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I am so angry I scream inside the more I read about how Clinton is casting Obama as a snob for the "blue collar voters are bitter" remark. When I see her and her surrogates making an issue of this in televised comments I have all I can do to stop from throwing something at the screen.
Must we elect the candidate who is the most adept at talking down to voters who don’t have the stellar IQ which they do without seeming to be talking down to them? I wrote about this in my previous column but now I feel compelled to write this follow-up.
If Hillary Clinton, who no doubt is as much an intellectual as Obama, convinces enough blue collar voters he’s an elitist, and worse, a snob, and he runs against McCain with his war hero and regular guy image, she could be handing the election to a Republican.
If this wasn’t such a repugnant political tactic, one which may assure four years of McCain and a Republican administration, it would be ironic and even amusing that the Clintons are calling Obama a snob. After all, Hill and Bill regularly schmooze with the Hollywood elite and corporate billionaires.
If Obama wasn’t a classy guy running a classy campaign I’d urge him to start calling his opponent "Hollywood Hillary".
It is a sad state of affairs that a candidate has to behave like a school teacher who feels that he’ll alienate the lower level students in his class if his language is too complex. Obama presented a reasonable opinion as to how bitter voters may focus on issues they can get a better handle on.
Here’s what he said that is supposedly so degrading:
"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."
Let’s put that in context:
But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What’s the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is — so, we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American. So we’ll go down a series of talking points.
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. 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.
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. From article by Mayhill Fowler for Huffington Post’s OffTheBus:
After the uproar he defended what he said:
"I didn’t say it as well as I should have… (people hurt by lost jobs) feel like they have been left behind. So I said, well you know, when you’re bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, 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."
We’re being told that his words come across as insulting to the intelligence of the average American. I really don’t know if this is true. He wasn’t talking to a group of average Americans when he said it.
If you talk to a college educated audience, a California fund raiser in this case, are you supposed to choose your words so they’ll be readily understood by high school graduates?
Maybe average Americans should start admitting they are average and that those who were C students in school are now C adults who can learn a great deal from an A student who is now an adult.
Hillary is telling audiences that Obama’s remarks are kind of "elitist and out of touch", and far worse jumps to the conclusion that "American’s don’t need a president who looks down on them."
She is saying that a candidate from her own party looks down on Americans!
Think of all these videos of Hillary lambasting Obama being included in McCain commercials.
Perhaps Obama needs to have a heart to heart talk with America, a kind of quiet fireside chat, during which he explains that yes indeed he is an intellectual. "I was an A student just like Hillary Clinton," he could say. He could add that it would be the most egregious insult of all to pretend to be otherwise if he scripted his words to present a false impression.
He could say that it would be disingenuous to pretend to be average.
To do that, he could say, would be the deepest insult to the voter’s intelligence. He could ask the voter to judge for themselves whether he, a young Harvard Law graduate who choose to work on the streets of Chicago as a community organizer, is out of touch with people who are struggling to make ends meet and realize the American dream.
And if making these remarks some people had to look up the meaning of the words egregious and disingenuous perhaps that would be a first step to recognizing that they ought to welcome a president that challenged them to think at a deeper level than they’re used to about complex issues.
Read previous column:
Elitism and snobbery: Obama, electability and the backyard barbeque factor.
Here’s an excerpt from what Robert Schrum wrote today on Huffington Post about Obama as sociologist-in-chief:
The truth is that Obama didn’t "demean" — Senator Clinton’s word — the aggrieved residents of the forgotten Pennsylvania. Remarkably, he did demean not just the Bush, but the Clinton administration for letting them down. And by citing guns, religion, and opposition to immigration as things small town Pennsylvanians "cling to," he confused the comfort of the familiar with fear of "the other." Of course, faith and culture are refuges in distress — and they should be. Obama knows and says that.
So his sociology wasn’t clearly or ideally stated, but it was fundamentally right.
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