In their attempts to spin away from Barack Obama’s stunningly stupid remarks at a San Francisco fundraiser last weekend, Democrats and the Obama campaign have focused on only the least objectionable portion of the comment as a means to frame the national discussion. In a single sentence where Obama called small-town Midwestern voters overly religious bigots who cling to their guns out of frustration with George Bush, the Democrats have decided to build their defense on “bitter”. Here’s the original remark:
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 here’s the pushback, courtesy of Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, who spoke with two Democratic consultants:
Carter Eskew, Democratic media consultant: “It will be a problem because it reinforces an image of aloofness and elitism. It’s a verbal gutter ball–reinforcing the visual one. I say ‘may,’ because the first half of the quote has merit and Obama might be able to–as he did with Wright–take it to another place with at least some success.” ….
John Anzalone, Democratic pollster: “I grew up in a blue collar environment. ‘Bitter’ was a more-than-appropriate description of blue collar families, especially middle-aged men who were living the American dream and content on their union wages in manufacturing who then faced a hopeless future. … I think this whole line of attack by Clinton and McCain is [BS] and contrived. What do they know about economic anxiety. You think families in the Rustbelt care about the nuance of an adjective when they are hurting?”
Bitterness, however, wasn’t the objectionable part of the statement. Hillary Clinton chose to chase that particular rabbit around the track, and some of the media followed, although not all. Obama’s camp seized on that and has tried adopting bitterness as its strategy, claiming that small-town voters are right to be bitter about an economic expansion that has created the lowest unemployment we have had in any 25-year period of this nation’s industrial history.
But that’s intellectually dishonest. Let’s break this statement into its component insults:
- “[T]hey cling to guns…” Cling to guns? Americans have “clung” to guns since the founding of the Republic. It’s such a core value to this nation that its founders placed it second on the Bill of Rights, right after freedom of speech and religion. Speaking of which …
- “or [they cling to] religion …” People don’t become religious because the economy hits a few bumps in the road. Obama may have chosen his religion based on politics, but most people follow a religion out of a deeper sense of spirituality. I can’t think of a more condescending and contemptuous analysis of religious dedication than this statement.
- “or [they cling to] antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment…” Small-town voters are bigots and xenophobes; there’s no other way to read the first part of this statement. The second part, about them being “anti-immigrant”, is a non-sequitur. They may be anti-illegal immigrant, but that’s a far different issue. Obama offers no proof that small-town voters are xenophobes, but the Frisco audience didn’t demand any, either. It’s part of their own bigotry that makes them see middle America in those terms.
- “or [they cling to] anti-trade sentiment …” And this is just jaw-droppingly hypocritical. This comes from the same candidate who opposes the Colombian free-trade agreement and wants to throw NAFTA out the window. Who’s clinging to anti-trade sentiment? Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Big Labor.
It would be difficult to be any more condescending or insulting in so many ways to so many voters in a single sentence. It reveals a deeply elitist and shockingly callow candidate. It’s the “Let them eat cake” of 2008.
Watch the media and the Democrats over the next few days. They want to drink deeply the bitter dregs and try to divert attention from the truly objectionable portions of Obama’s statement. Get your e-mails ready to remind them of the rest of Obama’s broadside against middle America.