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White Men

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Here's another thing I don't like about this primary: now that there are only two Democratic candidates, it's suddenly horribly absolutely crystal-clear that this is an election about gender and race. This may have always been true, but weeks ago it wasn't so obvious -- once upon a time there were eight candidates, and although six of them withered away, their presence in the campaign managed to obscure things. Even around the time of Ohio, when there were primarily three candidates, the outlines were murky, because Edwards was still in there, picking up votes from all sectors.

But now there are two and we're facing Pennsylvania and whom are we kidding? This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men. How ironic is this? After all this time, after all these stupid articles about how powerless white men are and how they can't even get into college because of overachieving women and affirmative action and mean lady teachers who expected them to sit still in the third grade even though they were all suffering from terminal attention deficit disorder -- after all this, they turn out (surprise!) to have all the power. (As they always did, by the way; I hope you didn't believe any of those articles.)

To put it bluntly, the next president will be elected by them: the outcome of Tuesday's primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing. As for the Democratic hope that McCain's temper will be a problem, don't bet on it. A lot of white men have terrible tempers, and what's more, they think it's normal.

If Hillary pulls it out in Pennsylvania, and she could, and if she follows it up in Indiana, she can make a credible case that she deserves to be the candidate; these last primaries will show which of the two Democratic candidates is better at overcoming the bias of a vast chunk of the population that has never in its history had to vote for anyone but a candidate who could have been their father or their brother or their son, and who has never had to think of the president of the United States as anyone other than someone they might have been had circumstances been just slightly different.

Hillary's case is not an attractive one, because what she'll essentially be saying (and has been saying, although very carefully) is that she can attract more racist white male voters than Obama can. Nonetheless, and as I said, she has a case.

I spent the weekend listening to one commentator after another saying that Obama has it locked up, it's a done deal. I dunno. Hillary is the true whack-a-mole and if she survives on Tuesday, it will be a whole new ballgame. And it will be all because of white men. Plus ca change.