As I said in this week’s podcast, while it’s certainly overblown, the bitter thing is one of the few Obama “scandals” that actually does annoy me. I think the facts his health care plan will probably leave 10 to 15 million Americans uninsured, that he voted to let credit card companies charge far too much interest, and that his plans for dealing with the housing crisis aren’t as far-reaching as Hillary Clinton’s are a better reason why Obama isn’t connecting with many working class voters the way she is. And while I wish he’d say the sorts of things he said more, I don’t think a high dollar fundraiser is the place to start.* I’m also disappointed with the needless attack on Bill Clinton; see here and here for Nick’s take with maps and numbers and such.**
All that said though, the rest of this post is a defense of Obama. The right’s attacks bug me a lot more than the original Obama statement. Eric Earling takes time away from babbling about Snohomish County to attack Obama.
Obama’s Condescension Problem
Eric Earling has never, ever been condescending.
There is a theme permeating much of the liberal pushback against criticism of Barack Obama’s recent Bumble by the Bay, asserting that these individual comments will be old news by the fall…or sooner.
I think it was old news about a week ago, honestly.
Oh, Earling says they’re not old news. So I guess I’m totally wrong.
The issue isn’t the comments themselves that are a threat to the Obama campaign, it is the building narrative that the Audacity of Hope is just another condescending, out-of-touch, urban liberal. Adlai Stevenson with sex appeal. Michael Dukakis with a personality. John Kerry with game…basketball that is, not bowling.
Speaking of Adlai, can I just say how odd those pre-civil rights era electoral maps look? What were we talking about again? Oh right, how apparently “sex appeal,” “a personality,” and “game” won’t have a positive effect for Obama if he gets the nomination. Good thinking.
Pick your poison, that isn’t good.
Eric Earling’s made up descriptions of Obama won’t be good for him!
His refusal to wear a flag lapel pin was odd. His wife’s previous lack of pride in her country peculiar. In and of themselves, however, they were nothing.
Here’s the first page of Google images for John McCain. By my count, on exactly 0 of them where you can see the lapel, he’s wearing a flag pin. 0 folks. Why isn’t this an issue?
But, throw in Obama’s choice of a family pastor for twenty years as well as his remarks on the effect of small town bitterness and you have a campaign narrative just waiting to be written.
Yes, what an Anti-American pastor he had. Run away from that shit. Run.
Two recent articles not from the right-of-center universe illustrate this point. The Politico’s David Paul Kuhn digs deep into the true, long-term political problem. Meanwhile, The New Republic’s John Judis explains the specific electoral implications.
The liberal media strikes again.
Notable excerpts from the former:
Political attacks work when they reinforce real perceptions. They become narratives when built on enough anecdotes. And those attacks can become critical when they seem to confirm long-held partisan stereotypes.
Also, when the media take more time to talk about this than they do to talk about what Iraq will look like after 4 years of a President Clinton, Obama, or McCain. Why would people prefer to hear about things that might have an impact on their lives?
This is exactly Obama’s problem, he ended up playing to a terribly damaging stereotype. That of the smug, coastal liberal, knowing exactly why it is that his foolish, economic inferiors might be so absolutely old-fashioned as to believe in such silly things as the 2nd Amendment and, you know, God. If only such Middle-Americans cretins would be blessed with economic opportunity and more social programs – plus lattes, Wi-Fi, and wine tastings – they would no doubt mature into enlightened, progressive Democrats.
Under the McCain health care plan, such as it is, if a kid wakes up in the middle of the night with a fever so hot it causes them to have seizures, their parents will have to worry about how much it’ll cost to get them the proper care. Instead of figuring out everything they can do to make their kid better, parents’ attention will be divided. It will include worrying about what this might do to their ability to get their kids coverage as well as how to pay for it if those children don’t have insurance. Under Obama, a parent will only have to worry about making sure their kid gets better. While his plan doesn’t go far enough for me, I think for most working folks that’s more important that how many lattes he drinks or how much wine he enjoys.
And really, John McCain gave away millions of taxpayer dollars to the firm his mistress lobbied for. I don’t think most people in the lower tax brackets do that.
What is always so offensive to regular Americans is the presumption that if she is offered better tax policies she won’t care any longer about abortion. And the viewpoint holds from one issue to the next: offer rural white men rhetoric that reminds them that they are working class and he’ll accept that the Second Amendment only referred to militias.Then there is the exhibited ignorance. Families who struggle financially care more about moral values because they are more likely to experience the breakdown of the family. In other words, cultural issues are not a substitute for economic concerns, as Obama argues, but inseparable from folks economic struggle.
All of this is exactly the sort of mistake Democrats have been making for decades. How many times can some leading liberals live up to the culturally elitist charge without considering that perhaps there is some electricity behind the charge?
Well, doesn’t the other side of the coin hold true too? That if policies improve people’s economic situation that it will help their domestic situation? That if working folks have a little more cash in their pocket, they’ll be less likely to get a divorce over money issues? I mean if your kid gets sick, prayer is important to a lot of families, but so is getting them healthy; so is getting them to the damn doctor.
This dichotomy flummoxes urban liberals. Why?
Fun fact: the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Montana, Kentucky, and Tennessee, among other states with large rural populations, was running on an assault weapons ban, or had signed one into law. So clearly that gun stuff is all that matters to rural people.
Many liberals get rural America so wrong because, as The Pew Research Center for People and the Press found, not only do “most Liberals live in a world apart from Disadvantaged Democrats and Conservative Democrats,” but also rural voters. Pew’s 2005 typology study found that liberals are the least religious group, more than one-third are never married, they are the most urban, and the least likely to have a gun in the home or attend bible study or a prayer group. About all they have in common with rural voters is their race, more than eight in ten liberals are white.
There are no disadvantaged people in my, or any urban neighborhood.
Thus, the danger for Obama’s hopes in the general election. It is quite possible that his demonstrated ability to bring new, young and African-American voters to the polls in record numbers will provide a strategic margin of victory in key states. Yet, it is likewise possible that an Obama campaign in November could yield results like those of the Democratic primary in Ohio (click on the Buckeye State on this map): a sea of defeat swamping islands of urban liberalism.
I love Hillary. Love. Her. But come on, people don’t live in exactly the same proportion in each of those counties.
By all appearances, however, that point has already been utterly lost on many of his supporters currently residing on those concrete isles.
Get it city folks, you don’t count as much. I mean the fact that there are more people in my neighborhood than in several Eastern Washington counties combined surely means that treating Seattle and Ferry County the same is elitism: that they ought to count greater than those of us here in the concrete isles.
UPDATE: A related question: Based on the unforced errors Obama has faced the last few months in an intra-party contest, does anyone believe that he can manage the higher scrutiny and pressure of a general election contest without further gaffes and revelations that feed this storyline?
Well since most of his gaffes are pretty silly, I imagine the answer is that the rightie blogs will keep making shit up about whoever the Democrats nominate. And that the manistream media will run with it.