Obama on small-town voters: Bitter, xenophobic, religious; Update: McCain camp unloads; Update: People "don't need a president who looks down on them," says Hillary; Update: Audio added; Update: Obama camp responds -- weakly

An outrageous Kinsleyan gaffe? Sure. But give it a day or so, to let the Jedi mind trick work its magic. Then the left will tell us what he “really meant”:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them…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.

What’s most offensive? The condescension displayed here by the intelligentsia’s candidate of choice? The sheer breadth of the stereotype, which would send Team Obama screaming from the rooftops if a white politician drew a similarly sweeping caricature of blacks? The crude quasi-Marxist reductionism of his analysis, which he first introduced in his speech on race vis-a-vis the root causes of whites’ “resentment” — namely, exploitation by the bourgeoisie in the form of corporations and D.C. lobbyists? Or is it the shocking inclusion of religion, of all things, in the litany of sins he recites? What on earth is that doing there, given His Holiness’s repeated invocations of the virtues of faith on the trail? Note the choice of verb, too. Why not just go the whole nine yards and call it the opiate of the masses?

If you missed the Standard’s post a few weeks ago on the various complaints about “distractions” that creep into Obama’s rhetoric, read it now. This is of a piece with it. Everything in the Obama universe, including gun rights evidently, that doesn’t fit his agenda is a byproduct of external forces conspiring to manipulate the masses to keep his agenda at bay. Exit question: How does Hillary leverage this? Does she dare get the video and stick it in an ad?

Update: She’s not going to get a video ad out of it. It wasn’t delivered as part of a speech; how could it have been, given the obnoxiousness of the rhetoric? He said it to a bunch of megarich donors in San Francisco last week. This is how he talks to the liberal elite.

Update: The best part of this story? It’s HuffPo, of all sites, that broke it. His disciples can’t even claim bias in the reporting.

Update: Here we go. Your move, Hillary.

Asked to respond, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt called it a “remarkable statement and extremely revealing.”

“It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking,” Schmidt said. “It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans.”

Follow the link for Jonathan Martin’s assertion that Republicans are itching to “play the elitism card” against Obama, which is journo-speak for “itching to show the public just how elitist Obama is in reality.”

Update: Score. Go for the throat, shameless liar!

“It’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who face hard times are bitter,” Clinton said during a campaign event in Philadelphia. “Well that’s not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania. I meet people who are resilient, optimist positive who are rolling up their sleeves.”

“Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them,” she said. “They need a president who stands up for them, who fights hard for your future, your jobs, your families.”

Update: An intriguing quote from KP:

“It comes off very badly,” Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers said of the small-town America remarks. “They are things that I think in a liberal world sound totally normal, and outside of that world I don’t know that he appreciates how it sounds. And it just sounds very elitist, and it sounds like he’s looking down on people.”

Update: HuffPo’s posted the audio. Sounds like an accurate transcription to me.

Update: Obama answers. No denial, no clarification, just an awkward change of subject to McCain. When does he deliver the Great Speech on Condescension to get himself off the hook for this one?

“Senator Obama has said many times in this campaign that Americans are understandably upset with their leaders in Washington for saying anything to win elections while failing to stand up to the special interests and fight for an economic agenda that will bring jobs and opportunity back to struggling communities. And if John McCain wants a debate about who’s out of touch with the American people, we can start by talking about the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that he once said offended his conscience but now wants to make permanent,”

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