Monday, April 14, 2008

Bittergate

So if you haven't been paying attention to cable news or political blogs this weekend, then you might not be aware that during a speech at a fundraiser, Barrack Obama said the following words:
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 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.

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.

If you are a big city latte drinking liberal elitist like myself, you might not understand why that ignited a media firestorm. It is, after all, just a rephrasing of the fairly inoffensive "What's the matter with Kansas?" argument by Thomas Frank. However, that rephrasing wasn't exactly the most artful, as even Obama has admitted, and it's probably not a surprise that McCain immediately leaped to condemn Obama's remarks... though I have no idea what John McCain knows about the lives of hard working Americans, he obviously does know when he can try and score some political points with them. I was a little more surprised when Hillary Clinton responded with Right Wing Talking Points and started distributing Grover Norquist quotes... though perhaps I shouldn't have been.

Anyway, I have no idea how this is going to affect Obama in the short term... though it probably means, with the primary 10 days away, any chance of a surprise Pennsylvania victory (and an end to this clearly destructive primary) are probably gone... but I guess I'll wait and see what the polls say. However, in the long term, I don't think this sticks to Obama... Obama is not John Kerry; as much as I like my Senator, the guy is not exactly a charismatic wunderkind politician, and being branded an out of touch elitist was probably the end of his campaign... but not Obama's. Quite frankly, the guy is just not afraid of the Red State/Blue State politics that have defined the discourse for the last 20 years.

In fact, instead of running and hiding (the Kerry response), he's already hitting back pretty hard with a pick and roll:

The guy's pretty good at this stuff... as you might have noticed. Plays the "politics as usual" card and gets in some good jokes. I'm obviously biased, but I am thinking that by the end of the week it is Obama who the Populist Everyman and Clinton/McCain who seem out of touch.

Here's hoping anyway.

UPDATE: Fixed the post time... I started this post yesterday, but only finished it this morning. For some reason Blogger puts the time stamp when you start it and not when you actually post it... which is a little odd, but whatever.