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Barack Obama's "small town" critique: Is this a game changer?

Much as Desi Arnaz often demanded of Lucille Ball on their famed sitcom, Barack Obama has someLucille Ball and Desi Arnez  'splainin to do.

Relative quiet on the political news front became anything but as word spread Friday of an item on the Huffington Post concerning comments Obama made at a private fundraiser Sunday in San Francisco.

Blogger Mayhill Fowler was there with her tape recorder and, after setting up the payoff to her item with her own observations about Pennsylvania, related this quote from Obama as he sought to give his Bay Area crowd some perspective about a different part of the country:

"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 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."

Here's the entire post, which includes audio of Obama's mini-spiel. And that's the part that resonated -- and how.

Hillary Clinton campaign aides sought to stir up interest in it -- and then pounced when reports it started to seep into the mass media, clearly seeing the potential contretemps as ...

the Obama stumble they've been hoping for.

The candidate, appearing at a "town hall" event in Philadelphia, had this to say: “I saw in the media it’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that’s not my experience. As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves."

Etc. ...

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama recites the Pledge of Allegiance in Indiana before he came under fire for his remark about Americans living in small tow Tonight, after Obama, speaking in Indiana, took a crack at defusing the matter (more on that later), Clinton spokesman Phil Singer responded with a statement calling it "unfortunate" that he "didn’t say he was sorry for what he said."

More telling than the expected, and somewhat restrained, reaction from Camp Clinton was the outrage from other quarters -- making it a virtual certainty that this story won't fade over the weekend.

On CNN, the Lou Dobbs talk show devoted virtually its entire hour to what, with typical subtlety, it billed as Obama's "Attack on Small-Town America."

The segment included an online poll that asked, yes or no, whether participants believed Obama's "comments reveal his elitist attitude toward every hardworking American?"

(A guest host filled in for Dobbs, who no doubt was off somewhere kicking himself for the bad luck of not having the chance to huff-and-puff on the subject.)

Various arms of the Republican political apparatus also swung into action. Here's a sample:

* Steve Schmidt, a top advisor to presumptive GOP presidential candidate John McCain, declared that Obama's remarks showed "an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking. It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans."

* Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason Jr., in a statement issued by the state GOP,  was pronounced "appalled" by Obama's comments. Said Gleason: "I find Barack Obama’s comments incredibly insulting, and believe many others in the Keystone State will as well. In light of this most recent statement, I believe Americans are going to have even more questions about his values."

(Even more questions? No doubt a nod toward the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy.)

* The National Republican Congressional Committee fulminated that Obama "talks a good game about uniting the country, but when he thinks no one is looking -– such as at fundraisers on the West Coast –- his personal biases against Small Town America are revealed."

* After Obama's Indiana appearance tonight, the McCain staff held forth again. Said spokesman Tucker Bounds: "Instead of apologizing to small town Americans for dismissing their values, Barack Obama arrogantly tried to spin his way out of his outrageous San Francisco remarks." In the three other sentences that wrapped up his statement, Bounds managed to work in the "elitist" characterization twice.

All this within just a few hours after the Huffington Post item percolated. Imagine what the barrage will be like as it takes root.

Obama, as mentioned, offered his initial response to this new furor while campaigning in Terre Haute. Here are the pertinent parts:

"I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how’re you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What’s going on there?  We hear that it's hard for some working class people to get behind you’re campaign. I said, 'Well look, they’re frustrated and for good reason.  Because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas.  They’ve seen their economies collapse.  They have lost their jobs.  They have lost their pensions.  They have lost their healthcare.

"And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said 'We’re going to make your community better.  We’re going to make it right' and nothing ever happens.  And of course they’re bitter.  Of course they’re frustrated.  You would be too. In fact many of you are.  Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur.  The same thing has happened all across the country.  Nobody is looking out for you.  Nobody is thinking about you.  And so people end up -- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington. So I made this statement -- so, here’s what's rich.  Sen. Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania.  You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’  John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that?  How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

"Out of touch?  Out of touch?  I mean, John McCain -- it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch?  Sen. Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch?  No, I’m in touch.  I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois.  People are fed up. They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America."

All well and good. But we're betting not nearly enough.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credits: Orange County Fair (Lucy and Desi); Associated Press (Obama)

Comments () | Archives (103)

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TO THE MEDIA: Don't even try to spin these remarks.

Look at the venue where they were delivered - an audience of upscale California supporters.

Obama has revealed his essential elitist nature - he's arrogant, cynical and when we consider Michelle Obama's statements - most of us average americans will "get" exactly what he meant the first time.

from swimming freestyle:
"Barack Obama is a remarkably eloquent man and turning into a remarkably capable politician. But if the Senator believes it's smart to insult voters from a state critical to your success, he's hit one of the worst false notes yet in his campaign.

Yeah, I know what his campaign said, and that may have been what he meant. But a sophisticated candidate doesn't refer to voters in language that can be construed as derogatory or insulting. Obama asserted Pennsylvania voters are bitter and so simple and lacking in maturity and intelligence that they address their frustration by clinging to primitive and reactionary crutches rather than addressing their problems in constructive ways.

It's divisive. And not the way to attract the voters you need most."

Perhaps Mr. Frederick would like to see Wolf Blitzer's take on the story during his Situation Room this evening. The guests were all in agreement that McCain and Clinton were wrong to critize Sen Obama about the statement, that what Sen Obama said represented a sizeable section of the electorate who think that their government and those leading it in DC do not care about them, and that to call Sen Obama an elitist after having been raised by a single mom/grandparents in an apartment is foolish. I do think it is a game changer -- game over for Clinton and McCain who have just demonstrated how out of touch they are to the problems and the frustrations affected the people of this country (what 81% of the people who think the country is heading seriously in the wrong direction are all happy and merry about their futures? Get a grip!).

Barack gave a fitting reply. This guy is a gem.


See what CNN had to say

Moderator, pleaseeeeee post my comment.

I find it strange that Obama's critics say he slams small town America by saying they are bitter about some things. Hell. It's the truth Plus there was much more to his speech than a ten second bite. Even in dismissing Obama, Hillary Even said she gets angry. Also watch the young men behind her shake their heads when she claims people aren't bitter. No need for Obama to appologize for telling the truth and we,the real people love it. Right on Barack !

So, what's wrong with calling angry people "angry"? What's wrong with calling frustrated people "frustrated"? What's wrong with calling embittered people "bitter"?

People in Pennsylvania, and all across America, are angry, frustrated, and bitter because of people like Hillary and McCain, who are now hypocritically feigning umbrage at Obama's factually accurate description of small-town America's sentiments.

Americans are "positive" and "optimistic" with a never-ending war in Iraq that's siphoning off billions of dollars that could have been infused into an economy sliding into a recession and people losing their jobs and their homes?

If ever people are positive and optimistic, it's because they see hope for change in Barack Obama. But, not because of the devastation wrought about by 8 years of the Bush Administration. And definitely not because of Hillary and McCain who offer more of the same same.

This blog item is typical of the very superficial, insultingly prodding tone that has poisoned modern poltical "reporting" and rendred it useless to any thinking peson.

Rather than do your jobs as analysts -- discussing the MERITS of Obamas comment (the purely incontestable fact that many middle-class Americans, as a result of exactly what Obama says, truly have been left behind, and truly ARE bitter about it, to the point they act out, often against their own interests, in illogical ways -- you huff and puff and salivate over the coming storm of controversy you just can't wait to see -- no matter its merits. To wit:

"All this within just a few hours after the Huffington Post item percolated. Imagine what the barrage will be like as it takes root."

Yeah: Imagine! Or, you could act like adults and actually examine the merits of the issue.

It's embarrassing. The solution to the problem of failing newspaper journalism is not to emulate the worst of blogdom. But you're headed full steam in the same direction as the Drudge's of the world.

And no, I'm not an Obama fan. Just someone looking for political reporting that doesn't appear to have been cribbed from some 13-year-old's text-message archive. The fact that a half-dozen paid slime merchants issued press releases about something doesn't make it so. Maybe you should stick with the naked ladies in the sunglasses. It's a story with more legs.

Umm... What exactly is the problem with that? He's telling the truth. Those people in those small towns, they have fallen through the cracks -- America has forgotten about them. They don't want to be told that they're positive and energized, they want WORK. They want opportunities, and I'm confused as to why saying that aloud would be a bad thing.

I've been waiting for this blog to get on this topic today.

When is the Huffington Post but boiler plate observations than real news?

It's a blog and it reflects the dumbed down commentary to blame, castigate and find guilty subjects in news these days. Then its been spread around as a substitute for thoughtful news.

Google does a poor job at this, spreading around blog topics to more readers! Some dubious blogs make big headline splash.

"Attack on Small- Town America" is an uncalled for title discussing what Obama said.

Was it an attack on Obama for Gov. Rendell to say whites in Pennsylvania won't vote for black candidate? It was Rendell's opinion and he's a Hillary supporter.

Obama's claim some are bitter and he's right! The bitter are overboard people trying to win favor in state legislation. It's guns, gay marriage and tax revolter's!

Every gun collector of more than a couple of rifles and shotgun, is angry at someone, something and ready to defend their rights with a firearm.

Reasonable people buy guns for self protection, home security and hunting. Others buy arsenals to stock pile getting ready for an armed revolution.

When the state I'm in is arguing people need automatic rifles because legislators have nothing else to do except the paranoid gun lobby's bidding, something is wrong.

The gun will never be banned, but we can reasonably ban certain types of weapons from public sale! The M-16, AR-15, UZI, AK-47 those kinds of rifles made for wars.

Is a handgun with a 32 round clip necessary?

That's capable of causing much collateral damage to innocent victims in an area.

People are bitter but they can smile and be neighborly at the same time. Who is to blame when a corporate every year asks for reduction of its taxes, then moves manufacturing out of the community. Workers lose jobs and cities are littered with abandoned warehouses and empty mega store buildings to rot!

Huge pieces of land for corporates now having less property taxes from it when the business closes.

Jobs lost and depressed taxes being collected in an area, pawn shops, check cashing and liqour stores spring up.

Politician after politician promise better times and they don't happen locally in some communities.

I don't blame Obama challenging conversation, especially at the same time Hillary was lying about Sniper Fire!

She's been lying about NAFTA, her own records as First Lady show she was a supporter.

She says Pennsylvanians need her, she's lying about that!

This is just a wedge issue to choose a side, the conversation will solve nothing!

Obama said his defense, but media, Clinton's campaign and McCain's won't believe him.

Again, full context of what Obama said instead of snippet and commentary from someone else as new sources is required.

Many of public and some media only love the sound bites!

All well and good? You cannot spin this. He said these people were were gun-toting, holy rolling racists, but only because they feel bad about what the clinton and bushes have done? come on... the story has legs and rightly so.

Cristine Black if you had read all of his comments from last Sunday rather than the snipet quoted by the Times you would have read that Sen Obama specifically said people in PA ARE NOT racists. He said the reason working class folks are having a hard time supporting him is because they have grown skeptical with politicans who promise change because they have been lied to about that for 30 years. So please stop trying to put words in his mouth. As to the gun and religion comments, Sen Obama explained that people have so long ago given up on thier gov't doing anything for them that they now only vote when affects things that are close to them -- like the right to have a gun. He did not say their was anything wrong with that.

It's fascinating to watch this drama pressed forward by the MSM and Beltway insiders Clinton and McCain.

I think Obama is right on, and I suspect most voters do as well; this drama is a product of Beltway insiders and the MSM, including LATimes writers, being out of touch, just as they were during the Clinton impeachment, etc.

I hope Obama sticks with his defense, as I suspect he will, because he can't abandon such a fundamental position.

Though a week in national politics can be an eon, I think this may be very much a watershed moment, precisely because the MSM and Beltway buddies are as much an immovable object as Obama, in this fundamental regard, must be an unstoppable force.

Anybody who spins all this as the frank and constructive Obama has no clue. The voters in PA have plenty in common with other Americans such as being pissed at China's cheatin currency, troubled health care, etc, and then Obama slaps em with a totally uncalled for categorization. I predict Obama is screwed.

I don't see a thing wrong with what Senator Obama said.
If Clinton and McCain don't think working class Americans are angry, frustated, and bitter, let them continue to work to keep America the way it is n ow and in a few years, watch the masses decend upon elitists like them and tear them from limb to limb. We expect our government to support us in middle America the way we have supported it and we are tire of being short changed. Keep it up,Barack, and don't let Clinton, McCain, or bias news media stop you from telling the truth! It's quite apparent to me that they cannot find legitimate faults with you so they will continue to distort anything you say and assume the voters cannot see through it.
Hillary, get Mark "Columbia free trade lobbyist" Penn off you advisor staff! As for John "i don't know nothin' about the e c o n o m y " McCain, 'nuff said.

Obama has said "We are our brother's keeper." Hardly the values of an exclusionary elitist.

Besides that, we are going to hear and see more and more about values, about empowering the downtrodden, about ethics, and social programs to bring into inclusion those groups left out.

Am glad to see him respond to the campaigning critics on this. Am glad to see him breathe a little fire on it.

Read the entire statement. Get the context for what he was saying. I am an Obama backer and at first was dismayed when I heard of this quote. Just like I was with the Wright clips. But you gotta look at the whole thing.

And what Obama said was brilliant and brave and once again shows strength and the leadership that we need. The emperor has no clothes. Life is not a TV show with problems solved in 22 minutes. It is not just a sound bite. Let's have a discussion, America.

And stop believing it is all black or white. The world is gray. Nothing is a simple as the traditional politicians want you to believe. They want to make it simple for you, so you don't have to think too long or too hard, because then you are much easier to control.

Go to a small town. You think they aren't bitter when the $25 an hour factory job has been gone for years? You think they believe Washington as it currently is constructed cares about them? What have they done for them in the past 16 years? But Washington wants their vote every four years so they push their buttons with Gun rights and religion and gay marriage and illegal immigration and it's easy to understand and it's a quick fix and makes you feel good. But nothing changes. Obama wants to help us change. Thank you, Obama.

Here is the full quote:

OBAMA: So, it depends on where you are, but I think it's fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people are most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre...they're misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to 'white working-class don't wanna work -- don't wanna vote for the black guy.' That's...there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today - kind of implies that it's sort of a race thing.
Here's how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long. They feel so betrayed by government that when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn't buy it. And when it's delivered by -- it's true that when it's delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, then that adds another layer of skepticism.

But -- so the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What is the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- to close tax loopholes, you know, roll back the tax cuts for the top 1 percent. Obama's gonna give tax breaks to middle-class folks and we're gonna provide health care for every American.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. 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 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.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you'll find is, is that people of every background -- there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you'll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing.

One should be aware of the fact that the truth hurts sometimes! It comes with a maturity and Obama has not got as yet. He should not have stated the mental agony that people have in the Midwest so plainly that it is insensitive. He has ideas and dreams like all of us and we relate well when he speaks; but it is a little jarring to hear that he and he alone can make a "change"; it is too arrogant. He dismisses the Clinton Presidency likens it to W's. He stumbles! He lacks a lot and has to learn a lot. Hillary is the answer; she is politically mature and will un-do all the mess created by W. She will make a great President. She will make us proud once again.

Was this said at the fundraiser at San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty's mansion?

One Obama supporter in this blog states that Barack is telling the truth and "...we, the real people love it." In other words, those who don't think Obama is telling the truth are NOT the "real people". Nothing elitist about that, eh?

Let's suppose for the sake of argument that Obama is wrong.

I think he's right -- people in poor towns would like good jobs and good educators to come back. I think politicians, especially Republicans, who don't really care much about rural citizens have been exploiting their frustrations and prejudices for years. I think McCain and Clinton are desperate to grab headlines. Camp Clinton OUTRAGED again -- Oh my! Maybe they are even MORALLY OUTRAGED! Maybe they should replay some Alberto Gonzales or Scooter Libby testimony and place their outrage where it belongs. On the other side, Schmidt found it BREATHTAKING! Gleason was APPALLED! Schmidt obviously needs to take more breaths, and Gleason needs to contemplate how he'd feel if he were really insulted, like if someone hung a noose at his school. That's truly appalling. But I digress.

So let's suppose that it isn't a long track record of political trickery that has caused small town America to vote a little bit funny when it comes to who would actually represent their interests -- We know that small town America doesn't have a lot of lobbyists and CEO's, nor a lot of Wall Street bankers, nor even a lot of oil speculators. If it has wounded veterans, people who need better paid teachers, and better health care, and strong labor unions, then it's pretty clear they ought to be voting for Democrats. So what IS the explanation for why they vote Republican, against their own interests, if there is a better explanation than Obama's?

Are they just poorly informed? Too afraid to think for themselves? Too entrenched in tired old political habits? Just plain stupid? How are any of these explanations superior to Obama's? Obama's remarks are actually an expression of faith in poor people's intelligence and ability. A Republican looks at the rural community and sees dopes he can try to dupe. Obama looks at the rural poor, and like the inner city poor, he wonders where the system went wrong and started to fail these people, and what it would take to return to a fair playing field. Why is this hard for people to see?

You can't fix something if you are afraid of the facts (GW Bush never learned this lesson). If rural America wants to be prosperous again, it needs to help elect a Democrat. It does no good to say our small town shares the "small-town" values of the Republicans so we help color the state red, then we have to sit for four or six or eight years while all the country's prosperity flows to the top 1%, to the people the Republicans really care about. And then your town's best young men and women are sent off to fight the wrong war. The reality is that small town values and big city values are more similar than people have been led to think. Obama is just trying to help people figure that out for themselves.

I really don't understand what all the fuss is about --- except maybe that the Clinton and McCain camp have tried to blow it all up out of proportion. I really think that the only reason that this is getting any press is Clinton's crying about media bias and that this is a poor attempt to show how unbiased the media is. I agree w/other posters --- focus on the fact that yes, there are a lot of frustrated, embittered people in small town America because Washington has turned a blind eye to what is happening in their area. What can be done to help their economies so that they can continue their way of life?

I find it somewhat ironic that Barack would criticize rural America for having "antipathy to people who aren't like them" by using antipathy to describe people who aren't like him.

I find it somewhat ironic that Barack would criticize rural America for their anti-trade sentiment when he claims to be NAFTA's strongest opponent.

I find it somewhat ironic that Barack would criticize rural America for clinging to their religion during troubled times while he clings to his pastor "What I value most about Pastor Wright is not his day-to-day political advice," Obama said. "He's much more of a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible and that I'm not losing myself in some of the hype and hoopla and stress that's involved in national politics."

I find it somewhat ironic that Barack would criticize rural America for clinging to their legal guns used for hunting and family protection while ignoring illegal urban guns used to commit crimes.

I find it disgusting that Barack would claim that rural America is "anti-immigrant" when he knows full well that they're actually anti-Illegal immigrant and want secure borders just like Barack does.

So Obama thinks small towns ( white people) are filled with gun toting bitter people who are antiimagration (racest bigots) and who imbrace religion ( Christianity, not Islam) .........Obama's statements go far beyound being about people who are bitter.

Obama is a jerk and these comments from him are just the beginning.

He is an elitist. He attended the most expensive high school in Hawaii, check out I love when media refers to his poor upbringing.

Michelle Obama said she cannot make ends meet on her $370,000 a year Univ of Chicago salary.

I'm bitter about that.

NoBama, we cannot trust him, he is scary and a fade (like the hula hoop).

We can trust Hillary Clinton.

I haven't been much of an Obama supporter--until now. He gets it. Rather than dividing people into simplistic categories of good/bad, liberal/conservative, racist/non-racist, he understands that context and experience shape attitudes. Rather than attacking him, the media should be welcoming the return to intelligent public discussion after years of Bush-Clinton-Bush Fox News insult and condescension.


1. Which "successive" administrations?
2. Not a good idea historically to criticize your Democratic predecessor -- I guess the fact that he is the spouse of your opponent must make it tough but where are hope and change ?
3. Jobs were up in Pennsylvania during the Clinton administration, Barack. Facts are not your forte.
4. Using disparaging words to discuss the middle/working classes in front of affluent moneyed investors/backers is really not a wise move. The "folks" in Pennsylvania understand that the media assault is being funded by people outside of Pennsylvania, but really, to be so in your face is foolhardly.
5. To use the word "clinging" when referring to matters of faith coming from you is really ironic, don't you think? It brings the problematic Reverand Wright back to center stage.

I am not an Obama suppporter, but even I can see right through this one.

Instead of analysis, your readers get bits of negative rumor-drivel that is passed on by you, along with every other mainstream outlet. One of the main reasons that the media has lost credibility--and is a 19th-century dinosaur fast on the road to exctinction-- is the awareness by media consumers of the "herd" mentality of the press. Why should we lend creedence to what you report, when you report and blog the same junk all the others are reporting

By the way, don't you people know how to look at things in context. The man was talking about the atmosphere of electability for a black man in small town Pennsylvania.

I have not only read the full text of Senator Obama's remarks, I have listened to the audio tape and read the full text while listening to his verbal comments. Those of you who keep professing that Obama is being misunderstood and that his comments are being taken out of context should do the same.

I do not care what his intent was or whether Obama was right or wrong in his comments. The reality is he was foolish to utter them as he did, where he did.

If he is so "right on" with the truth, then I have a suggestion. Go to PA, WVA, KY (states I know well) and try to sell your ideas to voters in these states using the same language Obama used in San Francisco. Let's test the theory of Senator Obama's wisdom of prophecy.

He spoke out of turn; his words were flawed. I don't care how the liberal media wants to spin and protect him from himself. Obama made a major mistake, and he will take the justifiable heat for it.

Oh, and for the record. I have spent most of my entire life living and working in major urban centers (NYC/SF (yes)/Miami/London/Tokyo). Also lived and worked "en bushe" in West Africa, as well as in the hills of KY. I have graduate credentials and teach comparative government at a local community college. I have been registered as an independent for years and vote accordingly. My husband and I now live in a small ranching/farming community in WY.

What Obama said was foolish and insulting and in no way accurately describes the complexity of what exists in any rural community today in the USA. It reflects his lack of in-depth understanding of problems beyond his experience. Ah, but who needs experience, when you have such superior "judgment."

What Obama got wrong is, it's not "anti-immigrant" we are upset with, it's ILLEGAL immigration.

It's not "anti-trade" we are upset with, it's that free trade is not FAIR trade!

Citizens are bitter, they are fed up with tax dollars spent on illegals, and sent to corrupt foreign countries, the U.N., that would love to see our sovereignty disappear.....

We know Obama has signed off on with the U.N. to take more of our dollars to give to foreign countries....namely Africa.

We know George Soros and the U.N. would love our borders to be trampled with more and more illegals.

Obama, McCain, & Hillary will never pull out of the U.N., and will do and say, anything to get more $$$ and votes.

Obama's Terre Haute speech hit this ball out of the park. When the Clinton campaign is sending around critiques by Grover Norquist, you know they've reached the end times. Elitist? When Obama talks about 25 years of disappointed expectations in the Rust Belt, he knows what he's talking about. He started his career going door-to-door in a community on Chicago's South Side that had just seen its manufacturing jobs move away, and he's spent his political life talking with, and representing, exactly these kinds of communities, these kinds off working people who have not had a fair shake and who ARE angry. He knows them and their concerns 1000 times better than Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Lou Dobbs does. The people being condescending are the political and media hacks who are selling the same old combination of happy talk and divide-and-conquer that has perpetuated the very situation Obama was highlighting in his remarks and his speech.

Oboma is going DOWN. He may get the nom but he is proving to be a disaster. Republicans have learned that no matter how bleak the future may look, you can never underestimate the incompetence of the Democrap party.
Mcain in a walk.......

Umm... What exactly is the problem with that? He's telling the truth. Those people in those small towns, they have fallen through the cracks -- America has forgotten about them. They don't want to be told that they're positive and energized, they want WORK. They want opportunities, and I'm confused as to why saying that aloud would be a bad thing.

Excelent remark to those who took Obama's words out of contest. They are eager to make him stumple and end up giving him free publilcity when he explains it.

Spinmisters, cease. Bitter and frustrated may be a poor choice of words but are not problematic for Obama's gaffe. "... they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them" is problematic. Don't you get it? He is calling small town Americans racists, bigoted, hicks. In an unscripted moment he reveals his snobbery. Elitism won't win him an election. He just a plain old pol peddling hope.

In the small town where I live in Indiana, people are tired, fed-up and bitter over losing their jobs. Another major business shut-down in our town and we are angry about losing our jobs. I admire Senator Obama for being real and facing the harsh realities of unemployment. My question is - Does Senator Clinton want us to bottle up our bitter and unhappy feelings? I don't want to deny the way the feel and I don't think we can bottle up these feelings. We have to face them head-on. This country has been denying the awful realities of war in Iraq for too long. President Bush is in denial, and I want a president who honestly faces how people feel. I agree with Senator Obama - I am clinging to my religion and frustration - because it's all I have right now. We need to have a president who is honest about the tough economic realities out there. I can't deny the way I feel.

These sick minds try to make us believe that Barack Obama was criticizing the small town's people. Absolutely not. He is with them. He is explaining why they are frustrated. He is explaining the injustice that had befallen them by shipping their jobs overseas. They lost hope that no one will ever care about them. Obama will change Washington way of thinking to be "American first".

I think the fuss here is not that he referred to people as angry or bitter, but that he said that their opinions on crucial issues are driven by emotion rather than principal.

I think that, back when these communities were doing well, you would still have found considerable support for controlling the borders, not regulating gun ownership, etc. etc.

The idea that middle-class American is just a bundle of emotions without a single brain between them, now that's elitist. Intellectual elitism has got nothing to do with money or how well off your parents weren't.

When Obama makes a statement, he is excused because apparently, what he said is basically true. When Ferraro makes a statement that is basically true, she is pilloried for being divisive.


Senator Obama is a political genius that understands the frustration of working class Americans. Yes, we are bitter and it is time for the working class to have a voice in Washington! Honestly, it is obvious that the elitists want Senator Obama out of the race so they can continue to keep the disparity gap between the rich and poor.

According to the tax records, can Senator Obama take $15,000,000.000 from his bank account and “LOAN” it to his campaign? No, but Senator Clinton did and took it back even though she had millions to spare! Now that’s elitism!

Obama speaks the truth, thank God for him!

People who believe that obama remarks are inapproate or either intellectual ignorant or just part of the extreme right that has this country in a downward trend. What amazing to me is the media, with some excepts, to save their jobs ,go with the flow which is causing harm to the physic of America and the world. The world need a brilent leader like Barack.

Let's turn the tables and assume another candidate made insulting remarks about those residing in large cities. I don't think those trying to brush aside Obama's remarks would join in the chorus then. Obama said something just plain stupid, offensive and insulting about a signigicant part of the US population in the context of a political race . That casts doubt about his maturity and judgment. He claims to want to elevate the level of discussion, but his conduct belies the claim and when he thinks he's in a safe venue, vents prejudices to cater to the audience. Obama has shown his true stripes, he's just another politician who will insult and demean Americans when he thinks it to his advantage. Get down off your high horse Mr. Obama, and join the rest of the politiicians in the gutter.

I didn't get the impression that he was criticizing working-class people. Let it go.


Bi-racial child of a single, poor teen-aged Mother...IS ELITIST? What a JOKE! No, MSM, the PUBLIC IS BITTER and ANGRY! Watch the polls after THIS! WE'LL show ya. Clinton and McCain are PLAYING OLD- STYLE POLITICS, plain and simple. THIS Election is TOO important for Voters to fall for THAT! We are smarter than you think...Watch...

He said People have given up hope for anything better, after decades of broken promises, so they vote according to what they know...gun rights, etc....something concrete...he said it w/understanding and compassion, explaining WHY he was having trouble winning over these voters...saying it WASN'T because of race, but a cynical view of Politicians...and Washington...he is RIGHT!

HA HA HA HA! Clinton supporters just keep grabbing at anything, saying "this is it, this is it" and Obama just keeps on steamrolling Clinton. Obama's telling the truth about the situation while Clinton's just saying whatever it is she thinks will get her nominated. Barack's the teflon candidate, this won't stick past lunch.

I think Obama is being extraordinarily generous in his assessment, saying in effect- No. These small town folks are bigots and narrow-minded ideologues they're just bitter and frustrated and we should feel compassion for them.

I guess Hanoi Jane and gov. Judas and the hate speech pastors all applauded as their elitist hero again let out his true nature.The company this guy keeps,
his promise to raise taxes on familys earning $75,000. , his less than stellar patriotism and now downright disdain for average American's values will
hopefully trigger angry and frustrated sentiment towards this obviously tainted and undesirable junior Illinois senator. Anyone want a fox in charge of
our chicken coop ?

from swimming freestyle:

"This video is exactly how Obama should have raised the issue: In the environment these voters live and with an appropriate anger. Rural working class voters have gotten the shaft. They have every right to be frustrated and even bitter about what's happened to them.

Obama now finds himself having to address the issue defensively, Unfortunately, the issue will now likely be obscured by the hysterical anti-Obama rants by the Clintons and McCains. Obama gave them that gift when he spoke in San Francisco last weekend."

Obama is sympathetic and understanding. Unlike nearly every TV pundit, he was not being patronizing. He was responding to the condescending picture that the media is constantly painting of Pennsylvania, a picture initially created and fueled by Clinton goon James Carville's wisecracks. His point is that he understands why a variety of people are frustrated, distrustful and resentful. They should be! They've been ignored and ripped off and haven't been able to count on outside help (past administrations), so they're very protective of what remains of their own resources and their families and communities. Obama understands this. He's defending them!
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

Clinton and McCain will say and do ANYTHING to keep voters from asking them the tough questions. Such as: "What exactly have you jokers been doing in Washington when you were elected to work for ALL of us, not just your big campaign contributors?"

Yes, we're BITTER about politics and government, and we look forward to Obama changing the game.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
Republican Politics
Democratic Politics



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