Irish is the new Southern

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Posted for Amy Sullivan

Joe Biden may not be the son of a mill-worker, but he reminded us he is the son of Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, just in case you forgot he’s Irish. I love that when he told the story of coming home after getting beaten up as a kid and having her demand that he go back out and bloody some noses, she turned to her seatmate and mouthed, “I did. It’s true!”

The first section of Biden’s speech isn’t that different from the one John Edwards gave in 2004. In fact, Edwards used the exact same riff, imagining parents sitting around their kitchen tables at night worrying about their finances. But I remember listening to Edwards and thinking, I wonder how many people hear him and feel like he’s describing them instead of poorer people they can’t really relate to. Maybe it’s the fact that four years later, the economy is worse and financial struggles have moved up the income ladder. But I bet Biden’s examples–“we owe more on the house than it’s worth”, “another year and no raise?”–hit home with more people. And that’s key. Self-interest is still the most powerful force in politics.