05/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

O Bubba, Where Art Thou?

Camp Clinton: It's not just for irritable feminists anymore. Or for skittish seniors, who want a little comfortable change--but are not sold on Change-with-a-capital-C (read: not equipped to gamble on the young black guy). It's not just for her share of a struggling, disillusioned working- and middle class. Put 'em all together and whaddaya got? Not enough to win the nomination. Not enough, even when you try to scare them straight (the three a.m. phone call and Bin Laden lurking in your attack ads...) or keep them mad as hell (He's a bitter elitist and the wrong kind of Christian!). Not enough, even when you cross your fingers behind your back, morph into Mighty Ms McCain, and dangle the amorphous promise of a (really big?) gas tax break for a few months. Gas Tax PanderGate only works if the folks you want to woo and win are too damn dumb to do the math.

The North Carolina and Indiana primaries should have been the Hallelujah Chorus that ended the Democratic primary season's bloody, operatic second act. Not the campaign, perhaps; there is an argument to be made for letting the last few states have their say. Hillary has the right to stay in the race as long as she can pay the bills and garner a few more votes. But the time for oblique attacks on Barack Obama's character, on his church, on his judgment, is past. They didn't work on the majority of Democrats. The time for praying lightning will strike him or a scandal (like, say, a Bimbo Eruption) will hit like a tsunami and take him out, is surely over.

Or not. All is not lost, and this time Hillary Rodham Clinton has found more than her voice (for the umpteenth time). She has, at long last, found her constituency. The "Bubba Vote." Her best argument for herself after May 6th? That Barack Obama cannot win "...working, hard working Americans...[imagine pregnant pause here]...WHITE Americans... WHITES who [have] not attended college..."

Oh, Lawd. Now she's really gone and done it. As a Southern woman, living Deep in the Heart of Bubba Country, I should have seen it coming. First South Carolina and Louisiana primaries are dissed as "Jesse Jackson Land" and "Ya know, there's a large black vote down there..." A clue. I didn't get it. No 21st-century Democrat uses one race against the other. No way.

Next thing we know, Hillary's swaggerin' like Dubya, talkin' 'bout a'runnin' and a'dodgin' them bullets in Tuzla; she's tough as any GOP warrior (and as fast and loose with the facts). Then she's bellyin' up to the bar in Indiana, a shot of Crown Royal in one hand and a big ole beer in the other. Shee-it! That lil ole gal from upper-middle class white Chicago suburbia--who never worked an assembly line or cleaned office buildings or waited tables or pumped gas or changed bedpans or got laid off and depended on food stamps in her life...

Hold on a minute here. This is not about feeling the pain of working class America. This is about winning. Whatever it takes.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is hankerin' to be a Good Ole Boy. She's redefining the criteria for a Democratic winner come November: The one who gets Bubba gets the nomination. Bubba's white, poor and uneducated. He don't like uppity folks. He's in a bad mood. He loves his beer bottles, his bullets and his bombs. And Bubba won't vote for a you-know-what.

O Bubba, Where Art Thou? Well, folks, he's not just in Ohio and Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. He's not just Southern poor white trash. He's everywhere, in every socio-economic class. Scratch his politically correct veneer and have a look-see. He's stuck in the reptilian, lizard brain mindset about who's superior to whom, who's lazy, who's three-fifths human. As I write this, Good Ole Boy Bill is stumpin' rural West Virginia for all he's worth. He knows Bubbas everywhere will get the message. There is no grace in it, no respect, no hint of "Barack Obama is a fine candidate for president, but my wife is a better one and here's why..." None of that lofty rhetoric stuff. Bill's triggering the primal "Us against them" mentality. The slick, reptilian underbelly of his oratory is this: "Obama and all them smart aleck media boys are lookin' down their noses and laughin' at you. They think you're dumb as dirt. Hill and Bill know you're smarter than ever'body else thinks you are--and we're the only ones who give a hoot in hell what happens to you...Let's you and me show 'em! Sic 'em!"

This Bubba-pandering is not about empathy for an expanding underclass living in fear of what tomorrow will bring in a failing economy. Not when Candidate Clinton herself places such emphasis on the modifier "white...white". Not while Bill is fanning the flames of class and color warfare.

This is the worst kind of divisive pandering. It's demeaning and manipulative, appealing to the basest instincts of voters; the old down and dirty GOP Southern Strategy resurrected by desperate Democrats.

The last thing we need is this kind of raging Bubba Vote determining which candidate best represents the Democratic Party's vision for America. Bubba's already had his say and he's done his worst. He gave us eight years of George W. Bush.