Tuesday, April 15, 2008


“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 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 going to 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.”

--Barack Obama, in San Francisco, CA, last weekend

It's been almost a week now, and the pundits can't get over these remarks. Clinton called them "elitist," fearing that they reflected the public's worst impression of the Democratic Party (the same anti-liberal nervous-nellyism we saw when Howard Dean's "yell" caused the DNC to piss its pants four years ago). This morning I heard a sound bite of McCain stating that the remarks were an insult to the workers on whose shoulders this great nation has been built--or some such shit platitude.

Call me out of touch, but I don't have a problem with what Obama said. I'd say he pretty much hit the nail on the head. Maybe I'm just an elitist, since I grew up in trailer parks and military housing and now teach at a fancy community college in the South.

Frankly, I can't decide which is the greater insult to small-town, working-class people: McCain's easy, on-script platitudes or Clinton's caustic hypersensitivity? They're both the sort of anesthetic response to the challenges real Americans have to face that Obama alone wants to talk frankly about.

McCain and Clinton seem to think their job is simply to remind us what "a great people" we are and talk vaguely about saving the US economy, when what they really mean to save are corporations, of which regular Americans are growing increasingly suspicious.

And they're pissed that Obama was not successfully weeded out with other out-of-touch candidates, like Edwards, Gravel, Richardson, and Kucinich, who were silly enough to think Americans really want a change.

Instead, McCain and Clinton break their necks to pass themselves off as the next Bush That Is Not Actually Bush.

(And why the constant harping on the fact that Obama made his remarks in San Francisco? I haven't heard coverage yet that's failed to mention the city's name. I couldn't tell you where Obama was when he delivered his riveting speech on race, but for some reason everybody seems to think I need to know that he's been to San Francisco lately and said some things to some people there.)


And, oh, by the way, don't miss Sam Stein's blog at today's Huffington Post, "Obama Outraises Clinton among Small Town Pennsylvanians."

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