Senator Hillary Clinton is the phoniest of the lot. I’m sorry, but when I hear her trashing big oil companies for gouging consumers at the pumps or dissing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), I want to puke. Who does she think she’s fooling?
New Republic editor Marty Peretz shares my reaction in his May 5 Blog entry titled “Hillary’s Fake Populism.” At one point, Peretz writes, “I’d bet the only people she dines with in
Kevin Mattson, one of my favorite historians and a Connor Study Professor of contemporary history at
“She has attacked Obama as an elitist – a charge she's certain Republicans will wage against him in the general election and that she’s just fine using early. So, in the wake of Obama's malapropism about "bitterness", she talked about the joys of learning how to shoot guns from her father (behind a humble house, no less) and then drinking brewskies with the boys and being coaxed into shots of Crown Royal in an Indiana bar (I understand if that last drink doesn't ring populist bells in your head, but at least it was whiskey, right?). A colleague of mine said she heard a little twang entering
Obviously, I’m a Barack Obama partisan, but I’m not much more convinced by his “populism.” To be certain, he has a natural rapport with the people, which comes out on the campaign trail. But when he starts rolling up his sleeves and talking with a down-home, good old boy tone, he does not seem entirely sincere. "For the last 10 days leading up to Tuesday’s primaries in
Obama has no other choice but to turn up the populist charm. His speech last month in
Barb Shelly, a columnist with the Kansas City Star, offered Obama some sensible advice when she wrote, “Find a high-profile person with small-town credibility to travel with you. I'm at a loss right now to say who that would be, but that's what campaign staffs are for.”
At least Senator John McCain doesn’t feel the need to out-populist Clinton and Obama. Last month, McCain spent a week journeying through several hard-hit areas in the
Working-class folks listened with mixed reactions. Some drank it in and loved every word of it, while others left shaking their heads, vowing to vote Democrat in November or stay home come Election Day.
Say what you will about McCain. At least he didn’t get all folksy. Standing on the steps of a
Good for McCain for steering clear of pseudo-populism. Good for McCain for not feeling like he has to mispronounce nuclear like Old Dubya, or say words like “misunderestimate” or pretend to love Nascar to win votes in the hinterland. Good for McCain for refusing to water down his message to appeal to working-class voters. He may share his mentor Senator Barry Goldwater’s politics, but at least he also has Goldwater’s honesty.