How did Hillary Clinton become blue-collar hero?

May 15, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

Does anyone realize how very, very close America came to having West Virginia decide the next president of the United States?

Really, had Hillary picked up a few more delegates here or there in previous primaries, the West Virginia vote would have been for all the marbles. How great would that have been? After months of campaigning, dozens of elections and millions of dollars spent, the next leader of the free world could have been decided by a guy with a sink on his front porch.

What's the saying, "As goes Junior Samples, so goes the nation."

Having grown up in West Virginia, I feel well qualified to comment on the reasons for Hillary's success: We like fighters, scrappers and underdogs. And somehow, that's what Hillary has become. In recent weeks, she's put the "yee" in "haw."

Never in a million years would I have thought of West Virginia as prime Hillary Clinton turf. Who died and made her Minnie Pearl? We still haven't gotten over NAFTA and Vince Foster. If West Virginia starts electing big-city, female lawyers, who's going to be the next governor, Marcia Clark?


Truth be told, however, I don't get this whole campaign. How does the liberal woman from an Ivy League law school become the hero of the working stiff, and the black guy become the dazzling, elitist urbanite?

I'm glad the race has lasted this long, though, and contrary to popular consensus, I think it helps the Democrats. Nothing would be better than for them to go into the convention still undecided.

Really, who watches political conventions on television anymore, save for rabid neocons and Teamsters? There's never any drama; the winner is usually known months in advance.

But if the Democratic convention actually means something, people will tune in and become subject to the rah-rah brainwashing of partisan gobbledygook. As it is, Americans think their presidential choices are Obama, Clinton and the other guy - whatshisname.

That's the downside of wrapping it up early.

I'm also happy because the lengthy campaign has jilted all those states that scrambled to get to the head of the primary list. Everyone wanted to have their primaries first so their votes would carry more weight.

So how did that work out? Does anyone even remember who won Iowa and New Hampshire anymore?

And all the while, there sat West Virginia, sitting back in the pack on the outside, waiting for the speed horses to tire in the stretch. Dumb like a fox.

Suddenly, all of the nation's eyes were on Fairmont. This is the most national attention West Virginia has gotten since Jessica Lynch, or possibly Mary Lou Retton.

According to the New York Times, after the vote, "Obama's advisers downplayed the West Virginia loss, describing the state as demographically unfriendly territory - the electorate was 95 percent white; 70 percent did not attend college."

Classic. In other words, those without education are not going to be smart enough to realize my genius.

It's kind of the Mark Twain defense: "H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

The Herald-Mail Articles