Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coffee, Wine and Dems.

Mainstream Media Patrol: Coffee, Wine, and Dems.

Oh no! Not again! One of the most annoying MSM narratives from the ’04 election was the myth that read something like this: the reason Democrats, including John Kerry, lose elections has to do with their choice of coffee—Starbucks—and their choice of wine: white—Chablis or Chardonnay. In other words, Dems. are educated snobs, elitists, Volvo-driving L-I-B-E-R-A-L-S—or at least that’s what the MSM would like to emphasize in its framing of things.

In a week when McCain and Clinton resurrect from the dead, in a week when Mean Girl Dowd unearthed her disdain for a first lady who kept her man, the Mainstream Media excavated what? Election 2004 narrative flashback: Coffee, Wine, and Dems. And I thought this was an election about ch-ch-ch-changes.

As the other ’08 MSM narrative threads seem to diminish, I’ve smelled something familiar this way come from the pundit class. They’ve rolled out a twice told tale, and here’s how they are re-packaging it: Obama has the college crowd, the elites, the Starbucks drinkers, the snobs; and conversely—yeah, whatever, Hillary has the uneducated, the poor, working class, the Maxwell House drinkers—I suppose, the common folks. Even dark angel Karl Rove described Hillary’s win in New Hampshire in terms of how she captured “beer drinkers.”

Sure, data from exit polling reveals how candidates perform in certain demographics. Campaigns use this information to strategize accordingly. Nonetheless, it’s fascinating how the MSM frames and labels Democratic blocks of voters in such drastic, polarizing terms: “Starbucks drinkers,” “White wine snobs,” “cafeteria Catholics,” “Volvo drivers,” “elitists,” etc. Whereas the MSM framing of Republican voters—“evangelicals,” “values voters,” “suburban, strip mall folks,” “church-going”—seems far less drastic.

We all know people who drink Starbucks and who prefer white wine—hopefully, not Chablis. Some people who fall into these categories may be Democrats; some may not. At a time when the themes of change and unity dominate the political stories in the mainstream media, it’s unfortunate to see an old, manufactured myth re-awaken from the dead.

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