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You're Elitist! No, You're Elitist! Nuh-uh! Uh-huh!

Sunday, April 13, 2008
Don't you just love the fuss everyone seems to be making over the comments Barack Obama made in San Francisco? In case you've forgotten, in reference to the working class Reagan Democrats the Democratic presidential hopeful has been struggling to win over, Senator Obama said:
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 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.
Ever since the Huffington Post first reported on Obama's characterization of working-class Pennsylvanians as "bitter," the blogosphere, radio, newspapers, and television have been buzzing with excitement. Hillary Clinton and her supporters, of course, have jumped at the opportunity to portray Obama as hopelessly disconnected from blue collar America and, consequently, a horrible choice for the Democratic nomination. Mr. Obama, facing a potentially campaign-destroying firestorm, chose to respond to the criticism by acknowledging that while his wording mightn't have been wisely-chosen, his statements were actually, as the New York Times's Katharine Q. Seelye and Jeff Zeleny put it, "an expression of populist sympathy for a displaced working class," as indeed they could be interpreted. Not surprisingly, the Huffington Post continues to overflow with commentary on Mr. Obama's sentiments, both critical and supportive. While the website's bloggers tend to agree with Erin Kotecki Vest's assertion that "Senator Barack Obama is DEAD ON when he talks about the bitterness of residents," the people commenting on postings continue to stir the argument about whether or not such comments could be construed as evidence of either Obama's inability to speak enough like a politician to inspire confidence in his candidacy or of the elitist views that will inevitably alienate the working backbone of America if he becomes president (italics in the original). And it goes on and on, ad nauseum.

What's so funny about the whole ordeal, of course, is that both Hillary Clinton and John McCain--two of the people least in touch with America's working class--have been licking their chops at the prospects of twisting Obama's words around to make him appear elitist. Because, you know, they get Larry the Cable Guy or something.

And it certainly doesn't help that Obama made his comments in a "closed" environment, a detail lending an air of secrecy to the proceedings and fueling the "well, we weren't supposed to hear it, so it must be bad!" crowd. Still, I'm not saying that Barak Obama is, in fact, in touch with the working class; in fact, I doubt any Washington politician really, truly understands what it is like to live under the poverty line in a nation with a failing economy -- at least not at any time in recent memory -- but it really seems like a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Granted, we get to hear a load of platitudes in the wake of Obama's statement. For instance, Hillary reminds us, she "grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith," so she understands the people Barak Obama so clearly misunderstands. "The people of faith I know don't 'cling to' religion because they're bitter," Senator Clinton told supporters in Indianapolis yesterday, they "embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich."

Then people cheer.

And more people get killed in Iraq. But who's paying attention?

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