It's All Relateable
Travelling through Ohio you not only get a clear sense of the real issue at stake in this election - the economy stoopid! - but you also get to hear a fair bit of the background noise that some seem to hope will muddy the voters' minds.
The self-professed rich man in a poor man's shirt, The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, in his concert for the Democrats' registration drive in Columbus, spoke of America as "a House of Dreams which a thousand George Bushes and a thousand Dick Cheneys can't tear down but will leave in a terrible state of disrepair."
The audience of course were in full agreement but what's striking is that there would be little dissent from Springsteen's view in the more rural, Republican areas of Ohio, like Muskingham County.
Unemployment here approaches nine per cent and George Bush, for whom Muskinghams voted in numbers, twice, is a pariah in these parts.
What's perhaps more relevant at this stage of the election campaign is that the Republicans rarely mention the name of their current candidate for the White House. John McCain.
For them his candidacy has been utterly overshadowed by Sarah Palin. They tell you she has revivified their hopes and energised their canvassing. She may not talk too polished or fancy but they like that. It makes her, as they put it, more relateable.
They also, apparently, love the footage of Governor Palin dressing moose (which apparently involves killing it and ripping the carcass apart, in style.) It's all relateable.
What may worry the people of Muskingham County is the source of a line Ms Palin used in her nomination acceptance speech. "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity... I grew up with those people".
That would have gone down well with rural Ohioans. But they'd doubtless be perturbed to know that she was quoting one Westbrook Pegler. As Robert F. Kennedy Junior explained, Pegler was a fascist who "expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that 'some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.'
One presumes - hopes - Sarah Palin was unaware of exactly who she was quoting. She is already having to handle claims that there are racist undertones to her attacks on Barack Obama.
Her suggestion that he was "palling around" with a "domestic terrorist" is a considerable exaggeration of Obama's tenuous links to a former member of the Weather Underground. She claims "the heels are on and the gloves are off".
The result is not pretty.
"Who is the real Barack Obama?" asks John McCain. Well he's the guy who is now six points ahead in Ohio and is probably about to win this election unless you and your number two can come up with something better.
It's instructive to note that the leader of the Democrats' best canvassing team in Columbus - he was rewarded with a hug and a backslap from Bruce Springsteen - used to be a Republican.
Pop pickers: Springsteen's set in Columbus (all acoustic):
Mr. Spaceman (Byrds cover - Springsteen was introduced by Senator John Glenn. Get it?) Promised Land/Ghost of Tom Joad/Thunder Road/No Surrender/Youngstown/The Rising/This Land is Your Land. Bruce also riffed on the 'Yes we can' Obama campaign slogan.