Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Obama’s “small town” PA remarks – UPDATED

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Mayhill Fowler reported today that Obama said this at a campaign event:

OBAMA: 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 feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…I think 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, and they feel so betrayed by government, and 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 (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter).

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.

I had to put the entire transcript, because I know the media is going to clip the crap out of this. The misspeak Senator Obama made was putting two things people just don’t open their opinions about very often: guns and religion. The problem I have with the media barrage that will likely ensue is that he’s not all that far off. Anyone who grew up in a small town in the Midwest and then moved to a city could surely tell you, views like that will never change while you’re constantly looking at the same scenery. It’s not that moving out of the Midwest somehow opens eyes but the prosperity and wealth and opportunity that becomes highly visible when moving to an urban area is impossible to deny.

Furthermore the comment he was making was ultimately referencing those who constantly question whether there are more closet racists in America than people believe, who might vote along race, class or gender lines alone. It was a stupid statement, but far less stupid and far more accurate than “Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran”. I just hope the media is fair with this, which probably won’t happen. Ben Smith at Politico.com, for example, has cut the quote down to a media-sized piece to act as if Barack Obama were trying to explain away these things because of bitterness toward the government. What I’m sure will go uncovered is the underlying truth: the less you have, the more tightly cling to what you do.

Here is Senator Obama’s response to Senator McCain and Senator Clinton’s criticism of his calling people in Pennsylvania bitter:

  • After Juan Williams’ appearance, no one on Fox can report this objectively.

One Response

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  1. […] in the sand. In this case, I agree with Juan Williams that there is truth to Obama’s remarks(here). He even said the Republicans play on that fear people in the bible belt and rural areas have of […]

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