… “Offensive” being a word with two different meanings, and both are applicable here. Chris Cillizza reported from the Compassion Forum last night that Barack Obama intends on clinging to his liberal elitism and hoping to sell it to the benighted masses. In fact, Obama tried to convince middle Americans that he meant his comments as praise, not condemnation:

Sen. Barack Obama sounded a defiant note tonight when asked during a candidate forum about whether his words to a group of San Francisco donors pegged him as an elitist who is out of touch with the average voter.

“My words may have been clumsy, which happens surprisingly often on a presidential campaign,” Obama said, a remark that drew laughter from the crowd assembled at Messiah College for the “Compassion Forum”. Obama added that he had meant to tout — not demean — the redemptive power of religion for those facing hardship. “Religion is a bulwark,” Obama said. “What I was referring to was in no way demeaning a faith that I myself embrace.”

He repeatedly drew on his own life experience as a community organizer as a testament to the deep respect he has for people of faith. “I have been working in churches since I got out of college,” Obama said at one point.

Really! Well, let’s take another look at the statement to see what else he believes is a bulwark:

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.

In order to accept that Obama meant religion served as a bulwark for honest folk in hard economic circumstances, this is what else serves as a bulwark:

  • Guns – Well, Obama could make up some ground if he actually embraced gun rights, but his record proves unreliable on this point.
  • Xenophobia – Is Obama endorsing bigotry as a “bulwark”? That’s a kind of race debate we hadn’t expected — nor do we want.
  • Protectionism and populism – Unfortunately, Obama’s track record on this is clear; he not only believes in protectionism, he’s running explicitly on that platform.

Meanwhile, Obama isn’t alone on the offensive. William Kristol finds some similarity between Obama and another deep political philosopher of the 19th century, a connection made by more than a few bloggers over the weekend:

“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless condition. It is the opium of the people.”

Or, more succinctly, and in the original German in which Marx somehow always sounds better: “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes.”

Now, this is a point of view with a long intellectual pedigree prior to Marx, and many vocal adherents continuing into the 21st century. I don’t believe the claim is true, but it’s certainly worth considering, in college classrooms and beyond.

But it’s one thing for a German thinker to assert that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.” It’s another thing for an American presidential candidate to claim that we “cling to … religion” out of economic frustration.

If Democrats wanted to tear down the popular image of their party as out-of-touch liberal elitists and crypto-Marxists, Obama may have set them back decades. His remarks may have made him the George McGovern of today, by insisting on themes that even McGovern rejects now. The religious tweak has brought Karl Marx completely out of the closet and into the mainstream debate over Obama’s real beliefs about politics and the American people.

November looks more and more grim for Democrats with every Obama shift on these comments. He has singlehandedly put the superdelegates back in play, and made it very unlikely that they will settle on a candidate before the actual convention in Denver. With this stupidity, they now have to wait as long as possible to see whether Obama’s self-destructive tendencies get any worse.

Update: Here’s the video from his appearance in Steeltown regarding “disingenuous” remarks made by Hillary Clinton, courtesy of Allahpundit. Pay attention about 3:30 or so: