Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Let’s Quit Being “Bitter” and Move On

The proverbial straw grasping and nit picking that’s going on as a result of some candid and pointed conversation between Mr. Obama and a group of voters in San Francisco would be hilarious if not so telling about the limitations of each candidate in this presidential race. No matter how the candidates try to spin this “bitter” thing, it all boils down to throwing shit into a hard wind. Each ends up with turd on their face.

In the case of Ms. Hillary’s spin, an equally large can of worms threatens to escape if the issue is pushed too far. Take for example this statement from the Clinton Machine:

"I saw in the media it's being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that's not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children."

I would wager that there are more than a few working class voters in Pennsylvania that are just as off put by this rah rah, pep rally spin. There are pissed-off people in the hills, dales and heart lands that hold no faith or hope that their voice will ever be heard by elected officials in this country. Do these folks want to be characterized as resilient and optimistic? No, they want to be heard. Seems to me the pot may be just as “out of touch” as the kettle here. Hillary, it might be time to just back away from this issue and move on to a bit more substantive rhetoric.

Johnny McCain might be better advised to back off as well. His camp’s spin, issued by spokesman Steve Schmidt may have some potential for deadly retort as well. He states that Mr. Obama’s observations show “an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking”. Further, “it is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans”.

Well, excuse me, Mr. Average Joe McCain, what would you know about average Americans anyway? What the hell has your party, or any party for that matter, done in the last umpteen years to help the economic condition of “average Americans” in this country? I’m sure there are many waiting anxiously for the itemized list. Every attempt by the McCain camp to align themselves with the working class of this country is apt to wind up as fodder for the opponents to make political hay. Again, John and company may be better served by simply backing away from the self righteous table.

When all is said and done, I believe that every candidate has, at one time or another, engaged in candid, analytic discussion of the demographic voter base they are faced with somehow reaching. When one engages in this type of discussion, generalizations are going to be tossed around in an attempt to make sense of the data. Such was surely the case when Barry fell into the briar patch in San Francisco. Let’s look at an expanded transcript of his remarks rather than the isolated text that’s been circulating the spin market.

So, it depends on where you are, but I think it's fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre ... they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy. That's ... there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today -- kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing.

Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long. They feel so betrayed by government that when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, then that adds another layer of skepticism.

But -- so the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What is the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is so we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- to close tax loopholes, uh you know uh roll back the tax cuts for the top 1%, Obama's gonna give tax breaks to uh middle-class folks and we're gonna provide healthcare for every American.

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. 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.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you'll find is, is that people of every background -- there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you'll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing.

I personally applaud Barry O.’s candor and attempt at analysis, but must concede his remarks should have been tempered with an acute awareness that everything he says will likely be used against him in a court of public opinion. What seems evident from the expanded text of his remarks however, is much less of a case of elitism on his part, and a greater case of determination to reach a demographic group that needs a bigger voice in government.

That being said, Obama, like his fellow talking heads, needs to back away from this issue and move on. Further attempts to explain context, indignantly retort, or make light of the situation will just keep this ball of shit in the air longer that it needs to be. Mr. Obama needs to keep his head down and continue to do what he needs to do. See the people, hear what they have to say, and spread his message to all that will listen. Just like that kid from Hope, he needs to keep it simple. Most folks want the promise of a little positive change and an opportunity to feel the slightest bit of inspiration from the one that would lead us down the path of darkness for the next four years. Leave the analytical discussion for the staff of true insiders behind closed doors.


Paul Hammond said...


Johnny McCain has earned a little slack by serving 4 or 5 years in solitary at behest of his country. Disagree with him you might, but "Johnny" is a be disrespectful, don't you think?

Mephisto Phil said...


I really don't think that "Johnny" is any more "disrepectful" than "Ms. Hillary" of "Barry O." I hope I can always reserve some amount of respect and awe for anyone unfortunate enough to have spent time in a military jail but that won't make my take on his politics or, in my opinion, his hypocracy any less pointed. After all, I'm poking fun at the political game as much as the participants here. Kind of like little kids throwing cat shit in a sand box, n'est pas?

Paul Hammond said...

My apologies. I see you are an equal opportunity offender.