Monday, April 14, 2008

Who's elite?

When I logged on to Memeorandum a couple days ago, the lead headline (from Powerline or Little Green Footballs or some other big deal conservative blog) was something like 'Is this the end of the Obama candidacy?'

As if that one statement about small town voters was that important. It is too bad he limited it to small towns. Downtrodden urban residents have every reason to be bitter, too. Of course, it's not the choice of the word so much as equating religion with guns and anti-immigrant sentiment; but his later explanations certainly clarified that he meant that they vote on those issues rather than the important economic ones. With help from the constant feeding of those issues from the pundit/blogocracy.

Some useful commentaries about this use of the 'elite' charge being thrown around: Robert Reich:
Bitter? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And as much as people like Russert, Carville, Matalin, Schrum, and Murphy want to divert our attention from what’s really happening; as much as HRC and McCain seek to make political hay out of choices of words that can be spun cynically by the mindless spinners of the old politics; as much as demagogues on the right and left continue to try to channel the cumulative frustrations of Americans into a politics of resentment – all these attempts will, I hope, prove futile.

Joel Achenbach: Who's the Elitist?
Becoming an elitist is not something I worry about. It's more like my life's ambition.
...What's interesting about this is that Obama, in his stump speeches, sometimes talks about how his wife urged him to run for the presidency while they were still almost normal -- that is, while they still knew what it was like to have to deal with plumbing problems at home, and pay off student loans, and all the other ordinary stuff that doesn't happen when you live in a politician's bubble.

Siva Vaidhyanathan: Why Hillary Should Quit:
Now, my anger over radio ads had just about abated when Clinton launched her shameful attack on Obama's supposed "elitism" and distance from the the concerns of blue-collar (what American media figures say when they can't get themselves to say "white") voters. That was the last straw for me.

Dave Winer:
I doubt if much good can come from it, and because my guy, Obama, was, imho, wrong. By his own standards, the comment was wrong, and I hope he gets why.
To equate geography with intellect is as wrong as to equate it with race, ethnicity, gender or age.

And then there's Bill Kristol's column equating Obama's statement with Marx's 'opium of the people'...Andrew Sullivan on that...
...economic distress does often in human history express itself in more rigid forms of religion, more reactionary cultural identification, less tolerance of "the other."...large swathes of human history have shown this to be true - and perfectly arguable without any materialist understanding of religion...

Let's hope that some of Obama's other speeches get read or listened to. Like the one he gave today to the Alliance of American Manufacturers.

(Updated:) Oh, yes, and one more, from a small-town newspaper editor in Tennessee (Newscoma) on The Disenfranchised Voter:
I didn’t see anything wrong with him talking about bitter, disenfranchised voters in Pennsylvania. His comments, although not the most well-thought out when spoken, does hit on a very crucial element about people are hanging on to the familiar because they are tired of struggling. Regardless of what one might thing, we live in hard times. Hell, Bill Clinton did a version of it himself back in 1992 and you didn’t see people going ape-poo.



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