Dog-whistling past the graveyard

It’s only the beginning of September. So we’ve got two more months of this. I don’t know how it will play in the negrohoods of Chicago — whoops, sorry, I apologize for saying “Chicago” — but let me make a modest observation from having spent much of the last few months traveling round foreign parts. When you don’t have frighteningly white upscale liberals obsessing about the racist subtext of golf, it’s amazing how much time it frees up to talk about other stuff. For example, as dysfunctional as Greece undoubtedly is, if you criticize the government’s plans for public-pensions provision, there are no Chris Matthews types with such a highly evolved state of racial consciousness that they reflexively hear “watermelon” instead of the word “pensions.” So instead everyone discusses the actual text rather than the imaginary subtext. Which may be why political discourse in the euro zone is marginally less unreal than ours right now: At least they’re talking about “austerity”; over here we’re still spending, and more than ever.

Time’s Mark Halperin wrote this week that “Obama can’t win if he can’t swing the conversation away from the economy.” That’s a pretty amazing admission. The economy is the No. 1 issue on the minds of voters, and, beyond that, the central reality of Obama’s America. But to win the president has to steer clear. That doesn’t leave a lot else. Hence, the racism of golf, the war on women, the carcinogenic properties of Mitt Romney. Democrat strategy 1992: It’s the economy, stupid. Democrat strategy 2012: It’s the stupidity, economists.