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Posted by on Oct 14, 2008 in Economy | 1 comment

With Three Weeks To Go, Obama & Biden Cruise, But Sometimes Coattails Don’t Matter


With the election looking for all the world like a Barack Obama win, would there be any hint of complacency when Joe and Jill Biden and Bill and Hillary Clinton took the stage at a rally in the Coal Country of Pennsylvania over the weekend? I stayed glued to the teevee for the entire event, nicely-planned to end before the day’s most important happening, the Eagles-49ers game, to try to suss out whether smugness and self satisfaction were in the house.

They were not.

In fact, the quartet on the stage at the Riverfront Sports Complex, a short drive from Biden’s childhood home in the Green Ridge neighborhood of Scranton, sounded more like commanders on the eve of a decisive battle. Which they were.

I took three pleasant surprises away from the festivities: Jill Biden gave a helluva warm-up speech for Bill Clinton, who for the first time in the fall campaign did not equivocate in his support for the Democratic ticket. And while Obama has been soft soaping Sarah Palin’s gutter politics, Biden continues to aim right at her wheelhouse.

* * * * *

The 24/7 focus on The Big Dance makes it easy to forget that a third of all Senate seats and all House seats are in play on November 4, and that while Obama’s coattails are going to be long, this does not automatically guarantee an easy ride for Democratic incumbents.

Obama looks increasingly likely to carry Pennsylvania, but it should not be forgotten that the Keystone State is Philadelphia to the east, Pittsburgh to the west and Alabama in between, to paraphrase James Carville.

The fall campaign has been a nail biter for incumbent Democratic Congressman Paul Kanjorski, who represents much of Coal Country and part of the adjacent Poconos region. This is because of the emergence of Lou Barletta, the Republican mayor of Hazelton, whose claim to fame is that he stood up to the big bad ACLU before it got a federal judge to block his blatantly unconstitutional attempt to discourage hiring and renting to illegal aliens.

Voters are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils:

Kanjorski has been an undistinguished congressman who over 11 terms has been good at only bringing home pork. As befits the views of many of his constituents, and unlike Obama and Biden, he is pro gun and anti abortion.

Barletta is a right-wing moonbat, but immigrants in general and not merely illegals are unfairly seen as a major cause of the economic malaise that overtook Coal Country well before it insinuated itself elsewhere.

Obama may win the region because of Biden’s coattails, while Kanjorski may well lose because no one up-ticket will have coattails long enough to counter Barletta’s xenophobic message.

Photograph by Jimmy May/The Associated Press

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