Bitter? Damn Right!

I don’t think Obama misspoke, nor should he ever have allowed himself to be backed into to a weak-arse response like, “I worded it clumsily; I wish I had said it better.”
In any event, it is not a case of elitism.  Letting Hillary, McCain and the hopelessly lazy and self-interested media frame it that way was a much bigger mistake than saying anything that could be so viciously twisted in the first place.
My biggest disappointment is that Obama apparently missed his own point.  If he hadn’t his explanation would have been better.

The GOP has long been about the politics of fear, most glaringly and obviously perfected by the administration of George Bush and the gang of neocon fuckwits we’ve suffered for eight utterly incompetent years.  The entire ethos behind their strategy has been to frighten the living bejesus out of folks over something – Russia, drugs, crime, trade, immigration, inflation, Islam, terrorism, WMD…take your pick – because when people are frightened, they fall back on the basics of who they are; their history, character, memories, traditions.  And if you know what those are, you can make direct appeals to those specific constructs and attack your enemies in terms that relate to those traditions.  In so doing, it becomes much easier to make people cast their ballot on a single issue or, at least, to affect the weight given to any single issue.  In such ways are elections won and lost.  That slimy Clinton lizard Mark Penn wrote a book about how to slice and dice the demographics, and Karl Rove and Pat Robertson made absolutely no secret about their applications of those principles in their long and ugly political lives.
It is no secret that people in Pennsylvania, particularly in those small towns, have some certain things in common that are not shared by New Yorkers or Los Angelinos…or San Franciscans (the people to whom Obama was speaking).
What do they have in common?  Religion, duck hunting, farming, a gutted industrial sector.  The opinions about free trade and immigration are different on the coasts, in the south, and along the 49th.
The relative homogeniety of Pennsylvania demographics as one moves from small town to small town make certain statements true, and among them is this:  “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Parse the statement.
It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter

Who wouldn’t be bitter after eight years of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Wolfowitz, Rice, Enron, Iraq, economic collapse, tax cuts for the rich, the gutting of the constitution, the apparently unlimited extension of executive power and privilege, uncountable dead bodies, ten trillion in debt, in hawk to the Chinese, the mightiest military force in history almost broken by sheer utter incompetence, poor planning, and myopic vision.  Americans are not more economically secure than before those monsters took over.  Of course they’re bitter.  I’m fucking bitter and I’m not even an American.

“they cling to guns or religion”

This is just true.  It’s who these folks, by and large, are.  They believe in Jesus Christ.  They have a gun cabinet in their home.  I try not to hold religious faith against folks.  Sometimes it might even be a good thing.  My grandfather had guns.
But as between me and someone in a small town in Pennsylvania, issues relating to the 2nd Amendment are likely more important to them, and we may well disagree on teaching Intelligent Design in the science classroom.
In times of fear – which under George Bush is all the time and about everything – those issues become even more important to  people for whom they carry a sense of being a core value.  I suppose the phrasing, “cling to,” could certainly have been improved.  But the point remains.

or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment

It strikes me that I accept this premise as true without any particular evidence to support it, but it seems both true on its face and to be what Obama meant when he said it: People who live in multi-cultural communities are more accepting of differences among people; those who live in homogenous communities are more likely to have antipathy (a lack of caring) for people that are different.
This is not to say that they do not care, merely that when faced with an uncertain future; when falling back on what they find familiar, comforting and traditional, it is not to the broader world and its conditions that they look, nor to the welfare of those who have come from outside their communities.
Thus, in times such as these – an unending war in Iraq, collapse of the housing market, looming recession – issues like immigration, free trade, church and state become, to Pennsylvania voters, more important than ever.

“or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”

Given that Hillary has been trying to present herself as having opposed the free trade agreement she championed on behalf of her husband, she is apparently aware that Pennsylvania is anti-free trade.
People in Pennsylvania are unhappy with NAFTA.  They do present that as an important reason why their state economy has taken such a beating.  They are not interested in further free trade deals.  To call Obama an elitist for pointing this out smacks of just the sort of hypocrisy that I’d come to expect from Clinton even before she invented the Bosnian sniper story.  In any event, even were it true, I’d rather elect an elitist than a liar.

And so, now Clinton and McCain twist Obama’s words to argue that he is an elitist; that he denigrates the core values of blue-collar workers.  He denigrates nothing.  He merely speaks the truth.  Hillary Clinton would toss her grandmother under a bus to win the White House, and John McCain has been a pandering old fart for as long as he’s been in politics.
If Obama and his people had given it another moment of thought, he might have conceived a better response to this foolishness.  He might have figured out a way to get the folks in Pennsylvania to recognize how they’ve been played, conned and bamboozled by people who hide behind their faith rather than follow it; people who create the conditions for fear and then exploit that fear; people who have promised solutions only to bring more problems, and will now leave all those problems for someone else to fix.
Could someone please point to something…anything…one thing that eight years of Bush have made better?  How about one thing that has not been made worse?

Tax cuts for the rich, no-bid Haliburton contracts, oil is over 100 dollars per barrel and George has spent our great-great grandchildren into debt…and Obama’s an elitist.

We are truly down the rabbit hole.


6 Responses

  1. We agree,thank you for writing so eloquently and simply all the truth swimming around in our brains,
    tracy and fede rojo

  2. Babe, we’ve been down the rabbit hole a lot longer than this presidential race. And while Obama’s comments weren’t elitist, IMO, saying what he did gave his opponents all the ammo they needed. Which is why I think president want-to-bes should have a gag clause. They shouldn’t actually be allowed to speak during their run for office. Then people would have to look at what they’ve done during their time in their respective positions and base their choices on facts instead of propaganda.

  3. […] cousinavi once again delivers unbelievable content. Bitter? Damn Right! is a great read and is truly remarkable. Below is a brief overview of what was released: […]

  4. […] morganwrites wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptReligion, duck hunting, farming, a gutted industrial sector. The opinions about free trade and immigration are different on the coasts, in the south, and along the 49th. The relative homogeniety of Pennsylvania demographics as one moves … […]

  5. One small correction. Apathy would be a lack of caring. Antipathy is “an object of natural aversion or habitual dislike. ” So Obama isn’t saying they don’t care about people who aren’t like them. He’s saying they actively don’t like them.

  6. One more comment … it seems to me that when the media calls someone elitist in relation to something specific they have said, they have just said something true, something which most Americans recognize as atleast arguable true but no one wants to admit it or discuss it based on its own merits. He’s elitist, next candidate! I’m surprised they didn’t use the same tactic with Ron Paul (

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