Sunday Morning Sermonette: Obama’s “bitterness” speech

When “egghead” Adlai Stevenson was running for president, one of his supporters gushed; “Sir, every thinking person in America will be voting for you!”  Stevenson replied; “Thank you, maam, but it won’t be enough.  We need a majority.”

There’s an urban legend that Dwight Eisenhower was shocked to learn that fully half of US school children are of below-average intelligence.  He wanted immediate action to correct the situation.

So it’s suddenly a big deal if Barack Obama says;

“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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

FOX News about had a giant spontaneous newsgasm over that one.  They spent the whole afternoon (and will probably spend the next several days) calling Obama an elitist.  John ‘flip-flopper’ McCain said that Obama was “out of touch with average Americans.”  (Excuse me, isn’t ‘average’ pretty much an analogue of ‘typical’ as in “typical American?”  Just asking.)

And surely the funniest comment of the day was made by Hillary Clinton, who said voters did not “need a president who looks down on them.” Sorry, I should have warned you to turn down the gain on your irony meter there.

Remember when Reagan described the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire” and everybody freaked out, but Andy Rooney (no fan of Reagan’s) said; “Would anybody care to argue that the Soviet Union is NOT an evil empire?”

Well, would anybody care to argue that a lot of rural American voters are NOT bitter about the sustained loss of their good jobs?  Or that some of them aren’t clinging to their guns as if Armageddon were right around the corner?  Or that many voters aren’t trying to elect a right-wing mega-church version of Jesus Christ into the White House?  Anybody at all?  Bueller?

OK, so Obama was telling the truth.  No wonder FOX news is so upset.

We have had just about enough of of a president who’s an “average guy”, who’s “in touch with the average American” (whatever that is). I want someone who’s in touch with other cultures too.  Someone in touch with inner-city poverty.  Someone who’s in touch with race issues in a way no other president ever has been.  I want someone who knows something about Muslims. Someone with a clue about science. Someone who knows our frakking constitution forwards and backwards.  Someone with the guts to call stupidity by its real name.  I want someone with some pretty damn elite abilities for our next president.  If he doesn’t watch NASCAR, I can live with that.

I’ve heard Obama tell automakers to quit whining and get competitive.  He’s told school kids that it’s nice they graduated 8th grade and all, but tomorrow’s another school day and they better study even harder.  I’ve heard him keep a level head debating an absolute whackjob, Alan Keyes.  He told white Americans not to expect patriotic hymns from older blacks, but then he turned around and told the black community not to expect white Americans to be happy about affirmative action.  That’s a person with some serious knuckles.

Lots of people seem to vote on “Hey!  He didn’t suck up to me enough!” or “He didn’t promise me enough!” or “He said something that could be interpreted as not complimentary to my demographic group!”  Well too bad.  You know the biggest demographic group that needs to get a frakking clue?  Americans.  And the clue we need to get is, that we’re not the world’s savior; we’ve got a log in our own eye.  We’ve lost the moral high ground, the esteem of many of our allies, the value of the dollar, and any chance of a head start on climate change.  It’s time to stop whining and start fixing.

(Cross-posted from my blog)

22 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Sermonette: Obama’s “bitterness” speech

  1. So does anyone else think people are just scared of the truth? Or is it being taken down a peg? When someone states how you feel in one simple paragraph and it just rips you off your high horse and you get a good look in the mirror. Suddenly you don’t like what you see so you attack the person making the statement. Or just politics as usual?

  2. I’ve been saying that last paragraph for a few years now.  It’s hard not to be apathetic though, when about 90 percent don’t care and don’t want to care.  All good things come to an end, and the US is no different.  Over the next few decades our relevance will decline as our ability to effect the world economy declines.  Our empire will fade just as the British faded before us.

  3. I am sick of people whining ‘elitest’.  I want the best people in charge. Bush was incapabable of running an oil company.  If you can’t turn a profit with an oil company then should you really be in charge of anything outside of SimCity?

    I am sick of a culture that says ‘too middle class’, ‘not accessable’, ‘too highbrow’.  Well some of us want something to think about, not soaps, ‘celebs’ and ‘gossip’.  I don’t care who’s sleeping with who, unless it actully affects me.

    I want news from trained journalists, not from any idiot with a mobile phone with camera.  Jeremy Paxman was called elitest when he sneered at being toldto ask for viewers news stories on video clip.  I’m with him.

    When boarding an aeroplane the pilot isn’t someone who the rest of the passengers like, its someone that has been trained.  Why do we assume that anyone can run a country?

    Joey- did you realise that contraction of the Empire was one of the conditions of US aid in WW2.  We only finished paying the loan off in 2002 (I think- definately this decade).

  4. DoF, you *nailed* this one.  The brouhaha is just more entitlement mentality.  Religion was the opiate of the masses long before Marx pointed it out.  Which I normally wouldn’t have a problem with, except for the Rapture bunnies who have rationalized their way out of taking responsibility for the messes they’ve created with their politics, their consumption, and the legion of brats they’re raising to be just as hate-mongering and pig-ignorant as they are. 

    And as for the guns, he’s spot on.  I’m @#$%^&* sick of the kowtowing to the NRA that has long since outlived its usefulness or any pretense of being a “sportsmans’ organization.”  There are two guns in the downstairs closet and two sets of bows and two quivers of arrows in the den—so it’s not like I’m writing this as a pacifist.  (Which reminds me that I need to pay our dues so we can go poke holes into targets when the ground’s less soggy in a couple of weeks…) 

    But here we are with @$$#@+$ arguing that arming everyone until they clank will stop crime.  Feh—anyone who thinks that an armed society is a polite (or crime-free) society needs a serious Reality Junket to the inner city.  Yet these testosterone-poisoned morons with their vigilante fantasies are major power brokers, and that just pisses me off.

    Neither the mega-churches nor the NRA have any passing connection with reality anymore, yet candidate after candidate considers it standard operating procedure to soothe and pacify them, when so much more good would be gained in the long run by telling the lot of them them to go pound sand.

    Not just good for the sake of improving the political discourse, but also because being unceremoniously pitched out of the electoral process would definitely get some panties in a twist, and the subsequent screeching would hopefully open some eyes to how presumptuous these would-be kingmakers have become.

    But the thing I wonder about is how people manage to stay awake for the same old plainchant from these people.  Really—don’t the buttons wear out when they get pushed every bloody election cycle?    And more importantly, how can they rationalize the contradictions:  The same people who treat you as a terrorist every time you board a plane or make a phone really want you to have guns?  Lots of guns?  The same people who claim that Genesis is scientific can’t explain how the kangaroos swam to Australia?  WTF?

    Sorry, I’m working myself into a later here, so I’ll just shut up now, but I’m totally with DoF on this one.  If 2008 turns out to be the year we put the one remotely straight-shooting, reality-based candidate out to the curb, then this country deserves the stage-managed likes of Clinton or McSame.

  5. You know, if you would have asked me three months ago, I would have told you I don’t give a crap about either one of them.  In the past month alone, Obama has managed to sway me to at least look at him.  That’s not too shabby…

  6. I don’t have any real objection to what Obama said, but I am a libertarian gun-nut and totally unapologetic about it.

    If you don’t like guns/drugs/abortions/cars/whatever then don’t buy them.

    What exactly is the problem with rural people liking guns?  I know the distinguished senator is from incredibly anti-gun Illinois.

  7. If you don’t like guns/drugs/…/whatever then don’t buy them.

    It’s what other people do when they have bought them that I object to.

  8. He probably knows someone who works night shift in an emergency room in Chicago.  It makes for ragged edges around the “if everyone were armed there’d be no crime” model.

    Not really, since to own an handgun legally in Chicago you have to be a police officer or have had it since before 1981.  There are no concealed carry permits in Illinois.

    Somewhere around half of all homicides in Chicago are gang-related.  So long as drug prohibition makes the illegal narcotics trade profitable, there’s going to be numerous gang-related killings.

  9. Guns or pulpits – which are more dangerous for the average citizen of any country?
    wink

  10. Ah, but if “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” how are the people motivated? The guns are mere accessories to the crime.

  11. So all criminals kill with a purpose? What about the Nebraska Mall shooting? What about the John Lennon assignation? There are plenty of examples where the person was unbalanced, emotionally unstable, or as Chris Rock puts it… crazy.

    Guns might be an accessory but this doesn’t mean criminals have a purpose as if some intelligent force is driving them.

  12. Ah, but if “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” … The guns are mere accessories to the crime.

    Doesn’t matter. The question is why some people hate guns.  The guns make it really, really easy to kill, same as a wrench makes it easy to turn a bolt; that’s what they’re designed to do.

    Guess how much desire I have to debate the gun issue on this page?  Let’s take it for granted nobody’s going to change their minds about it on this thread.

    …how are the people motivated?

    Obama’s saying – and correct me but maybe this is what you were getting at – that the underlying problem is the economic conditions.

  13. Webbs: Politics as usual – ref: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.asp

    Or, as Obama put in from his pulpit:

    “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,” he added.

    BTW: Guns are not the issue. The emotion that guns, religion, etc, elicit is the tool used for manipulation.

  14. I have nothing original to add to this topic. DOF has perfectly captured my sentiments. I just want to add that, based on her comment in this thread and many, many others: Cubiclegrrl, will you marry me? Please? We can go to Massachusetts or Canada if you like.  cheese

  15. Wasn’t it Carville who said Pennsylvania was Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between?

    Three-second rant: How about a 90-day mandatory campaign period with each nominee getting three public-service messages and one debate a month? Then everybody vote. Too 21st Century? Too simple?

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