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Friday, April 11, 2008

Why is anyone having the vapors over this?
Posted by Jill | 9:33 PM
Keith Olbermann opened breathlessly tonight with the "breaking news" about remarks Barack Obama made about Pennsylvanians.

I was busy watching Nelson Figueroa working on a no-hitter that ended up being broken up in the 5th inning, combined with more than a bit of politics fatigue after being exhausted by the campaign, the Air America foofarah, and general spring fever.

But it seems that Barack Obama has simply pointed out the obvious:

"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," Obama said. "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 this is a shandeh -- why?

I see this as a statement of fact, except it isn't limited to Pennsylvania. For nearly two decades, Americans, particularly in blue-collar areas, have seen their standard of living drop. They've seen the jobs that gave them a comfortable life dissappear. They've seen their incomes drop. They've watched as their children joined the military because it was either that or work at Wal-Mart. Politicians have played on their fears of the future by pointing these Americans' attention away from the corporate CEOs making hundreds of millions of dollars a year by sending their factories overseas, and from Senators and Congresspeople who have sided with corporations time after time. They've sold these Americans "trickle-down economics", which told them that if they just sit tight while the rich shovel cash into their pockets, sooner those rich people will piss a few bucks down upon them. They've played on their fears, first of black people (Willie Horton and the Jesse Helms "White Hands" ad), then of terrorists, then of Latino immigrants. They've succeeded by saying, "Look at the guy below you....HE'S your problem, not the guys who talked you into buying a house you couldn't afford, then bundled your mortgage into bogus investments sold by Bear Stearns, whose executives pocketed millions of dollars before the whole scheme went bust, leaving you with a house you can't pay for and can't sell. That guy below you on the ladder is the REAL problem, not a president sho cut taxes to give more cash to his rich friends and who allowed speculators to drive the price of gasoline to $3.25/gallon and heating oil to nearly $4."

It's worked for Republicans for decades.

When Howard Dean talked about "God, guns, and gays" in 2004, this is precisely what he was talking about. Guns give people a sense of control over their lives when everything around them is going to shit. Turning to religion gives them a framework in which to try to make sense of it all -- and make them think that there has to be a reason why their economic lives and emotional well-being are falling apart. Demonizing other groups -- black people, Latinos, gays, women, anyone different from them -- helps them feel not quite so downtrodden.

It's funny how people who have benefitted from the cozy relationship between corporations and Washington -- people like John McCain and Hillary Clinton -- find it so easy, when someone dares to speak the truth about how American working people are getting fucked over by their own public servants, to shout about "elitism." After all, anyone who dares to point out how Americans have been duped by their own desire to believe that their government serves them, that America is inherently good and that hard work really does bring rewards, might upset the status quo. And we can't have that, now can we. Because then people might ask questions.

Here's Obama fighting back against the McCain/Clinton attacks:

Barack Obama speaks the truth. And I guess to corporatist hacks like McCain and Clinton, the truth hurts. The only question is whether the media will succeed into whipping people into such a frenzy that they vote against their own interests yet again.

UPDATE (via Joe Sudbay): Astoundingly, at least part of the MSM isn't jumping on the "Obama is an Elitist" bandwagon. Watch this CNN panel point this righteous indignation out for the utter horseshit it is:

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Blogger lutton said...
Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Anonymous Anonymous said...
from swimming freestyle:

"Barack Obama is a remarkably eloquent man and turning into a remarkably capable politician. But if the Senator believes it's smart to insult voters from a state critical to your success, he's hit one of the worst false notes yet in his campaign.

Yeah, I know what his campaign said, and that may have been what he meant. But a sophisticated candidate doesn't refer to voters in language that can be construed as derogatory or insulting. Obama asserted Pennsylvania voters are bitter and so simple and lacking in maturity and intelligence that they address their frustration by clinging to primitive and reactionary crutches rather than addressing their problems in constructive ways.

It's divisive. And not the way to attract the voters you need most."


Blogger Porlock Junior said...
I swear, he keeps sounding like Roosevelt. I can't really justify this -- but listen when he makes fun of the opposition's latest meme. He did it a month ago on whatever was then current, and there was an echo of "they're even attacking my little dog Fala." Then came The Speech on Race, which maybe isn't so much like FDR except being incredibly good.

Here again he mocks the opposition which any politician is expected to do, but in a spirit different from the nasty approach everyone else uses. It distracts you from the fact that what he's saying is nasty, as the victims deserve. All subjective, this.

BTW I hadn't heard about this so-called issue till I saw a partial transcript a few minutes ago on Group News Blog, and my first reaction was, Somebody's complaining about this?? What's supposed to be wrong?

OK, he's saying that the voters are actually making mistakes, for good reasons. You cannot say that. Must deny, deny, pander, deny.

Speak obvious truths about farmers and workers, and you get shown up as a rich elitist like --

Hey, what was that guy's name? The rich guy who thought he could put over Harvard fancy talk like Rondy-voo with Destiny?

Blogger PridePress said...

Voting Hillary.

Game over.

Blogger Unknown said...
The Democratic success in 2006 was due in large part to making the party more salable to heartland America. This kind of condescending elitism, so carefully avoided in the mid-term campaign, won't help.

I guess I can go ahead and start planning the menu for my John McCain inauguration party. I'm thinking maybe something with a Southwestern theme.

Blogger lutton said...
Holy crap, are any of you people from Pennsylvania? (I am.) It's the state to which Carville (I Think) refered as Philly and Pittsburgh and Arkansas in between (or something along those lines). People regularly refer to it as Pennsyltuckey.

And people throughout the state are disappointed and even bitter about being screwed over by politicians on both sides of the aisle the 40 or so years.

From our sons being shipped to Viet Nam (and now Iraq), to our industrial jobs being shipped overseas, and our long stagnant wages, Pennsylvania has had decades of distress.

Billy Joel noted it over 25 years ago, in songs like "Allentown."

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved
So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
And chromium steel
And we're waiting here in Allentown

But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down
But I won't be getting up today

Blogger Mauigirl said...
I am wondering the exact same thing. It is ridiculous for the opposition to say this is derogatory to the voters. Hell, he's SYMPATHIZING with their concerns and UNDERSTANDS them. Unlike a lot of other politicians I could name.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I like the fact that Obama is counting on people being willing to engage with the truth, even when it is uncomfortable.

BTW, in relation to the sick-fuck right-wing shell game, I posted on this a while back:


Blogger Toby said...
It is uncomfortable to see what has happened to the middle class as we (they) have voted against their best interest based on cultural issues.
It is uncomfortable to talk about race.
Our economy and the occupation in Iraq has made millions of us uncomfortable because we can seem to get a grip on what is truly important.
I want my president to be smart, able to speak coherently and concerned about this country and the constitution even if it means pointing out the obvious and bringing up uncomfortable realities.

I am not disappointed.
I am not voting for Hillary unless I have too.
The game is far from over...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The truth hurts. You bet. But lies keep us in chains.

Blogger Batocchio said...
I agree with your take. Meanwhile, Obama's conceded he misspoke and clarified.