Originally Published on NevadaNewsmakers.com, 10/2/2007 10:51:17 AM
Political columnist and University of Maryland professor Thomas Schaller recently opined that white men might be finally — and thankfully, Schaller seems to suggest, irrelevant to Democrats seeking the presidency. He didn’t use the word “irrelevant” but this was the interpretation of the Reasonable Reporter, who has provided a link below to Schaller’s article “So Long, White Boy.”
In turn, Schaller argues that Democrats have made themselves irrelevant to white male voters. None of the current crop of Democratic White House hopefuls resonates with the white male, he says, particularly in the primary period, when the attention is necessarily focused on the party’s all-important minority and female factions. But it’s OK. So long, white boy.
One must slice and dice numbers, as Schaller does, to support the premise, which is that politically active women and minorities have diluted the electorate, and lessened the statistical importance of white men. (Schaller is looking rather specifically at the Southern “NASCAR dad.” Yet he makes repeated references simply to “white men.”)
The Reasonable Reporter sat among many white men while covering the Washoe Democrats’ Honor Roll Dinner on Thursday evening. Without conducting an actual headcount, the mostly-white audience appeared to be fairly evenly split between men and women. And it appeared to be a cross-generational split.
Who knows what makes these men tick, but several things are clear. They are active Democrats. They will vote. They are not Southern men, they are Western men. And they will matter very much in the Nevada caucus.
Which leads the Reasonable Reporter to wonder whether former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who spoke on behalf of Hillary Clinton, happened to hit the mark with the men in the room. Wilson is best known these days as the husband of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose revealed identity was the subject of a four-year Bush administration scandal.
Wilson introduced himself as a former union member. He told of indulging liberally in the free booze offered by “comely” cocktail waitresses in Reno establishments, as he gambled away his paychecks during the 1970s when he worked on Tahoe construction sites.
His speech is peppered with profanities. His appearance can be variously construed. “A hippie,” he says. But the longish graying hair conveys, perhaps, independence.
Wilson jokes that his own history as a diplomat has been eclipsed by his wife’s brawl with the White House. But then he offers this vignette. As Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq under George H.W. Bush, he answered Saddam Hussein, who said anyone harboring Americans would be executed, by telling the dictator, “If the choice is to allow American citizens to be taken hostage or to be executed, I will bring my own f***ing rope to the hanging.”
Wilson talks tough, and recent history also shows he doesn’t back down from a fight. Notably, and acknowledging that the Plame Affair is mired in politics, he fights those he believes have harmed his woman.
For many women, this is the measure of a man. Is it so for men? For white male Democrats? Did Hillary choose someone who can bring the white boy back into the fold? We’ll see.
“So Long, White Boy” by Thomas F. Schaller