It's The Economy Dillweed
Apparently, working class Hillary voters don't think Palin is all that. What a surprise:
UNIONTOWN, PA. — Trish Heckman, a 49-year-old restaurant cook and disappointed Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter, watched last week as the country's newest political star made her explosive debut.
She followed the news when John McCain introduced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, paid attention to the raging debate over her qualifications, even tuned in to watch her dramatic speech at the Republican convention.
BBut when it came down to an issue Heckman really cares about -- sending a daughter to college on $10.50 an hour -- her desire to see a woman reach the White House took a back seat to her depleted savings account.
"I wanted Hillary to win so bad, but I saw Sarah, and it just didn't work for me," said Heckman, taking a break in the empty courtyard of J. Paul's restaurant in a downtown struggling to revive. "I have no retirement. Obama understands it's the economy. He knows how we live."
Interviews with some two dozen women here after Palin's convention speech found that these voters were not swayed by the fiery dramatic speeches or compelling personal biographies that marked both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Instead, they were thinking about the price of milk -- nearly $5 a gallon -- or the healthcare coverage that many working families here cannot afford.
Even if they admire Palin's attempt to juggle political ambition, an infant son with Down syndrome and a pregnant unwed daughter, these women say that maternal grit is not enough to win their votes.
Waitress Judy Artice, "Miss Judy," as she is known at Glisan's roadside diner, declared Palin "the perfect candidate" after watching her Wednesday speech. That said, Artice had already decided that her vote would go to the first candidate who mentioned gasoline prices.
"And -- I'll be danged -- it was Obama," Artice, 46, said between servings of liver and onions during the lunch rush.
Both campaigns have signaled that these blue-collar hamlets could be where the election will be decided, an assessment made even more likely when the nation's unemployment rate hit a five-year high in August.
Life here is basic and hard. Coal miners still work the mountains. The upscale Nemacolin Woodlands Resort just down the road is replete with shops and restaurants that Uniontown residents can't afford.
And residents describe their downtown, where a portrait of native son and five-star general George C. Marshall covers a building several stories high, as "quaint but sad."
If these women are any indication, the threat to Obama's camp is not that they will side with McCain but that they will stay home, as Heckman, the restaurant chef and single mother of two, says many people on her block plan to do.
But those disenchanted voters could be balanced by newly inspired ones, such as Jennifer Glisan, 23, an emergency medical technician who saves lives every week but cannot afford health insurance. Clinton's gender was enough to awaken her political interest, but Palin's failed to hold it.
"I think Palin is a fake. She will run the economy into the ground," Glisan said after catching glimpses of the vice presidential nominee's speech between emergency calls.
"I have to kill myself every day at work to earn enough to pay for gas to get there. I think Obama is sincere. I think we need a change."
I have thought from the beginning that the Palin choice was more about getting the base motivated than going after disaffected Hillary voters. That just didn't scan for me. The women in those Ohio and Pennsylvania towns and hamlets who voted for Hillary were Democrats, after all. If they were far right social conservatives, they would be firmly in the Republican camp already.
I think McCain's appeal to swing votes and independents isn't going to be on the basis of Palin's gender (which does help inoculate her in the media after their sexist overkill during the Dem primary)but the more general appeal to "reform." He wants to portray himself as the kind of guy who will think outside the box (like picking someone with very little experience to be the first female on the GOP national ticket!) and do things differently. I doubt that's going to be enough. He's still a Republican and Republicans got us in this mess.
Carville said on CNN today that the pitch is simple: "If you think that what America needs is another tax cut for people making over half a million dollars a year, then vote for McCain. If you think middle-class people are struggling, that their incomes are going down and they need help, vote for Obama. It's a very simple choice out there, I think."
That sounds right to me.
Update: Plus, the misery index is back.
Oh, and this too:
The Bush administration seized control Sunday of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, aiming to stabilize the housing market turmoil that is threatening financial markets and the overall economy.