Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Oh where has my 'Berlin Bounce' gone?"

Those of us who live in the Chicago area are well aware of the left-leaning sentiments of the Chicago Sun-Times - which are especially noteworthy considering the stench of liberalism that fairly oozes from the pores of the MSN. Even in that company, the Sun-Times stands out for special opprobrium. This is the rag which, with some fanfare locally, announced that it was returning to its progressive origins.

About this time last year, former Sun-Times editorial page editor Cheryl Reed waxed thusly:

If you've been an avid reader of these pages, then you'll know you're reading history in the making. We are returning to our liberal, working-class roots, a position that pits us squarely opposite the Chicago Tribune — that Republican, George Bush-touting paper over on moneyed Michigan Avenue. We're rethinking our stance on several issues, including the most pressing issue facing Americans today: Bush's war in Iraq.
Reed's petulant tirade notwithstanding, no one who is even vaguely familiar with the practice of journalism in Chicago over the last 20 years would conclude that the Sun-Times ever left its "liberal, working-class roots." Her outburst caused caused one blogger to opine, "You cannot return home when you never moved out of your room."

All of that is prefatory to an observation made by the Times' Carol Marin to the effect that - after a concerted effort to reach out to women, particularly supporters of Hillary Clinton - women voters are not entirely embracing the candidacy of Barack Obama. Marin describes her encounter with an acquaintance after attending an Obama fundraising luncheon in Chicago on Monday.

A few hours after leaving the "Women for Obama" luncheon, I ran into Sarah, not her real name. I've known her for a few years. A single mom, she free-lances, working as many jobs as she can to support two growing boys. She dreams of a permanent gig with benefits, but it's still just a dream.

A 37-year-old Democrat, she is also a college grad and a news junkie who has watched this campaign like a hawk. She surprised me with her anger Tuesday, saying she's voting for McCain.

To Sarah, Barack Obama is like the organic chicken at lunch. Sleek, elegant, beautifully prepared. Too cool.

To be sure, "Sarah's" perceptions are hardly isolated. While Obama wows the throngs in Berlin (to negligible effect), he continues to poll just ahead (read just outside the margin of error) of John McCain among registered voters, and trails McCain among likely voters. (H/T: RealClearPolitics.) Clearly, there is a plurality of the electorate, of whom many are female Democrats, who remain nonplussed by Obama.

As much is evident from reportage by the "Bush-touting" Chicago Tribune, which informed its readers that some traditionally Democratic-leaning states in the Midwest may now be in play. Again, this is due in large measure to Obama's inability to appeal to women voters.
Michelle Brasza, a kindergarten teacher and mother of three who usually votes Democratic, said this year she can't decide whom to support.

"I feel like I don't know Obama. I feel like he just popped up out of nowhere," said Brasza, who lives in Macomb County [Michigan], the original home of the so-called Reagan Democrats and a swing section of the state. "I haven't heard of him. I think he's only been a senator for four years, if my memory is correct, and that makes me nervous."

Brasza said she is familiar with McCain from his years on the national stage and feels more comfortable with him because of his experience. "I have this little battle going on in my mind," she said.
In answer to the question of where Obama's "Berlin Bounce" went, suffice it to say that it went the way of most fleeting infatuations. I have said elsewhere that chief among Hillary Clinton's electoral obstacles is the fact that she reminds most men of their ex-wives. Barack Obama is similarly afflicted with women, in that he seems to remind more than a few of them of their ex-boyfriends. These exes were polished, handsome, well-spoken, and much like Obama himself, entirely self-centered. The Cheryl Reeds of the world may yet be unwilling to concede that Obama has miles to go before he sleeps in courting the votes of average American women, but I suspect that they will be shown the error of their thinking in the fullness of time (which as of this writing will be in about 96 days.)

Four More Years!!

Update: No less than the L.A. Times is coming to the conclusion that Obama has gained no bounce from his trip overseas.

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