15 January 2008

Tone Deaf Campaigning

Hillary has the same problem our governor here in Georgia had last year - relying on advice and counsel from staffers who are probably ill equipped to understand the vagaries of the kind of black people who make up the majority of South Carolina's electorate.

I am watching this next primary closely because SC is my home state - I grew up with some of the Lowcountry pols who will be getting out the vote, and my father went to South Carolina State College around the same time as Jim Clyburn, the congressman who was "disheartened" by Hilary's supposedly disrespectful commentary about MLK.

Given the risk/reward ratio, the Clinton camp needs to leave the "what I think is important to you people" stuff at home - her camp runs a very, very high risk of hitting the wrong chord. One imagined slight, one catch phrase, one Tommy Hilfiger type rumor, one naked growl at the black man who is running for president - that's all it takes and she's back to being Miss Ann, the same Miss Ann whose thumb these folks just got from under LAST WEEK.

With almost two weeks to go, I think she is going to the typical Type A white guy thing - when all else fails, just charge right ahead - and miss the boat entirely.

The Deep South, even today, is not exactly what it appears to be at first glance.

Hillary, that white guy with two degrees and and American Express card in his pocket that you pay 20K a month to give you advice has no way to connect with the vibe in the hoods that ring Charleston, in the barracks that populate Columbia, in the swamps that cover the Pee Dee, in the foothills that push into the Piedmont from North Carolina and Tennessee.

These are the little guys, who have been hornswoggled and finagled out of their fair share of opportunity and their hard earned wages all their lives. It doesn't take much to rile them.

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