Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mike Allen explains it all for Obama

Consider this an addendum to the post I put up this morning (scroll down for the skinny on the controversy). Mike Allen of The Politico explains why "bitter" is bad for Obama and he provides 12 distinct reasons why:

1. It lets Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) off the mat at a time when even some of her top supporters had begun to despair about her prospects. Clinton hit back hard on the campaign trail Saturday. And her campaign held a conference call where former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Pittsburgh native, described Obama’s remarks as “condescending and disappointing” and “undercutting his message of hope.”

2. If you are going to say something that makes you sound like a clueless liberal, don’t say it in San Francisco. Obama’s views might have been received very differently if he had expressed them in public to Pennsylvania voters, saying he understood and could alleviate their frustrations.

3. Some people actually use guns to hunt — not to compensate for a salary that’s less than a U.S. senator’s.

4. Some people cling to religion not because they are bitter but because they believe it, and because faith in God gives them purpose and comfort.

5. Some hard-working Americans find it insulting when rich elites explain away things dear to their hearts as desperation. It would be like a white politician telling blacks they cling to charismatic churches to compensate for their plight. And it vindicates centrist Democrats who have been arguing for a decade that their party has allowed itself to look culturally out of touch with the American mainstream.

6. It provides a handy excuse for people who were looking for a reason not to vote for Obama but don’t want to think of themselves as bigoted. It hurts Obama especially with the former Reagan Democrats, the culturally conservative, blue-collar workers who could be a promising voter group for him. It also antagonizes people who were concerned about his minister but might have given him the benefit of the doubt after his eloquent speech on race.

7. It gives the Clinton campaign new arguments for trying to recruit superdelegates, the Democratic elected officials and other insiders who get a vote on the nomination. A moderate politician from a swing district, for example, might not want to have to explain support for a candidate who is being hammered as a liberal. And Clinton’s agents can claim that for all the talk of her being divisive, Obama has provided plenty of fodder to energize Republicans.

8. It helps Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) frame a potential race against Obama, even though both of them have found support among independents. Now Republicans have a simple, easily repeated line of attack to use against Obama as an out-of-touch snob, as they had with Sen. John F. Kerry after he blundered by commenting about military funding, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

9. The comments play directly into an already-established narrative about his candidacy. Clinton supporters have been arguing that Obama has limited appeal beyond upscale Democrats — the so-called latte liberals. You can’t win red states if people there don’t like you. “Elites need to understand that middle-class Americans view values and culture as more important than mere trickery,” said Paul Begala, a Clinton backer. “Democrats have to respect their values and reflect their values, not condescend to them as if they were children who’ve been bamboozled.”

10. The timing is terrible. With the Pennsylvania primary nine days off, late-deciding voters are starting to tune in. Obama and Clinton are scheduled to appear separately on CNN on Sunday for a forum on, of all topics, faith and values. And ABC News is staging a Clinton-Obama debate in Philadelphia on Wednesday. So Clinton has the maximum opportunity to keep a spotlight on the issue. Besides sex, little drives the news and opinion industry more than race, religion, culture and class. So as far as chances the chattering-class will perpetuate the issue, Obama has hit the jackpot.

11. The story did not have its roots in right-wing or conservative circles. It was published — and aggressively promoted — by The Huffington Post, a liberally oriented organization that was Obama’s outlet of choice when he wanted to release a personal statement distancing himself from some comments by the Rev. Wright.

12. It undermines Democratic congressional candidates who had thought that Obama would make a stronger top for the ticket than Clinton. Already, Republican House candidates are challenging their Democratic opponents to renounce or embrace Obama’s remarks. Ken Spain, press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said: “There is a myth being perpetuated by Democrats and even some in the media that an Obama candidacy would somehow be better for their chances down ballot. But we don’t believe that is the case.”

This couldn't have come at a worse time. There are still several primary states and territories that have yet to vote, and they aren't of the limo-liberal set.

Pennsylvania -- 22 April
Guam -- 3 May
Indiana/North Carolina -- 6 May
West Virginia -- 13 May
Kentucky/Oregon -- 20 May
Puerto Rico -- 1 June
Montana/South Dakota -- 3 June

Ten primaries with a combined total of 566 delegates, and 126 superdelegates. Mike Allen's right that his comments are now fodder for not only the McCain camp, but the Clinton camp, as well. Say what you want to about Democrats, and how far to the Left they've slid, but Hillary could make a convincing case for undecided superdelegates that Obama is, quite literally, too much of a snob to be given the shot int he general election. She'd have a valid argument, too. Instead of coming out and clarifying his statement, or saying he misspoke (a classic tactic used by Democrats this election cycle), he responded as weakly and utterly clueless as his initial statement that landed him in hot water:

"Senator Obama has said many times in this campaign that Americans are understandably upset with their leaders in Washington for saying anything to win elections while failing to stand up to the special interests and fight for an economic agenda that will bring jobs and opportunity back to struggling communities. And if John McCain wants a debate about who's out of touch with the American people, we can start by talking about the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that he once said offended his conscience but now wants to make permanent.”

What's snort worthy about this "response" is the fact that it was delivered as if the comments in San Francisco were no big deal. I'm sure in Obama's inner circle, they're ticked that the "little people" are making such a fuss over this. Well, DUH! Of course we're going to be a tad upset. He just accused us of being so bitter that we latch onto things that, in his opinion, are menial and unimportant.

Memo to Barack Obama: faith and values matter to the majority of Americans. And you raise our ire by mocking them, or saying that when we embrace such things, we're "bitter." The only thing that makes us bitter are elected officials that look down their noses at the very people who provide a working, functional, and competitive nation.

Publius II


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