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Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2008

THE 'REAL' VIRGINIA.... It's all about division. For Sarah Palin, it's about dividing "pro-America" communities from those parts of the nation she's less fond of. For Michelle Bachmann, it's about dividing "un-American" members of Congress from the rest of the chamber.

And for the McCain campaign, it's about dividing individual swing states, pitting one region against another.

On MSNBC this morning, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer asserted that "real Virginia" does not include Northern Virginia: "I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic.... But the rest of the state -- real Virginia if you will -- I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message."

MSNBC host Kevin Cork gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: "Nancy, I'm going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge -- did you say 'real Virginia'?"

But Pfotenhauer didn't budge, and instead dug a deeper hole: "Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that's more Southern in nature, if you will.

This comes just two weeks after Joe McCain, the senator's brother and campaign surrogate, referred to Virginia's two most northern counties as "communist country."

Hmm. Virginia is a key swing state, with 13 electoral votes, and recent polling showing Obama with a modest lead. The state's two most populous counties -- Fairfax and Prince William Counties -- are both in northern Virginia.

And the McCain campaign keeps insulting them.

If there's a clever angle to this strategy, it's hiding well.

Steve Benen 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Will this get 1/1000th the coverage of Ayers?

Posted by: John McCain: Worse than Bush on October 18, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

What is most remarkable about this idiotic move is not that it will be repeated, but that it will be linked, HOPEFULLY BY SOMEONE VERY SOON, to the infamous George Allen macaca footage, in which he said, "Let’s give a welcome to macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Walk down memory lane here:

Posted by: wad city on October 18, 2008 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, a McPalin supporter compares Obama to... wait for it... Charles Manson:

Posted by: Hannah on October 18, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Just got back from Obama rally in St. Louis. Secret Service said there were 80,000 people there, the city said 100,000. Whatever the number, there were a ton of people there.

Posted by: James on October 18, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK


Obama Rally Draws 100,000 in Missouri


Amy Chozick reports on the presidential race from St. Louis.

Barack Obama attracted 100,000 people at a Saturday rally here, his biggest crowd ever at a U.S. event.

The crowd assembled under the Gateway Arch on a sunny Saturday afternoon to hear Obama speak about taxes and slam the Republicans on economic issues.

Lt. Samuel Dotson of the St. Louis Police Department confirmed the number of attendees piled into the grassy lawn by the Mississippi River.

To be sure, big crowds don’t always signal a big turnout on Election Day. But Obama’s ability to draw his largest audience yet in a typically red state that just weeks ago looked out of reach, could signal a changing electoral map.

For months Missouri polls put Obama as much as ten percentage points behind Republican John McCain. It was widely believed that McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate would have won over the state’s conservatives and boosted his chances there. So far, that hasn’t happened.

A Rasmussen poll released on Friday shows Obama leading in Missouri 52% to 46% for McCain.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill had harsh words for Palin when she introduced Obama on Saturday. Referring to comments Palin made earlier this week in North Carolina about “pro-America” states, McCaskill said “We have reached a new low in America politics when a candidate dares to say that one part of America is pro-America and another part is anti-America.”

She also took a dig at McCain for selecting a vice presidential nominee with limited experience. “One [candidate] picked one of the strongest candidates for vice president he could’ve picked in the United States and well, the other didn’t.”

Recognizing that big rallies don’t always result in cast ballots, the Obama campaign has dispatched thousands of field organizers and volunteers to Missouri to knock on doors in a statewide get out the vote effort. (Photo: Associated Press)

Posted by: stormskies on October 18, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

You know, a couple of days ago I realised that I hated Republicans, ALL Republicans. Whether my harsh feelings will dissipate after the election, I don't know.

BUT, of ALL the Republicans I hate, my special hatred is reserved for McCain's "spinners", especially Nancy Photenfeffer (or whatever her name is). She's an "extra" from a documentary on Aryans-in-the-US. She is a true "c-word".

Why do I hate so much?

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on October 18, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing: she's kinda right. I have long advocated for the northern counties to secede and seek admission to the Union as the great state of North Virginia. Though I don't know how Rump Virginia would survive without the tax dollars that the D.C. suburbs send to Richmond.

Posted by: skeptic on October 18, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

But the rest of the state -- real Virginia if you will -- I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message

This is a perfect example of the "in-group morality" that John Hartung describes. You either display the proper tribal identifiers, i.e., race, religion, and general worldview, or you are an out-group member, and therefore the enemy by default (using code words like anti-American or unpatriotic). Morals only apply to the in-group. This is how the Palins, Bachmanns, Pfotenhauers, Hannitys, Limbaughs, Coulters, etc., see the world.

Posted by: Del Capslock on October 18, 2008 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Pfotenhauer's comments make sense because Republicans believe that the only "real" votes are those cast by white Southern males.

Posted by: arkie on October 18, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The lurid lure

Dangling the divide-and-conquer hook is all they got.
Live slimy bait everyone! Yummy bad!

Please don't wrap your mouth parts into that ugly worm. The right thinks they can win by treating Americans as bottom feeding carps and parasitic suckers.

That's not the road to victory. Not this time.
I know many of you got the Michelle email today with the video of where this campaign is going in the final weeks. It is full circle time. Hang tough and true everyone. The message the right has chosen plays right into our creels.

Hope on and hop on!

Posted by: koreyel on October 18, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with skeptic's comment above: As a 13-year resident of Northern Virginia, I'd be more than happy to cut off the rest of the state from our tax base.

Posted by: drs on October 18, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Well, of course NoVa isn't "true Virginia"; them's all macacas, every one of them.

Meanwhile, down here in "true Virginia", the word has gone out that we cannot and will not let up. The town itself is likely to go for Obama; it usually does vote Dem, despite the VMI. It's the surrounding counties which are red. But there are some blue "raisins" in all that dough and some indies/undecideds. We'll be going after them, relentlessly. We may never *win* any of the counties but, *every damned vote* that's been wrested away from the Repubs will add up to all those macaca votes up north, for common good.

Once the elections re over and Obama is President Elect, we'll go back to sneering at those NoVa elites again :)

Posted by: exlibra on October 18, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest problem with the Divide & Conquer strategy is simply that our society is becoming more and more interconnected. Once upon a time, George Allen could have called that guy a much worse word than "Macaca" and nobody would have known about it besides the racists who were there laughing. But these days, it's becoming harder to tailor your message to just one group. You might be talking to a small group of bigots, but your message is likely to go out to everyone else anyway.

So being exclusionist is increasingly becoming a losing strategy. While this still works for local elections and more extremist House districts, even red-leaning districts can spell trouble for Republicans who try to benefit from attacking "The Other." And Republican Senators have an even hard time with it. And once they have to start apologizing for saying racist things, the more they offend the racists they were trying to woo. And in this case, Northern Virginia just got an even better reason to come out and prove how real their votes are.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on October 18, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Does "real" Virginia include Norfolk-VA Beach, which exists as it does today only because those Communists in DC decided to put a Navy base there?

Posted by: Grumpy on October 18, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

OK why can't she just say that the rural conservative part of the state is more responsive to McCain.

Well, if I had to label just one woman in the McCain campaign a real bitch, it would be her.

Posted by: lou on October 18, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Was in downtown St. Louis on July 4th about 20 years ago when a sudden shower turned it into the world's largest wet T-shirt contest. Those girls looked All-American to me.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on October 18, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"You know, a couple of days ago I realised that I hated Republicans, ALL Republicans."

I don't know, many moderate Republicans are going to vote for Obama/Biden. What about them?

Posted by: Bob M on October 18, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is is that this labelling of 'real America' is something that doesn't cause outrage in swing counties, but reinforces the message, relaid by the media, about 'blue counties'.

So it appeals to the Base, but doesn't hurt you with the swing voters.

So it's a good, and well worn strategy.

Divide and conquer. Feign outrage when we say outrageous things, yet act like Brooklyn or Queens are somehow not 'real America' but some rural county in Virginia is.

It's an entertaining foretaste of what governing is going to be like for Team Obama. Paul Krugman called the feint on 'bipartisanship' many months ago, and what the next Democratic Administration would face, and took huge flak from the Obamans for it- -but he's right.

Remember, people in blue counties, who voted for Obama, are not 'real America'. They are not patriotic, they live off welfare, they don't look like real Americans etc. etc.

Posted by: Valuethinker on October 18, 2008 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Folks - this is what the Karl Rove, 50% + 1 vote polarization strategy looks like as applied to a single state.

Southern Virginia resents wealthier, educated northern Virginia. So the McCain campaign talks up a common identity for southern virginia and try to get them to vote against northern virginia, rather than for their own interests.

It really helps them when we lash out in response. As hard as it is, the best thing for us to do is stay on message.

There will be time for these ***holes after the election.

Posted by: Adam on October 18, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't anybody remember Robert E. Lee and his Peoples' Army of Northern Virginia? It was in all the history books.

Posted by: Speed on October 18, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

To the Men and Women of Virginia:

Someone really needs to sit "Miz Palin" down on her fat Yankee backside and teach her about "Northern Virginia."

She needs to have the blue-belly bull-droppings smacked out of her while someone recites the names of every last man who died while in the service of the Northern Army of Virginia---the primary military machine of the CSA under P.G.T. Beauregard, J.E. Johnston, and R.E. Lee.

She needs to wake up one night in her nice, cozy mansion in Wasilla to the sound of 50,000 butternut-clad ghosts giving the Rebel Yell---and realize what it is to be mortally terrified of those who, for all eternity, will know what it means to sacrifice all for a cause.

Then---and only then---will that snobbish little fool know what "Real Virginia" is.

*And no, I am not crazy---I just know what it takes to get a couple million proud Virginia conservatives angry enough to vote against anything even remotely connected to Sarah Palin!

Posted by: Steve W. on October 18, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

All of the places Republicans keep calling "true America" are places that have the greatest tendency to suck out more federal tax dollars than they pay in. Yet they complain non-stop about their tax load and hate nothing more than poor urban folks (like their beloved welfare moms) benefitting from the federal system than they do.

But hate on the campaign trail is a luxury for better times and these ain't them. It feels a hell of a lot better to be unified behind a candidate like Barack than to spite fellow Americans as the economic roof caves in. Republican anger has the stench of defeat all about it and that is only working to speed their ruin.

Posted by: petorado on October 18, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

let's see that wonderful speech by Obama in ads for the next two weeks -- and especially in VA.

'We aren't the red states of America or the blue states of America; we are the United States of America.'

Posted by: Artemesia on October 18, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Pentagon is in Fake Virginia. Because of that and the various military installations in the area (also in Fake Virginia), a lot of armed service members live in Fake Virginia.

And let us not forget all of the soldiers buried in Fake Virginia.

I'd think the drones working the McPOW campaign must love the feel of bullets in their feet, but "Real v. Fake America" is all they've got. I mean, they can't exactly address any of the issues can they? And now they can't even if they want to: Das Base demands RED MEAT.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on October 18, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter GOP: places that favor us are intrinsically better places. It's proto-fascist crap.

Posted by: Dan on October 18, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention, where was McCain earlier today? In Woodbridge, VA - which is solidly in Northern (unreal) Virginia these days. I guess it takes McCain to go to Northern Virginia Communist Country, just like it took Nixon to go to China. Or something.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on October 18, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Soon the GOP will be reduced to explaining why Utah is the only "real, pro-American" place left in the country.

Posted by: Crazy on October 18, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

So, population of Virginia: 7,712,091

Population of Northern Virginia: 2,075,176

That's 27% of the state that isn't "really" Virginian. Also worth noting: while Alexandria and Arlington have always been strongly Democratic, the rest of Northern Virginia was traditionally somewhat Republican - in fact, northern Virginia, with its relatively non-southern population, was actually the birthplace of the Virginia Republican Party. Look, for instance, at this map, showing Virginia's county breakdown in the 1976 election - Ford won the state (his only southern win) by winning northern Virginia, Virginia Beach, and the Richmond suburbs, while losing most of the rest of the state.

Does "real" Virginia include Norfolk-VA Beach, which exists as it does today only because those Communists in DC decided to put a Navy base there?

It includes Virginia Beach, of course, because Virginia Beach is inhabited by white people who vote for Republicans. It does not include Norfolk, inhabited by black people who vote for Democrats. These issues aren't too difficult to settle. Just look at the county-by-county map for the 2004 election. The parts that are red are "real America," the parts that are blue are not. Surely this is obvious?

Posted by: John on October 18, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Though I don't know how Rump Virginia would survive without the tax dollars that the D.C. suburbs send to Richmond.

This is true of many red areas in the United States. They suck dollars out of the wealth-creating areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and New York. Then they whine incessantly about socialism, taxes, "big government" and how those places are un-American. It's kind of pathetic, really.

Sarah Palin is a perfect example of this kind of bigoted ignorance. Where does she think all those Federal dollars brought home by Ted Stevens came from? Where do those rugged individualist Kansas farmers think the subsidy money comes from?

Posted by: Pug on October 18, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh screw 'em all! Let's think happy liberal thoughts. Lookie at THIS and then imagine January 20th in D.C.

Posted by: on October 18, 2008 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine that! 100,000 people in St Louis "paling" around with that terrist Obama - quick call the FBI and get their names . Those Al queda socialists.

Posted by: John R on October 18, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've heard of the "Virginial Reel", but never the "Real Virginia".

Posted by: wnw on October 18, 2008 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

"I have long advocated for the northern counties to secede and seek admission to the Union as the great state of North Virginia. Though I don't know how Rump Virginia would survive without the tax dollars that the D.C. suburbs send to Richmond."
Posted by: skeptic on October 18, 2008

The western part of their state broke off at the time of the Civil War to form West Virginia and to show their displeasure with slavery and 'the real Virginia'.

Posted by: MarkH on October 18, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Today's unscientific poll of political signs on US 15 south of Culpeper:

Obama : McCain


Have a REAL fun election, GOP!

Posted by: Pogo on October 18, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I was having a hard time trying to figure out if I'm pro or anti American, so it's good that Sarah and crew have come along to define it for me. Or at least ill define it.

Posted by: LaPopessa on October 18, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Given the state of America... maybe fake America might be a better choice for a while?

Maybe being real ain't all it's cracked up to be?

Maybe give the phony Americans a crack at the wheel? You REAL Americans in the GOP and your supporters in REAL Virginia and other parts of REAL America have made a pig's breakfast of things.

Maybe that's the problem... like gay marriage.

They're afraid if gay people have a lower divorce rate, it makes the REAL married people look bad and if phony Americans that don't wear flag pins, allow flag burning, and don't particularly care for NASCAR fix all the stuff they've mucked up, they'll feel bad about themselves?

It's too late for bruised ego, kids. Get out of the pool.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 18, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Phoebes, beware the hatred. It's soul-destroying, which is why the hate-filled right are such hypocrites, peddling both Jesus and hatred in the same fetid breath. And as someone who has Santa Fe envy (are you married? ;-) I should remind that you are in the perfect place to shed the stress. Wish I could be at my favorite spa right now...

Otherwise, the repugnicans are doing an amazing job alienating everyone who is even close to the center. Such self-destructive behavior is such a refreshing change.

Posted by: on October 18, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

This IS Being picked up by A/P and they are actually being pretty pointed about it putting the "Real" in quotes etc. Yes, the base loves it, but I noticed that everyone else wasn't happy with it.
I think they are hoping to Crank the Base Way Up and frighten away the middle with the Ayers talk and win that way.
It's worked before.
Only this time, Obama has a Bigger Base and the middle seems more interested in voting for Anything that Isn't Republican.
Let's hope enough of them show up.

Posted by: Lisa Harrigan on October 18, 2008 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

It's not such a bad strategy...if you're trying to breed another generation of Timothy McVeighs. Schlep over to The New Republic's site (www.tnr.com) and read Cass Sunstein's article on what really creates a terrorist (or not). One of the big things may be to increasingly live in the echo chamber.

Having (I hope!) lost the election, McCain and Palin are going to do their best to make it very difficult for Obama to govern effectively by guaranteeing that his actions are seen as threatening by 30% of the country. It's as though Robert E Lee, instead of surrendering at Appamatox Courthouse, had decided instead to keep fighting a guerilla war. The clever strategy you're missing is that they are sowing the seeds of insurgency-- choosing to try to smash America into bits if they are not the ones who get to govern it.

Posted by: bluewave on October 18, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

In Missouri today, just under 200,000 people turned out to rally in support of the next president - 110,000 in St. Louis and about 80,000 at the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. What a great day! Wow! (Pics here)

Posted by: Blue Girl on October 19, 2008 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

This is so laughable it's ridiculous . . . "real Americans", "real Virginians". Real bullshit.

These are the same rapacious right-wing scum that didn't give a shit about the "real Cubans" who supported Castro, "real Vietnamese" who supported Ho Chi Minh, "real Nicaraguans" who supported Daniel Ortega.

And McCain is now supporting the same forces in Colombia.

Stew in your own juice motherfuckers.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on October 19, 2008 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

It's a double-twisting back flip off the high bar in pike position, I'm guessing.

Posted by: A pitbull would make a better VP, too. That's TWO things. on October 19, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't know, many moderate Republicans are going to vote for Obama/Biden. What about them?"

They ought to realize that the Democratic Party is the Big Tent, with members ranging from conservative to liberal, and that they can find a welcome home here.

They ought to realize that a "moderate" in the Republican't Party has as much chance to influence policy as a snowflake in Hell.

They ought to abandon the stinking ship (pun intended) and Come On Over!

Posted by: A pitbull would make a better VP, too. That's TWO things. on October 19, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

The republican strategy is nothing but hate at this point. And why not? It's always worked before.

The beauty for the rest of us is that, ultimately, they're going to drive everybody out of their party so there will be no one left but the monumental assholes. No gays, minorities, working women, poor people, city-dwellers, non-Christians, moderates, middle-class, northerners, coastal-dwellers, college graduates, etc.

Posted by: chrenson on October 20, 2008 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK



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