As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Stupid Season

OK, I've had it. I guess Barack Obama is not allowed to describe the world as it is, for that way lies gaffe.

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. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

And now all the pious politicians from wealthy families and cushy Senate jobs and all the goat blowers in the commentariat have to condemn such awful remarks and self-righteously make common cause with those "real Americans in the heartland" who Obama apparently slandered.

Give me a break. It's a gaffe to say, rightly, that politicians and media types descend on small-town America and eat their local foods and talk very earnestly about their economies every four years, and then never come back, and never address their issues? Did it ever occur to anyone that Barack Obama's entire political life has been in service to representing poor people in government? That those are his constituents? Even, horrors, those Midwesterners in the heartland?

And it's a gaffe, now, to say that Republicans have used social issues and scapegoats to stand in for their own failures on the economy, especially in rural communities? Isn't this painfully obvious by now? Those who are describing Obama as elitist need to go look up the definition of "empathy."

I mean, this is bullshit. And Hillary Clinton and John McCain and every very rich media type who now tries to connect this back to some made-up view of Barack Obama as an elitist, which is really just a layering over of every Democrat as an elitist, needs to with all due respect shut their fucking mouths. The manufacturing base of this country has been hollowed, agribusiness has crushed family farms, industries are flying overseas with each passing day, and if someone attempts to explain that process and the expected reaction to it they're an elitist? Actually, the elitists are the puffed-up failed sportscasters that fail to read the context of any campaign remarks, and the idiot consultants who think they can pull one over on "the rubes" by casting a commonplace argument as the words of someone "who doesn't share your values". I guess the elitist is the one who offers legislation to rein in CEO compensation packages. That absolutely sounds like something an elitist would do.

Just shut up, and don't assume that every rural voter is as sensitive and aggrieved as you all clearly are. You don't know them, don't understand them, and certainly shouldn't presume to speak for them.

I'd continue, but it would probably me a mass of sputtering and different variations on the word "fuck," so I'm going to let Senator Obama have the last word.

"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."

This is a very honest, Thomas Frank-like argument that shows an understanding of working America's concerns, and the next media idiot that challenges it and starts to say how "regular people" will respond to this needs to be asked "When's the last time you ever talked to a so-called 'regular person'? When's the last time you ever looked at a price tag in a store? Shut your god-damn mouth!"

UPDATE: Fuck Ben Smith. Obama did NOT say that there's something wrong with clinging to faith or clinging to guns. That's what you think he said because in all likelihood that's what you believe. Obama is saying that people losing their jobs and struggling to get by look for answers, and when they're presented with no economic answers but a whole passel of moral ones, that's where they'll gravitiate. It's pretty clear.

UPDATE II: More from that elitist:

Ordinary citizens can have an enormous influence on what happens in Washington. The problem is that they're just not organized right now. And so those who are organized, the corporations, the special interests, the big lobbies, they have a disproportionate influence, and part of what hopefully this campaign is about is to tilt the scales in favor of ordinary people.

Did he say that from a marble veranda eating finger sandwiches? Pompous windbag!

UPDATE III: Unbelievable. The AP headline goes: Obama Concedes Remarks Were Ill Chosen. In other words, he gives a four-minute, fully-rendered argument with one throw-away line saying "I didn't say it as well as I should have," and the headline is... that throwaway line.

Our entire media can be safely dumped into the sea.

UPDATE IV: Shorter Evan Bayh: I'm going to let you know that I know exactly what Obama meant and then deliberately distort it so that my candidate looks better.

One of Clinton's staunchest supporters, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., acknowledged there was some truth in Obama's remarks. But Republicans would use them against him anyway, Bayh said.

"We do have economic hard times, and that does lead to a frustration and some justifiable anger, it's true," Bayh told reporters after introducing Clinton in Indianapolis. "But I think you're on dangerous ground when you morph that into suggesting that people's cultural values whether it's religion or hunting and fishing or concern about trade are premised solely upon those kinds of anxieties and don't have a legitimate foundation independent of that."

But nobody said that people's cultural values are premised SOLELY upon those anxieties. He said that people VOTE on those cultural values because corporatist Democrats like you haven't lifted a goddamn finger for them in 30 years, and the only way Democrats win is if they return to being the party of the people. I'm not surprised you didn't get it.

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