Nora Ephron asks: Do Pennsylvanians hate blacks or women more?
"This is an election," she writes, "about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don't mean people, I mean white men."
Can't lay it out much straighter than that.
Of course, there are economic issues also at play in Tuesday's balloting there. Pennsylvania has been hit hard by tectonic economic shifts that have roiled the Rust Belt for a couple of decades now.
Many communities and their members are still reeling and have yet to find an economic alternative. Hence, in part the blame heaped...
on the North American Free Trade Agreement, that Sen. Hillary Clinton mined so successfully in her big Ohio primary win.
The state has three basic regions -- urban Philadelphia with its large African American population, urban Pittsburgh with its not so large African American population and, in between, a vast middle that produces mind-numbing hours of interstate driving full of small towns full of so-called Reagan Democrats who cling -- some say bitterly -- to their conservative Democratic values.
Ephron argues sharply: "The outcome of Tuesday's primary will depend on whether they go for Hillary or Obama, and the outcome of the general election will depend on whether enough of them vote for McCain. A lot of them will: white men cannot be relied on, as all of us know who have spent a lifetime dating them. And McCain is a compelling candidate, particularly because of the Torture Thing."
She says Pennsylvania and the other upcoming late primary in Indiana on May 6 will demonstrate who should get the Democratic presidential nomination.
"These last primaries will show which of the two Democratic candidates is better at overcoming the bias of a vast chunk of the population that has never in its history had to vote for anyone but a candidate who could have been their father or their brother or their son," Ephron writes.
Forgetting the gender part, her statement is reminiscent of some controversial remarks made back in February on a Pittsburgh radio show by Pennsylvania governor and staunch Clinton backer, Ed Rendell. He, by the way, got elected by beating an African American Republican, Lynn Swann, the former football star.
Rendell said: ""You've got conservative whites here. And I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African American candidate."
At the time we said, if they weren't feeling that way before, it seems like they just got permission from the white governor to feel that way now. Tomorrow, we'll see how many were listening to him -- and now Nora.
-- Andrew Malcolm