In the Arena

Too Soon, Too Soon

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Ron Brownstein’s excellent column about Barack Obama’s blue-collar deficit has been raising a fair amount of dust in the blogosphere–and rightly so. This is a particularly nice insight:

It’s not much of an oversimplification to say that the blue-collar Democrats tend to see elections as an arena for defending their interests, and the upscale voters see them as an opportunity to affirm their values.

Brownstein take proper precaution to mention–several times–that it’s still early, and impressions can change. And let me reinforce that: This is WAY EARLY in the race. Most of the candidates haven’t unpacked their policy positions yet. They haven’t shown us how they stand up to each other in debate. We haven’t seen how they react to pressure (with the obvious exception of John and Elizabeth Edwards). Public perceptions have barely been formed–even Hillary is still a caricature to most people–and perceptions can change as quick as a scream.

I’m also not as sure as Brownstein that Hillary is a natural beer track candidate–a warrior as opposed to a priestess: Her rousing speech to the firefighters was more the exception than the rule. She’s got the reek of Holy Wine about her, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: you need to run both tracks to win. But Brownstein’s basic point is about Obama: he is ultimately going to have to prove that he’s not just some fancy guy from Harvard who did a few years of Peace Corps work as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.