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From Hillary to Whole Foods

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Jonah Goldberg's bestseller Liberal Fascism, had many potential subtitles during its editing cycle. At one point, the subtitle was "From Hegel to Whole Foods." At another it was "From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton." In his Times column today, David Brooks further complicates the Hillary/Whole Foods metaphor business. Hillary, he says, is the Safeway of the race. Obama is Whole Foods.

Hillary Clinton is a classic commodity provider. She caters to the less-educated, less-pretentious consumer. As Ron Brownstein of The National Journal pointed out on Wednesday, she won the non-college-educated voters by 22 points in California, 32 points in Massachusetts and 54 points in Arkansas. She offers voters no frills, just commodities: tax credits, federal subsidies and scholarships. She's got good programs at good prices.

Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer. In the last Pew Research national survey, he led among people with college degrees by 22 points. Educated people get all emotional when they shop and vote. They want an uplifting experience so they can persuade themselves that they're not engaging in a grubby self-interested transaction. They fall for all that zero-carbon footprint, locally grown, community-enhancing Third Place hype. They want cultural signifiers that enrich their lives with meaning.

This seems exactly right to me: I just got a call from my mom, a youngish Baby Boomer living in Virginia. She has a seat reserved for an Obama pre-primary speech next week at my old high school. And, despite the fact that she's leaning Hillary, she is pumped. She's psyched for the speech the way I'm psyched for the MacBook Air. (Obviously, Hillary is PC and Obama is Mac.) She's excited for the patented Obama experience. And she's not the only one…

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  1. I like Whole Foods. They have great chocholate and are one of the few places in my area where I can buy raw milk. Even most other health food stores do not offer raw milk (at least where I live.)

  2. “Obviously, Hillary is PC and Obama is Mac”

    And the Libertarian Party is Linux.

    And the Boston Tea Party is FreeBSD.

    The Personal Choice Party is FreeDOS.

  3. GOP is quill and parchment?

  4. “GOP is quill and parchment?”

    Actually, I think a better analogy for the GOP is to call it Windows Vista.

    http://print.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/the-ow-starts-now-100-reasons-not-to-upgrade-to-windows-vista-part-1/

  5. John Hodgman in a pant suit.

  6. Barack Obama is an experience provider. He attracts the educated consumer. In the last Pew Research national survey, he led among people with college degrees by 22 points.

    So what he’s saying is, Obama voters are likely to read Gluten Free.

    I remember the first time I walked through a Whole Foods, and wanted to buy a magazine (whoa, that’s a story unto itself) and, after seeing their magazine selection, I had to call my wife on the cell and ask (quietly) “What’s a ‘gluten’?”

  7. Obviously, Hillary is PC and Obama is Mac.)

    Hmmm…

    Hmmm…. so Obama voters don’t really want to know what’s going on in their legislation, they just want it to feel slick and polished? They want legislation for…”the rest of us”? We might want to start to be more careful with the metaphors.

  8. “What’s a ‘gluten’?”

    A deadly sin?

  9. You can work your glutens through free-weight lunges, or a stairstepper.

  10. Hillary is the Safeway

    Obama is Whole Foods.

    and

    David Brooks is an asshole.

  11. The GOP is an IBM Selectric.

  12. Obama is Mac.

    didn’t some Obama supporter rip off a 1984 mac ad?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3G-lMZxjo

  13. An Obama rally would be a great place for people to offer free psychology tests.

    An Obama speech is a great place for toner phone salesmen to pick up good lines.

  14. “The GOP is an IBM Selectric.”

    I have never used one myself but they were aparently used by both Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourk. If Wikipedia is to be believed? Can anybody verify this in a non-Wikipedia fashion?

    By the way, never having used one, are they anoying and hard to use or something? Just asking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Selectric

  15. I have never used one myself but they were aparently used by both Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourk.

    And pretty much anyone who attended high school up through 1985.

  16. By the way, never having used one, are they anoying and hard to use or something? Just asking.

    No. As typewriters go, they were quite revolutionary.

  17. So, how did you download music onto your iPod with an IBM Selectric?

  18. I have never used one myself but they were aparently used by both Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O’Rourk. If Wikipedia is to be believed? Can anybody verify this in a non-Wikipedia fashion?

    I’m old enough to remember the typewriter age. The IBM Selectric was a damned good electric typwriter. The early PC WP software came with IBM Selectric printer drivers (a port is on the IBM typewriter later models).
    It’s all obsolete, but it was a well designed machine. Sturdy too.

  19. “Barack Obama is an experience provider.”

    In terms of actual political experience he has about the same as Hillary. Both were in the U.S. Senate. I don’t think being the spouse of an auto mechanic qualifies someone to work on my car. Not that I am equating the two jobs. Auto mechanics actually provide a valuable service and no one will throw me in jail if I choose not to buy that service.

  20. Selectrics were fast and rugged. Very well made and expensive. They had awesome key action–No computer keyboard has even come close, although the early IBM PC keyboards were pretty close (unsuprisingly).

  21. The GOP is hydrogen fluoride.

    Hillary is hydrogen peroxide

    Obama is hydrogen chloride

    David Brooks is hydrogen sulfide.

    And gulten is protein contained in wheat and related plants. A fraction of people have adverse reactions to it, resulting rumors of it’s evil powers.

  22. Obama is Whole Paycheck?* That’s another Brooksian low blow. Let’s go with Trader Joe’s, if you really must make such asinine metaphors.

  23. So, how did you download music onto your iPod with an IBM Selectric?

    By typing 010100101110101001010100101010100101110101101010100101101010010110101001010[contd…]

  24. And gulten is protein contained in wheat and related plants. A fraction of people have adverse reactions to it, resulting rumors of it’s evil powers.

    I thought we were talking about glutens?

  25. Hillary, he says, is the Safeway of the race. Obama is Whole Foods.

    And McCain is what, Woolworth’s?

    Well I dunno, didn’t the five-and-dimes like Woolworth’s take a beating in the late 60’s and early 70’s? Yet it lived on for a few more decades despite being old and looking rather tired and rundown?

  26. “And McCain is what, Woolworth’s?”

    McCain is your local Army / Navy Surplus store.

    http://www.gr8gear.com/catalog/index.php

  27. Hey, everyone, I wanted to announce the release of my new book:

    Metaphor Fascism: What the Fuck is “Bobo” Skylarking About Now?

    The thing with David Brooks, Katherine, is that he has a way of writing things that “seem exactly right to me,” and turn out to be nothing but stale conventional wisdom expressed in blunt stereotypes.

  28. I’m just bitter because I spent three days thinking about that “Patio Man” article before it occurred to me that it was drivel.

    David Brooks’ writing is the cotton candy of social theory.

  29. My company has at least one IBM Selectric that is used for typing over forms and for carbon copy type stuff. If I were to have one typewriter around the house, it would be one of those. An erase key is cool on a typewriter. I think my high school was still using them in the late 80’s. But some of us nerds were learning to use scripsit on the trash-80 at the same time.

  30. I forgot who it was — Atrios? — who said that “the minute the Republican candidate is determined, David Brooks is going to turn on Obama like a fangless weasel.”

    And voila.

    And OBVIOUSLY, John McCain is the Quartermaster’s Store — you might not like what they have, but you’ll get one of everything and like it!

  31. Clinton is Wal-Mart. Obama is Target.

    McCain is a Five-and-Dime.

    Clinton is Internet Explorer. Obama is Firefox.

    McCain is AOL.

    Clinton is a Super Nintendo. Obama is a Sega Genesis.

    McCain is an Atari 2600.

    Metaphors are fun!

  32. I don’t think being the spouse of an auto mechanic qualifies someone to work on my car.

    It worked in my cousin vinnie.

  33. What perturbs me most is that K. Mangu-Ward’s mom (along with thousands of others) is getting all gushy over the thought of being in the same room as a guy who’s deepest desire is probably to lighten our wallets.

    Maybe it’s living in D.C., but politics seems a really sad and prosaic thing to get all gushy about.

  34. I once asked P.J. O’Rourke to name his favorite politician. He told me “That’s like asking who your favorite plumber is. You can talk about who is a good politician, but why should you have a favorite?”

    Would you get gushy for a plumber?

  35. Tom F.: Listen, David, I know we were drunk last night….

    David B.: Don’t say it, Tom. I’ll have the mustache* back to you by Monday.

    *The Mustache of Understanding.

  36. Hey all, I came across this post by ‘freedomlover’ at Cafe Hayek: Ah why did I bother with this loser-tarian blog?

  37. One option might be for Goldberg to change the title to The Road to Serfdom, which is what F.A. Hayek called this book when he published it 50-odd years ago.

    Bam!

  38. “The thing with David Brooks, Katherine, is that he has a way of writing things that “seem exactly right to me,” and turn out to be nothing but stale conventional wisdom expressed in blunt stereotypes.”

    joe,
    That sounds about right to me. I might say, “dressed up conventional wisdom” and “way overdrawn cariacutures and generalities”. Liked your proposed book title by the way.

    Having said that, I kind of liked parts of “Bobos.” I liked the stuff on the Romantic Movement (the painter who used to take his lobster for walks in Parisian parks because “it knew the secrets of the deep and didn’t bark”. The links between the past Romantics and the current ones was an amusing and interesting read).

    But man, oh man, is he ever such a thoughtless conformist and touretting spewer of generalities that ignore important distinctions. Plus, I can’t stand all that national greatness malarky. He was one of the troubadours for that movement which inevitably led us into the Iraq debacle. He champions the heroic virtues but I don’t see that he ever fought in any war, entered the army, or even played anything rougher than touch football. He’s become his own crude cariacture of a sheltered, upper crust boarding school snot.

  39. David Brooks may be an asshole, but his analysis of Obama supporters as those who “want an uplifting experience so they can persuade themselves that they’re not engaging in a grubby self-interested transaction” is right on. Once you pass the soaring rhetoric in the Obama speeches you hear the same old song I have heard from Democrats for fifty years. Since when does a Democrat promising to raise teacher salaries through federal legislation constitute “change?”

  40. midbrowcrisis,

    Did you know that there aren’t any restaurants that serve expensive meals in central Pennsylvania?

    Well, actually, there are. But wouldn’t it be incredibly suggestive if there weren’t?

  41. Hillary is an oak tree. Obama is a maple.

    John McCain is a log.

  42. Do you have the audacity to hope for change?

    Hillary is Evian, Obama is Fiji.
    McCain is toilet water.
    Ron Paul is smart Water.

  43. McCain is a BB
    Clinton is a CVN
    Obama is an LPD
    Romney is a CG
    Huckabee is an FFG
    Paul is an SS

    and Gravel is a YP.

  44. Metaphors?

    Is everyone here trying to be Huckabee?

  45. Ron brown is still ded.

  46. With a few exceptions, Whole Foods sells the same stuff as Safeway(or Vons – we don’t have Safeway in LA), but more expensive, and you feel cool buying it. So yeah, Obama is Whole Foods, Hillary is a Safeway.

  47. “Would you get gushy for a plumber?”

    Hmm, depends on the plumber. But if I choose not to hire a plumber and try to do the job myself no one will throw me in jail. It may or may not work and may want to hire one later on anyway but at least I have that freedom. The same is not true of the job a POTUS does.

  48. “David Brooks is an asshole.”

    [Citation needed]

  49. “They want an uplifting experience so they can persuade themselves that they’re not engaging in a grubby self-interested transaction.”

    That is exactly how I feel about voting. I would say the same is probably true for poor whites who vote republican, and people who run libertarian magazines.

  50. GOP = Windows ME

  51. John McCain is a log.

    He fits on your back, and is great for a snack?

  52. There is at least one arena where Hillary and Barack agree. Both are running on an “I respect the Second Amendment and my opponent is unelectable because he/she doesn’t” platform plank. The times they are a’changin’.

    One example: Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, campaigning in Idaho over the weekend said “there are people who say, `Well, he doesn’t believe in the Second Amendment,’ even though I come from a state – we’ve got a lot of hunters in downstate Illinois. And I have no intention of taking away folks’ guns.”

    In 1996, however, Obama said in a questionnaire that he “supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns” — a fairly extreme position.

    “Well he has to speak to his own record, which has obviously changed over a relatively short period of time,” shot Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

    Pot>>Kettle>>Black.

    Oh, and “shot.” Heh heh.

  53. Don’t try to read this comment thread from the bottom up.

    or

    If you want a surreal read, try this comment thread from the bottom up.

  54. mediageek,
    He’s big; he’s heavy; he’s wood!

    He’s better than bad; he’s good!

  55. I find Obama to be more of a Trader Joe’s: very trendy, caters to leftists, and ever popular for some reason I cannot fathom.

  56. There are two kinds of people: the synthesizers and the analyzers. Brooks is a synthesizer. He grasps patterns quickly and then makes cute categories out of them, sometimes (maybe very often) stretching his thesis further than any man has gone before or would go. So, he often misses “important distinctions.” Then again, the overly analytic mind never seems to admit there are any patterns at all. There are only things they can pull apart, so they often miss the forest for the trees.

    Of course, I’m over-generalizing…..(paging David Brooks). As a friend of mine once said, “There are two kinds of people – those who divide people into two kinds….and those who don’t.”

  57. I think there’s a kernel of truth in Brooks’s comment. But just a kernel.

  58. “McCain is a BB
    Clinton is a CVN
    Obama is an LPD
    Romney is a CG
    Huckabee is an FFG
    Paul is an SS

    and Gravel is a YP.”

    Clinton a CVN? that takes a bit of explainin’

  59. I’d say:

    Clinton is a YTB; good for pushing things around.

    Obama is a FFG; fast, sleek, good looking and moderately useful, but short on capability.

    Huckabee is a garbage scow.

    Romney is a CG, but a CG moored in the reserve fleet.

    Paul is a YFDB; useful when intentionally sunk.

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