Pennsylvania's Catholic voters split seven to three for Hillary Clinton. I couldn't believe this. In Wisconsin, Obama had captured just shy of half the Catholic vote. At a time when I find myself returning to my Catholic roots, what on earth went on in Pennsylvania?
A big part of the answer came this morning as I flipped channels. EWTN, the Catholic channel, was airing a rerun of the news from a week ago, when Obama made his unfortunate comments about "bitter" rural Americans "clinging to guns and religion". Like many others, I thought Obama's comments were oversimplified, but not far off the mark: a lot of Americans don't understand globalization. They don't realize how to adapt to it or how to intelligently resist it.
The three male anchors at the EWTN news desk tore into Obama. One of them even said, "People with high school diplomas are more educated than people with higher education." I nearly fell out of my chair and muttered, "Only in the United States."
Their subsequent comments seemed straight out of the 1950's. Obama had insulted ethnic working-class communities. Obama exemplified of the groupthink that highly educated people inevitably succumb to (false at best, insulting at worst), and so forth. It hit me why so many Pennsylvania Catholics broke for Hillary: vestigal European ethnics-vs-blacks racism (which the Church is now bravely transcending) and equally vestigal Catholic contempt for the WASP intellectual elite. Ugh. That's cultural Catholicism at its worst.
Obama is in no danger of losing his pledged delegate lead: of the 10 or so delegates he lost here, he'll gain back in North Carolina and then some. Yet he needs to actually win a primary. Hillary, justifiably so, has a mini-argument that mirrors Obama's "ten in a row" run before March 4: she keeps winning (in the states most demographically favorable to her). Harold Ford of Tennessee was spot-on when he said, "Obama must win Indiana."
The folks at Daily Kos were atwitter about 30% of the Republican vote not going to John McCain. But, as John McAdams, author of the provocative and principled blog Marquette Warrior, said, protest votes are most theoretically worthwhile in elections where the outcome doesn't matter (implying free choice at the polls, of course). Thus, I backed off.