The Corner

Grudging Respect

Mark is right. It is clear that Obama can’t win the Reagan Democrats — for reasons that are cultural rather than specifically racial. The consensus on cable is that there will be massive defections of Hillary voters to McCain in November if Obama is the nominee.

What is astonishing is that Hillary Clinton can win them. She has transformed her image pretty thoroughly from the Wellesley bluestocking who will tell us all what’s good for us, to a much more down to earth seeming champion of the little guy. (Image. Not policies.) Until this year I always dismissed the idea that she had really given up anything at all to marry Bill, live in Arkansas and get to the White House as FL. She was so deeply and clearly not a natural politician that the idea of her succeeding on her own steam in some other state has always seemed preposterous. But, lo and behold, this campaign has had transformational properties. Perhaps the sheer fact of having to get out there day after day to meet Americans, has humanized her, and helped her learn how to relate to citizens from different demographic swathes than her own narrow one. She may have learned a thing or two from them along the way, about their deeper values. (Barak surely has learned nothing of that.) For all of her stumbles, she looks pretty staunch, sounds competent and confident, and has lost much of the arrogance. Whatever the reality, she comes off like a leader these days. That is why blue-collar mid-westerners can embrace her. She might have done just fine, and risen high enough politically to do the work she wanted, had she sent Bill packing when the nature of their life together — and The Deal — necessary to sustain it, first became clear.