers who attend daily with news of his kingdom in flames, famine and plagues sweeping the land, and all the while he smiles and talks of ‘headwinds’ and ‘challenges’ with a dopey grin and a little tap dance.

    It’s truly, truly, bizarre!

  21. KR – 74 [“It’s truly, truly, bizarre!”]

    It is, and I heard an interview on AM this morning with Cheney who was asked about the majority US opinion against the Iraq war, and his response was: “So?”
    It toook my breath away as I drove down the freeway.
    That is arrogance at a level unattainable by rational human beings.

  22. Wow the more this shenanigans continues the more I a convinced they should have gone for Edwards. But to be fair Edwards mostly has himself to blame for his lack of initiative. But they had to be stubborn and back themselves into this corner. I only feel sorry for the rest of the world (Esp us Aussies) who have to suffer for their mistakes.

  23. Robert , racism comes in many forms and yes can be defined re superiority etc
    but often racism is in the eyes of the beholder or the recipient

    Have ‘blacks’ had more racism directed at them than whites…….of course and by a massive margin.

    My view is that where for instance a black man (Wright) uses his ‘black’ race as a defence/justification to denigrate (NOT just criticise) a white man or a white institution using “white” as a derogatry descriptive ….
    I call that racism ….now it may be legally defined as offensive or prejudice
    but the intent of the aggressor was ‘racist’

    ‘white christianity’ (is their ‘black christanity’)
    ‘white Jesus’ (is their ‘black’ Jesus)
    is therefore in my view racist and middle America independents I submit will also regard it as ‘racist’
    (although they’ll be more offended by wright’s anti US comments)

    Conversely if someone says to a black person to denigrate them or their ideas ‘black christanity’ or ‘black’ Jesus , its equally racist.

    I submit it is the intent of the aggressor and how the recipient perceives it is what counts and not what a dictionary says. Clearly we differ

  24. 75
    jaundiced view

    Cheney ain’t known as Darth Vader for nothing!

    This guy will still get up in public and say Saddam was involved with 911!

    Between Idiot George and Darth Cheney it’s no wonder the country is going down the toilet. Instead of spending the nation’s wealth invading Iraq they should have been governing the country, and protecting it from the real WMD, not the imaginery ones.

    As Warren Buffet so presciently said, derivatives are the WMD of the financial world.

    They should have paid more attention to the oracle of Omaha and not Ahmed Chalabi and Richard Perle.

  25. KR – Oh yes indeed. And that brings us back to the key issues. I can’t see too much impact before the Dem nomination is finalised, but if this recession really hits before the the general election, the scripts may have to be re-written. It may take someone with a calming leadership style who can make changes to the sort of henhouse foxes running the financial show currently. Who best do you think? (nod, nod, wink, wink)

  26. Scotty @ 76 -[‘I only feel sorry for the rest of the world (Esp us Aussies) who have to suffer for their mistakes.’]
    You mean if the Dems can’t get their act together and we end up with McCain as Pres?

  27. 80
    jaundiced view

    I’ve been saying this for how long now? LOL

    Sorry if I sound like a broken record, but the US economy is stuffed, and Republicans cannot get out of taking the blame for it, and either Democrat is more than capable of making John McCain look like a very stale old member of the club of chums that took them there.

  28. “If there was indeed a historical Jesus …” – MF @ 58.
    MF, on what basis could it possibly be disputed that there was a historical Jesus???!

  29. j/v: “I disagree completely with your attack on Obama via Wright”

    No I not criticising Obama via guilt by association

    The problem blogers are having is they need to assert Wright’s general sermons are NOT specifically grossly offensive against both the US itself and against ‘white’ people….
    to justify why Obama REGULARLY sat on a pew silently listening to such sermons….and kept coming back to hear more.

    and neither blogers nor Obama in his speech could justify that.
    but I believe alot of independents will show their displeasure ultimately via the polls.
    An error of judgement is one thing , but to not acknowledge it can be costly

  30. KR @ 82,
    You may be right about the Republicans getting the blame for the economy.
    But of all Republicans, McCain is probably about the least likely to get the blame for anything GWB has/hasn’t done. Hence the point of nominating him.

  31. 86

    McCain had to denounce himself and sign onto ‘tax cuts in perpetuity’ as well as ‘Iraq for a hunderd years’ and embrace the rightwing christian nutters, and essentially sign up for the GOP’s Reaganism. It was his Faustian pact, so he now inherits the Republican mess, and the Democrats will not let anyone not notice it.

    He can crap on about lobbyists (as long as he’s not bonking them) as much as he likes, by the time November comes around all that stuff is going to seem pretty remote to people’s concerns about their lives.

  32. I can not see the Repugs getting the blame at all

    The spin will be the Congress are responsible and given the last poll i saw at the congrss at an unbelievable 19% approval…its not a hard story to sell

    Macca also has story of his hero , the glory of Reganomics and he is fiscally responsible because he opposed the rich tax cuts and said there needed to be spending cuts

    Great TV adds to convince the folks

  33. In short yes. If they hadn’t put John Kerry there last time we wouldnt even be in this position. McCain as President would prob still be better than Bush but that says more about the incumbent. His comments about sunnis and Shia really scare me. If we arnt already on the verge of a global depression, a war with Iran would put it in the bag so to speak. Iran trying to seal off the Strait of Hormuz (stopping 30 percent of the worlds oil) amoungst the many other things. His antagonistic comments towards China are also troubling. He is making me think of the soviet leader Brezhnev.

  34. As a cynical person, I can understand the theory Americans are stupid. Hell, they voted Bush back against all logic.

    One can only hope that the US has matured over the last 8 disastrous years.

    I suspect that given Bush still has 30% approval, there is still a stubborn base of fundamentalists that haven’t learnt their lesson from the last 8 years.

    Given the economic tsunami the US is currently experiencing, one can only imagine it getting worse if McCain got into power.

    At the end of the day, if people vote stupidly they get what they deserve.

    One can only imagine the depth of stupidity that compelled people to vote Howard year after year.

  35. Kr – It’s early days though, if this is going to really bite, it will take what, 9 months to a year to affect the ordinary joe? It will only impact towards the end of the main campaign if that timing is right (but it is a guess).

  36. KR,
    Agree with some of what you said about McCain – probably not on tax though.
    My understanding (happy to be corrected if I’m wrong) is that his position in recent years has always been that the tax rate didn’t need changing – didn’t need changing before it changed, still didn’t need changing afterwards. I don’t think that is necessarily inconsistent – it would be a pretty mainstream conservative position to say that whatever is wrong with America, the rate of tax is not it.

  37. Dyno McCain has a positive selling story prepared on economics which is persuasive

    He’ll only get into trouble if he is cleverly but critically questioned in an interview as its not his strong point

  38. 92 – Ron

    Nope, democracy has many flaws. One only hopes the burgeoning information age allows people to become more educated about each of the prospects.

  39. Asanque @ 90 – Yes. I’m cynical enough to assume that Americans are only desirous of change on the basis of absolute individual self-interest. Eg – Too much money being spent overseas in Iraq which is unnecessary because the Super Bowl is based on home soil, the centre of the world, and the standard of living may be under threat.
    But if Barack can ride that self-interested revolt all the way, then that is a rare opportunity, and will be a small coup for unusual presidential quality.

  40. The Congress and the Chinese will get blamed for the bad economy

    Obama will be painted as anti Patriotic & anti US from Wright

    Macca will claim the Terrorist threat and the surge has worked

    Macca will claim his POW and National Security credentials

    Obama will claim ‘change’ including to the Washington establishment is needed

  41. Day off tomorrow – so for that thanks to the superstitious olden days (except in the US where this is still REAL) and to the solar system for the grand myth about some bloke arrested in a park who was poorly defended and supposedly put to death, but thanks to a heap of mhyrr and aloes put on him bounced up again a couple of days later as right as rain … No, really, it did happen, it’s in the Bible -you know, the one that says you kill everyone who thinks slightly differently to you.
    Well, my version is … they just didn’t make sure he was dead. A couple of hours hanging on a stick – holes in the hands and feet and a lance in the side from a lacksadaisical centurian? Wouldn’t slow me down. . So when he staggered up and out into the sun on the Monday, it went round the village of 20 or so like wildfire. Dead man walks!! And here we in 2008, and GWB still believes in miracles, as do 70% of his electorate. Amazing. The Idiots.

    Goodnight & thanks for the discussion, all

  42. How tragic could be that Iraq delivers the Presidency to McCain and
    Iraq costs Obama the Presidency

    Above all else the Yankees love their flag and their men in military.

    The Iraq ‘surge’ saves McCains candidacy & his National Security high polling
    wins against the unpatriotic painted Obama of the US is as bad as Al Qaeda

    but I’m told a ‘ron does not make a wright’ , so it can not be so
    because the Philadelphia speech completely & satisfactorily addressed it
    sayeth the site and the masses no longer looked at those you-tube sermons.

    yes I can ow see it will be wright as our man is never ron
    God bless America

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