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Obama in San Francisco on Pennsylvanians:

The original audio is here; here's the transcript, with the key passage emphasized:

So, it depends on where you are, but I think it's fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre ... I think they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy.' That's ... there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today -- kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing.

Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long, and they feel so betrayed by government, and when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).

But -- so the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What's the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American. So we'll go down a series of talking points.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. 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.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you'll find is, is that people of every background -- there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you'll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing.

A key political question at this point, I suppose, is whether the audio will be cleaned up well enough to be effectively played over the air again and again by Obama's critics in the run-up to the Pennsylvania primary, which is a week from Tuesday.

Here, by the way, is a transcript of his response to his critics (here's the href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc9PepjyDow">YouTube version) (relevant passage emphasized):

When I go around and I talk to people there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness. And what's worse is when people are expressing their anger then politicians try to say what are you angry about? This just happened -- I want to make a point here today.

I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how're you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What's going on there? We hear that's its hard for some working class people to get behind you're campaign. I said, "Well look, they're frustrated and for good reason. Because for the last 25 years they've seen jobs shipped overseas. They've seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions. They have lost their healthcare.

And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we're going to make your community better. We're going to make it right and nothing ever happens. And of course they're bitter. Of course they're frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur. The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up -- they don't vote on economic issues because they don't expect anybody's going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don't believe they can count on Washington. So I made this statement -- so, here's what rich. Senator Clinton says 'No, I don't think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack's being condescending.' John McCain says, 'Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he's obviously out of touch with people.'

Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain -— it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he's saying I'm out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I'm out of touch? No, I'm in touch. I know exactly what's going on. I know what's going on in Pennsylvania. I know what's going on in Indiana. I know what's going on in Illinois. People are fed-up. They're angry and they're frustrated and they're bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that's why I'm running for President of the United States of America.

Does this go far to explaining the original statement, both its part about "they cling to guns or religion ... as a way to explain their frustrations" and the part about "or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment"? My sense is that it doesn't, but I'd love to hear your views.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointers.

Justin (mail):
Haha. Barack Obama is dumb because he tells the truth.
4.12.2008 1:06am
Libertarian1 (mail):
Haha. Barack Obama is dumb because he tells the truth.



Then he should be proud of what he said and repeat it endlessly. The truth shall make you free. But evidently he doesn't agree with Justin, he is desperately trying to clean up what he actually said to make it acceptable to those outside of his BDS coterie.
4.12.2008 1:24am
Justin (mail):
The fact that politicians can't tell the truth because the media treats society like a playground and society doesn't appear to deserve or want any better, that may have something to do with it.

Notice NONE of the criticism of Obama ever has to do with the truthfulness of what he says, only whether it was popular. He gave a grown up speech on race, and nobody seemed to address it on the merits.
4.12.2008 1:34am
Orielbean (mail):
His obtuse point regarding guns: when you lose faith in the different functions of government, you take matters into your own hands. You don't trust the government to protect your rights properly, get yourself a gun. You don't trust the government to support your values, you vote against gay marriage. You don't trust the government to maintain fair trade or equal immigration rights for those who work hard, so you support anti-immigration law or push for trade equality.

And they take refuge in their faith and their communities and their families - the things they can count on. I can count on being able to feed my family with game hunting. I can count on being able to protect my family with a functioning weapon. I can count on my church and community to provide clear sets of values that I identify with.

I see his point, but man, is he gonna catch heat for it. Yikes. I still do prefer it to the straight-talk express and the bosnia counter-sniper team...
4.12.2008 1:41am
GaltLives:
He got in trouble because the truthfully admitted that he thinks he is better than most of the country who are yahoos. Like most liberals think. I think it was a CLinton campaign person who also admitted that liberals talk down the rest of the country when they're alone, Obama just forgot it's a new world, he can't say different things to different audiences any more.

What he said wasn't actually true. People didn't start going to church or going hunting or not being fond of outsiders because the factories closed. They always did that.

That Justin thinks it's the trusth just shows he's in that little bubble world.
4.12.2008 1:44am
Eugene Volokh (www):
And yet, oddly enough, there are some non-embittered people who "cling to" guns and religion, which suggests that maybe Pennsylvanians don't cling to them for the reasons Obama mentions. And there are many Pennsylvanians who don't suffer from "antipathy to people who aren't like them," and who might reasonably resent having Pennsylvanians stereotyped this way.

And there are some non-embittered people who have real worries about immigration, as well as about trade -- as to trade, even in the Obama campaign, I hear. I don't share the worries about trade (I don't have enough of a sense of the immigration debate to have even a moderately confident view on the subject). But I wouldn't dismiss such sentiments as simply people's attempts to "explain their frustrations."

So, no, I don't think that this is just a matter of Obama "tell[ing] the truth."
4.12.2008 1:45am
GaltLives:
The netroots thinks the Internet will help their cause but obviously it is going to put an end to the successes of "progressive" wing.

Before the Internet, CBS, NBC, ABC, Time, Newsweek et al controlled information. A politician could tell an Iowa farmer one thing and a New York coctail party another and they sure wouldn't publish it if it was someone they liked. Now the monopoly is broken and Americans can get other views which they like much much better than the liberal progressive view.
4.12.2008 1:49am
Chimaxx (mail):
Yeah, I think it's on the nose.

When you feel like you're playing by the rules and doing your job, and other people--people with more power or connections--come and ship your jobs overseas and get the courts to okay the corporation voiding the pension you paid into for decades (or this happens to people you know, if not to you), or in other ways make your life more uncertain, there are two main impulses:

1. To cynically mistrust anyone who says "I'll help, if only you'll do X for me" (especially when you've heard it repeatedly over the past few years), and

2. To take out your fear and resentment on those who have equal or less power than you, who haven't been playing by the same rules you have, the rules you think are right, and who seem to be thriving anyway.

When you have a sense of white entitlement, a sense of heterosexual entitlement, a sense of male entitlement, a sense of American entitlement, a sense of Christian entitlement--whatever causes your sense of entitlement because you played by those rules or because it's historically been the land where your sort of people thrived and were the laborers who built the nation--and on the news you see blacks and Asians, gays, women, foreigners, illegals immigrants and godless scientists whose lives are as good as yours and getting better while yours only seems to be getting worse and more uncertain, yeah, it's natural to blame one or more of those *thems* for your misfortune.

Heck, I fall into more than one of the "other" categories, and I'm a knowledge worker, and doing pretty well, but on bad days, even I've felt it.

And since you can't let those who are more powerful than you know how much you resent them, because that might give them reason to take even more away from you, your resentment against the "other" is only redoubled.

I'm not sure how one could even see these two statements as not being of a piece--though I'm sure I'll find out from other comments.

And while I don't know what Obama said in the particular speeches to people in Pennsylvania that prompted these comments, the fact that he has a tendency to tell people both some things that they want to hear and some things that they don't (discussing merit pay in front of teachers' unions, discussing problems of black parenting and gay rights issues before black audiences, etc.) is the one thing he has going for him over the other two candidates--and this is just more along those lines, really.

I certainly won't be ready to trust another Republican administration soon, after this one used happy talk to sell us a bill of goods time and again, promoting "Social Security personal accounts," which would have just meant handing all our social security money to the financial wheeler dealers most responsible for the subprime mortgage meltdown, promising Medicare drug coverage for my Mom, which meant the donut hole and me helping her choose among 87 different incomplete and contradictory plans, none of which were as good as what she had before, promised an Iraq War that would be paying for itself within the first year through Iragi oil profits but that each year more adds billions more of off-budget debt for my nieces and nephews and their kids and their kids.

I don't trust the "New Dawn in America" "Clean Skies" "No Child Left Behind" we'll take care of it for you politicians. I want someone who says: "Here's what we're gonna do. Some of it you'll like, and some of it you won't, but if we all work together, we can make it better."
4.12.2008 1:58am
loki13 (mail):
*sigh*

You know, it's bad enough that the comments sections on Volokh are losing out signal < noise (I never would have guessed Obama's middle name was Hussein... um... HUSSEIN... really?). But now, with the main page posts, I'm really beginning to wonder. DB jumped the shark a while ago. But the rest of you?

Yes, we can parse every candidate's statement's for possible misstatements and rake them over the coals. I'm guessing McCain wouldn't do too well (Iran? Iraq? Shia? Sunni? There's a difference?) Such a gotcha game doesn't really help, though, does it? Do we want grown-up discourse, or focus-tested, safe pablum from our politicians?

I've been disgusted with the Obama posts here. Digging up an unverified statement overheard by serial confabulist Lott about Obama? More gotcha quotes? As Libertarian/Republicans, I am sure the posters here can find many more substantive reasons to dislike Obama. Really. So... do that. He has positions that you must hate. Post 'em. Explain why you think they're wrong and/or other candidates are better on those positions.

But this is getting embarrassing.
4.12.2008 2:16am
Joe Kowalski (mail):
One of Obama's biggest faults as a campaigner frankly is that he relies heavily on subtle nuance that is far too heavily tuned to specific audiences to try to make his points. The context of the whole situation is focused on the voting values of downscale voters in the rust-belt mid west, where a long history of manufacturing oriented local economies have gotten hit very hard over the past 30 years. He argues that these folks have repeatedly turned to politicians to do something about their predicament, who have repeatedly promised to do something about it, and have repeatedly ended up doing nothing. This repeated failure of the pols leaves people cynical about voting on economic issues, and so place a higher priority on non-economic issues in their voting.

Is Obama's argument overly stereotypical? Only if you discard the context of the people he's talking about, which his nuanced approach makes easy.
4.12.2008 2:22am
Along the lines of Obama's knowing the deep truth (mail):
The general appeal of Obama is perhaps to masochism. Morally 'we' need this for all that we, and 'they' who 'deserve it less,' have. Who better to punish us than a black man, a symbol of our, psychologically useful to justify our masochism, created victims. And Obama, so smooth and gentle, has been the perfect director of our punishment. The secret need of the masochist is to control the sadist. His insulting comments and contradictory statements diminish our 'clinging to him' before the election.
4.12.2008 2:30am
Justin (mail):
Eugene, that was the most uncharitable interpretation of what he said. But it's pretty clear that you're not trying to do the man any favors.
4.12.2008 2:34am
Chimaxx (mail):
Eugene says:
And there are many Pennsylvanians who don't suffer from "antipathy to people who aren't like them," and who might reasonably resent having Pennsylvanians stereotyped this way.


I don't know. It would seem to me that the Pennsylvanians who either don't suffer from "antipathy to people who aren't like them" (or believe that they don't), and who believe the comment is aimed at them personally enough to resent it (rather than assuming he means OTHER Pennsylvanians he met during his campaign tour) are probably people who weren't likely to vote for him anyway, no matter what he said.

But I'm probably out of touch on that. Heck, I don't even understand people's identification with the sports teams of the city they live in or near, or of the school they once attended (unless they played for it once themselves). So there's probably some sense of state pride that most people feel intensely that I'm just immune to, and this comment will make his loss to Clinton in PA even bigger than the 5 or 12 or 19 points it's been projected at over the past few weeks.
4.12.2008 2:36am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
So it's somehow condicending to make the pitch that residents of small wid-west towns aren't racist?
4.12.2008 2:42am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I heard Obama's new campaign slogan is going to be based on Reagan's but more like Carters:

Mourning in America

I'm smelling a landslide. And the sad thing is Obama's going to blame it on racism when it will really be that he's too far left, too out of touch with the middle class, and too inexperienced.
4.12.2008 2:44am
Immigration/Trade parts (mail) (www):
As discussed at my name's link, with audio of his comments, Obama has confused opposition to illegalimmigration with "anti-immigrant". The last is largely inaccurate and largely a smear. He's also a near-crypto supporter of a highly questionable Bush trade deal (in fact, me and Obama are the only people I've seen discussing it) so that explains the trade smear. As for the bad quality of the audio, I'm sure the audio can be cleaned up a bit, but with a graphic underneath it most people aren't going to notice.
4.12.2008 2:44am
Ken Arromdee:
You don't trust the government to support your values, you vote against gay marriage.

Oddly, Obama has claimed to be for civil unions but against gay marriage. If he's implying that people oppose gay marriage because they lost faith in their community, then why does *he* oppose gay marriage?
4.12.2008 2:46am
Rock On (www):
Loki13 hit it on the head I think. What exactly is the point of all of this?
4.12.2008 2:51am
EPluribusMoney (mail):
loki13 you need to realize that to a libertarian Obama is evil incarnate. He's the most collectivist, high tax, government control candidate that's ever run for president. Anything that can be done to stop him must and will be done. All's fair in politics and war.

By the way, Hillary "we will take things away from you for your own good" isn't far behind.
4.12.2008 2:51am
Chimaxx (mail):
There's actually a pretty straightforward quote from Obama on same-sex marriage beginning 1:15 into this YouTube clip from the EndTime Ministries: He opposes it because marriage is religious as well legal, and because it will be hard to build a consensus for extending the term marriage to same-sex couples using that term, but that he believes all the civil rights of marriage extended by the states should be "extended in equal terms to gay and lesbians who love each other and want to get want to married."

So it sounds like he just believes the community isn't ready for calling it marriage and may never be, but that he can build a consensus for giving gay and lesbian couples the legal rights conferred by the states.
4.12.2008 3:08am
EH (mail):
By the way, Hillary "we will take things away from you for your own good" isn't far behind.

Since no candidate is proposing to eliminate the TSA this would seem to be among the most minor of quibbles.
4.12.2008 3:20am
swg:
Seems to me Obama explained the comment, but as EV said, his explanation is very likely wrong. There are more plausible reasons that people "cling" to socially conservative viewpoints than the failure of the government to help them economically.

But whatever the truth of his explanation, I think it's far too empirical (about psychological/sociological facts that are incredibly difficult to determine, I would guess) for a politician to be making it to the public without good factual support. Unsupported, it's just too easy to accept what Hillary or McCain has said. So Obama, I think, is effed for PA. Big time.
4.12.2008 3:29am
Chimaxx (mail):
Even though I jumped in above with both feet, I gotta agree with Rock On and Loki13. Rather than hit piece after hit piece on whose preacher said what and who misspoke about sniper fire in Bosnia, Iranian forces in Iraq, or whether or not someone in the campaign talked to someone in the Canadian consulate--the stuff that Fox News chews over endlessly--I'd rather see more substance here. Go to their sites and read one of the policy proposals, provide a link to the white paper, and explain why it's a bad or good idea.

I started to write a response to EPluribusMoney's evidence-free accusation, but I'm just not going to. I know how I feel about the election and candidates at this point, and none of this squabbling over who said what is gonna change that, but if someone can explain to me why Obama has a really bad health care proposal and McCain a really good one--or education plan or stance on the environment or Middle East policy--then I could be persuaded.

But this "Did you hear what he said?" stuff is way too high school for this site.
4.12.2008 3:32am
LyleP (mail):
I want to hear him talk down to ignorant black folk.
4.12.2008 3:33am
Perseus (mail):
Senator Obama was simply giving another iteration of his version of "What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America." He made a similar argument in his tedious speech about race as well:

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. ...these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze - a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.

It's just that this time his "nuance" revealed the typical patronizing view of the liberal cultural elite of which he is a member. Those poor little proles suffer from a false consciousness about the real causes of their economic anxieties and resort to the opiates of God &Guns to console themselves. Some even have the audacity to regard their cultural concerns as being more important than economics. But soon the Anointed One will enlighten and unite the people and create a economy that will allow everyone "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, and philosophize after dinner" (though the Anointed One probably won't let you hunt with guns).
4.12.2008 3:44am
hb123 (mail) (www):
I think the most accurate reading of Obama's original point is that it was about voting margins--that if white working class voters felt they had a meaningful economic choice, MORE OF THEM would vote on economic grounds (and in favor of him) than would vote on grounds of social values. To this position, then, Eugene's rebuttal above is inapposite: sure, there are some hardcore gay-marriage-haters, the arguments goes, but they wouldn't vote on that basis if they felt voting had a more direct economic impact. Eugene's reading seems to be not addressing the substance of the idea, but instead adding to the broader political noise of misreadings. Which is fine--that's what's going to happen in the big leagues when you don't argue clearly.

Maybe I've just lived in the bubble that is Washington for too long, but I've heard this argument about white working class Democrats a lot. I think it's an opinion held in private and based on polling, but I'm too lazy to check for any data. And as swg says, without empirical evidence for this proposition (which is about broad trends), it's easy for spinners to apply it to individuals and proclaim it false. For myself, I don't know if it's true, but it makes a certain intuitive sense. Given the number of people who rank gay marriage as their highest-priority issue, it seems likely that if one could plausibly connect a more dearly held issue like the economy to their vote, they'd cast it on that basis. No idea, though, if the trend is accurate.
4.12.2008 3:44am
TokyoTom (mail):
loki13 you need to realize that to a libertarian Obama is evil incarnate. He's the most collectivist, high tax, government control candidate that's ever run for president. Anything that can be done to stop him must and will be done. All's fair in politics and war.

By the way, Hillary "we will take things away from you for your own good" isn't far behind.


And what, you`re a fan of "stay the course" and "bomb Iran" McCain, who promises even more of the Bush-led mortgaging of our country`s future to guarantee the flow of pork to defense contractors and other insiders, and win-at-any cost, stirring up tribal reactions and division approach to power?

What`s galling about this election is that even though Obama doesn`t correctly understand how misgovernment lies at the heart of our problems, he is clearly the straightest shooter in the race and least beholden to the insiders who have been dividing us and bleeding us dry. Even though Obama is way off on some things, that he`s attempting to diagnose and tell the truth is refreshing.

Those who say all's fair in politics and war, and can devote all their energy to find ways to pick apart Obama`s statements without any reference to the context of the past 7+ years are not being honest, eoither to themselves or others.
4.12.2008 4:00am
John Greggo (mail):
If you don't think his response nailed it, you are tone-deaf. Thems was pitch perfect politics.
4.12.2008 4:14am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
The take I get on it is he tipped his hand- somehow, people like me should be governmentally weaned off of firearms, religion, and my belief that immigration laws should be enforced; my values, obviously, are the result of ineffective short-reaching government, and wrong.

And I'm stupid.

This guy is a half-baked marxist, when suitable.
4.12.2008 4:38am
illspirit (www):
Personally, I think his response digs an even deeper hole. Or at the very least, showed he's even more out of touch than he thought he wasn't.

Granted, I'm an urban atheist in another State who likes immigrants, but I do "cling to my guns." I don't do so because I'm "bitter" that Washington doesn't swaddle me in bubble wrap. I keep them because I don't want or need Washington "looking out for me."

Why is it so hard for him (and big-government types in general) to understand that some people don't want his brand of "help?"
4.12.2008 5:22am
BGates:
Justin, you seem pretty confident in Obama's enumeration of the failings of Pennsylvania voters that make them vote the way they do? Would you care to discuss the personal flaws that have led you to your beliefs? I'm sure many of us have guesses, of course, but there's always a chance you understand yourself better than we understand you.

But this "Did you hear what he said?" stuff is way too high school for this site.
Quite right. I'm sick of Republicans trying to smear Obama with every person he's met, every church he's attended, every woman he's married, every book he's written, and every statement he's made.
4.12.2008 5:24am
donaldk2 (mail):
Paradigmatic. To the nth. Spot on. In San Francisco, mind you, he is explaining, to his enlightened listeners, the difficulties of those benighted small town Pennsylania rubes. Naturally they cling to those naughty attitudes:
pro-gun, anti-immigrant, religious.

He is promising what he can't deliver: government relief of the hardships of industrial change. Change moves enterprise from heavy manufacturing to electronics. Sixty years ago a similar thing occurred: prewar, cities like Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Shenandoah, had streets lined with mansions, profitable banks and retailers, all based on mining anthracite coal. No coal, no jobs, and an outmigration of every young person who could get away.

Misfortune indeed. But Pennsylvania lived through it somehow. Without the help of demogogues bent on making things worse.
4.12.2008 5:45am
Gaius Marius:
Barack Hussein Obama is revealing how he truly feels about white folks in Pennsylvania and elsewhere: just a bunch of redneck crackers with a bunch of guns and bibles.
4.12.2008 7:10am
kadet (mail):
what Obama said is basically true, may be he should have said it better.
But how come, Zhenya, I never see from you similar discussions on pathetic militaristic warmongering statements from McCain and his cohorts? And those statements do not even need to be interpreted.
4.12.2008 8:16am
Gaius Marius:
The longer the Democratic Primary continues, the more America will truly see Barack Hussein Obama for what he is: an elitist who feels entitled to the highest office of our country without having to earn it from the plebian classes.
4.12.2008 8:34am
PersonFromPorlock:
Chimaxx:

Go to their sites and read one of the policy proposals....

Policy proposals don't mean much if the candidate's word is no good; and it hasn't been, historically, for any prominent politician. Hence our untutored concern with 'character' as an indicator of behavior in office.
4.12.2008 8:40am
TokyoTom (mail):
Right, Garius. Doesn`t Obama know that the highest office of our country is now reserved for elitists from the right who never had to earn it from the plebian classes either - but do a great job of getting the plebian classes to chase their tails over worries not about closed, secretive pork barrel government, endless wars that are too important to budget for and economic mismanagement, but over Islamofascists, gays, unwed mothers who want abortions, enviros, fairy/effete liberals, and immigrants, all of whom want to destroy America?
4.12.2008 8:48am
Gary McGath (www):
Obama is so reflexively anti-Second Amendment that he doesn't even see a problem in saying that Americans "cling" to guns.
4.12.2008 9:08am
LPC (mail):
It's just that this time his "nuance" revealed the typical patronizing view of the liberal cultural elite of which he is a member. Those poor little proles suffer from a false consciousness about the real causes of their economic anxieties and resort to the opiates of God &Guns to console themselves.
The above nails it. Elite liberals can't imagine that anyone, especially the working class (Karl Marx still has some vestigial influence) could possibly be conservative out of reason instead of malice, fear, or spite.

BTW, I thought Obama claims to be legitimately religious, after his conversion by the honorable reverend Wright. Religious people don't usually condescendingly refer to other religious people as "clinging to religion." You don't think he joined Wright's church and claims to be a believing Christian for cynical political reasons, do you?
4.12.2008 9:32am
Neo (mail):
When I posted about this yesterday, I had found the part ..
anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

.. as just breathe taking in regard to the fact that just the day before Nancy Pelosi had taken the Columbian Free Trade agreement out of contention for an up or down vote.

But why would Nancy Pelosi be bitter ?

But alas, here was the leading contentor for the Democratic nomination for POTUS basically saying that this was a cynical act, probably a cynical political act which was not in the interest of the nation, but nonetheless standard Democratic fare of the day.

I've noticed today, that many progressive sites seem to leave off the "anti-trade sentiment" portion of the quote, including Reuters.

Are all Democratic candidates so cynical of the voters that they fell free to distort their own positions publicly while secretly knowing that they would not support it themselves ?

I will watch and wait for an answer.
4.12.2008 9:49am
J_A:

Policy proposals don't mean much if the candidate's word is no good; and it hasn't been, historically, for any prominent politician. Hence our untutored concern with 'character' as an indicator of behavior in office.

So what in his character made you, PersonfromPollock, vote for Bush? His absolute stubbornest? his never ever accepting he might be wrong? his absolute disregard for checks and balances? the fact that he never reads a newspaper or watches a news show, and proud of it? or just that he really really likes to take long vacations that are not available to 99% of Americans?

I mean, there must be something. It was not that Bush's word is any good, as you correctly pointed out.
4.12.2008 10:04am
msimpson (mail) (www):
The problem with BA's "explanation" is that it (a) reflects the same sort of condescension the first statement did and (b) reflects the kind of dumb political antennae that has plagued the Dems for nearly 40 years now. As to (a), the explanation makes BA out to be the sole candidate who offers *real* choices and *real* help for PA's economic troubles. Yeah, right, no other Dems have *really* offered anything other than warmed-over GOP economic platitudes for 25 years. More than a touch of arrogant messianism there. More importantly, the explanation reveals BA to be a guy who thinks that economics is first and foremost about economics and only secondarily about "cultural" issues. He's really no different than Howard Dean and his (in)famous "God, gays, and guns" remark. This is just nonsense. Economics obviously matters, but so do "cultural" issues, especially in a democracy where what the government does reflects on us all. People don't throw themselves over to voting on cultural issues when they despair of any real economic help from the government. They are already always concerned with matters both cultural and economic (and foreign, for that matter) and they usually try to negotiate among those issues to choose candidates they think best on a mix of all three. Obama's view here pretty standard left-liberal academic stuff and just the sort of thing that has helped the Democratic Party move from its overwhelming majority in the 1970s to something a good bit less than that today (though the GOP seems to be doing all it can to return itself to the 1970s as well).
4.12.2008 10:29am
seadrive:
Excellent example here of why we have election campaigns by sound bite. Anytime a candidate makes a statement of any depth at all, they end up spending a week correcting all the knuckle-headed, ill-intentioned mis-re-statements.

There are thousands of examples of why people 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 including why Germany voted for Hitler, why Argentinians voted for Peron, why Venezuelans voted for Chavez, etc. It's a plain fact of political life.
4.12.2008 10:53am
calmom:
Translation of Obama remarks: "These small town yahoos are too stupid to understand economics. So they vote based on issues they can understand, guns, gays and immigration."

Spoken by someone who has lived in Honolulu, Indonesia, New York, Boston and Chicago.

He wants to appear to be the smartest person in the race but he stereotypes and demeans people because he's never met them and has little or no understanding of their lives. And thinks that if you haven't gone to Columbia or Harvard you're too uneducated or stupid to vote.
4.12.2008 10:55am
byomtov (mail):
I'm with loki13.

This site seems to have become part legal commentary, part Limbaugh-style Republican campaign adjunct. I suppose the Obama-bashing (what's his middle name, again?) is more frequent than the Clinton-bashing because he is much more likely to be the candidate, but it really is getting silly.

Is it really not true that people in economically depressed areas get bitter, for Pete's sake?
4.12.2008 10:57am
Ak:
Of course it's true that people get frustrated by living in poor areas. Suggesting that one is pro-gun or Christian because the government hasn't increased taxes on the top 1%, however, is incredibly patronizing.

If you are a liberal and are seriously unable to see this, pretend McCain said "black people all vote Democrat because they're not successful in our current economy so they vote for the candidate who gives them the most government entitlements". Might black people not have cause to be offended by this?
4.12.2008 11:12am
Bender (mail):
Well gosh, shucks, gee-whiz, I guess I'm just one of those embittered, rube hicks that Obama is having so much trouble getting through to, because I don't trust government, want to reduce its influence, like the 2nd Amendment, think abortion is evil and not constitutionally protected, think that homosexuality is abnormal and that rampant homosexual behavior is a public health problem that needs to be controlled, think that many of the social problems in this country are caused by bearing and raising children outside of wedlock (just like that other Neanderthal Patrick J. Moynihan), etc., etc. And all this despite an Ivy League Ph.D., a more cosmopolitan than average experience of the world, experience working for state, the US federal government and foreign governments in the areas of economic development, public health, and criminal justice. I jist don't know what's the matter with folks like me.
4.12.2008 11:14am
calmom:
I was born and raised in a small town. It might surprise city people like Obama to know that small town people go to college, get their degrees, and return to their small towns because they like it there. Small town people have traveled, are widely read, have book clubs, read the newspapers and in short aren't the uneducated rednecks that he's stereotyping.

What it comes down to is that Obama doesn't understand the lives of the vast majority of the people of this country.
4.12.2008 11:16am
Lazlo Hollyfeld:
When did Volokh become such a craven shill for the Republicans ?
4.12.2008 11:27am
Justin (mail):
calmon,

Actually, in many midwestern towns and cities in the rust belt, braindrain is a major problem. And not just smaller ones. Pittsburgh, for instance. From that article:

"The list of the worst brain drain losers was a combination of Rust Belt cities that have suffered from widespread population losses, like Buffalo, and other areas that are centers of higher education without plentiful populations and jobs, such as Bryan-College Station in Texas and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich."

So, as an empirical matter, you happen to be flat out wrong. But keep attacking Obama. Did you know his middle name is Hussein?
4.12.2008 11:28am
glangston (mail):
Hopefully Justin and others will be able to convince Obama to keep telling his "truths"

People love being put in a box and talked down to.
4.12.2008 11:34am
Anderson (mail):
Eugene, that was the most uncharitable interpretation of what he said. But it's pretty clear that you're not trying to do the man any favors.

Amen to both sentences. It was perfectly clear what he was talking about. The vast majority of "pro-gun" voters are not motivated by their deep Constitutional understanding of the Second Amendment, any more than most "pro-choice" voters are motivated by their erudite study of the common-law history of "the right to privacy."

And given that the intelligent authors of this blog are putting Obama's speeches under the electron microscope, while uninterested in the stupidities and lies that McCain comes up with every week, "uncharitable" is itself charitable.

Frankly, "bitter" and "frustrated" is starting to sound like a pretty good description of the Obama-bashing posters at the VC. It cheapens the blog considerably.
4.12.2008 11:35am
calmom:
When people who grew up in small towns leave, they still have a soft spot for their hometown, as I do. And they don't want their friends, neighbors and family members stereotyped as bigoted rednecks, too dumb to see the light (and vote for Obama).

I've lived in big cities and a small town and people are the same everywhere. There are a mix of all sorts of beliefs everywhere.

Obama is doing the worst type of stereotyping.
4.12.2008 11:38am
Jake437 (mail):
Count me in with the posters disgusted that this site has become so virulently anti-Obama. I actually assumed that a number of the recent postings here were written by David Bernstein, and was horrified when I saw that they weren't.
4.12.2008 11:41am
MnZ:
Obama supporters are offensive. It is becoming very clear that they will not allow honest evaluations of Obama's views, experience, and policies...unless the conclusion is "Obama is GREAT."

Obama gets to stand above the fray while his supporters stifle any thing even approaching dissent.
4.12.2008 11:44am
stevelaudig (mail):
Let's talk about the apartheid policies of the Israeli government instead and see if the parsing is as cramped and ungenerous. I'll bet it's not. But I could be wrong. I'm not really an Obama supporter nor Clinton for that matter but this site used to fairly discuss matters. Now it's headed into Limbaugh land and there's no credibility there to be had. As far as McCain is concerned, it's not a country that can be led by old men and he has yet to explain dumping the first wife. Let's hear some straight talk on that. Goodbye, and goodnight.
4.12.2008 11:55am
BillyBoy982:
calmom:
I was born and raised in a small town. It might surprise city people like Obama to know that small town people go to college, get their degrees, and return to their small towns because they like it there. Small town people have traveled, are widely read, have book clubs, read the newspapers and in short aren't the uneducated rednecks that he's stereotyping.

What it comes down to is that Obama doesn't understand the lives of the vast majority of the people of this country.


You beat me to it.
4.12.2008 12:04pm
elim:
I come from small town northern michigan and now live in illinois. the yahoos up there still hunt deer with guns despite having supermarkets. I can't understand the south side or west side residents shooting each other down on the streets. didn't happen where I grew up.
4.12.2008 12:24pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Bender, I don`t know what`s wrong with you in particular, but I know that many like you have become fed up with the lies, obfuscation and divisive, selfish manipulation of this Administration and the Republican party - who have largely proven not to care one iota about what you and others jist like you think - so much so that many of these others have changed party and voted Democratic in the last election, and even changing the majority in the Senate in the case of Jim Webb.
4.12.2008 12:24pm
A.C.:
Sometimes it's fine to dislike change. Often, even. The status quo is what you have experienced, and its pros and cons are fairly clear. But anyone who has any knowledge of the world knows that it's a lot easier to have a bad new idea than a good new idea. Bad new ideas are a dime a dozen. I can have a few hundred before breakfast without even straining. Stalin had a lot of bad new ideas, and unlike me he actually got to try his out. But having good new ideas, that takes real work.

Now, sometimes change is necessary. It may be change as a force of nature, or change caused by other people who can't be controlled, but it may also be change that society chooses because the "con" side of the status quo outweighs the "pro" side by a significant amount. In that third category, I think it's incredibly useful to have a large group of people who can't be sold easily by charismatic promoters. People SHOULD demand that specific changes (as opposed to "change" vaguely defined) be explained and defended before they are implemented. And dismissing the kind of people who make these demands, especially dismissing them as psychologically disordered by stress, is extremely rude.
4.12.2008 12:26pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
"And yet, oddly enough, there are some non-embittered..."

Well, did Obama actually say otherwise? Or is it simply more availing to construe his remarks as implausibly categorical?
4.12.2008 12:33pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
People in small towns in the Midwest are pro-gun and religious in good times and bad.

Perseus nailed it about the "Wrong with Kansas" theme. Liberals seem to think that if non-liberals would only focus on economic issues, they would ignore the fact that the Democratic Party's social issues stands run counter to the values of Kansas voters.

Jews in the US ignore economics to vote their social issue side. Libs want everyone else to do the reverse.
4.12.2008 12:36pm
Yahoo (mail):
Jake437
Count me in with the posters disgusted that this site has become so virulently anti-Obama.
You are disgusted with people who, having considered the evidence, come to conclusions that disagree with yours.

A number of posters have stated that instead of paying attention to Obama's sound-bites or ministers, one should consider Obama's policy statements. A problem here is that Obama contradicts himself with regard to policy statements. Consider the issue of trade. He has said he is against the FTAs the US has w Canada and Mexico. Then a member of the Obama team is purported to have said to a Canadian official that Canada should ignore Obama's statements on the FTAs: they were just campaign fluff. Then the Obama campaign issues a denial about the statements to the Canadian official. Obama's statements about Pennsylvanias called them "anti-trade," associating this with love of guns and excessive religiosity: yahoos are against free trade. And of course, Obama is NOT a yahoo: so he must be for free trade. Can we trust any policy statements coming from Obama, given this track record?
4.12.2008 12:36pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc9PepjyDow

That's a pretty amazing response
4.12.2008 12:37pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Folks hereabouts might be able to convince themselves that Obama spoke nothing but the truth.
Good for them.
Obama's problem is not whether some of the precious like what he said.
His problem is getting the rubes to bend over, take it up the whatsit and ask for another. To put it another way, he needs to figure out how to get these folks to vote for him.
If he can't do that, the agreement among the hoiest of the polloi is irrelevant.
4.12.2008 12:37pm
sbron:
Actually, McCain's views on immigration are virtually identical to Obama's. McCain has openly demeaned those questioning mass immigration without assimilation, and has declared "We are all God's children." Maybe, but all 6.5 billion of God's children cannot fit into the U.S.
See this exchange at

http://tinyurl.com/62kl87


Senator McCain, current immigration policy is doubling US population within the lifetimes of today's children. Since you support this policy, will you at least say when we should stop?

One billion people? Two billion? Three?

McCain's eyes narrowed, and his head drew down into his shoulders. "You and I, sir," he began slowly, emphasizing each word and glaring at me as if I were a poisonous insect, "obviously have differing views on immigration.

"But let me make one thing perfectly clear," he continued, his voice rising, "there is no room in the Republican Party for bigots, xenophobes, or racists."




McCain's friend Lindsey Graham (and possible V.P.?) is even closer to Obama -- Graham told an audience referring to those opposing mass immigration "We're going to tell the bigots to shut up."
4.12.2008 12:39pm
SeaLawyer:
I can't believe anyone would dare criticize the messiah like this. Everyone needs to bow down at the feet of Obama and praise and worship him.
4.12.2008 12:56pm
Maverick (mail):
And we care about this why? Pennsylvania polls have narrowed. It looks like Barrack will be competitive. It's no surprise to me that people are bitter about government and it isn't any surprise to me that government has tried to keep them in line by stoking cultural issues.

What surprises me is why any of you care that Barrack points it out.

Maverick
4.12.2008 1:01pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Actually, Maverick, I'm interested in watching Obama trying to get the dissed to vote for him.

And your point would be more convincing if the culture from which the cultural issues spring hadn't preceded the current economic situation by maybe a century.

Remind me to look up where the Whiskey Rebellion took place. Mountains, I think. Where transporting the condensed form of corn was more convenient. Rural. Anti-government. Probably the guys went to church. Armed.

Might even have been in Pennsylvania.
4.12.2008 1:07pm
elim:
liking guns and going to church don't have anything to do with bitterness toward government. looking to the "context" of his statement, the thing we also were asked to do with Wright, he doesn't have the foggiest idea that people might like the former and do the latter. I imagine he doesn't know a person from his Hyde Park life in Chicago who owns a gun. as to church, perhaps it is a reflection of his racial bitterness that he chose the church he did. for most people, church is for worship, not bitterness and anger.
4.12.2008 1:12pm
Tugh (mail):
Count me among those disappointed with the cheapening of this very good site with constant and unfair attacks on Obama. It really seems that notions of elementary fairness are out of the window here when it comes to Obama. It's sad, really.
4.12.2008 1:16pm
Elliot123 (mail):
How long before Obama tells us his grandmother read here bible every night and slept with a gun under the pillow?
4.12.2008 1:30pm
elim:
yes, I am saddened that this site, dealing with legal issues, would direct any attention to the election of the president of the United States ie. the guy who appoints judges, enforces the law, etc. by unfair, do you mean quoting and taking the man seriously enough to actually attempt to see where he is coming from instead of abjectly worshiping him? Obama's a typical Hyde Park liberal-anyone from outside of the city is a yahoo, people who go to church are suckers. Way to sell yourself to the yokels.
4.12.2008 1:32pm
Call Me Axelrod (mail):
I, too, an upset at the way the Volokh bloggers are shilling for Clinton. And that could be the only possible reason for pointing up Obama's frequent gaffes, and the way that he keeps slipping up and revealing things that are inconsistent with the face he's been presenting to the public.
4.12.2008 1:37pm
Bender (mail):
I really don't understand why the Obama folks are so upset. I've seen just as virulent attacks against Clinton and McCain on this site. Hell, I've made some of them.

What Obama supporters have to realize is that both he and Clinton are positioning themselves during the primaries to appeal to the critical left-wing of the Democratic Party. I believe that this positioning is an honest assertion of policy views in Obama's case. But his supporters have to realize that this puts him (and probably Clinton too) unacceptably far to the left on many issues that are important to a majority of Americans.

I personally like what I've seen of Obama's character and deportment far more than I like those of either Clinton or McCain. But I will not vote for Obama because I find many of his policy positions abhorent and dangerous and because I think he has no real connect with the lives and problems of middle-class and working-class Americans.

The Volokh Conspiracy is doing Obama and his supporters a favor by presenting some of the many reasonable (and unreasonable) arguments against him in a forum that will have little impact upon the primary elections or general election. If you cannot deal with the heat here, you will be nostril-deep in trouble down the road.
4.12.2008 1:38pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
Sigh, this is why democracy sucks. Rather than asking whether Obama has good policies we are fighting over whether he can "relate" to ordinary working class people or whether he looks down on thee poor working class people.

Now obviously it's important that a candidate doesn't dismiss the welfare of the working class or only serve the interests of the rich and educated. However, I don't want a candidate who doesn't look down on the beliefs and desires of these voters. I don't have anything against gun ownership but there is a certain segment of society that clings to guns as a way to give themselves self-confidence and identity and this often goes along with intolerant religious views demanding we block gay marriage and a strong anti-immigrant sentiment. Obviously I want a president who will take these people's needs seriously but I don't want a candidate who will seriously entertain their beliefs and cultural attitude. I don't think the suggestion that the reason they resort to these kinds of beliefs because they lack opportunities for economic and social success is necessarily off the mark.

The only way life is really going to get better for these voters is by having a president who says, "Pshaw, they don't know what's good for them...negotiate that free trade agreement anyway and we'll tack on job retraining and other transfer payments to ease the transition. Ohh and increase the number of H1B visas too."

Even if you don't agree with me on this issue every honest American has beliefs which are outright offensive to some major demographic group. Maybe you think intellectuals are a bunch of know-nothing eggheads, maybe you think the working class isn't educated enough to know what's best for them, maybe you think that born again christians are intolerant morons, maybe you think that religious moderates/secularists are perverting the faith. Maybe you think that farmers should stop bitching about their "way of life" and get another job rather than government handouts if they can't make money. I could continue but the point is that everyone thinks that some politically important group has idiotic beliefs. Thus we have a system where only a liar can become president

So don't pretend this is a reason to vote against Barack in particular. You know that both Hillary, McCain, Bush, and every other presidential candidate in recent memory has tried to win the votes of a group they think has utterly moronic beliefs.

----

In short yes I'm an elitist and damn proud of it. And so is most of the country, we just disagree about who these right minded folk are that should be making the decisions.
4.12.2008 1:50pm
elim:
lesson 1-if you are running for president, you might want to use a different tone of voice when talking about your fellow citizens than you use in the faculty lounge at U of C.

lesson 2-realize that you live in and around a very liberal area in an all Democrat city. folks in areas outside of Chicago/Cook County think a little diffently, for the most part, than Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

lesson 3-people are born and raised going to churches, have faith in things other than government and actually take solace and comfort from worship, not just anger and hatred like you are used to from the pulpit. try not to show too much contempt for them.
4.12.2008 1:54pm
Bart (mail):
Obama's spin essentially boils down to this:

We hicks in small towns in fly over country were forced to a believe in God and right to keep and bear arms because we are bitter that Uncle Sugar is not providing us with enough government jobs and health care.

This is about as insulting as his spin arguing that Wright's racism and anti-American views are a legitimate part of the African American community and that he could no more abandon Wright than the African American community.

Obama's rhetoric of centrism and unity have been pretty much exposed as a sham.

Instead, Obama either has no principles and attends black liberation churches and spouts coastal elitist snobbery out of political expediency OR Obama's actual beliefs are a combination of Wright's hatred and San Francisco condescension.

In either case, the insight we are gaining into Obama is not pretty.

Unless Obama stops giving fly over country reasons to vote against him and instead starts treating their concerns with respect and seriousness, McCain is going to take the election by simply showing up on the ballot.
4.12.2008 1:58pm
elim:
I am an elitist too. I attend a racist church, live in a cocoon of a major university and a far left neighborhood, think people who live in the country are yahoos, and don't really like americans. whites and jews-don't much care for them either.

can I be president?
4.12.2008 2:06pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
I think everyone is picking on Obama way too much over these comments recognizing how things are. Maybe he did nto say them as eloquently as usual, but all the Hillary criticism is just more Hillary Foo Foo dust to try to trick voters to elect her when no one really wants her in the Presidency. not because she is a woman, but because she is a very poor candidate predicated on what she stands for.

When I think of Hillary, I am reminded of tha subprimers who owned several flipper houses and a McMansion who rented a house to my 90+ year old mother-in-law, a frail lady just wanting a good, stable place to live the last years of her life.

As the subprime mortgage market collapsed based on the extreme financial irresponsibility of these subprime gamblers who treated my mother-in-law like their peasant source of making their mortgage payments so they alone could be so important and wealthy and of a higher class, these same subprimers who moved the handicap accessible parking in front of her house farther away after my mother-in-law broke her back in a fall, upon being foreclossed and thrown out of their McMansion onto the streets and all their other subprimer houses gone, the predators moved in on this frail 90 year old woman to put HER out on the streets to save themselves.

THAT is the America Hillary advocates -- save the subprime fiscal irresponsible set who have bankrupted this Counrty with their bad judgment and excesses, people who would never make it past a Bar Examiner Character &Fitness committee.

At least Obama said it how it is -- the victims at the lower end of the economic spectrum ARE frustrated, and lets just look at why this is so.

I think THAT is the message no one is getting, while they pick on the messenger for calling a spade a spade.

Why would anyone want to elect a Presidential candidate is is no more than "what do you want to hear" Foo Foo Dust, when there is a candidate who says things like they are, and by doing so can act on that reality to restore America to her former Greatness?
4.12.2008 2:13pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
corr: " is is" = who is
4.12.2008 2:16pm
Ken Arromdee:
Excellent example here of why we have election campaigns by sound bite. Anytime a candidate makes a statement of any depth at all, they end up spending a week correcting all the knuckle-headed, ill-intentioned mis-re-statements.

It's always true that if a candidate says something, there's more to disagree with than if he says nothing. This is not a reason we should want our candidates to say nothing.
4.12.2008 2:23pm
Michael B (mail):
"It's not surprising ..."

It's not surprising that BHO resorts to his now standard suave demagoguery, he the facile religionist of the Left who has offered up fundamentally confused and inconsistent statements concerning a variety of issues, not least of which concerns the second amendment.

Nor is it surprising that his adherents and his supporters subscribe to BHO's demagogic preachments.

But it's nice to know BHO is concerned about cynicism.

Physician, heal thyself.
4.12.2008 2:25pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

When did Volokh become such a craven shill for the Republicans ?


if he has, maybe every time he remembers where his parents came from.
4.12.2008 2:55pm
AntonK (mail):
This is too funny: "Obama To Rural Pennsylvanians: Vote For Me, You Corncob-Smokin', Banjo-Strokin' Chicken-Chokin' Cousin-Pokin' Inbred Hillbilly Racist Morons."
4.12.2008 3:02pm
AntonK (mail):

Tomorrow's Sunday shows will probe the extent of the damage, but the significance of Obama's candid contempt for small-town voters won't even be fully absorbed by the public until talk radio plays the tape wall-to-wall for a week. There's a great deal more than arrogance in the "bitter" remark. There is a worldview that will define Obama for many who gave him a look. Many will see the combination of the remarks and the setting --a fundraiser in San Francisco-- as a sure sign that Obama is not to be trusted. Talking trash about middle class voters in industrial states while the canapes are served by the bay doesn't work outside of the huge cities where poking fun at the rural and suburban rabble is an honored tradition.
4.12.2008 3:04pm
Justin (mail):
I completely agree with AntonK. I mean, how can we trust someone to be the leader of the free world if he can't bowl?
4.12.2008 3:12pm
SeaLawyer:

I completely agree with AntonK. I mean, how can we trust someone to be the leader of the free world if he can't bowl?


How dare you criticize Obama. Karl Rove and Hillary rigged the lane, that is why is score was so low, he usually bowls a 300.
4.12.2008 3:23pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

I completely agree with AntonK. I mean, how can we trust someone to be the leader of the free world if he can't bowl?


This is the type of razor-sharp sarcasm that wins over the unwashed masses- hell, I'm on board already.
4.12.2008 3:31pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I don't see how you could expect a person who thinks 'typical white people' are frightened racists to think that white Pennsylvanians are different from the characters he gave them.

What I find utterly weird about the remark is his including religion.

First, if he is as smart as he thinks he is, he will stay far, far away from religion for the rest of this campaign.

Second, almost all Americans are religious, and if they think about what Obama said at all, they must wonder, does he consider that religion is the last resort of losers -- what about me?

How this squares with his long attendance at a church mystifies me.
4.12.2008 3:37pm
Mark Robinson (mail):
I've always found it interesting how people that are dependent on others for their existence always resent and talk down the one that they are dependent on. All of the urban liberals while sitting around fat,dumb and smug are the same ones that can not feed themselves, provide their own shelter or energy. So they bad mouth the ones that feed them, cloth them, provide them energy. The fact that you are much more dependent on the yahoos than the yahoos are of you, just pisses you off to no end.

I am a engineer, living in Los Angeles. You would think that I would be the same, NOT! I am a Marine brat and ex Army. My parents were depression era children and my grand parents were immigrants and depression era parents. They were damn determined to make their children as self sufficient as possible. Yea bud, I can hunt, fish, fix a roof, grow food, provide my own shelter. maybe that is why I don't look at the "yahoos" with contempt. I am dependent on the "yahoos" for my creature comforts but not my survival. Urban "progressives" are totally dependent on those yahoos for their basic survival.

Let us see what would happen to those enlightened people if the farmer stopped shipping food to the urban center, the lumberman stopped cutting trees for building material, the fisherman stopped providing you their catch. To be point blank honest, you are dead and gone. Now, that would help out on the global warming front. I mean the less carbon foot prints, the better, right?
4.12.2008 3:47pm
AntonK (mail):
Harry Eager says, "First, if he is as smart as he thinks he is, he will stay far, far away from religion for the rest of this campaign."

His campaign is over. Done. He's got no chance now.... Too many gaffes.
4.12.2008 4:03pm
AntonK (mail):

Barack Obama has done what Democratic candidates for president invariably do — he has revealed the profound sense of unearned superiority that is the sad and persistent hallmark of contemporary liberalism. Obama's statement today that small-town folk "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" may be the most distilled example of this train of thought I've ever seen.
Indeed.
4.12.2008 4:05pm
Brian K (mail):
mark robinson,

do you not see the hypocrisy in your own post? (i don't mean to pick on you specifically, your post is just the most recent example of many similar posts). you're pointing out how you're better than those liberals who like to "sit[] around fat,dumb[sic] and smug" and tell themselves how much better they are than those midwestern conservatives. it's quite sad that you seem to believe you're better then those liberals while you really are no different.


Let us see what would happen to those enlightened people if the farmer stopped shipping food to the urban center, the lumberman stopped cutting trees for building material, the fisherman stopped providing you their catch.
what would happen to the farmer/fisher/logger when he no longer has anyone to sell his goods too. how is the logger going to eat? i doubt he could live for long eating just wood. how about we just go back to subsistence farming? it'll destroy our economy but at least i won't have to hear conservatives tell me how much better they are than liberals anymore.
4.12.2008 4:10pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I know it's probably just a manifestation of how harsh and unfair criticism of Obama and Obama's defenders has become on the Conspiracy, but does it strike anyone else how similar all these posts denouncing the trend are? I wonder what an IP check would reveal....
4.12.2008 4:17pm
AntonK (mail):

I used to think working class voters had conservative values because they were bitter about their economic circumstances -- welfare and immigrants were "scapegoats," part of the false consciousness that would disappear when everyone was guaranteed a good job at good wages. Then I left college.
Ha!
4.12.2008 4:19pm
Justin (mail):
"This is the type of razor-sharp sarcasm that wins over the unwashed masses- hell, I'm on board already."


You<=======1 mile========>Point

Or to make it clear, these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant, that they can't possibly be good faith evaluations of the man. I obviously don't expect someone whose criticizing Obama in bad faith to be convinced.
4.12.2008 4:23pm
SeaLawyer:

Or to make it clear, these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant, that they can't possibly be good faith evaluations of the man. I obviously don't expect someone whose criticizing Obama in bad faith to be convinced.


Let me clarify what Justin is really saying: Bow down before Obama and worship at his feet!
4.12.2008 4:43pm
Mark Robinson (mail):

do you not see the hypocrisy in your own post? (i don't mean to pick on you specifically, your post is just the most recent example of many similar posts). you're pointing out how you're better than those liberals who like to "sit[] around fat,dumb[sic] and smug" and tell themselves how much better they are than those midwestern conservatives. it's quite sad that you seem to believe you're better then those liberals while you really are no different.


There is no hypocrisy in that statement one bit. I don't resent the urban progressives at all. I just think the snobbery is hypocritical. There is no doubt that the urban dwellers add to the quality of life. They do provide the entertainment, the technology that does make life better. The yahoos are just not dependent on them to survive as the urban elite are. It truly sounds like a nerve of realization was struck.


what would happen to the farmer/fisher/logger when he no longer has anyone to sell his goods too. how is the logger going to eat? i doubt he could live for long eating just wood. how about we just go back to subsistence farming? it'll destroy our economy but at least i won't have to hear conservatives tell me how much better they are than liberals anymore.


They would simply be providing for their families and their community. You know, the old barter system. I have some bad news for you, if life had to get back to the basics of survival, the economy would not matter, it is already gone. And no, not better, just different. It is the progressives that think they are better, just look at Obamas' statement! He said it, not me....
4.12.2008 4:51pm
Bruce:
Oh no! He's got hidden opinions! He's a closet whatever!

Booooring.
4.12.2008 4:53pm
Brian K (mail):
I just think the snobbery is hypocritical.
i refer you to your previous post.

It truly sounds like a nerve of realization was struck.
i refer you to my previous post. read the part in the parenthesis.

but yeah...thanks for confirming that you are unable to see the hypocrisy in your own post. i had assumed it but it's always nice to get confirmation.
4.12.2008 5:05pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
This is starting to seem a bit too much like the anti-Obama blog. The vast majority of posts are still on other topics, thankfully, but the way Obama is being singled out for criticism and "gotcha" quotes" smacks of a distressing degree of partisanship. I would prefer not to see these gotcha-quote posts at all but when the bloggers only attack one candidate in this way it makes it look like you are just engaging in partisan hackery rather than offering sincere criticism. I'm sure the bloggers here could write interesting substantive criticisms of the candidates, and I'm sorry we're not getting to read them.
4.12.2008 5:06pm
LM (mail):
Richard Aubrey,

His problem is getting people his enemies will try to convince he considers rubes who should to bend over, take it up the whatsit and ask for another [...] to vote for him.


AntonK,

His campaign is over. Done. He's got no chance now.... Too many gaffes.


You may be right. One may be too many.
4.12.2008 5:16pm
SeaLawyer:

This is starting to seem a bit too much like the anti-Obama blog. The vast majority of posts are still on other topics, thankfully, but the way Obama is being singled out for criticism and "gotcha" quotes" smacks of a distressing degree of partisanship. I would prefer not to see these gotcha-quote posts at all but when the bloggers only attack one candidate in this way it makes it look like you are just engaging in partisan hackery rather than offering sincere criticism. I'm sure the bloggers here could write interesting substantive criticisms of the candidates, and I'm sorry we're not getting to read them.


Elliot Reed,
Here is a better site for you: obamamessiah
4.12.2008 5:16pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Shorter Justin: "Yayayayayayayayaya I can't hear you!"
4.12.2008 5:26pm
TJIT (mail):
Brian K you said,
what would happen to the farmer/fisher/logger when he no longer has anyone to sell his goods too. how is the logger going to eat?
I will point out that rural residents have little impact on how business / social activities occur in urban areas.

However, urban areas have immense impacts on how rural areas exist and do business. Farm subsidies, water policy, and renewable fuel mandates are examples of this.

Unfortunately these impacts are often negative, economically, socially, and environmentally, even though they were proposed with the best of intentions.
4.12.2008 5:30pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant, that they can't possibly be good faith evaluations of the man

Obama's statement is very important in that it shows he believes in the hard core Marxist theory that the proles are too stuck on religion to know what's good for them.

Obama's mentor in high school was a member of the Communist Party USA, and what he left out of his book is that the reason his father was blackballed in Kenya is because they wanted mild socialism but he wanted hard core Marxism, with seizing of land like in Zimbabwe.
4.12.2008 5:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
To elaborate on why this issue is relevant: Obama, from a policy perspective, is a standard big government liberal. (Paul Krugman is the only one who manages to see significant differences between Obama's policy views and those of Clinton or Edwards.) What Obama campaigns upon as setting him apart from other Democrats is his attitude: even if he doesn't agree with conservatives, he respects them and their views, wants to work with them, wants to bring them to the table, etc.

But what statements like this show is that he doesn't really have different attitudes than other liberals. He views government as a tool for redistributing wealth, and other issues are just distractions. (At most, it's a different emphasis; some liberals accuse Republicans of deliberately bringing up these cultural issues to drive a wedge between conservative voters and Democrats so that liberals can't enact their economic agenda, while Obama doesn't similarly treat it as the result of such a Machiavellian strategy. Instead, he treats conservative views on these issues as understandable mistakes because of frustrations over economics. But either way, Obama and other liberals all view these issues as mere distractions from the real purpose of government.)

Now, if you agree with the standard liberal worldview that government is about redistributing wealth, then you view this entire discussion as more of a distraction; we shouldn't care what Obama's attitudes towards conservative views are, because all that really matters is how much money he can spend on health care. But for people who don't think that health care is the business of government, who don't think that if government was just doing its job, that it would be okay to ban guns, these issues matter.
4.12.2008 5:40pm
PC:
Far left, elitist, LIEberal, Magical Unity Pony supporter John Cole's take on the issue. You can just see the effete, snobbery oozing from the post.
4.12.2008 6:06pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
LM

I think his enemies need only quote him. Not a lot of work involved.
4.12.2008 6:13pm
Justin (mail):
"To elaborate on why this issue is relevant: Obama, from a policy perspective, is a standard big government liberal."

And yet, nobody seems to attack him for that with any consistency. It's his bowling skills, or things he's said taken out of context, as a perceived misshap. But Al Queda is shia...no wait...sunni...eh, who cares.....

(Note: I don't believe McCain's numerous slips of the tongue regarding Al Queda are terribly newsworthy either, but certainly more newsworthy than this, making the double standard here patently obvious).
4.12.2008 6:47pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

His campaign is over. Done. He's got no chance now.... Too many gaffes.


Spoken like a true pundit.
4.12.2008 6:50pm
Jake437 (mail):
Yahoo said...
You are disgusted with people who, having considered the evidence, come to conclusions that disagree with yours.


I've known for some time that most of the bloggers on this site weren't fans of Obama. I always assumed that would be the case.

But what separates this blog from most political blogs, or at least used to, was the insistence on staying above the fray. I have absolutely no interest in hearing the usual talking points, which I can find on a million other sites.

But now, the most negative possible motive must be attached to everything Obama says. He must have been saying that all Americans who are religious, or opposed to gay marriage or unlimited immigration, must be frightened bigots. No other possible explanation for what he said, at all.
4.12.2008 6:58pm
Toby:
We're waiting for another credible explanation that does not require special pleading.....
4.12.2008 7:02pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Jake. Find another.

In addition, that's not exactly what he said. He said the the frightened bigots are frightened bigots because that makes them feel better in their poverty.

About five years ago, David Brooks wrote a series of essays about the social differences between his upcale suburb of DC and rural Pennsylvania. Interesting in light of what we are now hearing from Obama.
4.12.2008 7:02pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
<blockquote>
"This is the type of razor-sharp sarcasm that wins over the unwashed masses- hell, I'm on board already."


You< =======1 mile======== >Point

Or to make it clear, these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant, that they can't possibly be good faith evaluations of the man. I obviously don't expect someone whose criticizing Obama in bad faith to be convinced.
</blockquote>

there you go making the same mistake Barry O'Bama did... again.
4.12.2008 7:08pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

"This is the type of razor-sharp sarcasm that wins over the unwashed masses- hell, I'm on board already."


You =======1 mile======== >Point

Or to make it clear, these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant, that they can't possibly be good faith evaluations of the man. I obviously don't expect someone whose criticizing Obama in bad faith to be convinced.


there you go making the same mistake Barry O'Bama did... again.
4.12.2008 7:09pm
LM (mail):
Richard Aubrey,

In addition, that's not exactly what he said. He said the the frightened bigots are frightened bigots because that makes them feel better in their poverty.

And that's exactly what he said?
4.12.2008 8:20pm
AntonK (mail):
Newt Gingrich nails it:

If you go to the most expensive private school in Hawaii and then move on to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, you may not understand normal Americans. Their beliefs are so alien to your leftwing viewpoint that you have to seek some psychological explanation for what seem to be weird ideas.

They can't really believe in the right to bear arms.

They can't really believe in traditional marriage.

They can't really believe in their faith in God.

They can't really want to enforce the law on immigration.

Therefore, they must be "bitter" and "frustrated."

This is the closest Senator Obama has come to openly sharing his wife's view that "America is a mean country". Not since Governor Dukakis have we seen anyone so out of touch with normal Americans. It makes perfect sense that it was in a fundraiser in San Francisco that he would have shared the views he has so carefully kept hidden for the entire campaign.

4.12.2008 8:33pm
LM (mail):

If you go to the most expensive private school in Hawaii and then move on to Columbia University and Harvard Law School, you may not understand normal Americans. Their beliefs are so alien to your leftwing viewpoint that you have to seek some psychological explanation for what seem to be weird ideas.

So expensive private school, Columbia and Harvard makes you left wing and out of touch? How could I have missed that there are no prominent conservatives (in or out of touch) with that sort of profile?
4.12.2008 8:42pm
FantasiaWHT:

Is it really not true that people in economically depressed areas get bitter, for Pete's sake?


Sure, but that misses the next step that Obama took. Is it really true that people who are bitter embrace religion, guns, anti-trade, etc?

As for why the attacks on Obama? McCain isn't (currently) saying all that much and the MSM spends all its time pointing out all of Hillary's screwups.
4.12.2008 8:56pm
A.C.:
Richard Aubrey -

I read that David Brooks thing too. I seem to remember that the crucial insight is that people in the heartland, even those whose incomes would seem quite low to upper middle class city dwellers, do NOT perceive themselves as poor. They see themselves as responsible adults who take care of other people, not as potential welfare beneficiaries.

Now, it is tragic when a mill closes and all these responsible adults face the bleak choice of either giving up the responsible role or giving up their communities to find work elsewhere. But that doesn't mean the people in question are crazy, or dependent, or facing anything other than the choices that have made Americans a mobile population for as long as there have been Americans. And, frankly, it doesn't mean that the government can fix the problem. It's not all about the cash.

The "daddy, fix it" school of liberalism really does need the occasional reminder that most voters are grown-ups.
4.12.2008 9:20pm
loki13 (mail):
If you go to the most exclusive private school in Massachusetts and then move on to Yale University and Harvard Business School, you may not understand normal Americans. Their beliefs are so alien to your rightwing viewpoint that you have to seek some psychological explanation for what seem to be weird ideas.

... that would be our current president. See how easy this is?

How about this?
"It's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran."

How could a leader who isn't even aware of current events lead us in the fight against ISLAMOFASCISM(tm)???? What would DB do?

Or (referring to Purim)..
"As they celebrate their version of Halloween here..."

Comparing a Jewish holy day to a SATANIC ritual? Was he giving aid and comfort to Hezboallah?

Should we examine the statement's of McCain's good FRIEND AND SUPPORTER Hagee?

No? Why not? Because it's stupid. No, actually, it's stoopid.

It's not the politicians hurting America. Nor is it the fault of the talking heads with their talking points. It's our fault. For accepting and continuing to propagate this crud.
4.12.2008 9:27pm
Careless:

So expensive private school, Columbia and Harvard makes you left wing and out of touch? How could I have missed that there are no prominent conservatives (in or out of touch) with that sort of profile?


LM, I'm not sure how you missed the words "may not" in what you quoted, but they're there, and they're important.
4.12.2008 9:41pm
Uncommon Nonsense:
Right, Newt's saying that only if you're the son of a CIA director and vice president can you go through the gauntlet of top schools and come out with an understanding of "normal people." Makes sense now.
4.12.2008 9:48pm
Perseus (mail):
these attacks on Obama are so specious and irrelevant

You're the one who thinks that we should be talking about Senator Obama's "grown-up" speech about race. Well, he made essentially the same argument in that speech as the more blunt version he made among his supporters in San Francisco, and both betray a similar core view and condescending attitude.


But the underlying truth of what I said remains...--Senator Obama

That defense didn't work too well for Dan Rather. Try again, Senator.
4.12.2008 9:55pm
PersonFromPorlock:
All these devastating ripostes that George Bush is a VC hero... gosh!
4.12.2008 10:29pm
TJIT (mail):
For all the hope and change expressed it sure looks like the same old populist boiler plate to me
so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American. So we'll go down a series of talking points.
Could someone explain to me how rolling back tax cuts is going to bring the jobs back???
4.12.2008 10:40pm
Uncommon Nonsense:
Yeah, it's not like anyone who posts to this site has called others on out-of-context or willful misinterpretations of Bush quotations.
4.12.2008 10:40pm
Taltos:
Or (referring to Purim)..
"As they celebrate their version of Halloween here..."

Comparing a Jewish holy day to a SATANIC ritual? Was he giving aid and comfort to Hezboallah?


Satanic ritual? Can you really be that stupid?
4.12.2008 11:11pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Take a look at where BHO made his remarks-- Billionaires Row, more specifically the Getty Mansion.


The Getty heirs, who never had to work a day in their life, hosted this grand party for the Messiah. Take a gander at the opulence of the San Francisco limousine liberal crowd who swoon over the man who wants to tax the rich, but disdains the hoi polloi.
4.13.2008 12:10am
loki13 (mail):

Or (referring to Purim)..
"As they celebrate their version of Halloween here..."

Comparing a Jewish holy day to a SATANIC ritual? Was he giving aid and comfort to Hezboallah?

Satanic ritual? Can you really be that stupid?


Wow, just wow. I am actually speechless. The level of discourse here has dropped to such an extent that the most over the top example I could use was taken seriously. I guess once the HUSSEIN posters started showing up, it was only a matter of time before satire died.
4.13.2008 12:12am
fouse, gary c, (mail) (www):
Sometimes, I think the best thing John McCain could do for his candidacy would be to go on a long vacation, get a lot of rest and come back in November. By then, he might find that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have completely disappeared. The Democratic Primary looks like two punchdrunk fighters trying to hand the bout to the other.

For example, just when it looked like the Hillary-Bosnia flap was starting to blow over, here comes Bill appearing before the usual crowd of curious onlookers ("Hey Bob, didn't that guy used to be a president?") explaining how Hillary screwed up the Bosnia story. According to Bill, she made the claim at 11 at night when she was tired from lack of sleep. Big deal, said Bill. Problem was, Hillary said it multiple times-and not at some late hour as Bill claimed. Then Bill stuck it in even farther, asking his listeners to understand how it is to be sixty years old and tired. You know, plays tricks on your memory don't it? Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in having someone as commander-in-chief who is starting to lose her memory due to old age. Not that I believe that; on the contrary, Hillary's selective memory is astounding. As for Bill, he is starting to remind me of Pete Rose at an autograph show.

Anyway, I have a question for those Clinton-admirers out there: Are you starting to realize that the Clintons-both of them-are nothing more than a couple of BS artists?

Meanwhile, just as our "bringer togetherer" presidential candidate, Barack Obama, was starting to put the Wright deal behind him-at least in the minds of the Democratic voters-he stepped in it himself. This time, it was not the words of his wife, Michelle, nor the words of his pastor, but his own words. In San Francisco, speaking before an audience of well, "San Franciscoers" (inside joke), Obama described the backwoods, gun-totin', bible-thumpin', minority hatin', immigrant-bashin' hicks that populate Pennsylvania. You know, people right out of the cast of "The Deer Hunter", people who are not too receptive to a "46-year-old- black guy" like him.

What is it about those people in Pennsylvania? First, their own Governor, Ed Rendell implies that they are racists and not willing to vote for a black candidate. Now Obama delights an elite San Francisco audience with his own description of a Dickensian Pennsylvania inhabited by steel workers and coal minors.

As a personal comment, I lived in Pittsburgh from 1987-1990, and I happen to have a high opinion of the folks there. (Pittsburgh, unlike Philadelphia, which is a classical Eastern city, would be classified more as a Midwestern city culturally.)

But I digress. Obama's remark was ridiculous. After first defending himself defiantly in Terre Haute from criticism by Hillary and the McCain campaign, Obama admitted that he chose the wrong words. Indeed.

I am having serious doubts about Obama-specifically on his honesty (in speaking about Wright) and his judgement. As for his experience, he is obviously lacking. I seriously suspect that there is a side to the Obamas that they are hiding. It would be great if the mainstream media started asking him more pointed questions-which they don't. The msm was forced to discuss the Wright issue. Hopefully, they will be forced to examine the relationship between Obama and former (unrepentent)Weather Underground bomber, William Ayers (now Professor William Ayers). That is yet another story out there that relates directly to Obama's fitness for president.

Meanwhile, the Great Sausage Race stumbles toward the finish line.

gary fouse
fousesquawk
4.13.2008 12:19am
LM (mail):
Careless,

LM, I'm not sure how you missed the words "may not" in what you quoted, but they're there, and they're important.

Umm, no I didn't. And no they're not.
4.13.2008 12:44am
Elliot123 (mail):
Isn't Obama the guy who lectured us not too long ago that words matter? So, are we to ignore his?
4.13.2008 12:48am
Russ (mail):
People "cling" to religion because they believe in God.

People "cling" to guns because they believe in self defense and it's part of American tradition.

People "cling" to anti-immigrant mindsets because they can see the difference between hardworking, play by the rules, legal immigrants, and those who would break our laws to come here.

Personally, I want Obama to shout this from every mountaintop he can. Neither side seems to understand that it's the 20% in the middle who decide virtually every election, and this kind of stuff will turn them off.

It's not racism that will defeat Obama - it will be his own big mouth occassionally letting people know what he really thinks of them.
4.13.2008 2:22am
pwedza (mail):
BillyBoy982:
calmom:
I was born and raised in a small town. It might surprise city people like Obama to know that small town people go to college, get their degrees, and return to their small towns because they like it there. Small town people have traveled, are widely read, have book clubs, read the newspapers and in short aren't the uneducated rednecks that he's stereotyping.

What it comes down to is that Obama doesn't understand the lives of the vast majority of the people of this country.

You beat me to it.


Regrettably, I have to agree. But it is not necessarily enough to make me vote for one of the other two. I am white male who grew up in rural Tennessee, has lived in big US cities, Europe, and Africa. Do I understand who everybody is and what their lives are like in these very different places enough to permit me to make sweeping statements such as Obama made? I can have an opinion.. but everybody may not agree -- especially if my opinion is not flattering.

Here in DC, I work in a mostly black office and live in a more 'hood' area of town. I sometimes find myself in awkward moments during conversation with my colleagues. Touchy subjects? White-black issues, thug encounters on the DC streets, how I saw life when I lived in Africa, how I view white-black relations here in the US. Try having an conversation about slavery and white oppression with a Haitian and a South African next to the water cooler. These type of conversations are always guarded and there is no denying the is mistrust and misunderstanding between white and black folks in the US.

When you expose yourself to groups of people with a different a ethnic/racial background than your own, comments can have much more impact. General statements about 'how people are' may not go over easily.

What Obama said is not the 'truth' in any objective way. It is an interpretation of what he observes. Given my background, my experience with discontent people living in an economically depressed area of the country, and my experience with religious fundamentalists, I may say [and have said] the same type of thing about people from East Tennessee. I can talk about how high schools have daycares where I am from because so many young girls have kids. How most people who stay there end up married with children before they are 25. I can talk about all the people I know who are dead from drug abuse. I can talk about the small-mindedness of many of the people. I can talk about the Southern Baptists that largely define the social landscape. I can talk about the general dead end that East Tennessee can be. Of course, it would be in conversation with people I know - with friends, possibly at work, maybe in class, or on the internet behind an anonymous screen name -- not while raising funds for a presidential campaign in California! And what I may say would be my opinion.

I support Obama but this 'slip' does gives me some pause. I do now think that he may not understand a large part of America. Many whites who I have met in US cities have absolutely no idea at all how rural America lives. Obama is an American elite - as are the other candidates. Maybe Clinton and McCain understand that majority part of America - they are part of it and more prone to understand it than is Obama. Does that understanding mean that they will advance the needs of those people better than Obama? I am not convinced.
4.13.2008 2:42am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Pwedza's last comment shows the seriousness (and validity) of the criticism of BHO's San Francisco comments about the attitudes of my fellow Pennsylvanians.

Such valid criticism has come from the Clinton campaign, presumably liberal and Democratic, as well as from the McCain camp, presumably neither Democratic nor liberal.

The original publicity about BHO's comments came from the Huffington Post, which most bloggers would not describe as a right wing site. The left of center sites had considerable discussion of the candidate's off-guard statements. Not all of that discussion was positive.

But, as Pwedza's comment shows, criticism of (at least) BHO's lack of sensitivity is now being heard from Obama supporters.

That appears to take the sting out of the faux outrage upthread directed towards Prof. Volokh for opening the subject for discussion, and towards those of us who believe that BHO's voicing of such veiled disdain toward a significant demographic will not serve him well in the general election.

If BHO recognizes the validity of our views, and makes a plausible and definitive "course correction", he may avoid the embarrassment of seizing defeat from the jaws of victory in the fight for the Democratic nomination.

Sometimes constructive criticism is just that no matter where it comes from.
4.13.2008 3:50am
Oren:
Could someone explain to me how rolling back tax cuts is going to bring the jobs back???
The continuing budget deficit will eventually rot the US dollar (down 50% since W took office) until there are no jobs at all. Rolling back the cuts might not bring back lost jobs, but if we don't do something to balance this budget there will be no jobs left to save.

It is inconceivable to me that McCain would stand up and say we've got to stay in Iraq for 100 years, an endeavor that would cost trillions of dollars, without even the foggiest plan on how to pay for it.
4.13.2008 4:47am
LM (mail):
Huffington Post isn't just left leaning. Arianna's very pro-Obama, and the site is routinely criticized by Clinton supporters as having an Obama bias.

What Obama said and what he meant are obviously legitimate topics for discussion. And frankly, I can't imagine anyone thinking this wasn't a politically harmful gaffe. But that doesn't preclude the complaints on his behalf. There are lots of comments here, and more than a few of them are tendentious.

As for the appropriateness of the topic for this site, I've never understood any of the arguments that the VC bloggers shouldn't post whatever they damn please, so long as it suits Eugene. It's true you could hardly miss an affinity here for whatever might throw some sand in Obama's gears, but why should that surprise anyone? It's no secret the bloggers are more or less libertarian-conservative. And it's not as if, unlike Huffington Post for example, this is a general news site which would be remiss if it never posted anything contrary to its editorial leanings.
4.13.2008 6:12am
Matthew K (mail):
Will everyone saying Obama just did something moronic admit they are wrong if he does as well in PA as currently projected?

Obama's comments strike me as 1.) likely correct and 2.) politically inert. I'm a Phd student in psychology and I know the political decision-making literature well enough that I'm pretty set on the first, but my latter claim is falsifiable. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. If I'm right, then EV needs to spend a little less time in a tin foil hat.
4.13.2008 9:54am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Matthew.
Your first is falsifiable, since the social pathologies to which Obama points existed long before the economic issues in question.
It would also be interesting to try to look at the per-capita income in PA. Average? Above average? If they aren't poor and desperate, then there must be some other reason for the nasty ol' god, guns, gays schtick which pointing out makes certain others feel so superior.

As Mickey Kaus said, "Then I left college."
4.13.2008 10:02am
Harry Eagar (mail):
It's pretty clear to me that Obama viscerally doesn't like white folks, even if, intellectually, he subscribes to a color-blind ideology.

This is no different, in principle, from limousine liberals who decry racism but won't let their kids go to school with non-whites. Nothing mysterious or even unusual there.

It must be a pretty deep feeling, because he is smart enough to know he cannot win an election by going around disparaging 65% of the electorate. He just can't help blurting it out.

This would be almost amusing, except that when the economy is bad, the electorate punishes the party in office, and I predict it is going to be very bad by November.

Will they punish the Democrats in the congressional races and the Republicans in the presidential race?

I think so.
4.13.2008 12:38pm
TJIT (mail):
Oren,

In response to my asking for an explanation on how rolling back the tax cuts would bring back the jobs you said,

The continuing budget deficit will eventually rot the US dollar (down 50% since W took office) until there are no jobs at all. Rolling back the cuts might not bring back lost jobs, but if we don't do something to balance this budget there will be no jobs left to save.
Bold emphasis mine.

This completely ignores the financial irresponsibility of congress on the spending side of the budget deficit.

Congress has a bad habit of spending all of the revenue a tax increase might bring in and then adding in additional spending above that amount.

Bluntly, until congress does something to reign in entitlement spending tax increases will do more harm then good.

Earmarks serve a useful "canary in a coal mine" function for congressional irresponsibility. The fact that congress can't show any restraint on earmarks makes it abundantly clear that trying to fix the deficit by raising taxes is an exercise in futility.

Given the lack of spending restraint trying to fix the deficit by raising taxes will

1. Not fix the problem
2. Cause more economic harm then doing nothing would.
4.13.2008 12:39pm
loki13 (mail):
TJIT,

Your analysis is *almost* brilliant. Here's the problem:

- The President, along with a compliant Congress, increases both discretionary spending and entitlement spending (Medicare D).

- The President, along with a compliant Congress, reduces taxes.

- Revenue goes down, expenditures go up. But, deficits don't matter, do they? Blaming this on earmarks (less than 1%) as opposed to the vast outlays on defense, debt financing, and entitlements is silly.

And they're not tax cuts; they're tax shifts*. If I take your credit card, and buy you a television with it, did I just give you a TV?

(Tax cuts require a concurrent decrease in spending)
4.13.2008 12:51pm
Syd (mail):

FantasiaWHT:


Is it really not true that people in economically depressed areas get bitter, for Pete's sake?


Sure, but that misses the next step that Obama took. Is it really true that people who are bitter embrace religion, guns, anti-trade, etc?


Quite often they do. Sometimes they embrace racism, religious bigotry and/or class hatred as well.
4.13.2008 12:53pm
myn0ck:

The continuing budget deficit will eventually rot the US dollar (down 50% since W took office) until there are no jobs at all. Rolling back the cuts might not bring back lost jobs, but if we don't do something to balance this budget there will be no jobs left to save.



Raising taxes will help neither jobs OR balance the budget. Raising taxes will cause people to take their money to other countries, with lower taxes, where they can make more, or decrease tax compliance. Both scenarios result in lower collection.

Lowering taxes brings more capital back into the US economy and reduces the incentives for people to try to find ways around tax law (i.e. increases tax compliance). The amount brought in since taxes were lowered was MUCH more than expected. If you want to improve the economy and increase tax revenues, because the two are intimately linked (although I cannot say I do want to increase tax revenues), lowering taxes is the ONLY way to go. Such a move helps everyone, from the very rich to the very poor.

Lets also not forget that the budget deficit has already been reduced significantly and faster than expected. Now, future entitlements will put a BIG (understatement of the year) damper on such improvements, but reforming such institutions is the only thing that will solve the problems faced, not raising or lowering taxes.


It is inconceivable to me that McCain would stand up and say we've got to stay in Iraq for 100 years, an endeavor that would cost trillions of dollars, without even the foggiest plan on how to pay for it.



Its inconceivable to me that someone is still spouting such a twisted, out of context, attack as this. McCain's comment about staying in a STABLE, NON-war-torn Iraq, similar to Germany or Japan, will not cost "trillions of dollars".
4.13.2008 12:59pm
anomie:
Sure, but that misses the next step that Obama took. Is it really true that people who are bitter embrace religion, guns, anti-trade, etc?

The step that anti-Obamaists are taking that Barack himself did not is to assert the claim that those economically disadvantage folk began to embrace religion, gun rights, protectionism, ethnic nationalism, etc. because of economic disadvantage and embitterment over unfulfilled Washington promises. Disadvantage and embitterment need not be the genesis of these non-economic policy/voting interests for these people to cling to or embrace them. Rather, the embitterment and persistent disadvantage can lead them to discount or discard economic policy promises and promisers, and to instead emphasize long-standing, non-economic interests that have been present to some degree in their communities for far longer than the 30 years of locally failed economic policies.

The genesis and original motivation of these non-economic interests is a particularly thorny issue, but it is not one that Obama himself actually addressed.
4.13.2008 2:02pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The continuing budget deficit will eventually rot the US dollar (down 50% since W took office) until there are no jobs at all. Rolling back the cuts might not bring back lost jobs, but if we don't do something to balance this budget there will be no jobs left to save."

The exchange rate is against other nations' curencies. Note those nations have a larger debt as a percentage of GDP.
4.13.2008 2:31pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I'm a Phd student in psychology and I know the political decision-making literature well enough that I'm pretty set on the first, but my latter claim is falsifiable."

Get off campus for a while.
4.13.2008 2:35pm
Uhh:

Rather, the embitterment and persistent disadvantage can lead them to discount or discard economic policy promises and promisers, and to instead emphasize long-standing, non-economic interests that have been present to some degree in their communities for far longer than the 30 years of locally failed economic policies.


Even if we assume this is what the meaning of the statement was, it's still bogus. As someone who grew up in a small PA town, I can say that people aren't sticking to guns or religion for any reason other than it's important to them. MORE important than the economy.

This is the disconnect. Obama thinks that the economy should be more important than these people's culture. But it's not. No amount of economic talking-down to them will change their minds, because it's just lower on the totem pole. Until he wakes up and realizes this, he will continue to see failure in this regard.

His continued attempts to say they should disregard things more important to them for his economic promises will do nothing to help him.
4.13.2008 3:40pm
NattyB:
He's just making the What's the Matter with Kansas argument.
4.13.2008 5:18pm
therut:
Yep, Obama believes in the theory from "What is the matter with Kansas". This is a theory totally off base. It comes from the belief liberals have of "helping" their pet the "middle class". Not all people like the liberals to HELP them cause they do not see governmental power (welfare, child care, health care etc.) as HELPING. Even poor and "middle class" people do not see these things as HELPING their economic status. That is the LIBERAL flaw. They KNOW their world view HELPS you and will FORCE you to accept their HELP. That is what Obama and those who blindly accept that people are voting againist their economic interests by voting againist liberals ideas miss. Not everyone agrees that that is true no matter how many times the MSM and Liberals utter their "Truth". Some people have a thing called honor and self-respect and would not take a goverment check unless a gun was pointed at their head. Unfortunately they are a dying breed. It is hard to fight the establishment or in liberal terms THE MAN.
4.13.2008 5:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The exchange rate is against other nations' curencies. Note those nations have a larger debt as a percentage of GDP."

It's the current account deficit that's the major problem at this point for the falling dollar. The US cannot continue to run this big a trade deficit without causing the world to abandon the dollar as the world's reserve currency. Americans must consume less and save more, but they don't want to hear that, and their government is not going to tell them. Instead it provides them with a stimulus package to go out spend. Except spending more on consumer goods will increase employment in India and China more than in the US.
4.13.2008 5:30pm
liamascorcaigh (mail) (www):
Obmama's moral supremacy is now acknowledged by all even the McCain camp. For astounding photographs and inspirational commentary go to Chris Matthews Other Leg
4.13.2008 5:31pm
TJIT (mail):
loki13,

You said,
- Revenue goes down, expenditures go up. But, deficits don't matter, do they? Blaming this on earmarks (less than 1%) as opposed to the vast outlays on defense, debt financing, and entitlements is silly.
(bold emphasis mine.) I did not blame the deficit on earmarks. I said earmarks served a canary in a coal mine purpose.

That is as long as congress is unwilling to to do something about earmarks, which as you indicated are a tiny fraction of overall spending, the deficits will continue to rise even if tax rates are increased.

Until congress is willing to fix their spending problems all a tax increase would do is potentially give John Murtha more money to earmark for entities that may not even exist.

Pork for Nonexistent Recipients?

The example above shows congress is utterly unserious about controlling spending and deficits.

Congress has not earned the right to ask for one thin penny of additional tax revenue until they are willing to fix those problems.
4.13.2008 5:56pm
loki13 (mail):
TJIT,

I think you miss the point. Your argument is somewhat akin to the captain of a sinking ship refusing to plug the hole (or deploy the life rafts) until the band tunes their instruments.

You haven't addressed the larger problem- that we don't have a tax cut right now, we have a tax shift. As for your argument... the tax cuts preceded the giant deficits that we currently have; the previous (Clinton/Bush I era) modest tax hikes preceded the deficit reduction.

Empiricism trumps ideology.
4.13.2008 6:07pm
LM (mail):

Empiricism trumps ideology.

You'd think.
4.13.2008 6:40pm
anomie:
Even if we assume this is what the meaning of the statement was, it's still bogus.

You failed to support your thesis, Uhh. Your comments indicate agreement with Obama's statements as description. You have simply added the claim that even without the aid of unfulfilled economic promises from Washington, these people would still place other policy interests above economic interests. Whether that is true or not, it doesn't conflict with Obama's claim that Washington's failed promises have made his job of arguing for changed economic policy and national unity that much harder.
4.13.2008 7:12pm
TJIT (mail):
Loki13,

Thank you for the courteous and interesting discussion.

The math for determining deficits is simple.
Revenue - Spending = (budget surplus or deficit)

Most people (especially those who think raising taxes will fix the problem) ignore the spending part of that equation.

Past behavior clearly shows that if taxes or revenue are increased congress rapidly adds on additional spending that exceeds the revenue increase

In other words they don't take the extra money and fix the leaks. They take the extra money and hire people to put more holes into the boat.

Until spending is controlled increasing taxes is an exercise in futility that will do nothing to decrease the deficit. Furthermore, additional tax increases pose a very real risk of causing harm to individual taxpayers and the economy.
4.13.2008 7:24pm
CJColucci:
This "controversy" is just plain silly and the critics are disingenuous. What Obama said is the simple truth. Hillary believes it just as much as he does. And McCain has no standing no criticize, because the Republican Party has made what Obama is saying the first page of its playbook for 40-plus years. Where are the grown-ups?
4.13.2008 7:48pm
elim:
simple truth? people have been going to churches for all sorts of reasons for a long time and have had guns since they were invented. It's nice to try to re-write the words once spoken but Obama was pretty clear in terms of his context: suckers, losers and yahoos go to church and run around with their shooting irons because of their bitterness in the last 25 years. pray tell, why did they go to church and use those same firesticks prior to that? CJ-if you are looking for the grown ups, you won't find them in your mirror.
4.13.2008 8:13pm
LM (mail):
It doesn't matter if it's true. And it shouldn't matter where he was when he said it. What matters is how susceptible it is to being demagogued. If he'd seen it on paper before he said it, he'd have known better. It was a gaffe. And the first really bad one he's made.
4.13.2008 8:18pm
LM (mail):

It's nice to try to re-write the words once spoken but Obama was pretty clear in terms of his context: suckers, losers and yahoos go to church and run around with their shooting irons because of their bitterness in the last 25 years.

... for example.
4.13.2008 8:20pm
loki13 (mail):
TJIT,

I think we both agree that:
Revenue - Spending = (budget surplus or deficit)

Where we part ways is that you believe that:
Any revenue gained is immediately spent, so it doesn't matter.

I believe that while some of that revenue will be spent (this is Congress, after all), some more of it could be used to balance the budget.

I think my position is better backed by recent history.

Unfortunately, the experience of the past few years has been that the powers that be believe that revenue could be cut while expenditures expanded, which is eventually an untenable position.
4.13.2008 8:20pm
John Thompson (mail):
The importance of Obama's stunningly stupid comments goes far beyond its effect on his presidential campaign. The mask has been ripped off the ugly, ignorant, condescending face of liberalism generally. Even down to the level of commentators and liberal trolls on blogs like this one, liberals are revealing the true world view they have been at some pains to conceal for so many years. Half of the liberals are playing the "it was taken out of context" card and the other half, as personified by the loki13s and Justins of the world, are simply going with the "well he was only telling the truth" explanation--i.e., anyone who doesn't believe, like Loki and Justin, that America is evil and total government control is the solution to all problems (oblivious to the paradox) is simply a misguided rube. The non-politicized portion of our society is getting an education about what liberals really think about them, which is that they are inferior and stupid. Not an attractive picture.
4.13.2008 8:27pm
elim:
I might add, as I have read elsewhere that he should simply have said what he really meant: "religion is the opiate of the masses". I believe a famous liberal whose philosophy led to some of the most progressive and humane nations in history used similar rhetoric to that of the Messiah, BO.
4.13.2008 8:29pm
myn0ck:
In regards to the budget and revenues, I do not believe there has been a revenue decrease. My understanding is that the opposite is true and by quite a bit.

While spending increases are a huge problem, increasing revenue to continue to fuel the fire is not a good solution to the problem. Decreasing taxes, especially taxes, and to some extent government spending and interference, are two important steps to fueling economic growth.
4.13.2008 8:32pm
anomie:
What are you trying to say, elim? That in tough times people shouldn't seek help and solace in religion?
4.13.2008 8:33pm
elim:
Oh, puhlease-is that the latest spin fresh from Kos. tell me, contextually speaking, are they also getting that same solace, not only from church, but also their guns and their anti-immigrant and anti-free trade stances?
4.13.2008 9:18pm
anomie:
I'm just trying to figure out why you think Obama's statement that some people turn to religion in tough times is so offensive. I don't know precisely why they do, or whether some turn to gun rights, anti-immigration, and protectionist policies. You're the one who seems to want to declare why working class voters value what they do, so maybe you'll deign to tell us.
4.13.2008 9:59pm
calmwater (mail):
I'll preface my post with the acknowledgement that I do not have multiple degrees from any Ivy League schools so maybe I'm just clueless. But I really don't see what great things the Democratic party generally, and Obama in particular is offering the country.

I don't consider myself a warmonger, but I do believe in a strong defense. For years I've been curious about how taking money we spend on defense and putting it towards other things like more educational administrators or perhaps a national health insurance plan will create more and better jobs for this country. It seems to me that the defense industries offer any number of very high paying and technical jobs - everything from working on the humvee or tank assembly line for GM to the highly educated engineer or scientist who develops those extremely complex aircraft, drones, or laser guided missles. I mean, its not like we buy our defense materiel from China or India. Further, some of those products are tweaked and then often trickle into our consumer products that we buy - think H-2 and H-3 Hummers. All in all, it seems to me that defense spending keeps an awful lot of people in this country gainfully employed.

I used to be a Democrat, but that changed about 15 years ago when I realized that the Democratic powers that be considered me to be too stupid to run my life and that I was in need of their assistance to determine what was best for me. I guess now I'm just a California rube who doesn't appreciate how much Obama or Hillary can do for me. After all they're Ivys and I'm not.
4.13.2008 10:09pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Don't forget that William Buckley once said he would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty.
4.13.2008 10:57pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The New Deal coalition that kept the Democrats in power since the 1930s came apart in the 1980s and they have been striving to put it back together with identity group politics. Blacks, Latinos and highly paid elites now form much of the base of the party. Thus BHO's remarks in the Getty Mansion make sense for his campaign. Religion, gun rights, immigration control, and opposition to AA are all strongly associated with lower and working class attitudes. If you want to fit in at the Getty Mansion, you had better adhere to the approved opinions on these matters, otherwise you will find yourself in a social vacuum. No one wants to be lonely so they conform.
4.13.2008 10:57pm
Chimaxx (mail):
I love watching Obama's critics playing into his hands on this.

Hillary Clinton has spent some of the $100 million she and Bill have earned to print up "I'm not bitter" buttons and bumper stickers, which she's now passing out. Meanwhile billionaire beer heiress boy toy McCain called Obama "elitist and condescending."

And when all the shouting is done, the one message that will come through clearly is that one candidate understands that some people are bitter, feel like they've gotten shafted, and are tired of the empty economic promises they've heard from Bush and Clinton and Bush over the past 25 years--and that candidate is Obama.

And he's gotten everyone to write about it. And people will see through the spin, will see that it is not Obama all the pundits expressing faux outrage on the behalf of blue collar Pennsylvanians who are treating them like Yahoos.

He's just closed the gap in Pennsylvania.
4.13.2008 11:33pm
Lily (mail):
Loki13 said:

I believe that while some of that revenue will be spent (this is Congress, after all), some more of it could be used to balance the budget

Could be, but won't. The Congress (both Rs and Ds) don't have enough restraint. They are itching to spend more. They have all sorts of plans. Haven't you been listening?

The only way to reduce the defict and debt is for the people to DEMAND it - to require our government use financial restraint. The only thing they'll understand is fear - fear of losing their jobs. Otherwise, they will keep spending...and keep spending...into ruination and diaster.
4.14.2008 12:21am
Chimaxx (mail):
And talk about elitist pandering:

"Hillary Clinton said Sunday a query about the last time she fired a gun or attended church services 'is not a relevant question in this debate' over Barack Obama's recent comments on small town Americans."
4.14.2008 12:21am
Harry Eagar (mail):
anomie sez: 'I'm just trying to figure out why you think Obama's statement that some people turn to religion in tough times is so offensive.'

I'd like to see some evidence that people in Pa. have turned to religion in some noticeable way in some recent period -- say, since Obama got out of short pants. They were pretty religious when I was there 40 years ago. And when my mother went to a Catholic college there 65 years ago.

And they've been gun nuts since the days of the Pennsylvania rifle, 250 years.

If anyplace in America is better armed than it was 40 years ago, it would be the South Side of Chicago.

And it appears they are plenty bitter there. And religious. How many 8,000-member congregations are there in Aliquippa?
4.14.2008 2:15am
Grover Gardner (mail):
This Fox News Blog entry is rather amusing. "Are People Bitter in Pennsylvania?" asks the headline. "We're heading there now to find out," declares the intrepid Laura Ingle.


So, this morning, we packed up our cameras and live truck and are heading to Allentown (we are all in the truck now listening to Billy Joel's song "Allentown" as I write this to get us in the mood….) We are almost to our location - a diner where many locals hang, and are going to talk to them about what Obama said and how they feel about it.

My opening line? "are you bitter?" This should be interesting…. stay tuned


They interviewed two people, both of whom thought Obama was on point, then seem to have given up. Did they run out of batteries for the camera? Are people in Allentown too polite to say anything negative on camera? Did everyone else refused to be interviewed? Hard to imagine they couldn't find someone to give them a nice juicy rant about elitist politicians, if only for contrast...
4.14.2008 3:21am
anomie:
I'd like to see some evidence that people in Pa. have turned to religion in some noticeable way in some recent period

You're repeating the same misreading of Obama, Harry. He did not say people start becoming religious because of tough economic times, and he most certainly did not say that religion is "the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless condition." No matter how hard elim and Bill Kristol want to try, Marx's opiate of the people quote does not apply.

Obama's thesis is not that people become religious as a reaction to economic hardship, but rather that their existing religious tradition, a tradition that Obama himself has embraced and praises, is what is left for them to cling to when they become frustrated and even cynical with regard to unfulfilled promises of economic change in their communities:
That was in no way a demeaning of a faith that I myself embrace. When economic hardship hits, they have faith, they have family, they have traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation. Those are not bad things. Those are the things that are left.

If you still don't get it, consider the difference between these two statements: 1) Upon learning that she had breast cancer, she clung to her husband. 2) People get married because of hardships in their lives.
4.14.2008 10:55am
ejo:
anomie-the context of the statements was very clear and your read is, charitably, based on spin and not "context. they cling to religion, guns, anti-immigration and anti-free trade sentiments. those all, to my unpolished ear, sound like things which are negatives, at least when viewed in context? they don't sound like positives-I imagine he will increase his share of the university professor vote with these sentiments. Further, and not to be too psychoanalytical, it sounds as though the Messiah was doing a little projection, given the kind of church he immersed himself in. Bitterness, hatred, anyone?
4.14.2008 11:27am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Obama definitely could have phrased it better, but he was right on target for three of his items. Racism, anti-immigrationism, and piety all increase during economically volatile time periods in American history.

The First Great Awakening occured as America made a transition to a market economy, the Second Great Awakening was partially a response to the unease Americans felt about growing industrialism and the expansion of slavery. The growing economic marginalization of rural areas contributed to the revivalism of the Roaring Twenties (which should be called the Praying Twenties outside of urban areas).

Racism is closely correlated to economic status. If things are going well for you, you don't need scapegoats or to prop up yourself esteem by comparing yourself favorably to other groups. Membership levels in the Klan post 1877 tracks the economic wellbeing of the country well into the Great Depression.

Anti-immigration rhetoric always rises in response to economic distress.

But the gun thing? I have never seen gun-ownership attributed to economic distress. Where the heck did that come from?

As an aside, we seem to be roundly condemning "elitism," but isn't capitalism itself predicated on elitism? Those who produce the most value for society will be economically rewarded, won't they?

And shouldn't we want the best and brightest to lead us? Why does the fact that a politician received the best "Ivy League" education count against him or her? A huge chunk of our presidents were Ivy grads - 11 went to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton as undergrads. 5 more went to an Ivy for graduate shool.
4.14.2008 11:34am
David M. Nieporent (www):
As an aside, we seem to be roundly condemning "elitism," but isn't capitalism itself predicated on elitism? Those who produce the most value for society will be economically rewarded, won't they?
That's meritocracy, not elitism.

And shouldn't we want the best and brightest to lead us?
I don't want the government "leading" me at all. Do we want smart people in the government? Maybe. Do we want people who think they're smarter than everyone else trying to "lead" everyone else? No.
4.14.2008 11:50am
John Thompson (mail):
Smallholder--as far as I'm aware, none of the previous 11 Ivy league graduates you reference got the affirmative action brownie points added to their applications. Moreover, as a graduate of Harvard Law School myself, I can confidently echo William Buckley's comment about preferring to be governed by persons chosen at random from the phone book. The people I met at HLS are in many ways among the most ignorant I've ever come across. "Bright" perhaps. Any notion of how the world actually is? Not so much.
4.14.2008 11:57am
ejo:
well, to test your theory, has there been an increase in racism, church attendance and anti-immigrationism that you would attribute to economic times (what is the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania, anyway)? Illegal immigration has been in the news, not that I would find being anti-illegal to be irrational. Has the Klan made a resurgence in the bitter hollers of the State-the most prominent racist I have seen in the news recently preached from the pulpit of Obama's church. Thus, once again, the spin attempt fails.
4.14.2008 12:03pm
A.C.:
Capitalism gives big financial rewards to the people who add the most economic value, but democracy is supposed to have a different value system. I don't see it as contradictory to have both working at the same time, in different areas of life.

As for the substance of the remarks, opposing immigration actually makes a lot of sense when the job market is bad. You want more immigrants when jobs are remaining unfilled than when people are remaining unemployed... this strikes me as a morally neutral conclusion to make, not as a sign that there's something wrong with the person making it. Turning to churches when money is tight also makes sense, not just for spiritual consolation but also because they provide plenty of free social events -- and may even help you network your way to a new job. In some churches, more direct counseling and assistance may also be available. I think Obama attends one of those churhces himself, so he must know about the phenomenon.

The problem is, if you take these two sensible responses and link them to racism and guns, then present the whole thing to a liberal group in San Francisco, you're creating a stereotype. Racism is bad, and guns are most likely bad to the people listening. So the other things end up looking bad by association.

Liberals can see how this works if you use single mothers as the example. Add in welfare, drugs and so on and you create a stereotype. One that has nothing to do with the single mothers I know, all of whom are employed and none of whom use drugs.
4.14.2008 12:11pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I love watching Obama's critics playing into his hands on this."

If that is the case, can we expect Obama to continue telling the rich liberals in San Francisco how the little people think?
4.14.2008 12:15pm
ejo:
as to the issue of elitism, it has little to do with achievement or money and much to do with the view that everyone who doesn't agree with you is a moron. there are, on the faculties of law schools and university Social/Poli-Sci, "elitists" who cling to the notion that communism would work if they were the actual overlords instead of those failures like Stalin. It's the reason why a person who has never run a business, was an associate at a political law firm and lists "community organizer", whatever that means in a one party town, can think he is the one man who can make a difference.
4.14.2008 12:32pm
anomie:
anomie-the context of the statements was very clear and your read is, charitably, based on spin and not "context."

That's an odd notion of context you have: ignoring everything Obama has said before and after a statement in order to present your spin as the one and only true interpretation. Nowhere before or after the statement that you are fixated on has Obama ever spoken negatively of traditional American religious beliefs.
4.14.2008 2:32pm
ejo:
if he talks about 3 things as negatives (guns, anti-immigrant, anti-free trade), the simplest thing to realize once you have the blinders off is that the 4th is a negative to him as well. Or, am I to impute that he was playing "one of these things is not like the others". You have to realize that the Messiah spent his time in a church that preached hatred and divisiveness. He probably can't conceive that these rural white churches aren't preaching hatred of jews, blacks, "the other", just like his reverend did in his pulpit (substituting whites, of course). topped off by a volley of gunfire, of course.
4.14.2008 2:45pm
anomie:
You're certainly playing at something to contend that a list of things associated with economic hard times is necessarily a list of things that Obama thinks are evil, or that they necessarily share anything other than the association he made explicit.
4.14.2008 3:19pm
ruralcounsel (mail) (www):
swg wrote:

Seems to me Obama explained the comment, but as EV said, his explanation is very likely wrong. There are more plausible reasons that people "cling" to socially conservative viewpoints than the failure of the government to help them economically.


I'm actually more curious why anyone would "cling" to belief in collectivist governments and big party politics. Those seem to me to be utter failures as iconic beliefs. Unless you're an "elite" of the political system.
4.14.2008 3:20pm
LM (mail):
ejo,

as to the issue of elitism, it has little to do with achievement or money and much to do with the view that everyone who doesn't agree with you is a moron.

Add "or evil."

Should I assume we all join to renounce and reject those petri dishes of elitism, the blogosphere and talk radio?
4.14.2008 5:34pm