I write about pop culture for a magazine that deals with American entertainment. Does a presidential campaign belong in a column like that, for a magazine like this? Two months ago, I would have said no. But then came Oprah Winfrey's decision to actively campaign for Barack Obama. And the writers' strike. And the completely wrong polls preceding the New Hampshire Democratic primary, and the news media's subsequent caution in quoting polls since then.
The tipping point came somewhere in Georgia, on my annual drive from Maine to Florida; I was listening to a country station. The DJ spun Alan Jackson's new single, ''Small Town Southern Man,'' and when it was over he said it belonged to a new musical genre: Huckabilly. Sitting there in my car as I-95 unrolled in front of me, I thought: Something's going on here.