Friday, February 05, 2010


Ta-Nehisi Coates raises a good point (I know, I know, duh). John Judis is arguing that President Obama has trouble connecting to the White working class because his parents were professionals and he is associated with elite educational institutions (Columbia, Harvard, Chicago). Mr. Coates points out:
If we were talking about a group of black voters who refused to vote for someone because they aspired to be a lawyer or politician, we would be knee-deep in "black pathology" diatribes and Bill Cosby call-outs. Mo-fos would think it was the second Maafa. T

I get that Obama is a politician, and thus it's his job to make people vote for him. But I don't understand why anti-intellectualism among black people is pathological, and among white people is taken as evidence of working class roots.

Yeah, that annoys me too. Good call.


N. Friedman said...


I think that Ta-Nehisi Coates sort of misses the point made by John Judis.

There was a column some time back by E.J. Dionne that compared divisions between working class and "elite" liberals vis a vis the Vietnam War with those that arose over the Sgt. James Crowley dispute. These are real divisions for the Democrats, ones that, during and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, drove a great many Democrats to vote for Republicans. What Judis shows is that Dionne was onto something and that Obama tends to divide off working class elements who might otherwise vote for Democrats.

Democrats ignore these divisions at their peril.

Superdestroyer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
joe said...

There's certainly a discrepancy Coates is right to point out here, but since the "Real Amurrica" anti-intellectualism is so clearly pathological this by itself does nothing as an argument -- and it's not primarily intended -- to ding the Bill Cosby call-outs (the merits of which I do not feel qualified to comment on given that I haven't heard more than passing mention of them on the radio, though Cosby definitely deserves credit for saying Clarence Thomas is full of it).

PG said...

I am not sure what it means to say that someone is a Democrat if that person votes the Republican ticket for multiple elections. I can credit the phenomenon of the "Reagan Democrat," so long as that Democrat was in fact specifically preferring Reagan. However, if someone voted Republican in 1968, 1972 and 1976 ("during and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War"), he probably should stop being called a Democrat.

At a certain point, you're simply talking about the Angry White Man.

And Coates isn't missing Judis's point; he's asking why Judis thinks the Angry White Man should be catered to, when the Angry Black People were told their sense of dispossession was merely envy and could be remedied by their own efforts. He's also questioning Judis's analysis, particularly because it ignores Obama's immediate predecessor, who had Elite coming out of his ears.