Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Bitter Myself

Seriously busy the last couple weeks with apartment-hunting and doing the work of two people at my job, hence the lack of frequent or substantial posts. Still, I've been thinking a lot about Obama's "bitter" problem and the presidential race in general, so here are some thoughts for the 3 people out there that might possibly be interested:

First, in case you haven't seen it yet, here's what Obama said at a fund raiser in California that got him in trouble:

"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 nothings 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."

1. A classic "Kinsley Gaffe" (once again: check out Kinsley's new essay collection and you won't be disappointed) if there ever was one. We can all agree that what he said has an air of truth behind it, can't we? If it weren't, would Republicans in every state be wasting their time with issues like distracting Gay Marriage bans that district voters from the Iraq war and the economy but don't actually make anyone's life any better? We all know that he shouldn't have said what he did the way that he did, but to pretend that what he said was completely untrue or out of line is to be willfully naive (or worse). Still, for someone that William Safire himself has noted for his gift for words, I can't believe that Obama would be so careless in his use of words like "bitter" and "cling" which have such strong and generally negatives connotations.

2. The fact that H Clinton has been trying to murder him on this the last few days proves just how dangerous it is for the Democrats the longer she stays in the race. There's absolutely no way that the 80% of the Superdelegates (or so) that she needs to win will break that dramatically in her favor at this point. In addition, there's almost no way that Obama won't win North Carolina big enough to make Pennsylvania a wash. And, though every possible indicator makes it seem like a foregone conclusion that she will lose, it looks like Clinton will most likely stick around long enough to not ultimately accomplish a lot more than spending millions and millions of dollars attacking Obama and hurting his general election chances for as long as she cares to. Do I sound bitter? I think I'm mostly just tired of it and bored with that fact that there's nothing new to follow except each new Clinton attack.

3. Aren't we all getting a sick of politicians (and Obama's camp is as bad as any other) getting so "outraged" and "insulted"and "shocked" when an opposing candidate phrases something the wrong way. Obviously, the gender and racial components have taken this kind of thing to another level during this presidential campaign. The problem with this new "scandal," is that, as Marc Ambinder points out on his Atlantic blog, the issue is one of elitism, and it's a bit of a stretch for people like McCain and Clinton to frame Obama against themselves as some sort of elitist outsider.

4. Regardless, what Obama did was merely a gaffe, not a scandal. Spitzer getting caught in a prostitution crackdown is a scandal. The Teapot Dome was a scandal. What Obama did doesn't really seem to me like anything more than a case of using the wrong words to describe a phenomena (i.e. the way many working class/lower class people vote against their best economic interests because of cultural issues) that we all know exists but, apparently, have to pretend doesn't.


Brandon said...

Short Schrift has a nice post on this that is slightly more uplifting in that Tim focuses on Obama's near revelatory intent as opposed to the contrived controversy.

Howard said...

Agree. And agree. And agree.

This "gaffe" is one of the silliest things I've seen yet in a season filled with silliness.

Keep hope alive.

agingsnob said...

Nice post. To all of it, I say in-fucking-deed.