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      Королевство кривых зеркал[xcvii] Hush. He will tell the story forwards, but it makes more sense in reverse.[xcviii] He was at his house, leaving. He closed a red door and he thought “I must have it painted black.”[xcix] His car was broken. It was a Mercedes Benz. It had been broken since 1969.[c] So, he walked up the road. It was a long row to hoe and he wou […]
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No, He’s *NOT* Right

I was reading Tom Watson today (because he and Anglachel are two of the best writers around) when I read something a little distressing. Tom thinks that Obama was right about what he said, even if he doesn’t think it was politically wise to say it.

Now, I don’t know anything about Tom Watson’s background or current family circumstances (although I have to agree with him on the Jersey Shore off-season). So, I am just going to assume he doesn’t know too many of the people that Obama was referring to personally. I, on the other hand, have these people in my immediate family and I am telling you that Obama is wrong.

It wasn’t too long ago that my frustration with their attitudes and behaviors might have resulted in similarly stupid statement. But I know that they didn’t start out like that and they never were bigots or bitter. What happened to them is they were victims of a carefully crafted propaganda campaign against them.

It started back in the 60’s when the conservative right lost to JFK and Lyndon Johnson, when the right decided to fight back and own the message. The conservatives were in the wilderness, much as we were exiled in the 80’s and 90’s. And they were facing what was then a media presence that was more sympathetic to liberal causes. So, they decided to fight back strategically. Their climb out of political obscurity started with a memo by Lewis Powell. Yep, the future Supreme Court Justice of the United States apparently was a gifted strategist. He saw the political landscape and realized that conservatives would never regain power unless they had the power to shape public opinion. So, he wrote what has become known as the Powell Memorandum for the US Chamber of Commerce, laying it all out.

From the Wikipedia entry:

In August 1971, prior to accepting Nixon’s request to become Associate Justice of Supreme Court, Lewis Powell had sent to the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the “Confidential Memorandum”, better known as the Powell Memorandum, and still under the radar of general public. It sounded an alarm with its title, “Attack on the American Free Enterprise System.” The previous decade had seen the increasing regulation of many industries and, as Powell argued, “The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism came from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians.” In the memorandum, Powell advocated “constant surveillance” of textbook and television content, as well as a purge of left-wing elements.

In an extraordinary prefiguring of the social goals of business that would be felt over the next three decades, Powell set his main goal: Changing how individuals and society think about the corporation, the government, the law, the culture, and the individual became, and would remain, a major goal of business.

He had been a board member of Philip Morris between 1964 until his appointment in 1971, and had acted as a contact point for the tobacco industry with the Virginia Commonwealth University. Through his law firm, Hunton Williams Gay Powell & Gibson (later just Hunton & Williams) he represented the Tobacco Institute and the various tobacco companies in numerous law cases.

He was that guy over 30 that we were told to never trust.

That’s how it all started, the think tanks, the Anita Bryants, the Jerry Falwells and the nascent rightwing Wurlitzer. It wasn’t the only way public opinion was shaped, of course. I’m pretty sure there was a lot of sophisticated psy-ops. For example, there have been studies on the effect of thoughts of mortality and voting patterns. (Have paper at home. Can’t find online citation) See, it turns out that if you scare the bejesus out of people, they start looking for a protector. The concept has probably been around as long as mankind started to organize but conservatives took this to an art form. They know that if you frighten people and paint the opposition as too weak to fight back that the voter will choose the bully on their side. And those voters will give up a lot in order to stay safe. Breaking this pattern is very difficult, as Thomas Jefferson alluded to in the Declaration of Independence. A people will tolerate a lot of suffering before they turn on their masters.

But the propaganda that did the most damage was directing the attention of the working man from those with wealth to those who have nothing. It wasn’t the company that ramped up union busting that was responsible for falling wages and benefits. It was the welfare queen driving a cadillac and sucking up hard earned tax dollars. It wasn’t that the corporations were taking manufacturing overseas and robbing millions of Americans of a decent middle class lifestyle. No, it was the fault of the African-American man who rightfully demanded an opportunity to compete for jobs. Always the attention was directed downward because the middle class and working class has power to do something about that. When attention was directed upwards, the message was clear: the rich and powerful were untouchable and could do whatever they pleased. Ronald Reagan then brought government into it by firing the air traffic controllers. It was a clear signal that there would be no help from that direction either.

And that’s the way the conservative movement likes it. They like it that people feel helpless and isolated. They don’t want us to get together and tell them no, we’re not going to take it anymore. Because together, we do have the power to change the way our lives have been going and how we should be compensated.

The people I know who have been affected most significantly by the conservative moment have been saturated with rightwing messaging in the last 15 years. It has become so pervasive they don’t even know it is happening. Even today, my mother is coming around and is planning to vote for Hillary and I have to tell her to shut off the TV news and stop listening to it. The only thing she should be watching right now is the debates. It is the only way to figure out who really stands for what and who is best qualified to be president. Nothing else is trustworthy.

For my brother and sister, it took a family split and the continued war in Iraq before they slowly started to realize they were had. In the past 8 years, every family gathering ended up with belligerence and hard feelings. Now, there is an openess that wasn’t there before. Some of it has to do with their sense of betrayal by their own religious leaders who embraced people who they think are immoral. But why were my family members embroiled in religion anyway? Well, my mom has always been intensely religious and part of their involvement may have a genetic component that simply skipped me. But more than that, the Republicans have simply scared them out of their wits. That plus the Left Behind mind set have sent them into the arms of a refuge that exacerbated their fears.

But these people have never been stupid. They’re not hicks. My brother is a college graduate and my sister has some medical training. My mother is very well read. They’re not dumb. There just wasn’t much diversity in the message. It’s been non-stop liberals are evil since before Reagan. I don’t know what makes me different but I think it has something to do with my stubborn resistence to peer pressure in most facets of my life. It’s a personality thing. People like me and many Democratic political bloggers are rare. We’re not loners. It’s just that there aren’t a lot of us around so we only find each other online. We kept the fire going in the dark ages. But even among our own kind, there is an intense longing to belong. We see the result of this at DailyKos and TPM. They want their own tribe, one with power, that has a certain cache. And that tribe doesn’t include people not like them.

Then there are people who *should* know better like the very well educated that I work with. Some of these people are die hard Republicans who lap up the media spin and believe every word of it. They’re sophisticated, creative class Republicans who also worship, tote guns and aren’t particularly fond of affirmative action. What makes them substantially different from tne Kossacks and TPMers for Obama? They are in the same social class and yet they see the world completely differently. They are amused by the Democrats throwing half the party overboard. Their 401Ks and portfolios are safe and the next 4 years will simply be a continuation of the last 8 while they slip under the radar and never have to bear the shame of their party’s shameless pandering to self-interest.

So, what to do with these Democrats who are coming home? These people are resisting the media message in spite of its intensity. And that intensity is directed at Clinton. Why her? Yes, some of it is definitely misogynism. But is that a cause or a weapon? And why do they want to get rid of her? Well, under her husband’s administration, working and middle class households started to see their lives improve, if only modestly. She’s in favor of universal health care and the kind of economics that doesn’t penalize you if you work. It’s kind of a return to New Deal Democracy but updated for the 21 st century. But I don’t think any of us have any illusions that she is a savior. She still has to get along with business and the Chamber of Commerce. It’s just that, under her, they won’t be able to control the message anymore.

And so we have record numbers of new Democrats registering to vote, who despite all predictions to the contrary, are not listening to the Wurlitzer like they used to. They are thinking for themselves and figuring out which party has their best interests at heart, in spite of Rush and O’Reilly and Tucker and Beck telling them that the Democrats are just like all politicians and are elitist snobs who want to take away your guns and make you all into atheists. And here comes Barack Obama, possibly the least prepared politician to run for President since George W. Bush, backed by a phalanx of some of the most liberal members of our party, putting their thumbs on the scales for him and deliberately manipulating vote counts to screw millions of members of their own party and what does this neophyte nobody say? He calls all of these people who are defiantly resisting the media messaging hicks who are too stupid to recognize his magnificence because they are bigots.

No, he’s not right, Tom. He isn’t even wrong. He simply has no clue.

57 Responses

  1. Via white n az at TL, found this link explaining why the union at the closed Galesburg, IL, Maytag plan supports Hillary Clinton.

    Even tho’ Obama uses the plan closing as an example of what’s wrong with (Bill) Clinton’s trade policy. BTW, I read elsewhere that Obama says the jobs were “shipped overseas,” but they went to Mexico. Small, but telling detail,


    Has anyone seen this discussed on any of the talking head shows about Obama? I remember a union guy in OH being dissed for how he criticized Obama, but do not recall this every being brought up as a reason why he did so….

  2. I think Obama has absorbed that economic hard times lead to voter frustration and anger. Some of that anger can go against the trade policy which seems to be the leading cause of a business closing in this country and moving operations overseas.

    But that is not what came across in the manner of his discussing this. What came across is the sense of looking down on the rubes, the rural know-nothings.

    And they bitterly cling to their god, guns, and hates (that was what the last part was about.) And racism.

    Several blogs have video and a quote (or is it just one, must look) of a woman caller from FL to C-Span yesterday, saying the hit in the gut was the labeling of those people racists.

  3. Why the heavy fire at Hillary? Read somewhere that the MCM is out to get her bcz the public resisted their attempts to make Bill Clinton first a one-term president and then to sully his reputation with the treatment given him his entire second term and even after (the Great Pardons’ Scandals).

  4. Americans have loved their guns and their religion since they became Americans, bot because of job losses in the 1980s.

  5. Sorry, NOT because of job losses in the 80s

  6. jawbones, that’s been my theory re: Hillary for some time. Hillary represents a threat to their legitimacy and efficacy. I think Blog Boyz in the SCLB (so-called liberal blogosphere) face a similar predicament. They have to take down Clinton in order to feel important.

  7. gqm: I think this is point is important. There is something about the Clintons that seems authentic to most people is spite of the media spin. There is a recognition that while they may not be perfect and while they are forced to make compromises, you can count on the Clintons to have something at their cores that is for the little guy. It isn’t a progressive paradise but it is a severe setback for the conservative movement because it makes Democrats look good. And it slips past the media filter. That is why I say that if she is elected, the media can’t control the message anymore. They can make a lot of noise but people will ignore it. Doubly so this time because if Hillary wins in spite of the intense negativity of this primary season, the media will be very weakened. That’s why they are fighting tooth and nail to make sure Obama wins. That puts them and the conservative backers in the driver’s seat. If Obama wins the nomination but loses the GE, it will be a very long time before the country returns to normal, if ever. We will be headed for neo-feudalism.

  8. Hey! I took a few days off of all this out of disgust. This is a great post.
    Since 1971? Gee. That’s a person’s whole life. (Almost).

    Well, the great leveler for the New Deal is going to be the economics of it all Riverdaughter. I don’t know what it’s like back east but out here hundreds are living on the streets. We have a lot of services in my town for the poor. It may be that the “heartland” states have never seen homeless people? Or the influx of years and years of immigration until now. What is scariest is that Clinton can be like FDR in a time that we need FDR’s new deal. It’s really bad in CA.

    While I was on here doing research, your old pal from DailyK seems to be very invested in having O win. As are others involved with something called NDN and NOI. It’s a whole new sub-group that most Dems aren’t aware of (Reaganite Dems)…(neocons)–that most of us wouldn’t consider ourselves. I guess Clinton represents what I feel is a Dem I can recognize. Stylistically.

    What is worst is that sites like that aren’t even allowing independent debate (censorship?) and most of the under 35 set gets their news and info in here. When I started to uncover all that stuff, and his target-marketing stuff it’s pretty frightening to think that people are so dumbed down they’d go for it.

    Anyway. Back into the fray! This morning….It was nice to not think about it for a few days and just garden. Looking at the crap he is pulling behind the scenes like with the FEC is making me sick.

  9. Excellent post riverdaughter. I’m with you 100%. I too have noticed people waking up to lies by the media. It’s an awesome revelation I believe, and I don’t think anyone except Hillary could have made it so obvious. That is why she has to win. We need to take this power back, and give it to the people. I feel the Clintons know this too, and that is why they are fighting so hard for us. I’ve myself have never felt a call to action so strongly. I’m coming to Pennsylvania next weekend from LA to volunteer just to help her win big. This is the most important fight of our lives.

  10. bluesky: That’s great! I hope more people like you show up. We are going to have a fun GOTV. Can’t wait. 😉

  11. RD: I totally relate on the family civil war. One of my uncles worked for the Reagan administration and his entire brood are rabid right-wingers, heavily involved in the FL GOP. During the 2000 FL recount my cousins and I literally beat the hell out of each other.

    To this day, we can’t stand each other. And what kills me is that they’re giddy over the prospects of Obama in the GE; they know Obama will finally be exposed and throttled. The best he could do is avoid a landslide. Honestly. Back in December they let it slip that they feared Clinton the most, more than Edwards even, because of the credible threat Republican women would vote for her.

  12. Davidson: I suspect that many of the split households I canvassed yesterday are a case of Republican woman voting for Hillary, her husband sticking with the GOP. In fact, all things point to a historic turnout for her in the general. It is insane that the party doesn’t see this. It’s like it has a death wish.

  13. Tom Watson’s analysis is flawed, and each time we hear about the unattractive qualities of working class whites, we should also hear the loud sucking sound of power being taken and retained by those already in power—like the hugely wealthy, property owning Democrats at Barak’s SF chat-in.

    Look at Watson’s numerous unquestioned suppositions, starting with the idea of the “creative class.” (I know Watson did not create this term, but why repeat it in all its ugliness?) Yes, creative= well educated liberals, and uncreative=working class whites. Who really wants to be labeled as “uncreative?” Listen to the sucking sound. Alert: working with your hands or in blue collar work can be, but is not necessarily, creative.

    Then, there is the statement that Obama and his blogger boyz minions=smart, wired, progressive left. Working class whites, not so much. More sucking noises. But what of Paul Krugman’s analysis of Obama’s and Clinton’s proposals, concluding that Hillary’s proposals were bold and progressive, while Obama’s proposals were liberal, but “cautious and relatively orthodox.” (Krugman, March 28, 2008). So, let’s see . . . the Democratic working class, which is supposedly not progressive, supports the candidate with bold and progressive proposals, but the smart, wired, progressives support the candidate with the cautious and orthodox proposals. hmmm. What is wrong with this picture? Perhaps the great chasm (hear a sucking sound behind this meme) between the Democratic working class and progressives is not so great after all. In fact, doesn’t being progressive include concern for the working class?

    Then, there is the “nativism,” “protectionism” and “racial hatred” of working class Americans. More sucking sounds. How about the “racial hatred” of the creative class which benefits most from the structures that maintain white supremacy? Of course, it is the people in power who maintain the structures of racism, not the less powerful working class. And, what about the anti-trade stance of the creative class? (Note that for the working class an anti-trade stance becomes “protectionism,” indicating an emotional, unreasoned position.) The only people who seem to really benefit from free-trade agreements are rich, property owners who need not worry about their outsourced jobs—people like those at the SF chat-in.

    I am not saying that poverty and economic hardship do not breed despair and hopelessness, manifested in myriad sad ways. I am saying that the meme about working class whites is over-simplified, conflates Republicans and Democrats, and is meant to take power from this class and give it to those already in power. It’s about power, stupid!

  14. I am at this point…

    I will vote for Hillary – no other Democrat.

    The DNC, the obama blogosphere, the Democratic party in general, etc doesn’t realize how angry I am. The want me to be a good little girl, pat me on the head, and hope I will go along….but I won’t.

  15. I understand you dont agree with Tom folks, and frankly I am not a fan of stereotyping, but I think if you want to make an argument against Tom’s post it might be nice to actually have a conversation with him about it. Heis quite reasonable.

  16. It’s not enough, if you’re debunking Obama, to say that (some) Americans have always been localist (to pick a kindler, gentler and more accurate word than xenophobic), gun-friendly, and devotees of conservative religion. Our whole country, more or less, used to be that way, and it no longer is…so it’s sensible to look for factors that explain why some of the country changed and some of it didn’t, at least in relative terms.

  17. RD, excellent post. As a person who has a master’s degree in biology where I mostly studied behavioral ecology I really think that Guns, religion and just about everything that makes us human is derived from our natural inclinations as an animal. Unfortunately, living a lifestyle that has domesticated us and taken us out of our natural habitat has caused lots of contradictions and problems as we balance our innate needs with the needs of society.

    People have an innate need for God, for hunting, killing, butchering and growing their own food. These things are innate and are highly satisfying. In my way of thinking Obama is a faux intellectual who automatically assumes that he is smarter and knows more about the world and people than the rest of us. The irony is that both him and his supporters are the ones who are truely ignorant and don’t really understand human behavior. I hope this didn’t come across as rhetorical nonsense .

    As an aside, I also think that this whole episode with Obama exposes him as someone who is closer to myself on God and religion than someone who actually believes in it. Not many people try to analyze why people believe in God because it is just part of them. People who believe in it can’t help it because it is who they are. People like myself, and apparently Obama, can go to church and study the bible endlessly and never understand. In my younger years I attended a vast array of churches to figure out why people believed. In the end I found that there is absolutely nothing wrong with those people and here is the flip side, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me either. Obama apparently hasn’t come to this level of enlightenment since he “questions” or tries to explain why people turn to God. Maybe, he really didn’t mean to say it the way it came out but that is the way it sounds to me. In my opinion if he hadn’t been considering a career in politics he’d have never stepped foot in that church of his.

  18. Rich: If you live in a small town or rural area you start off in a very conservative area. Maybe this has to do with farm economy which is unpredictable, subject to forces of nature you can’t control. There’s nothing wrong with owning a gun, especially if you’re into venison. Some people like to hunt. It’s a challenge and most of the ones I know take their kills to a butcher and own freezers.
    As for religion, a small town church might be your only support system for miles and miles. It’s a place where people feel community, a sense of purpose, comfort when they fall upon hard times, charity even.
    So, that’s where some of it starts. But the media message has been particularly effective in small towns and rural places because there is nothing else. It’s not like suburban NJ where you meet a lot of different people and viewpoints. In a small town, there frequently is a homgeneity of thought. It helps you fit in with a limited population. And if that population hears nothing but Rush and O’Reilly all of the time, when the mainstream media news networks spin on things like the Iraq War Resolution, when there is a constant drumbeat to accept the little you have and there is NO countermessage, what really do you expect? Those people aren’t hicks. I dare you to ever call my mother a bigot. She’d let you have it. What they are is unaware. They don’t know that there is another point of view. But somehow, another point of view is getting through this year and those people who Obama insulted are paying attention to every little piece of news they can get their hands on. They are suddenly realizing how badly they were screwed. And the last thing we want to do is look down on them. We need to keep encouraging them. So, I would advise all of you who think there might be some truth to Obama’s comments to get rid of that thought as quickly as possible and replace it with images of sleepers, Rip Van Winklesm who are waking up. Be gentle, understanding, and fill them in on what they’ve missed. They’re on OUR side now.
    The bitter ones are Republicans.

  19. RD – you are right.

    I can’t imagine any of the gun-toting, Bible-thumping, blue-collar (He forgot, biscuit & gravy eating) folks in my family feeling ‘bitter’. We get pissed at some of the stupid things the government does, but bitter?

    I just can’t agree that we are victims of our government, we own it.

    It just pisses us off when they lie to us or sell us out to the highest bidder.

    I think what obama doesn’t GET is that we ‘beer drinkers’ BELIEVE it is UP TO US to fix our own situation. We know when we are getting screwed, but I think most of us from the small town America really believe we are driving in our own lives.

    It would be *nice* if the government could help us by regulating companies to protect the environment, not ship our jobs overseas, make healthcare affordable for everybody… But it isn’t the victimhood – I think that is the part to the message (besides the implied racist thing) that insults us the most.

    Bitter is what you feel when you have NO power over your destiny. I think most of us *pick your favorite stereotype* feel like we are in charge of our own lives. We’d like it if the government didn’t work against us, that’s all.

  20. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: many of Obama’s atheist supporters have a much deeper “faith” than many of my most religious acquaintances. “God” manifests itself in numerous ways. Some find it in a diety, others not. But I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have some sort of “god-like” force in their life.

    You don’t need a diety to be violent. You don’t need a diety to be ignorant either.

  21. Y’know Obama’s remarks do make sense…when you apply them to his online fan base: they do desperately cling to their religion–Obama–as a way to express their frustration and out of raw bitterness (hence, the vicious, baseless attacks and misogyny). And nothing will change their beliefs.

    I’m not kidding. Check out the comments at a major news site or blog (TPM, Kos, etc.)

  22. riverdaughter–

    Great post! When I was driving home this afternoon, I was thinking about what Obama said and how he ridiculed Hillary because she talked about her dad teaching her how to shoot and about going duck hunting in Arkansas. I was thinking about my family. We came from North Dakota. Both of my grandparents had guns and went hunting. My mom’s father used to go back up North a couple of times a year and go pheasant hunting. He went fishing a lot too.

    Now my brothers and sisters and I grew up in a different world. We never learned how to shoot a gun, but I don’t see anything wrong with people having guns if they need or want to. When I was a kid, we sometims got pheasant or venison from friends and relatives who were hunters. I think a lot of people today have lost touch with that way of like, as Gregoryp pointed out. Barack Obama is clueless about the way of life that my grandparents lived–which is still part of who I am.

    There are still plenty of people in this country who live in rural areas, and for whom this way of life–hunting and fishing and being outdoors a lot works. They are closer to the way our ancestors lived. I think it is sad in a way that so many of us are now almost completely separated from nature. In my lifetime, this country has almost eliminated the family farm. When I was kid, family farms were still common. Some of my high school teachers in Indiana were farmers. They had to work day jobs just so they could keep working the land.

    Anyway, I think Obama is really out of touch–as you said, he’s so clueless, he isn’t even wrong or right.

  23. jawbone,

    I wrote about the Maytag situation and Obama in my post yesterday. I hope you’ll take a look at it.

  24. Riverdaughter,

    May I draw your attention to this great video, which is perfectly appropriate now?

  25. Hello everybody! Today is compare and contrast day here at The Confluence. These videos here are from the same forum with both candidates addressing Pennsylvanian steel workers.

    Video A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbP5WAwhWrE
    Video B: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo36U8gyw-o

  26. Justin: You left out the two standing ovations the steelworkers gave her. Hmmm, I wonder why you left that part out? Also, I don’t know if you noticed but Obama is changing his words around and trying to correct the record 4 days later. That smells of desperation, doncha think? Do you think it has to do with Pennsylvanians that are calling Clinton’s campaign office absolutely livid at what Obama has said about them being xenophobic hicks? Or the angry voters I met yesterday who were outraged at being called bigots because they want to vote for Hillary? That’s what my mother says. She’s from Pennsylvania and she understood what Obama said the first time. He came off as a snob who was looking down on them. And she didn’t like it at all that he didn’t issue a retraction and an apology. He just keeps stepping in it. No, she didn’t like that at all.
    I’m sorry Justin. Your guy is going to take a well-deserved hit for this.

  27. Even if his comments did anger some Clinton supporters, this isn’t going to effect him in the polls. This “bittergate” thing is far weaker than that flap over Wright, and Obama’s numbers went up after that incident. I’ll publicly apologize on your blog in a week if reliable polls show a drop because of this.

  28. Justin,

    Personally, I couldn’t care less if you apologize on this blog or anywhere else. Obama is a sad pathetic candidate, and if the Democrats nominate him, he will lose at least 48 states. There is no way he can be elected President. Even worse than Obama’s multiple gaffes, today in the Rezko trial there was testimony linking Obama to Nadhmi Auchi, who probably provided the money that the Rezkos used to help Obama buy his mansion.
    He’s dead meat.

  29. Hey RD, I don’t agree with Obama – if you thought so, then my prose lacked clarity.

    My point was that while I personally may think gun laws should be stronger and that big religion can’t be trusted, I don’t believe Obama should lump those things with racism and anti-immigrant hatred (and, weirdly, the protectionism Obama now embraces himself).

    He engages in the very type of stereotype he professes to be running to put an end to.

    And the larger point of the post was that this was horrendous for the Democrats – that he lame-ass media actually believes these stereotypes and that Obama was giving them a reason to support the “manly” John McCain over the “elitist” Barack Obama.

    But some of it was meant to be a bit sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek – I need avoid that much of the time when the temptation arises. I cannot often pull it off well.

    If you re-read the opening graf, when I referred to the “yawning chasm between working-class Democrats and the so-called creative class” – well that was straight up. There is a gulf.

    Nice post, by the way. Enjoyed it very much.

  30. Justin: You are too funny! The damage is *done*. Trust me on this. Pennsylvanians are smarter than you think. I met several Obama supporters while I was canvassing who were very interested in Clinton. People are PO’d big time. And the new SUSA poll shows Obama trailing by 16 points in Indiana. INDIANA! That’s state is just one huge small town full of bitter hicks who don’t know any better than to cast their typical white person Archie Bunker vote for Clinton. He lost 7 points over the weekend and he’s still trying to correct the record. Too late!
    Be afraid, Justin, be very afraid.

  31. I’m quivering.

  32. Come to the dark side, Justin.

  33. if Hillary wins in spite of the intense negativity of this primary season, the media will be very weakened. That’s why they are fighting tooth and nail to make sure Obama wins. That puts them and the conservative backers in the driver’s seat. If Obama wins the nomination but loses the GE, it will be a very long time before the country returns to normal, if ever. We will be headed for neo-feudalism.

    I think that’s a very astute observation, RD. I’ve been realizing more and more that the war that is going on against Clinton isn’t just the usual Clinton Derangement Syndrome. There is definitely some of that, as it hasn’t abated much since the ’90’s. But that wouldn’t explain what is happening with the democratic leadership. I think there is a war within the party about who we’re going to be going forward. Hillary and Bill definitely represent the old FDR coalition that included the working class and was very populist. Obama and many of the party leadership – Kerry, Dean, Pelosi, Kennedy – are much more elitist, and I really no longer understand what their core beliefs are. With the exception of the Clintons, the people who seem to get nominated every cycle belong to the elitists, and they can be counted on to lose the election.

    I really don’t understand why they would try to build a coalition without the working class. I don’t think it can be done. It’s ironic that Obama has put himself on this side, since most blacks and black politicians have been decidedly with the working class contingent. The fact that the leaders seem to be almost willing to lose this election rather than seat FL and MI – and thus bring Clinton back to being neck and neck – is a pretty good indication of that to me. This is what is splitting the party, not Clinton continuing to run even with the deck stacked against her. If she loses, I shudder to see what we’ll have become. Perhaps what we really need is a Labor Party, and then the elites can have their little undemocratic party all to themselves.

  34. He needs to watch or listen to what happened. Obama was NOT asked about the state of the economy or the plight of the working class. He was asked why working class peoplearen’t voting for him, and his reply was that the stupid deluded rubes are so bitter that they cling to their guns and religion. And the wealthy audience took great pleasure at sickering at those rubes who are so inferior.

    “this isn’t going to effect him”

    Well, first off, it’s “affect,” you need to be careful or Obama will be sneering at you as a rube before too long. Second, you’re correct, it’s not going to affect him because he can’t win a major state to save his life anyway and it’s not like he can lose his support among major Democratic groups since he doesn’t have any to begin with. Maybe Donna can work out a scheme to cancel those pesky elections altogether and substitute polling data, since so many Obamazoids seem to have other priorities on election day. Don’t quiver dude, you don’t need votes when you’ve got a beautiful mix of Bushesque arrogance, utter lack of rudimentary political instincts, but firm commitment to bypass this pesky democracy nonsense.

  35. It will be interesting to see how KO spins this tonight. I haven’t watched MSNBC in weeks but I am sure he will have some brave rationale going for him while finding a way to kick Hillary in the butt.

  36. As long as BO was scripted he was fine. The crowds swooned like he was an “American Idol”. Axelrod knew this and tried to get the nomination wrapped up before it became necessary for BO to ad lib responses. Hence the thundering roar to drive Hillary out of the race before and immediately after TX. & OH. The tactic would only work for so long. Now, we begin to see the real BO, in front of real people-not devotees-and his halo is fading. His own words are a stone around his neck. The efforts of his supporters to reword and redefine “what he really meant…” no longer works so well. Reminds me of a 70’s song, “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its’ Flavor on The Bedpost Overnight?” Hillary will make him work for every vote all the way to the end. She won’t give up, which, frankly, is a characteristic that I want our President to have.

  37. As always RD – truly wonderful read.

    At the risk of being labeled a pariah, and as a now staunch (originally Edwards supporter & contributor) Clinton supporter……………I will vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination. Another 4 years of a Republican, another chance to further stack the deck at the Supreme Court, 100 more years in Iraq and so on is simply impossible to contemplate. Clinton will make a better POTUS than either other candidate.

    I live in Florida. I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. I was angry at Gore for doing such a bad job at running against the moronic GW. I was angry at Gore for not doing more for the planet while he was VP. Bill’s environmental record wasn’t very good until his last days in office. I felt that Gore could have done more. There were people in 2000 talking about Climate Change and our government refused to sign Kyoto! But this time, I ain’t gonna do it. I personally think the Obama supporters are MUCH WORSE than their candidate. I don’t want him to win the nomination, but should he, I must support him, if only to vote against McCain. Mea culpa, but FOUR MORE YEARS of Bush/Cheney is unbearable.

  38. As Judith points out, I am actually quite reasonable – surprised to be ignored (above) since this post – quite effectively – takes me on with considerable toughness.

  39. RD: I’m not entirely sure that your interpretation, credible though it is, casts the People in Question in a better light than Obama’s. He emphasizes economic victimhood, and you emphasize cultural and information marginalization. His interpretation is crudely Marxist, and for my money crude Marxism is by far the best crude explanation of social phenomena.

    Don’t sell Obama short intellectually. He understands what makes people tick, and what more evidence could you need than his remarkable presidential run? He is playing this country and its multiple identities/constituencies (heck, even microtrends!) like a violin in pursuit of his solipsism, and in that context it just doesn’t ring true that he somehow went out and laid an analytical mega-egg in SF. If Clinton can turn it into a political mega-egg, more power to her (turnabout being fair play and all that), but I’ll busy myself with pointing out Senator Zelig’s other problems.

  40. But Rich, if you thin his portrayal is accurate (I don’t, but whatever) would Sen. Obama’s error here then be that he played to one group (wealthy supporters in SF) at the expense of another (people who aren’t wealthy supporters in SF) and somehow didn’t notice all the cameras?

    Or worse, thought that even if they were taping him, no one would release the words and pictures?

    Or worser, he believed even if his remarks got out, he’d be able to spin his way out of it?

    I agree he’s a smart guy. I also think he’s adept at playing an audience. But this is the kind of stumble that makes me do a Scooby Doo.

  41. The third one- he is confident that he can say what he thinks (this is, after all, one of those rare occasions where he holds an actual controversial view!), and get himself out of it. He’s convinced that he got out of the Wright thing–and while much of America (rightly or wrongly) seems to think that his post-Wright speech was our new century’s gift to political oratory, he’s almost certainly thinking that he could pull that stuff out of his ass pretty much on demand. He’s a law professor, for god’s sake! He’ll do for class what he did for race, the usual pundits will pronounce him brilliant and fearless, and he’ll move on. This is academic hubris at work, and as an academic I have to say that I admire it to an extent, because academic hubris usually doesn’t get you far in the grubby real world. I want him to fail, because my candidate runs presidential circles around him (and by the way, she’s as smart as any high-class academic), but I’m not repelled by the analysis and I’m not repelled by the hubris that made him think he could say it with impunity.

  42. Tom W. I know what you were trying to say. I know that it has been very frustrating getting through to some of the people who voted for four more years of Bush and we have all lost patience at one time or another. Lord knows I’ve had the same feelings towards my own family. It’s easy to feel that you’re smarter or something. But the real problem is the message has been out there for decades and it’s gotten worse since the early 90’s. You can’t get away from it. How many of us have disconnected ourselves from the news one network at a time? How many of us have wanted to throw a shoe at the radio in the morning whenever Juan Williams or Cokie Roberts comes on Morning Edition? And recently we’ve had to disconnect from MSNBC. It’s bad out there. If it weren’t for citizen journalism like Mayhill and others we;d never know what is actually going on. Our BS detectors are finely honed. But *we* started out this way. It’s part of who we are. We may be geeks or trained to do analysis for our jobs or we live in a place that attracts a lof of foreigners with a different perspective. We catch it and can’t stand the clanging symbols and banging gongs. But the average working guy doesn’t have time to track down and fact check news. They’re too busy making a living. And the only thing they hear is this incessant propaganda. Until gas prices directly affected them or they lost their health insurance or job they might not relate the two. I’d go so far as to say that the reason people are more attentive now is because the conservative movement is starting to impact them economically like it never has before. And they’re putting 2 and 2 together and realizing that Rush and O’Reilly lied to them. That Sean Hannity is a pompous little dick. And that there’s something very rotten going on with the media picking our president. And as these sleepers awaken, in walks The Precious and tells them they’re a bunch of unsophisticated rubes and bigots because they prefer the other candidate. I mean, Jeez, I can’t think of a better way to send them back to Rush. He’s been telling them for years that you can’t trust those elitist Democrats and they’re like all the other politicians. It’s like Obama is a walking, talking embodiment of everything the Wurlitzer has been saying about us. If Obama hadn’t written this script, the Republicans would have had to write it for them.
    Do you know I periodically have to check with my mom to correct any misconceptions she gets from her various right wing news sources? It took me months to convince her that Obama wasn’t a muslim. It’s ridiculous. She hears one thing on CNN, something else on MSNBC and she tells me so I can sort them out for her and make sense of them. Who can she trust? None of them. Except maybe C-span’s debate coverage. She has to start relying on her old principles of social justice. They’re still in there and I just have to pull them out again. But it hasn’t been easy to deprogram her and my brother and sister. But no, it has never been bitterness about economic circumstances. It’s not about bigotry, at least not from the Democratic side. And religion has only been a response to the fear of child abductions and rapes and terrorism and war when it seems like violence and chaos has reached a point of no return. It has been relentless, cult-like brainwashing on a massive scale. Obama is just wrong.

  43. Rich, gotcha.

    I was actually reaching for my HDF Kitto to get that quote, “those whom the gods…,” but I tripped over Proverbs before I got there. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    And Job: “He sees everything that is high. He is king over all the sons of pride.”

    And I ain’t even religious, clingy or otherwise.

  44. Tom W: Sorry, I didn’t get back to you sooner. I’ve been trying to do my taxes and eat dinner and stuff. But I did eventually answer you. Please don’t take this post as a criticism of you. I just want to stop the meme where we have this unacknowledged agreement among ourselves that what Obama said is true. It may be true for hard ass Republicans but it is not true for swing voters who are coming back to the Democratic party.
    Actually, I love your stuff and look forward to your posts, which do not seem to be frequent enough.

  45. Rich: you are so right about Obama’s brilliance. I’ve heard that he’s already won Wednesday’s debate.

  46. i have been thinking about obama’s clueless comment. what can he be thinking i ask myself. i have to just say that this view must be very ingrained in him after his relationship with rev wrong and others. michelle also has let her true feelings show.

    face it! these folks are not what they make themselves out to be. remember jesse jackson sr and his rainbow campaign. i remember that with a warm fuzzy when i think about the meaness going on today. jackson wanted the veep slot and tried very hard to get it. but he had the grace to put the party before his political ambitions.

  47. ok, one more thing i want to add and it is important. all those folks out in california, you know the rich latte drinkers? many of them have roots in middle america. they were raised in small towns and many have family there. that is their roots also. now some laughed and thought how funny. but many there probably thought, he said what?

    i am well educated and some might say a latte drinker who owns my own company. my dad was union and my grand father worked in a cotton mill. i am not that far from my roots and i sure remember. so do the rest.

  48. stodgie: Yep, you’ve found the right place. A lot of us are one generation removed from our working class roots. But I’m not into that whole race thing. My mom says it’s probably a good thing that the anger of the AA community comes out in church. There was a very good interview on Black Liberation Theology on Fresh Air with Terry Gross a couple of weeks ago. You might find it interesting. In any case, my problem with Wright is not his theology but his complete blindspot where gender is concerned and his lumping us all in together as if we all share some collective racial guilt. I don’t think that’s fair to fellow Democrats. And it doesn’t look like he sees anything positive about the country. But as for the liberation theology, yeah, that’s cool by me. It really is a good thing.

  49. Tremendous post. Clear evidence that the progressive ‘sphere is alive and thriving despite the loud frat-boy noises you hear occasionally.

    I am going to link and quote exstensively to this as your ‘take’ is impeccable. I lived through 1968, having started in 1965 to be politically active, and the era you describe and you’ve nailed it.

    I do believe that Obama’s comment has done us progressives a great service by enabling us to put distance between what we stand for and his brand of empty suite politics before he ‘augurs in’ as the guys who flew with McCain would have called it.

    Also, added you to our blogroll.

  50. Drop by to drop off a link to a Salon article about young female Obama supporters who are taking a second look, or at least feeling uncomfortable about some of the sexism seeming to come come from the Obama supporting guys.


    Pretty interesting. Am fading fast–g’nite.

  51. Here’s where I “sell Obama short” – he’s fine with a prepared text (or so I hear; leaves me cold, personally), but he’s a disaster without one. I’ll cut him some WORM slack here; yeah, he probably meant something more like when society is thrown into chaos and despair, and there’s no hope on the horizon, t people grasp at any straw (or whatever). But that’s not the way it’s going to play because that’s not what he said. He said these working-class whites that are skeptical of him are rubes. That’s a problem, and as far as Obama’s “analysis” goes, it’s been done better by better before. Chris Hedges comes to mind, doubtless there are others.

  52. Riverdaughter et al,

    I’m currently watching Jon Stewart, so you don’t have to. He did a looong intro about ‘bitter-gate’. Let’s just say he totally fluffed Obama and dissed Hillary.

    Here’s the kicker: Stewart ‘corrected’ Obama and said: “Those people do not turn to guns and god and mistrust of foreigners because of a downturn in the economy: those are the very FOUNDATIONS those towns are built on!”. (Applause, applause.)

    The rest of the segment lampooned PA and it’s people at length. ie. “I’ve been to Western PA. Bitter doesn’t even begin to describe what it’s like out there. You know those movies where the main character wants to get desperately out of where he’s from, and it always starts out with him and his best friend working in some factory, and then his friend falls into a vat of molten steel. That’s Western PA”. (More laughter and applause.)

    Stewart characterized the ‘bitter’ remarks as a hit-job on Obama: “Out of context, almost inaudible, in-artfully phrased sound-bite from Barack Obama. They’re gonna get that boy, they’re gonna get him good!”. (Followed by clips from the MSM talking about BO’s being elitist.) “If only there was a Democratic candidate who, as of this weekend, embodies all the values Obama so clearly despises”. Cut to closeup of Hillary and clips of her talking about her childhood home, her grandfather teaching her to shoot; Hillary having some drinks in a bar with regular folks, etc.

    Stewart went on and on after that talking about Obama’s SF fundraiser. Something about people “wearing ass-less chaps in San Francisco…and BTW, doesn’t elite mean good, is that not something we’re looking for in a President anymore?…If you don’t think you’re better than us than what the fuck are you doing”!

    Too much to tell you have to see it. WON’T SOMEBODY IN THE BLOGOSPHERE PLEASE TAKE THIS GUY TO TASK?

    A few weeks ago , before McCain was the GOP nominee, Stewart opined to a guest: “I’d like to see an Obama/McCain match-up….that would be ideal. They’re not the usual political types” (something to that effect). He loves McCain, has had him on a dozen times: confronted him once, than profusely apologized the following night.

    Jon Stewart is bad for Democrats. Period. Aaargh!

  53. I seem to get lucky and only see Stewart when he makes fun of obama. I guess, not that often.

  54. I seem to get lucky and only see Stewart when he makes fun of obama. I guess, not that often.

  55. Jjmtacoma,

    You’re lucky indeed. I ‘monitor’ Jon Stewart nearly every night and he rarely, if ever, takes any real jabs at Obama. To varying degrees, it’s all Clinton-bashing all the time. Also, McCain has been on the Daily Show so often he’s virtually a co-host. Colbert is more of an equal-opportunity satirist; but his audience is silent as the tomb whenever he has a pro-Clinton guest.

    Stewart is like the blogger boyz,: he’s gonna choose the wanna-be hipster guy over the ‘mature’ woman any day of the week. It’s part of their desperate I-was-a-nerd-in-high-school-now-I-wanna-be cool-by association DNA.

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