Southern-based New York Times reporter Adam Nossiter once again went hunting around for racially charged quotes from Alabamans, and bagged his limit, in Tuesday's front-page story from Vernon, Ala, "For South, a Waning Hold on National Politics." Nossiter argued, with no doubt a little glee, that the South's rejection of Obama spelled the region's political marginalization for years to come:
Fear of the politician with the unusual name and look did not end with last Tuesday's vote in this rural red swatch where buck heads and rifles hang on the wall. This corner of the Deep South still resonates with negative feelings about the race of President-elect Barack Obama.
What may have ended on Election Day, though, is the centrality of the South to national politics. By voting so emphatically for Senator John McCain over Mr. Obama -- supporting him in some areas in even greater numbers than they did President Bush -- voters from Texas to South Carolina and Kentucky may have marginalized their region for some time to come, political experts say.
Later, Nossiter implied that states that went for McCain were clinging to their "Confederate past," and rehashed the stereotype (embraced by the Times) of stupid pro-McCain Southerners one paragraph later:
Along the Atlantic Coast, parts of the "suburban South," notably Virginia and North Carolina, made history last week in breaking from their Confederate past and supporting Mr. Obama. Those states have experienced an influx of better educated and more prosperous voters in recent years, pointing them in a different political direction than states farther west, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Appalachian sections of Kentucky and Tennessee.
Southern counties that voted more heavily Republican this year than in 2004 tended to be poorer, less educated and whiter, a statistical analysis by The New York Times shows. Mr. Obama won in only 44 counties in the Appalachian belt, a stretch of 410 counties that runs from New York to Mississippi. Many of those counties, rural and isolated, have been less exposed to the diversity, educational achievement and economic progress experienced by more prosperous areas.
Nossiter harped on race, as if there could be no other explanation for white Alabamans rejecting Obama's pitch:
And Mr. Obama's race appears to have been the critical deciding factor in pushing ever greater numbers of white Southerners away from the Democrats.
Here in Alabama, where Mr. McCain won 60.4 percent of the vote in his best Southern showing, he had the support of nearly 9 in 10 whites, according to exit polls, a figure comparable to other Southern states. Alabama analysts pointed to the persistence of traditional white Southern attitudes on race as the deciding factor in Mr. McCain's strong margin.
Furthering his image of a backward South, Nossiter dutifully concluded with some ignorant quotes from Alabamans.
Race was a strong subtext in post-election conversations across the socioeconomic spectrum here in Vernon, the small, struggling seat of Lamar County on the Mississippi border.
One white woman said she feared that blacks would now become more "aggressive," while another volunteered that she was bothered by the idea of a black man "over me" in the White House.