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The Latest Controversy

At a fundraiser in San Francisco, explaining why he sometimes has trouble getting support from white working-class voters who are going through economic hard times, Barack Obama said this:

    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.

Taken out of context like this (the full context is here) the quote makes it look like Obama is telling his telling his wealthy, sophisticated San Francisco audience that the people who won’t vote for him in Pennsylvania are just a bunch of ignorant haters. Hillary Clinton picked up on this later in the day, saying this:

    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.

John McCain followed up with the very same thought, through his spokesman Steve Schmidt:

    It shows an elitism and condescension toward hard-working Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans.

So Obama is in trouble again, right? Judge for yourself from the video below, from a rally that same evening in Terre Haute, Indiana. The hall looks to be full of exactly the kind of white working-class voters he was accused of “looking down” on or “condescending” to. His pitch to them is anything but condescending, and it ends in a standing ovation.

After this and the Jerimiah Wright affair, I’m beginning to recognize a pattern. When he is attacked in this way (taking a few words out of context) Obama doesn’t back down from what he originally said. Instead he seizes the opportunity to explain himself, underlining, reframing, and turning the controversy to his advantage.

He seems confident in himself and those he’s speaking to. I have to say it’s refreshing.

Comments

Comment from goodgirlroxie
Time: April 14, 2008, 11:28

This would not even BE a controversy if Sen. Clinton’s campaign hadn’t decided to seize on it in a last-ditch effort to convince anyone who’s still sittin’ on some fence somewhere in Podunk-Land that Obama would be baaaaad and co-Presidents Rodham-Clinton and Clinton would be goooood for the world. Clinton’s judgment as she becomes willing to get weirder and weirder about doing/saying anything to get the nomination should be the controversy we’re all talking about right now.

And of course the corporate-controlled media will always have a full camera crew standing by for any mud-wrestling event. And this is one; they’re just having a hard time gettin’ the mud to stick on our darker-skinned celebrities.

Thanks for the book suggestions you lft at my site a couple days ago. I’m busy finishing up some income-generating work right now, so have little time for the real stuff, but wiil in a day or so.

Comment from leblase
Time: April 19, 2008, 14:14

Clinton’s strategy is now clear: she knows the Democratic nomination is out of her reach, so if Obama wins, she’s out for 8 years and her career is over.
If McCain wins over Obama, then she’ll find herself in a position where she should be able to stand for the Democrats in 4 years.

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 22, 2008, 11:53

@leblase — What I don’t get about this scenario is that if Clinton succeeds in so weakening Obama that he loses to McCain in November, does she really think the Democratic Party will reward her for that in 2012?

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 22, 2008, 12:01

@goodgirlroxie — When you talk about “getting weirder and weirder about doing/saying anything” I totally agree. Hillary used this manufactured “bitter” controversy to question whether Obama “looks down on real Americans” or words to that effect. Then at the debate on ABC, she was the one to raise Obama’s connection with a former Weatherman, saying “this is the kind of thing the Republicans will use” as if the words hadn’t just come from her own mouth.

I admired Hillary earlier in the campaign and was torn for a while who to vote for, but she’s driven me away from her with her cynical opportunism. She’s gone so far in it now that she is campaigning for the Republican nomination, not the Democratic one. Let’s just say I’m glad she helped me make up my mind before my state, North Carolina, votes on May 6.

Comment from leblase
Time: April 23, 2008, 14:55

“the Democratic Party will reward her for that in 2012?”
Just the opposite: the Democratic Party , in her view, would be rewarded by a Clinton victory, in the sense, that the Clintons would not punish it with one more defeat.
The Clinton behave and believe as if this party was theirs

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