"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 going to 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."
Barack Obama is touted as being the most articulate of the candidates running for President this year and these comments, which have caused such a firestorm over the past few days prove that sometimes such powers of articulation can be dangerous. Obama's words articulated how the Left really sees the American people. His mistake here was that he actually said what the Democratic party believes to be the truth.
Democrats believe in the primacy of the elites in government whose job it is to order the world for the rest of us. Statists like Obama and his devotees on the Left believe that people need government to safely organize their daily lives. Dem's believe that people cannot be trusted to choose their own health care, they cannot be trusted to buckle the seat belts in their cars and should be forced to do so for their own good by government. People need government to tell them what food to eat, how to be sensitive, how to raise their children. Obama's comments are completely in keeping with that line of thought as they highlight what happens when government isn't leading properly and people are left to their own devices; 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." In other words without a Barack Obama leading them and seeing to it that they all have jobs people will devolve into a superstitious, hate-filled mob.
Almost more remarkable than Obama's loose tongue has to be Hillary Clinton's extreme cynicism in attacking him for it.
"Sen. Obama's remarks are elitist and out of touch," she said. "they are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans, certainly not the Americans I know, not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York."
Her comments are, of course true but Clinton's entire career, her writings and her policies show her to be every bit the out of touch elitist she accuses Obama of being. The thesis of It Takes a Village, her bestselling book is that people are incapable of ordering their lives as individuals; they need the community (read: government) to help them. Part of Hillary's longstanding devotion to children's issues is her desire to view children as independent of their parents, once decrying the idea that "families are private, non-political units whose interests subsume those of children." Her attack on Obama, which she is trying to portray as principled outrage is, in fact nothing more that the most hypocritical of political calculations.
But in this episode lies the seed of good news for Republicans if they can recognize it and are smart enough to use it to their advantage. The kind of elitism and disdain that Obama's comments reveal is a subtext of all of liberal ideology. Although it is too early to gauge the political impact of his comments it is likely that they will damage Obama in the Pennsylvania primary on April 22. People don't like to be looked down on. John McCain and the Republican party need to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire by exposing the condescension that is at the heart of the whole liberal agenda. Not only would it be smart political strategy, it has the nice benefit of being true. Now that is the kind of "straight talk" that might really give people hope for change.