Bob Herbert: The Dog That Isn’t Barking

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So what’s the problem for the Obama campaign?

The problem is the dog that isn’t barking.

Talk for more than a few minutes with an Obama supporter in a white middle-class or working-class area and you’ll hear about a friend or relative or co-worker who has a real problem with the candidate. When Jack Davis’s wife, Joan, who also plans to vote for Senator Obama, was asked about Democrats that she knew who would not vote for him, she replied:

“My mother! She’s 85 years old. I’m sorry to say, but she will not vote for him.”

Joseph Costigan, a regional political director for the union, Unite Here, spoke candidly about the tension between the economic distress of working men and women and the persistent, though hard-to-quantify, resistance to Barack Obama’s candidacy.

“We’ve been talking with staff in different parts of the Midwest,” he said, “and we’re all struggling to some extent with the problem of white workers who will not vote for Obama because of his color. There is no question about it. It’s a very powerful thing to get over for some folks.”

Mr. Costigan believes — and hopes — that the number of people holding such views is relatively small, and that Mr. Obama, now with the help of Senator Biden, can surmount that obstacle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008

Posted August 26, 2008 at 6:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Christopher Johnson wrote:

Let’s see now.  I have to a vote for a rich leftist airhead whose views are not only opposed to my own but antagonistically hostile to them just for the privilege of not being a racist.  Please.

August 26, 6:16 pm | [comment link]
2. libraryjim wrote:

All arguments against his policies, his inexperience, his poor voting record, his ‘mentor’ and associates are all dismissed with
“they won’t vote for him because he’s black!”.

Yeah, right. When you can’t argue using fact, resort to the race card.  rolleyes

August 26, 6:46 pm | [comment link]
3. mary martha wrote:

This is how to convince people to vote for you… call them racists.

I have not seen any articles pointing to the strong support Obama has in the African American community as a sign of racism in that part of our society.

August 26, 6:51 pm | [comment link]
4. Rick in Louisiana wrote:

The last presidential election I “held my nose” and barely - barely - voted for Bush. (In fact I was going to vote for Kerry - holding my nose - until he made certain comments during the last debate. Lost my vote on the spot.) Point is I am a Republican who occasionally votes for Democrats (especially in Louisiana where Democrats can be fairly conservative).

I categorically will not vote for Obama. It has nothing to do with his being “black”. I think he is a fraud (or should I say “handsome but hollow”), arrogant and elitist beyond belief, and is extremely liberal. Nothing bipartisan or uniting or middle-of-the-road about this candidate. I am not enthusiastic about McCain whose election campaign is… well… is not. But unlike last election this is not “on the line”. This is a choice between “this guy I can stomach, the other absolutely not”.

What Chris Johnson said.

August 26, 7:13 pm | [comment link]
5. Milton wrote:

Folks, this just shy of 50 white male Independent voter hereby issues his edict:

Take your racist accusations and turn them into bio-diesel along with the rest of the compost.  Period.
If Alan Keyes were to run for President, this white hand would very likely push the button by his name.
So, unless you have any candidate, any color, either gender, whose stated first and highest priority should he be elected is NOT to fulfill a promise to Planned Parenthood to enshrine in the Constitution the unassailable right to transfer minors across state lines for abortions, deny parental notification before said abortions, abolish all restrictions on age of viability of unborn babies, and to breech-deliver a baby except for the head, then to stab the baby with a scissors in the base of the skull, insert a suction tube and vacuum the baby’s brain out and collapse the head so as to more easily pull the freshly-murdered baby out for easy disposal with the rest of the garbage, then…

For “Christian” Barack Obama, I recommend a reading of Psalm 139, whose relevant verses should be obvious.  /soap box

August 26, 7:19 pm | [comment link]
6. Steven in Falls Church wrote:

Remember folks—this is the same Bob Herbert who gave us the comment about mysterious phallic symbols appearing in a McCain ad.

August 26, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
7. Dave B wrote:

When Obama speaks with out the tele prompter he makes George W sound eloquent.  Sentor Obama gives neuanced answers to simple questions and flip “cute” answers to quesitons that require some thought.  About Ayers, it is known Obama anounced his Illinois candidacy at Ayers house, served on the Annenberg board with Ayers, and Ayers held fund raisers for Obama.  I was eight years old and we lived in the same meightbor hood just doesn’t cut it. About life being above his pay grade, what does fall in Obama’s pay grade if abortion does not involve decisons about life and his support of abortions?

August 26, 8:00 pm | [comment link]
8. Words Matter wrote:

Well, there’s a lot of non-barking dogs on the Republican side. I know hard core conservatives who can’t stand McCain and are opening stating that Obama will win. I don’t think they will actually vote for him, but I do think they will stay home.

That said, of course there are a fair number of white folks who won’t vote for Obama because he’s black. And that’s not just his race, but his culture. His association with Ayers has already been mentioned. Remember that 20 years under the tutelage of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright?  Black liberation theology doesn’t sell well with white folks. With this white folk as a matter of fact.

As to the racial thing, I have in fact written in Alan Keyes when neither candidate gained my support. I would, moreover, give serious him support had he followed a path of electoral governance rather than punditry. But like Alan Keyes, Barack Obama does not have the administrative and legislative experience to be president. And I also disagree with most of his policy proposals, particularly his support for the murder of unborn babies.

And then there is the elitism: I seriously can’t relate to someone who lives in a house worth a good deal more than my my lifetime earnings.  Then there was the “god,guns, and gays” thing. The man doesn’t respect us.

August 26, 9:07 pm | [comment link]
9. Ladytenor wrote:

And then there is the elitism: I seriously can’t relate to someone who lives in a house worth a good deal more than my my lifetime earnings. 

I can understand every other point in your message, but this one leaves me flabbergasted. 

Obama owns one house.  The McCains own seven, by a conservative count (for example, if one doesn’t count the guest house on their ranch separately from the main house).  The Obamas bought their one house with money they earned.  The McCains’ wealth, which enables them to own so many homes, was primarily inherited from Cindy McCain’s father. 

I can understand that you don’t like Obama, but how is it that his one expensive house makes him an elitist?  Does he not deserve to raise his daughters in a nice house?  If his one expensive house makes him an elitist, then the McCains’ seven houses must make them plutocrats. 

As for the original post: there is a logical fallacy in many of your replies.  Of course not all who vote for McCain are racists.  The writer did not say so!  However, there are (according to the author) a relatively small number of people “who will not vote for Obama because of his color.”  (emphasis added)  So relax, no need to be so defensive.  If the author of this piece is accurate in his reporting, the outcome of the election should make you all very happy indeed.

August 26, 9:54 pm | [comment link]
10. St. Cuervo wrote:

I can’t vote for a man who cites Matther 25 and won’t lift a finger to help the unborn.  I don’t care what color he (or his opponent) is.  To quote the Gospel and do nothing—nothing—for the unborn…  his own guilt is upon him.

August 26, 10:22 pm | [comment link]
11. Dave B wrote:

Lady Tenor, I am not sure Obama paid for his house, there is Rezko and a rich British guy involved.

August 26, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
12. Words Matter wrote:


Sen. McCain doesn’t do the populist, community-organizer, man-of-the-people schtick.  He didn’t sit under “we-are-oppressed” preaching for 20 years.  Sen. Obama owns a TWO MILLION DOLLAR home. That’s a 1.9 million house that he got for about 1.6 million and the $300,000 lot next door.  The most expensive house from my childhood costs about 100-125K today and while I’m not a candidate for the presidency, lots of relatively poor people have been (and made it). 

Sen. Obama is certainly welcome to raise his children in the nicest house he can afford.  It’s just silly to consider him a ... well… man-of-the-people.

August 26, 11:16 pm | [comment link]
13. ember wrote:

I keep hearing that same noise—that one, just then! Hear it? Listen—I hear it again. The sound of a discussion thread already starting to circle the abortion drain.

Single-issuing your voting patterns leads to grief in the end. The opposition is aging out.

August 27, 12:33 am | [comment link]
14. Words Matter wrote:

Funny how I never hear pro-choice people chided for being “single-issue voters”.  Senators Obama and Clinton both pledged to appoint pro-choice judges, with nary a charge of having a “litmus test”.

Anyway, ember, you might try reading the comments: this thread is much more about race and class than abortion.

August 27, 12:51 am | [comment link]
15. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

OK.  I’m busted.  It is a matter of colour with me.  I can’t stand Reds.  (Plus, I’m looking for a President who will fight terrorists instead of befriending them.)

August 27, 1:50 am | [comment link]
16. azusa wrote:

So it isn’t racist if a black person votes for Obama because of his color?

August 27, 9:28 am | [comment link]
17. Stefano wrote:

I miss Alan Keyes as candidate. He spoke at a fund raiser locally and immediately had our votes.

August 27, 10:13 am | [comment link]
18. flaanglican wrote:

CNN interviewed a delegate at the DNC Convention who supports Hillary.  She said she’s giving Barack 2 months to prove why she should vote for him.  Otherwise, she’s sitting this one out.  She insists she won’t vote for McCain.  I wouldn’t be surpised that, on Election Day when she seriously has to consider who she really believes is the better person to lead our nation, she secretly votes for McCain.  And it will have nothing to do with Barack’s skin color.

August 27, 11:59 am | [comment link]
19. libraryjim wrote:

I liked the “Nominate Hillary” group “P.U.M.A.” - Party Unity My A$$


They are being accused of being a Republican front group, which the group strongly denies. grin

August 27, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
20. St. Cuervo wrote:

I’m not here to discuss single-issue voting.  I only raised the point to say that there are many who are not using race as a basis for a decision.  I will not vote for Obama, I would not vote for Powell.  I would vote for Watts or Keyes.  It has nothing to do with race.  I would happily support a pro-life African-American.  All I wanted to say is that I’m making decisions without reference to race.

August 27, 8:58 pm | [comment link]
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