Matt Towery

Dickey misfires when he paints the impression that a lot of Southerners are obsessed about the Civil War. The fact is that most have little knowledge of or interest in that titanic, formative conflict of American history. Most simply don't give a hang; it has no relevance to their everyday lives. So what if he sniffed out some fringe group in rural Georgia who reenact Civil War battles? That scene hardly is representative of most people in Georgia, or anywhere else in the region.

Beyond Dickey's selective cultural observation, the photos chosen to accompany the article are wildly out of proportion to reality. They include a faded sign in the woods that says "Jesus Saves Vote"; a room full of bigoted collectibles such as KKK hoods and the old Georgia flag with its Confederate battle emblem; and a rundown store that is likely abandoned.

But my favorite was a snapshot of people watching a movie at a "drive-in" theater. What a hoot! At most, there are a handful of drive-ins in the state where that image was taken; and most of them were built at expensive mountain resorts as "retro" cool places for wealthy urbanites who want to get away for the weekend.

Why does all of this matter? As the CEO of a company that owns the well-respected D.C.-based Southern Political Report, we like to think we know our Southern politics.

Let's face it: The upshot of this article was to paint the South as a region struggling to emerge from a Civil War and civil rights obsession. A place where an African-American candidate for office -- Barack Obama -- can't win white votes.

Yet our most recent InsiderAdvantage survey of the presidential race in one of the states on which Dickey writes proves him dead wrong in his assumption that Obama has no chance to gain white support.

CNN exit polls show that John Kerry, a white Democrat, carried 23 percent of the white vote in Georgia in 2004. Obama already polls 23 percent among white voters there, and there are still a lot of undecided whites still to make up their minds. Where is this "history laden" barrier for Obama?"

Mostly inside Dickey's head.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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