I really mean that. Brad over at Sadly, No! and Oliver Willis are arguing over whether the ideal knuckle dragging west virginia voter described here does or does not reflect a real problem for any Democratic Candidate. Here's the sample quote that has everyone's knickers in a twist:
Like most people in Mingo County, West Virginia, Leonard Simpson is a lifelong Democrat. But given a choice between Barack Obama and John McCain in November, the 67-year-old retired coalminer would vote Republican.
“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides. (from the Financial Times)
To Brad this is an anomaly, only a few people are that stupid or ill informed. To Oliver Wills its not an anomaly, its a generic problem. There's a large number of such stupid people, but we can just go around them to get the prize. I see it slightly differently--there may or may not be a large number of such people, but they are seriously deluded in a way that we need to deal with as a people. I mean, lets face it, Mr. Simpson actually thinks this country is way, way, way, more progressive than it is. I don't know of any elite, effete, latte swilling, arugula eating, terrorist hugging, northeastern liberal who would ever dream, for a moment, of putting up an *actual muslim* let alone an *actual atheist wife* as their dream team to win the election for *&^% dog catcher. The idea that everywhere outside this poor guy's wester virginia holler is so advanced that it could push into contention an actual muslim for president strikes me as almost touchingly out of touch with the reality of modern america. Somebody needs to go to Mr. Simpson and explain that far from running on a straight up, balls to the wall, progressive, anti war, pro muslim, pro atheist, political agenda we don't even have the guts to run a *stealth* campaign that would be pro muslim and pro black and pro atheist. And if you replace "muslim" and "black" and "atheist" with any other former hot button terms (communist comes to mind and maybe even liberal) we have pretty much abandoned those categories as too scary to represent, too.
My point here, and I do have one, is that Mr. Simpson actually thinks he knows something as true that isn't factually correct. That can be dealt with. You get the newspapers and the neighbors and other people to slowly and very carefully point out counter factual evidence until Mr. Simpson grasps that he is not, in fact, living in the New Age of multi culti enlightenment he's in a cold sweat about but that Senator Obama and his wife Michelle in fact represent just a slightly darker version of an old line democratic pol and his cloth coated wife. It leaves us with the problem that Mr. Simpson still wouldn't vote for an actual Muslim or an actual atheist, and would rather vote for a bad tempered, over the hill, elitist, twice married, war criminal/ gigolo, who would happily watch Mr. Simpson and his ilk die in a ditch if it kept the free market economy pumping money into his wife's pockets for another three days--but that's a problem that seemingly can't be handled with more information.