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Obama: Pennsylvanians are just typical bitter white people

I think I would call this a gaffe. It certainly seems like a campaign that is coming apart. It smells of desperation. Nahhh, I take that back. It’s more like stupidity. In any case, don’t look at it. It isn’t polite to stare.

From Time, Obama refers to small town PA and says:

“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.”

Not to worry. Obama’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models with PhDs in Architecture will speak sloooowly to the village elders and lead them out of their ignorance into the fulfillment of enlightenment and Hope™.

You know what’s really distressing about this? Many of the people in central rural PA bought the Bush lies hook, line and sinker and they were just recently starting to come out of the coma. This stupid remark could trigger a relapse.

Who wants to play W.O.R.M. (What Obama Really Meant)? It looks like some commenters at TalkLeft have already started a game.  Put your best Obama Thot Bubble in the comments.  Winning comments will be awarded based on originality.  Prize is fame, glory and respect of fellow Conflucians.

Update: O.M.G.! Obama ordered Orange Juice (OJ, *hint, hint*) instead of coffee at a diner. Doesn’t he know that is, like, totally a faux pas? If he weren’t such an arrogant SOB, I’d be sorely tempted to defend Obama against these disgustingly low insinuations by Tweety and Shuster (note to self: must find appropriate nickname for David “Pimp Walk” Shuster)

57 Responses

  1. Senator Tut-Tut reaches into his bromide arsenal and strikes again.

  2. To see the GOP playbook against Obama in advance, well here it is from Politico:


    Jonathan Martin talks to McCain adviser Steve Schmidt, who sees an opening in Obama’s comments on small-town Pennsylvania at a California fundraiser last weekend:

    The McCain campaign, finding a gift in its lap, tees off on the eye-opening comments by Barack Obama from a fundraiser last week in San Francisco (of all places).

    Asked to respond, McCain adviser Steve Schmidt called it a “remarkable statement and extremely revealing.”

    “It shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking,” Schmidt said. “It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans.”

  3. What is wrong with that guy? Is it even possible for him not to be condescending? I hate to think what he’ll say about the people in Indiana if he thinks that about people in Pennsylvania.

    And have you heard this one? Obama staffer says this campaign is about politics, not policies?


  4. WS: You wanna know the problem with rural and small town PA? They are bombarded with rightwing talk radio 24/7. If that’s all you hear, all the time, you start to think it’s real. And that’s what burns me up about this stupid comment. He’s talking about my brother and sister and mom, none of them have ever had a racist bone in their bodies. But they were horribly deluded by the Bushies but they’ve slowly woken up over the past couple of years to the point that they are ready to listen to some other point of view. Then along comes Barack Obama who’s been in his own little small town frame of mind and he says something this idiotic and I have to start all over again. It took me MONTHS to convince them that he wasn’t a Muslim. (like I said, if that’s all you hear…). Now, I have to convince them that he’s not an arrogant SOB. Forget it! He *is* an arrogant SOB. Heck, it’s a wonder those bitter white people don’t grunt and slobber on themselves while they go a-huntin’.

  5. How can someone who is so smart be so dumb?

  6. bostonboomer: “What is wrong with that guy?” Not ready for prime time. No way, no how. God help us if he manages to buy the nom. He’ll “lead” us into an unprecedented bloodbath come November.

  7. Clueless. No real life experience with consequences. This may turn out to be the least of his problems. In Chicago some Repubs are going thorugh the public deed records and things are not as Sen Obama has described with the transactions of the old homestead. Info cited in Rezkowatch and much more research will be needed. It looks like things are simply falling apart.

  8. LisaDawn82: I think the problem is you can have a thousand degrees and have zero street smarts. I think that’s where we are with the Precious Elitist., named Obama.

  9. Teresa23: If he were the Precious Electrifying Elitist, we could shorten it to PEE. Ok, I’m done. I’m outta here.

  10. Nope he got it WRONG! We are clinging to PATRIOTISM! We LOVE our country and we have absolutely NO USE for him, his whining wife or his Anti-America pastor.
    As to our frustrations- we are extremely frustrated that the DNC and the media are shoving an unqualifed candidate with no clear positions on anything and extremely questionable associates down our throats!

  11. Count me out of this one. Obama is right.

  12. Escoffier,

    Do you have a link for that Rezko story? Sounds interesting.

  13. Obama-a mistake in progress.

  14. Rich in PA,

    Sometimes, it’s better to be tactful than right. That usually includes situations where a politician is trying to get people’s votes.

  15. I started out thinking that Obama was a good prospect who just needed more experience and seasoning to be an excellent candidate for the Presidency.

    Every day that goes by I like him less and less.

  16. KO explaining that Obama remarks taken out of context. Asks Richard Wolfe, “Is this the manna the Clinton campaign has been praying for?”

    Ah, THAT’S how it’s Hillary’s fault! She’s been praying for a gaffe, and he made one.

    All I can say is, if her prayers are that powerful, I want her on my side.

  17. BB: True, but I’m not going to go after him for what I consider a creditable bit of sociology. As for getting their votes, he wouldn’t get any by saying that their conservatism is a pathology, which is the other possibility.

  18. Now KO harping on Bill Clinton’s “revival” of Bosnia story. KO says, “she said it three times, her trip wasn’t in 1995, she said it in the morning.” And then Bill admits Hillary told him to shut up, but he kept talking about it anyway, and then Bill attacked the press for having a double standard! Now KO asking Chuck Todd “what was he thinking?”

    You compare this story to the one right before it, in which KO tries to put Obama’s statement in “context,” and how does does MSNBC say there is no media bias.

  19. To Theresa23 – Yeah, I know. I think it was more of a rhetorical question on my part.

  20. Olbermann has become an “obsessive” when it comes to Hillary. He devoted an entire hour at the time someone broke into the passports database and slyly hinted that Hillary could have been behind it. Then he set aside one of his famous “special comments” to rail about the Geraldine Ferraro comments and compared Hillary to David Duke. Tonight he is searching for daylight with the Obama comments regarding the rural voters and intimating that Hillary was just sitting back and waiting for this like “manna”. Nightly he hurls one snarky comment after another her way and it is downright repetitive. I admit I used to laugh at his Worst Person segment when he would go after O’Reilly but he has been on a roll with her for months. I am sure the supporters will overlook Obama’s rhetoric as usual but it will be interesting to see if the MSM and the voters reaction.

  21. rich in pa: since it’s my family members he’s talking about, I have to tell you that he is NOT right. My family wasn’t like that at all during the 90’s. They were pretty reasonable people and like I’ve said before, not at all racist. The still aren’t racist but they have been totally unhinged by rightwing tv and radio in the past 10 years. And where Rush has really made in-roads is by portraying Democrats as elite overeducated types who can’t relate to plain just folks. It’s an insufferable arrogance. Obama will *never* win them now and we too are in danger of regarding them as stupid hicks if we dont realize that in central PA, you are surrounded by a lot of Republican nut cases. But Obama makes a huge mistake by confusing Republican nut cases with the working class Democrats who he wants to vote for him.
    It’s not out of context. It’s a pattern with his campaign to behave as though only the young and ivy leaguers have the wisdom to appreciate his magnificence. He’s toast in PA after this. The know snob when they hear it. Obama is a snob.

  22. Is this story getting serious play in PA? I know the major national networks are largely refusing to cover it, instead choosing to obsess over Bill’s remarks–“It’s the end for Hillary!”–but I’m hoping, at least, the PA media covers it.

  23. rd–

    I totally agree. He is a snob. I’m still mad about the remarks he made about baby boomers. There are very few groups he hasn’t offended at this point. I don’t see how he even got elected Senator. If Axelrod hadn’t outed his primary opponent as a wife abuser, Obama would probably still be in IL. He’s a joke.

  24. It’s bad when you read the remarks, but it is much worse when you hear them. Granted, it is a poor tape, but Obama struggles to get each word out. I have only heard him speak in very controlled environments He was completely underwhelming in the delivery, to say nothing of the content. Another amazing thing is the audience response, you would think that he was delivering the Gettysburg Address. (How is that for throwing in a little Pennsylvania color!!)

  25. Is he comparing his own religious experience to those in PA?

  26. Check out the links and subsequent commentary here on this Kos story. I think this is “creative class” [cough] parody, but over at The Obama 527 Formerly Known As The Kos Community, it’s sometimes hard to tell.

    Clue for Doctor Freud: “My faucet had been dripping for weeks.”

  27. Obama is dead meat here in PA. It’s over.

    Totally unelectable.

  28. I just heard Karl Rove say that with these small town comments BHO just lost any chance he had of winning in PA. As one who grew up in small town PA, I think this will not sit well with those “typical small town folks”. It comes off condescending and elitist. I wonder what he says privately.

  29. rd,

    Yeah, and I have to add that anti-immigrant and “anti-trade” (huh … I can’t believe he framed it this way) sentiments are in all parts of the country and not just in rural areas. Last I heard, soon to be former Rep. Tancredo’s wealthy suburban district was doing pretty well and he’s the most virulent anti-immigrant politician out there.

    Oh, he shouldn’t begrudge people about having or finding religion (as if that needs explaining to politicians). I really don’t want to make a clinging to Rev. Wright for 20 years comment but I guess I just did. Then there’s the whole gun issue, and while I am completely for gun control, Obama has been trying to sound pro-gun for some time and he definitely made another gaffe here with gun people. So many gaffes in one statement … oy

  30. I am from Pennsylvania and carry a conceled weapons permit. I also have a B.S., M.S. and PhD in biology. According to Obama, I must be a Troglodyte!
    This man’s voting record has been anti-gun all the way. He only now is trying to modify some of his anti-gun retoric because he could be a candidate for the presidency. He is a “gun-grabber” and against the 2nd amendment!
    Now he has the audacity to castigate the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as all hard working middle Americans!

  31. Bostonboomer,

    The site I referenced is http://rezkowatch.blogspot.com/. It has some interesting stuff but a lot of references to right wing propaganda. Take it with a grain of salt. It does have more detailed info on the Rezko trial, early newspaper articles, and what sounds like gossip. The author appears to be in Chicago and gets tips from the locals. The posting dated today is “Follow the money: Who owns the Rezko lot?” and gives a timeline on deeds. The comments, when there are any, are interesting also.

  32. Revealing in two aspects. The obvious is his attitude toward the “Archie Bunkers”.

    The other is the disparity between his elegance in set-piece oratory and and his precarious stumbles in extemporaneous speech.

  33. Jeez, Ronk, there you go using all those big words and stuff. You know, my family just barely crawled out of the primordial slime. Give my brain a chance to develop already.

  34. I know the site admin will probably just delete this, but just go watch his response before you judge the man. He isn’t saying what you seem to think he is saying. He is saying people vote on wedge issues, like guns and faith, because they don’t think politician will do anything about the economy. Which is, you know, true. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc9PepjyDow

  35. FYI, HHDL moderated some awesome panels of child dev experts, incl some from Pitt, Penn & PSU. Brain Sci meets Tibetan Buddhism, ongoing next 4 days.

    Big chunks accessible by cable/satellite/web here:


    Event scheds here

  36. Justin,

    That video is of him spinning. Go to the Huffington Post and listen to the audio of what he actually said. Why don’t you e-mail Obama to stop this pattern of his: harshly judging those who may not be smitten with him?

    And it’s just bullshit anyway. Clinton voted for a bill that failed (and she admitted she was wrong), while he voted for CAFA, a bill crafted by corporate lobbyists to undermine consumer rights, which did pass.

  37. I guess curse words are a no-no if you don’t want your comment to be held up in moderation, right? I just said bull****. Darn.

  38. Rich in PA: He is not right. Not even close.

    Unless you believe that the only reason why people struggling in this economy would seek out God is bitterness. Or that those of us who come from gun-toting families (Hello, there!) cling to our guns to explain our frustrations. Or that the working class are just racists who don’t know any better.

    Justin (My previous reply is stuck in moderation so I’ll just repeat myself): That video is of Obama spinning–responding to legitimate criticism over his ridiculous remarks. If you bothered to listen to what he actually said (see: Huffington Post for audio) or just bothered to read his quote at the top of this very page you’d realize how quite different his actual remark is from what he’s trying to spin it as.

    He said that the reason why the working class hold onto their values–which he described as God, guns, anti-trade, and bigotry (nice!)–is bitterness. How can you not understand that stating that the working class only seek God out of bitterness is inflammatory? As if people don’t hold onto their faith during harsh economic times to find solace and hope?

    Only later did he try to spin as some explanation for the voting habits of some on “culture wars” issues (hence, him replacing “religion” from his original remark to “gay marriage”).

  39. Davidson: No, there’s nothing wrong with curse words. You can get all Deadwood hear if you like. No problemo. The things that trigger moderation are trigger words that show up in the most egregious pro-obama/anti-clinton comments. Ususally, they are just notmal everyday words that only take on special meaning when used in context. Your context was OK. The problem is that it’s EST here and I fall asleep and can’t clear out the moderation queue.
    But it’s all cool now.

  40. Ah, I see. I’m on PST.

    Now if you don’t mind I’m going back to clinging onto my gun to express my frustration over the global recession. Considering just how awful the news is, I may also have to wear my rosary while cursing those blasted immigrants–my parents.

    Bitter as ever…apparently.

  41. LOL! I’m going to go kill a sacrificial chicken and eat it while I reflect (if I am capable) on my bitterness.

  42. As Obama tries to spin his remarks, we must remember the CONTEXT they were delivered in. He was talking to rich, elite, powerful individuals who laughed after his remarks. They were in essence laughing at all of us.

  43. from a comment at Anglachel –
    It felt like he was some sort of apologist for a strange alien culture, like he was some anthropologist trying to explain the quaint native garb and customs of the people he’s studied as a grad student to his defense committee.

    this is why I was saying on one of those earlier “who is Obama” threads.. an anthropologist.. from what I read of his books he seemed to rely a great deal in playing off a person’s actual behavior against whatever stereotype some might have of that person. I found it a little tiresome. his speeches do this too, often..

    I mean, we don’t owe it to him to prove that we’re not whatever stereotype he’s carrying around.

  44. Marc Ambinder goes deep in the tank for Obama with “perspective” on this one:
    1) Calling it a Kinsleyian gaffe (Kinsley: “”A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”)
    2) Gives him a pass on “they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration” … most working people did better, not worse, through the Clinton years.
    3) Opines that ‘most Democrats will say… “yeah.. .So? …” ‘ — it’s only Obama’s opponents who object.
    4) The flap even validates Obama’s claim: “Indeed, the responses to Obama’s words have proven … exactly the type of [wedge issue political] legerdemain that Obama was pointing to.”
    5) The topper of all toppers: “Despite his working class upbringing … “. Marc? Did you just fall off the turnip truck, or what?
    6) Extra points awarded for having a mid-level campaign spokesman lead the damage control brigade, as “had a more senior campaign official given the response, it would have conveyed panic”.

  45. Can a politican actually have a conversation at a non-media event that makes any sense without some Hillary POS picking it apart..

    He simply said that PA small town voters are not focused on the things that matter most to them..

    They focus on Obama’s religion, Gun rights, Gay marriage etc.. Issues that mean little to them.

    After 25 years of Clintons and Bushs that PA small town voters have given up.. Bitter and frustrated..

    He meant no harm.. He knows these people well. He is from Illinois.

  46. […] Riverdaughter: I think I would call this a gaffe. It certainly seems like a campaign that is coming apart. It […]

  47. Well, that was some extra arrogance from you, Andrew. It was a shitty thing he said about PA voters and what you’re saying is equally problematic. Who are you to say that those people are not focused on what matters to them? And no one said they were focused on Obama’s religion – it’s not all about Obama, believe it or not – it’s that Obama said they were focused on their own religion by clinging to it out of bitterness during times of economic hardship. That’s insulting.

    I mean.. do we need some Copernican revolution in our thinking or what, if the approach is to tell voters what they want and condemn them for what we think their attitudes are, instead of listening and responding to what they’re telling us.

  48. So, are Pennsylvanias happy with their lot? I don’t think so. I suppose it’s so much nicer to lie to the people of PA and tell them you feel their pain and tell them things will be different with a politician who can bowl. I don’t think so. I think the people of the Keystone State need a new vision and a real solution to their economic woes and that’s not gonna come from a fake working class woman who makes $109 million in 7 years or some 70-year-old guy who flip-flops on every issue and makes a virtue of it by calling himself a maverick.

  49. I’m a Pennsylvanian. I don’t need some amateur analysis of my psche from someone who obvioulsy doesn’t have a clue. And he is explaining me to a bunch of San Franciscans, who also don’ t
    have a clue?

    You think I view it as the “truth” when he tells me I turn to religion, xenophobia, guns and immigrant hating because jobs are getting scasce. Because I am bitter I turn to these things?

    What an arrogant asshole. Why would I vote for him?

  50. (sorry ’bout those typos)

    I’m a Pennsylvanian. I don’t need some amateur analysis of my psyche from someone who obvioulsy doesn’t have a clue. And he is explaining me to a bunch of San Franciscans, who also don’ t
    have a clue?

    You think I view it as the “truth” when he tells me I turn to religion, xenophobia, guns and immigrant hating because jobs are getting scarce. Because I am bitter I turn to these things?

    What an arrogant asshole. Why would I vote for him?

  51. AB, on April 12th, 2008 at 5:50 pm Said:
    So, are Pennsylvanias happy with their lot? I don’t think so. I suppose it’s so much nicer to lie to the people of PA and tell them you feel their pain and tell them things will be different with a politician who can bowl. I don’t think so. I think the people of the Keystone State need a new vision and a real solution to their economic woes and that’s not gonna come from a fake working class woman who makes $109 million in 7 years or some 70-year-old guy who flip-flops on every issue and makes a virtue of it by calling himself a maverick.

    1) You have poor reading comprehension, or are just not paying attention…
    The comment is explaining WHY Pennsylvanian voters are not going for Obama; did you not read the entire quote? He’s implying that PA voters are “clinging to their guns/religion, because they’re bitter, and will not vote for a “black guy like myself.”

    What’s wrong with Guns? What’s wrong with Religion? Americans who hunt, the Bill of Rights…is that “clinging” to something because they’re bitter, or because it’s an American right/tradition? Americans who pray, is it because they’re bitter, or because they have freedom of religion?

    So basically, your guy is making a colossal excuse for explaining why he’s not getting votes/making headway; it’s not HIM they’re voting again, it’s because they’re BITTER, and HE’S A BLACK MAN.

    No, it’s clearly impossible for thinking people to be against Barack because they don’t like HIM or his policies, or his dirty race-baiting ways; it’s because they’re racists, and he’s pssst! “black”!


    2)Hillary and Bill were middle class…they didn’t make this sort of money until they were well into their 50’s; they both have law degrees, they have investments, they gave their public lives to the American people, I’d be WORRIED if they WEREN’T able to achieve the American dream after working hard, under public scrutiny.

    LEt me ask you a question ol’ Hillary doubter…How much did Obama’s income increase after he won a seat in the Senate?

    Why don’t you do some research on that…Because you’re clearly lacking in reality.

  52. “nicer to lie to the people of PA and tell them you feel their pain and tell them things will be different with a politician who can bowl.”

    Right, while Obama offers “Hope.” “Change.” “Coolness.” “Inspiration” along with that contempt. Damn, the people of PA feel better already. We don’t need no stinkin’ health care from a fake working class woman. Policy is so overrrated, and if you say ‘economic change,” that’s even better than actually doing anything.

  53. To err is Obama to be perfect is God. Hillary and McCain if you all are without sin cast the first stone. We call our selves Christians but are so unforgiving. Whatever happened to love thy neighbor as thyself ? That commandment does not apply when one is not running to become president of the U.S. I have had it with politicians and the media and hope to witness history in January 2009. Obama Pennsylvanians are not that shallow we forgive your err.

  54. Interesting, I didn’t see the term “white” anywhere in there. One wonders why the title of this post says “Pennsylvanians are just typical bitter WHITE people” when Obama didn’t make any reference to race.


  55. Political Forum, give it up. It was quite clear The Chosen One was referring to working-class white voters who aren’t going for Him.

  56. […] Riverdaughter — “Obama: Pennsylvanians are just typical bitter white people” BDBlue at Corrente: Man of the People […]

  57. […] of the middle class. We need to remember he called middle class folks in Pennsylvania, bitter white folks who cling to their guns and Bibles. He still isn’t part of the middle class and apparently never has been. McCain understands […]

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