Obama's "Bitter" Remark Draws Duplicitous Attacks by McCain and Clinton. Democratic Frontrunner Hits Back Hard
A week ago Sen. Barack Obama, the front runner in the Democrats' bid for the White House, spoke at a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco. When someone in the crowd of this elite group of supporters asked why he was not polling higher in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, the junior Senator from Illinois offered up this theory:
"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 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."
As word spread of his comments, the campaigns of both Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, began to condemn and criticize, charging Obama with elitism and for being out of touch with middle America. Even Hillary herself piled on, saying Obama's comments were "not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans....Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith."" Nice. Now she's for guns and God?
She continued: "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. Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them; they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families." Could she possibly be anymore sanctimonious than that?
And from the McCain camp: "It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking," said Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser. "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."
Now I'm all for playing rough. Politics is a dirty business. But these attacks are outrageously irresponsible, reprehensible and offensive. Both Clinton and the McCainiacs know exactly what Obama was referring to when saying the nation's poor and middle classes were bitter. And why shouldn't they be? Starting with Ronald Reagan in the 80's, their values were co-opted and their loyalties misused and abused, and they were routinely directed towards hot-button issues like abortion, gay marriage and gun control. These Reagan Democrats, by the time George Bush and Karl Rove got through with them, felt duped, dirty and betrayed. And now they're still without proper health care, jobs, quality education for their kids, and are mired in a housing crisis. You're damned right they're bitter, and they ought to be. They were mercilessly used and abused. And that's what Obama was talking about.
An elitist? Out of touch? Give me a break. Obama and his wife have not been in the Washington power seat for the past 16 years like the Clintons. Nor have they made $109 million since 2000. And for Pete's sake, who is more elitist, more out of touch, than the crusty old Republican relic McCain? Shame on these two combatants for stooping to the lowest common denominator in attacking a rival.
Thankfully, and quite impressively, Obama shot back hard Friday evening:
“Here’s what’s rich. Senator Clinton said, ‘Well I don’t think people are bitter in Pennsylvania. I think Barack is being condescending.’ John McCain said, ‘How could he say that? How could he say that people are bitter? He obviously is out of touch with people.’ Out of touch? Out of touch? John McCain — it took him three times to finally figure out that home foreclosure was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch?"
Let's hope this sort of animated smackdown is a foreshadowing of how Obama might very well stand up to the vicious Republican attack machine should he eventually win the nomination and go into battle against McBush for the presidency.
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