Saturday, April 12, 2008

Obama's Working Class Insensitivity

Barack Obama made a huge gaffe when campaign this week in Pennsylvania, when he suggested that small-town folks become "bitter" and "cling" to guns, religion, and "anti-immigrant sentiment"

Whoo, that's an inconsiderate mouthful!

The Los Angeles Times has
the overview:

Battling for support in Pennsylvania and other blue-collar bastions, Barack Obama fended off charges of elitism and insensitivity Friday after painting a harsh portrait of America's struggling small towns.

The controversy -- fanned by rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain -- began when the Huffington Post website published remarks the Illinois senator made last weekend at a closed-door San Francisco fundraiser.

In those comments, Obama said he understood why residents of some hard-pressed communities grew angry.

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And it's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Fellow Democrat Clinton, campaigning in Pennsylvania ahead of the state's April 22 primary, suggested Obama was offering condescension rather than solutions. "Pennsylvania doesn't need a president who looks down on them," the New York senator said at a Philadelphia rally. "They need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them."

A strategist for Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.) joined in the criticism. "It's a remarkable statement and extremely revealing," said Steve Schmidt. "It shows an elitism and a condescension toward hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking."
Indeed. But get the whole speech at the Huffington Post.

Obama's remarks have created a feeding frenzy on
the right side of the blogosphere.

Here's
Paul Hinderaker, asking "is Obama's campaign over?:

It may be. I don't see how anyone known to have uttered these words can be elected President:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Barack Obama's arrogance has been evident for some time, and it's no shock, perhaps, to learn that that he shares this bigoted opinion, common among urban liberals, of people who live in "small towns." But to actually express it, in public, at a campaign event, is stunningly stupid.

With respect to the Hindrocket, Obama's campaign's nowhere near done.

As I've chronicled in my recent posting on the Democratic campaign, "No Enemies on the Left," Obama's statements are fundamentally in line with activist thinking among large segments of the Democratic Party's constituent base.

Captain Ed has an excellent post indicating how Democrats and the Obama campaign are tying to distance themselves from the controversy be reframing the debate:

In their attempts to spin away from Barack Obama’s stunningly stupid remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser last weekend, Democrats and the Obama campaign have focused on only the least objectionable portion of the comment as a means to frame the national discussion. In a single sentence where Obama called small-town Midwestern voters overly religious bigots who cling to their guns out of frustration with George Bush, the Democrats have decided to build their defense on “bitter”.

Andrew Sullivan tries to put things in context:

You can see the point he [Obama's] is trying to make - it's the Thomas Frank argument - and you can argue about its merits, back and forth. I don't think it's meant pejoratively about the blue collar workers Obama is trying to engage. But the context of these remarks is political gold for McCain and Clinton. Especially Clinton. You will hear these words on Fox News for a very, very long time.
I hope so.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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