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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Reactions to Barack Obama's "Middle America" Remarks


Yesterday we touched on some words that Barack Obama had to say to a group of Californians at a fundraising gathering in San Francisco. Today I see this has snowballed into a situation beyond control.

The portion of his speech that dozens and dozens have taken exception to is:

"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.

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."

That kicked off a firestorm like no one could have imagined and has had Obama trying to backtrack and "explain" his remarks that he said when he thought no one but the elite group he was speaking for, would hear them.

Obama's explanation:

“I didn’t say it was well as I could have,” Obama confessed today during a town hall in Muncie, Ind., in response to the controversy he described as a “political flare-up because I said something that everyone knows is true.”

He then launched into a broad explanation of what he was trying to express: “There are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my home town in Illinois, who are bitter. They are angry… So I said, well ya know, when you’re bitter, you turn to what you can count on. So people, ya know they vote about guns or they take comfort from their faith, and their family, and their community, and they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country, or they get frustrated about how things are changing. That’s a natural response.”

Just keeps digging and the more he speaks about it, the more the snowball effect hits and this is turning out to be the gaffe of the season, in the minds of some.

Ed Morrisey explains it short and simply:

* “[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.

Samantha Torrence has a few words in an open letter to Obama, from one of the "Middle America" people to Barack Obama. Samantha deals with issue by issue, starting with guns, moving toward religion and illegal immigration and ending with trade.

A teaser:

The people who are not like us working class Americans, are not the working class immigrants who roll up their sleeves and work next to us, it is people like you who do not connect. Anti-immigration is not a problem we have in the Mid West, you are missing one key word, ILLEGAL. These "simple" folk may not have a Harvard education, but many people know where the jobs are, who is getting them, and how much it is costing them. Many of the "simple" folk of the Mid West are educated enough to know where to look for hard numbers to back up what they are observing. You have succeeded in perpetrating the myth that all Midwesterners are racist, bigoted, troglodytes because they do not embrace illegal immigration. California businessmen will have a knee jerk reaction when hearing this. Here in the Mid West we see these California businessmen, especially ones in San Francisco and Los Angeles profiting off of illegal immigration. We are not so "simple" to understand that in an attempt to come against the opponents of illegal immigration that these powerful men will attempt to degrade our character and accuse us of atrocities we do not commit.

Read the rest..... she ends with:

So, Mr. Obama as you can see, you really did not speak artfully about this situation, but it isn't because you lacked the words, you were just ignorant of the facts.

Then you have Obama surrogates trying to also explain his words and simply making matters worse.

The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps.

Oh yes, much better. With friends like that.... well, you know the rest.

Even today, Obama is still trying to limit the damage this is doing since just yesterday and it is not working.

Clinton, of course, is hammering this home, showing the condescending rhetoric that Obama spews when he thinks no one but his direct audience will hear him. Giving a glimpse into the soul of the real Barack Obama.

More from Clinton.

Clinton backers are also making the case that this is one specific thing that will kill Barack Obama in the general election ,in November, if the Democratic party dares to make him their nominee. For once, I have to agree with a Clinton backer.

Barack Obama showed good success is limiting the damage that his pastor of 20 yrs, Jeremiah Wright, did with his words becoming public, but he will have a far harder time distancing himself from his own words.

PowerLine is asking if this is the end of Barack Obama.

No, it isn't. Obama still has the delegate lead on Clinton. That is the bottom line and unless every single superdelegate comes out right now for Hillary Clinton, this contest will still continue whether Obama stands a chance in the general election or not.

The New Republic, not my favorite publication, but still, they have a point when they say:

That's why people cling to guns and religion? As for anti-trade sentiment, perhaps Obama is talking about...people like himself, who have spent the last 3 months bashing free trade. Not only is this pretty darn condescending on its face, but the trade comment adds another whole layer of insult. He's almost admitting that he does not believe his previous trade talk!

The other problem is this: Obama was essentially claiming that the reason people are not voting for him is because they are bitter:

Barack Obama cannot expect this to go away and fortunately for John McCain, Obama is so far ahead of Clinton right now, Barack Obama isn't going away either.

The Democrats will continue the infighting, with Clinton having a very large cache of ammunition with this latest gaffe from Obama and should she and her backers manage to convince enough superdelegates to vote for her because Obama is unelectable in the general election against McCain, then you have the Obama supporters that are overwhelmingly energetic, thinking they and their candidate have been treated unfairly.

Imagine the Obama supporters like energizer bunnies, never stopping, never losing enthusiasm and working tirelessly for their candidate.... now imagine those energizer batteries taken out.

Not a good scenario for the Democratic party as a whole. Clinton whom has a higher unpopular rating than she does popular, Obama who cannot stop sticking his foot in his mouth and supporters from both sides infighting to the point of declaring that if their candidate doesn't win they will vote for John McCain.

There sits John McCain, with a smile on his face, thanking his lucky stars that the Democratic candidates have the unique ability to continue to shoot themselves in the head at every given opportunity.

If they are not shooting themselves, they are busy shooting at each other.

[Update] N ow Obama "regrets" offending people.

You think?