Barack Obama may have committed a major political faux pas last week when he spoke out on the attitudes of some prospective working class voters: "It's not surprising then," he said, "that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." Hillary Clinton quickly saw an opening and worked the spin to the max: “It’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter; well, that’s not my experience,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience at Drexel University. “Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families.” Certainly Obama committed a bad move in terms of navigating discourse spheres: by raising the otherwise silent class issue, he opened himself up to all kinds of metaphorical abuse.
Rubes. Rednecks. Low-information voters. Beer-track voters. NASCAR man. Bubba. Retro America. These terms have all been used by well-known progressive writers and thinkers to describe white working-class Americans. This familiar litany of contempt provides the context for the firestorm that erupted Friday, when Sen. Barack Obama's remarks to a closed-door group of rich donors in San Francisco were made public by a blogger for the Huffington Post.
A famous political distinction exists between “wine-track” and “beer-track” Democrats. Wine-track Democrats have traditionally supported reform-minded liberals such as Gary Hart and Paul Tsongas. Beer-track Democrats have preferred more practical-minded pols. Walter Mondale famously hammered the nail into Gary Hart's coffin when he stole a line from a hamburger advertisement and asked “Where's the beef?” [...] Obamaworld is a universe of liberal professionals and young people—plus blacks from all economic segments. Hillaryland, by contrast, is a place of working-class voters, particularly working-class women, and the old. These are people who occupy not just different economies but also different cultures. How many white Obama voters eat in Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans? And how many Clinton voters have a taste for sushi?
Let's call him Nascar Man ... Nascar Man is the guy liberals need to win, but usually don't. He loves guns, pickup trucks, chewing tobacco, and church on Sunday. He thinks liberals are high-taxing, culturally libertine, quasi-pacifist wimps. And, once liberals have conjured him up, they no longer say what they really believe -- even to one another ... Nascar Man inhibits intellectual inquiry. He's the bully everyone wants to appease.
There is a funny soul-searching blog on this quote from a guy called Mark Schmitt that I can recommend...