Monday, March 3, 2008

What Are Texans Reading?

It's been well publicized that Barack Obama has captured most of the big-city newspaper editorial endorsements. The Dallas daily paper carried his endorsement in the Democratic primary right under their endorsement for Mike Huckabee for the Republicans. They have also been carrying full-page paid ads with a five-part message on Obama's electoral program.

But poor people, and a lot of die-hard progressives, don't subscribe to the Dallas paper. It costs money, and it's often blamed for the city's sorry historical record on civil rights. Poor people read the free weeklies.

What do the weeklies say? I gathered an arm load of them from the free machines outside the Municipal Building. The Spanish-language papers were silent on the presidential election, but they carried local ads supporting several different candidates for Dallas Sheriff. Even though the TV pundits keep saying that Clinton has the Latino vote locked, both the Tejano Democrats and the Mexican American Democrats, two rival electoral coalitions, have endorsed Obama. The only Latina with name recognition in Dallas to support Clinton, Adelfa Calleja, was publicly repudiated by the Clinton campaign for having made a statement against African Americans.

The African American tabloid has a photo of both Democratic contenders on their front page. The accompanying article, though, is very pro-Obama: "The Obama campaign is the most spirited campaign in the history of the United States, and stands to break down the 'Berlin Wall' of race if Obama wins." They also write: "He has created a (sic) immense grassroots campaign in Texas unlike anything seen before in American politics. He has galvanized opposition to the Iraq War as one of the most corrupt wars in American history."

The Elite News includes an op-ed titled, "The Ku Klux Klan DOES NOT endorse Barack Obama for President." It explains some of the confusing rumors, greatly helped along by the availability (and irresponsibility) of internet access. Among them are the idea that Republicans are crossing over to vote for Clinton because they are afraid McCain could never beat Obama. Clinton supporters promulgate a similar rumor about a Republican voter conspiracy against their candidate. The most likely explanation for the Republican crossover voters is the same as why the Democratic turnout has been so unprecedented: they just can't stand the Bush policies. Elite News also carries a full-page back-cover ad from a local pro-Obama group.

--Jim Lane in Dallas

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