When Barack Obama started his run for the presidency in January 2007, I called it the start of the Year of Nick the New Guy. I warned Democrats not to take the risk of placing their bets on a candidate that had not had to fight a national campaign against a real opponent. At 45, I wrote, Obama “has plenty of time to gain the experience and gravitas needed to lead the nation.” Today, as Allahpundit posted earlier, Obama proved me correct.
Only a rookie would make a colossal blunder like calling Midwestern, small-town voters a bunch of bigoted, overly religious gun nuts:
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. So it’s not surprising then that 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.
Rookies should not run for President. Rookies make mistakes that brand them, and once made on the national stage, those brands never entirely disappear. Ask Joe Biden, whose plagiarism 20 years ago still largely defines him outside of Delaware, and he was hardly a rookie at the time.
What makes this so breathtaking is the mindless, casual way in which Obama reveals his snobbishness and elitism. We saw hints of this from Michelle Obama, in her assertions about never being proud of her country until her husband ran for President. (Soren Dayton has more on this.) We had not seen it from Obama himself in such a blatant and unmistakable manner. The matter-of-fact style in which he spoke this shows the unthinking contempt he has for people he has never engaged — an acceptance of stereotypes without questioning them that shows his own bigotry, not to mention foolishness and poor judgment.
At times, we have remarked that Obama only really performs well with a script. Once he has to speak extemporaneously, not only does he fare worse as an orator, but he tends to get lost and make unforced errors. It’s hard to imagine one worse than this. It’s all the worse because it’s not a gaffe in the normal sense, but a revealing moment that shows how Obama really views Americans. With this statement, it’s not hard to understand why he sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years and heard nothing that moved him to dissent.
Power Line asks whether this will end Obama’s candidacy in 2008. Not in the primaries, as the only other option is simply not electable. It’s likely the end of any hope for the candidate of Hope and Change in a general election that depends on heartland voters. This clip will get played over and over again, in blogs, television show, and radio broadcasts not just until November but for years and years. It may not end Obama’s presidential hopes just for this year, but ever.
That’s the risk of running for the highest office without garnering the necessary experience beforehand. Unfortunately for the Democrats, they had already put most of their eggs in his basket before he got properly vetted. No matter what they do now, they’ve handicapped themselves heavily for the November election.
Keep checking back on AP’s post for updates to the story.
Update: Jules Crittenden has a great round-up as well.