« HUD Secretary Jackson - Human Metaphor | Main | Thomas Frank - Not Even Close to 100% Wrong »

April 14, 2008

Comments

My interpretation of Obama's statement was not that economic hardship was causing people to become religious, but that a collapse of faith in the ability of government to produce economic change was causing people to vote on religious issues instead.

That is, if neither the Republican nor the Democrat will do anything to help you keep your job, you may as well vote for the one that will oppose gay marriage and help you keep your guns. He's saying that economic issues such as employment and health care are of greater importance to people than gay marriage or flag burning amendments, but that they've lost any hope in politicians doing anything meaningful to influence the economic issues.

Whether he's accurate or not, I wouldn't care to guess; I'm not from rural Pennsylvania.

I was going to say what Damien Neil said, but not as well. At any rate, the part of your post that furrowed my brow was the idea that Obama was claiming that people were being "driven" to religion - and you put "drive" into quotes. Did he say "drive" at some point and I missed it?

I'm not sure I understand the fuss the conservative blogosphere is making over Obama being snooty. So what?!? The guy's a politician and because of his profession he should probably be more well-educated, well-cultured, well-traveled, etc. than your average person in middle America. I want to see a prez that will provide foreign policy leadership and who isn't afraid to confront special interest groups that want to get their grubby mitts on the American tax dollar. I don't necessarily want to elect a guy I'd like to get a beer with at the local bar.

BTW, I'm not voting for Obama because he seems to be promising with his political rhetoric that the federal government will solve all of the problems of the American citizen.

More than 80% of the current US population live in metropolitan areas of 100,000 people or more. I think that small town issues are simply not really important anymore to most Americans, who did in fact grow up in cities with real income disparity. Small town issues' only real importance is in how they are still held up as an ideal, even though that kind of life went the way of the Dodo for almost everyone a long time ago.
Obama's point was simply that people have been voting against their economic interest for years, and the resulting decay in quality of life has driven them to look for areas of stability and look for scapegoats. Religion, guns, immigration, and social issues (abortion, homosexuals) are just the kinds of stability and scapegoats that lower income people desire. His point is not a knock against religion, it's a description of people who are bitter about life dealing them a crappy hand, Republicans that prefer tax breaks for people who can make "donations" (bribes), and Democrats that have been too concerned about not-losing (and thus triangulating away too many principles) that they forgot what they were fighting for.

See: What's the matter with Kansas? on Slacktivist, March 2006. Good thing Fred Clark isn't running for President, eh?

(Sarcasm. I'd love it if he did, but would hate to see how the Republican attack machine would gear itself up to shred him if he were so unwise...)

What Damien Neil said, but slightly different. Back in 2004, when he was a Senator-elect, Obama described religion and hunting in terms of rural cultural traditions that increased in importance as other aspects of life became less certain. He said almost precisely what publius said: "religion in these communities is a social and cultural phenomenon."

I'm not voting for Obama because he seems to be promising with his political rhetoric that the federal government will solve all of the problems of the American citizen.

You're planning instead to vote for the guy who seems to be promising that the federal government will solve all the problems of the Iraqi citizen?

I think I'd challenge the notion that obama was solely talking about the rural or small town poor. Your point about the megachurches seems wrong, to me, because it is not the case that the suburban and exurban people who join these megachurches are above the financial dislocations and anxieties of modern america--far from it. Read "stiffed" or any other book that runs from reagan to now and you will see that the anxiety of the middle class that they, or their children, will fall directly into the non working poor is quite high even among the temporary upper class or middle class that we prefer to think of as secure. PATCO, anyone? People cling to community as community is failing them, and to religion for a number of reasons including fear of lots of other stuff. And that includes the upper class and the middle class.

aimai

You're planning instead to vote for the guy who seems to be promising that the federal government will solve all the problems of the Iraqi citizen?

Is that really what McCain "seems to be promising," CharleyCarp?

Clinton is right that Obama's statement reveals a fundamental weakness as a candidate: a lack of experience with working class Americans. It's the same reason why traditional black leaders seemed slow to warm to him. It's also why Obama draws his greatest support from wealthy, well-educated Dems & why many wealthy, well-educated Republicans are drawn to him despite differences in policy. He's "one of us".

The elitism argument (which for some reason only applies to "liberal" Democrats even though there are plenty of arrogant, millionaire Republicans in office) is bogus on its face.

I know nothing about plumbing. If I were choosing a plumber to make major repairs in my house, would I not choose the best plumber I could find - one that was rightfully proud of his knowledge and experience? I would. When the choice is for President, should I select the plumber because he is a nice guy I would like to have a beer with and has a great bowling score? I think not.

We have come to the point when any candidate who can speak grammatically and in well-formed paragraphs is automatically elitist (if a Democrat). We have a President who probably has a great bowling score, and speaks like an average high school dropout - how's that working for us?

Good and thoughtful post, publius.

Clinton is right that Obama's statement reveals a fundamental weakness as a candidate: a lack of experience with working class Americans.

When was the last time any candidate for federal public office packed a lunchbox?

Is there anyone in the Senate who doesn't look at working class people, and working class issues, through the blinders of their own privilege, or other than as a political puzzle to be solved?

How the hell has Hillary Clinton, of all people, become the spokesperson for hardscrabble America?

A 'lack of experience with working class Americans' seems like a weakness all three candidates, and in fact most elected members of the federal government, share.

Thanks -

Is that really what McCain "seems to be promising," CharleyCarp?

Isn't he promising that the US will stay in Iraq forever and ever and ever, Von? Who is responsible for the US occupation of Iraq, if not the US federal government? Isn't McCain making claims that the US occupation will solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens? I thought his rationale for wanting to continue the occupation was some kind of lie like that, rather than an admission that it was all about not wanting to admit in public that George W. Bush broke Iraq and smashed up the US military with the full cooperation of the Republicans in Congress, including of course McCain himself?

We have a President who probably has a great bowling score, and speaks like an average high school dropout

And who is the product of about an elite a background as is available in the US.

George Bush might seem like a guy you'd like to have a beer with, but none of us will be receiving any invitations to come watch the game at the Bush household this weekend.

Trust me on this.

Thanks -

russell: How the hell has Hillary Clinton, of all people, become the spokesperson for hardscrabble America?

"Rocky, I had to remind myself, isn't about winning and losing a simple, single contest. It isn't about race. It's about an individual surviving with his integrity and his dignity intact when the whole of society, including himself, is set up to think of him as a joke and a tool and doesn't really care about what or who he is except to the degree he is useful." - Lance Mannion

"The Clinton-bashers already have such a high opinion of their own self-worth, they can’t possibly understand Hillary Clinton’s appeal to the working class, or why “Rocky” resonates with her and her supporters. I’ll tell you why:

She sees them.

She sees them, and not like a particularly distasteful bug under a microscope, or as a bunch of bigots (as convenient as that might be for some to think).

This woman who has spent her entire life in public service connects with working people. Well, why wouldn’t she? They know life is hard and courage means to get up every day and keep trying.

Sometimes showing up is the only victory they’ll ever know.

They know college graduates look down on them. They know there’s a whole world out there they’ll never touch. They see those well-to-do people sometimes, in the expensive seats at the ballpark or on TV, but their lives don’t intersect much.

Hillary Clinton talks to them as if they matter, when they haven’t mattered for a very long time." - Suburban Guerrilla

Isn't he promising that the US will stay in Iraq forever and ever and ever, Von?

No.

Who is responsible for the US occupation of Iraq, if not the US federal government?

No.

Isn't McCain making claims that the US occupation will solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens?

No.

I thought his rationale for wanting to continue the occupation was some kind of lie like that, rather than an admission that it was all about not wanting to admit in public that George W. Bush broke Iraq and smashed up the US military with the full cooperation of the Republicans in Congress, including of course McCain himself?

I have no idea what this means.

She sees them

Look, I'm not going to wade in on the Clinton vs Obama thing, other than to say that Clinton, like almost every other person in the Senate of the US, is not a working class person. It's nothing against her, but it's also not a mantle that I think she can, in good faith, claim.

As far as seeing or listening to working class folks, I don't think her credentials there are any stronger than Obama's. Again, nothing against her, it's just not a claim I think she can make.

And that's all I have to say about it. Full stop.

Thanks -

I see Obama's commentary on bitter voters as...

If 'bitter' subtract engaging your government on economic issues

and not...

If 'bitter' substitute religion for engaging your government on economic issues

The only thing elitest about Obama's comments has been the response from people who can't imagine you can be BOTH religious and engaged at the same time.

The 2nd Amendment part of the Obama comments were what was awkward. I think he was conflating the 'civic religion' of the Constitution with religion religion. The 2nd Amendment is a lot easier for most people to understand then the tax code or how the NAFTA works. You can 'cling to' "the right to bear arms" because it's not subject to the muddle of crap you get out of Congress every day. You saw the reverse on the left when librarians were the first people to stand up to Bush after 9/11. "Freedom of speech" is easy to understand and it's the favorite virtue of the left. Security minded conservatives have their own favorite amendments to cling to under stress.

A charge of elitism might stick if Obama had suggested people drop their security blanket of religion or gun rights but he said nothing of the kind. He just wants more engagement on the issues of economic justice from everybody. That's not elitism, it's populism.

Von, it's (a) a joke and (b) just as true as the claim re: Obama's promises. I.e., not really. But there is something there, what with the extent "conservatives" seem to be comfortable with US micromanagement of various facets of Iraqi life.

If anything, churchgoers — at least in my town — tended to have relatively higher incomes

Not disputing how things are in your town, publius, but evidently things vary quite a lot in the deep South. Not that Kentucky is necessarily the deep South, but "South" doesn't always denote a cardinal direction. In the part of rural Alabama that I lived in, pretty much everyone went to church. No doubt the wealthier people tended to attend the high-status churches, but there was always a selection of lower-budged churches scattered across the landscape. They were so pervasive that you stopped noticing them after a while. There are a huge number of churches in town, but there are also thousands of small rural churches.

Huntsville was the only place I've ever lived where the church section of the yellow pages outweighted the attorney section by quite a fair margin.

Von: No.

Really? Can you point me where McCain said when he planned to start withdrawing the US occupation from Iraq, or even where he made a commitment to ending the US occupation of Iraq if he gets elected?

No.

I'm sorry, von: the question "Who is responsible for the US occupation of Iraq, if not the US federal government?" is not in fact answerable by the word "No".

No.

Can you cite me where McCain admits that the US occupation of Iraq is not in fact resolving the problems of Iraqi citizens?

I have no idea what this means.

What it says. McCain won't say "Yes, we need to get out of Iraq" because if he says this, it is fairly directly criticizing Bush and all of the Republicans in Congress - including McCain - who have voted to keep the US occupation of Iraq continuing until Bush is safely out of office. Whether or not McCain actually plans a withdrawal, he is not gutsy enough to stand up and criticize Bush and admit that the Republicans who gave Bush a blank cheque were wrong. No Republican is, but McSame least of all.

That the US occupation of Iraq has broken Iraq and smashed the US military, I assume you do understand.

Prove to me, von, that you're not, in fact, the queen of the space unicorns.

Wait, he's not??

To be fair, when Von claims that the US federal government is not responsible for the occupation of Iraq, he may have meant the specific degree of irresponsibility of which an example is given here.

As far as I can tell he was talking about single-issue voters and how they're manipulated to vote against they're economic interests by putting that one issue over a host of others that really effect their lives. I saw an hour long video from a 2004 appearance on Charlie Rose where he says the same thing. If he's ignorant about that a ton of people are.

OK Slart, that's the comment O' the day right there!

Von, once you've determined which city, county or state government is occupying Iraq would you mind clueing me in?

I want to take the necessary steps to ensure I'm not part of that tax base.

I see some comments about Obama not being familiar with working class Americans. A brief examination of his career would show that's not true.

As I’ve already written, I don’t think Obama’s comments are a big deal.

Especially not in a week where the big news stories are: Bush says he knew and approved of torture, Bush administration announces it intends to continue breaking the law by spying on its own citizens without a warrant, and the Republican candidate for President is a criminal even before he takes office.

I mean, when the news has broken that the current Republican President knew and approved of American torture of prisoners, the current Republican administration is so confident it can get away with breaking the law that it publicly announces it intends to do so, and the next man the Republicans want for President is a lawbreaker already - oh, and the war in Iraq is going really, really badly and the US military is staggering - who cares what one of the Democratic nominees says?

Well, you do if you want everyone to be talking about "what Obama said" rather than about the crimes committed by the Republicans. Cherry-pick a quote, talk it up, act like this is the big story... and watch as even moderately left-wing blogs follow like sheeple.

The 2nd Amendment part of the Obama comments were what was awkward.

I agree. When I was canvassing for Obama in Pennsylvania, one of the most vehement Obama supporters I found was a guy with an NRA sticker on his front door. There are more "NRA Democrats" in Pennsylvania than you might think. (For example, Democratic state legislator Bill DeWeese wears an ACLU pin on one lapel and an NRA pin in the other.) In addition, the churchgoers and the guys with guns aren't necessarily the same groups of people, if only because a lot of the hunters don't want to give up a perfectly good Sunday in church when they could be out hunting and communing with nature.

    The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet.

that's Jim Webb, in 2006.

it's no different from what Obama said.

is he wrong ?

Publius: Take away the unions and the ability to buy alcohol in stores (we never repealed Prohibition)*, and I suspect my town is a lot like these little Pennsylvania towns.

I see you've never experienced the wonder of the Pennsylvania state booze mart.

Here we sit parsing Obama's words while Clinton continues to avoid discussing the concrete actions that she and her husband took to make the lives of worekrs that much worse. I would like someone who supports Hillary Clinton to give me just one example of a politically courageous act on her part in support of working people. I don't care if she "sees" them if she then goes and screws them over with her policies.

The more I think about NAFTA, the more I realize how little the Clintons truly understood about the particular perils of free trade for manufacturing workers -- NAFTA opened up the gates for outsourcing precisely because, without health care reform, it required American workers to compete at a gross disadvantage to workers in other countries where health care is subsidized.

Did the Clintons even try to bridge this gap by conditioning support for NAFTA on support for health care reform? I remember the Clintons blowing around like gale force winds trying to ensure the passage of NAFTA. I remember Newt Gingrich being in awe of how much Clinton did to support NAFTA.

Is it because they didn't care or didn't understand? Do you really think she can connect the dots this time around?

Well, you do if you want everyone to be talking about "what Obama said" rather than about the crimes committed by the Republicans. Cherry-pick a quote, talk it up, act like this is the big story... and watch as even moderately left-wing blogs follow like sheeple.

The only problem with that Jes is that it was reported by an Obama supporter who sat on it for a week because she was concerned that it would damage his campaign. So neither the report of his remarks nor the timing of the report can be readily hung on the VRWC.


cleek: is he wrong ?

IMO yes. And Webb’s remarks are just as bad. It’s essentially the same as saying “these people are too dumb to vote for their own self interests”. Just distract them with something shiny and they’ll go in and pull the R handle again. (As if voting D would restore the old mill that closed down 25 years ago.)

I think it would be the same kind of thing if I said liberals in the cities have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "taking away a woman’s right to choose" while the federal, state, and local governments taxed the companies providing their jobs into extinction. Shouldn’t I expect a statement like that to be offensive to urban liberal voters?

OCSteve, you're putting words into their mouths again. They're not saying that voters are "too dumb" but that they haven't had a credible chance of getting help on those issues. In fact, the rhetoric has been "hard working" Americans. Remember George W Bush's comment congratulating that woman for living the American dream by working two jobs?

That's the attitude Obama is talking about, and Webb is talking about. This idea that government can't and won't help you, so you vote on other issues.

This isn't about intelligence, it's about cynicism and bitterness.

Sujal

OCSteve: It’s essentially the same as saying “these people are too dumb to vote for their own self interests”. Just distract them with something shiny and they’ll go in and pull the R handle again.

Actually, I take it to be pointing out to people that this is how the Republican Party is conning them: the Republicans and the media distract them with "gay marriage!" "abortion!" "gun rights!" and they go right in and pull the R handle again, in enough numbers even in 2004 and 2006 to make it possible for Republicans to rig the election for their own party.

For about 1% of Americans, voting Republican is voting in their self interest. For the other 39.5% (since some at least of that 1% will vote against their own self interest for a better country) voting Republican usually doesn't mean they decided selflessly to lay down their working lives to further enrich the very, very rich: it means they were conned into voting for those who intend to exploit them and destroy their lives.

I wouldn't say this is "stupidity", either. I'd say this is a perfect example of the power of a monopolized and dominated media, and a party unconstrained by ethics, morality, or the law.

The only problem with that Jes is that it was reported by an Obama supporter

I don't care who reported it. This could be a "story" only in a slow news week. Does this look like a slow news week to you? Do you think this is a bigger story than Bush saying sure, he endorsed torture?

I think it would be the same kind of thing if I said liberals in the cities have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "taking away a woman’s right to choose" while the federal, state, and local governments taxed the companies providing their jobs into extinction.

People do say it, and there's something to it.

Without wanting to weigh in on 'which side is worse', because I really just don't care, the difference I see is that the liberal response wouldn't be to cry about somebody being mean to them. They might do something equally stupid, but not that.

Here is the news flash: whoever you are, somebody somewhere doesn't like you. It is, frankly, probably not Obama, but there is almost certainly someone, somewhere who thinks you're just not all that.

Hey, remember 'sticks and stones'? It worked when you were a kid, it'll probably still work now that you're all grown up. Give it a try.

Then we can all move on.

Not directed at you OC, it's just a general observation.

Thanks -

The bottom line is that it’s not so much that people like Obama are being intentionally elitist, it’s that their unfamiliarity with the landscape leads them to make rather grossly ignorant statements without even realizing that they’re ignorant.

lol. Does that make people like Obama unintentionally elitist?

I think it would be the same kind of thing if I said liberals in the cities have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as

Just describing them as 'latte drinking' seems to feel as a slight to quite a lot of them. Me, I hate milk. But I admit I'm a snob about my espresso machine ;)


The more I think about NAFTA, the more I realize how little the Clintons truly understood about the particular perils of free trade for manufacturing workers -- NAFTA opened up the gates for outsourcing precisely because, without health care reform, it required American workers to compete at a gross disadvantage to workers in other countries where health care is subsidized.

IIRC a lot of the manufacturing which has been "offshored" moved to various countries in Asia, rather than Mexico and Canada, so in this respect NAFTA is more of a symbol of a larger problem with our trade policy more broadly (e.g. GATT, WTO, etc.), rather than the very specific cause of the denindustrialization which is under discussion.

IMO yes. And Webb’s remarks are just as bad. It’s essentially the same as saying “these people are too dumb to vote for their own self interests”. Just distract them with something shiny and they’ll go in and pull the R handle again.

but "distract them with something shiny" is the absolute essence of politics.

ask a wingnut about John Kerry's medals.

Now if this were a British pub conversation it would be time for someone to get up and say "My round, I think?" and head over to the bar to place an order.

It's not going to be a surprise to anyone that I love to drink lattes.

With little crispy meringue-like biscuits. Or speculoos. Or croissants!

I like espresso with hot milk. Or hot espresso with a shot of hot Cointreau and a big spoonful of whipped cream.

I'd rather drink less coffee and have it taste like dark caffeinated heaven than drink my fill of cheap coffee, no matter how broke I am.

My round, I think? I'm having a latte with a shot of Cointreau. What's your poison?

"Clinton is right that Obama's statement reveals a fundamental weakness as a candidate: a lack of experience with working class Americans."

Uh, right. All those years of organizing millionaries were a waste. And his millionaire parents and grandparents and upbringing gave him no feel for working class Americans. (Managing a furniture store is so elitist!)

If only he'd been born and lived the life of the son of a four-star admiral, who was the son of a four-star admiral, gone to private preparatory boarding school, and experienced life as the working class normally do.

To be fair, when Von claims that the US federal government is not responsible for the occupation of Iraq, he may have meant the specific degree of irresponsibility of which an example is given here.

What von said, Jesurgislac, can be expressed in one syllable. What he meant by that one syllable can only be answered by von; most certainly it cannot be answered by you.

Not that that will stop you.

To be sure, what von answered makes no sense, and he should rectify that.

von: "a lack of experience with working class Americans."

Jes: "This woman who has spent her entire life in public service connects with working people."

It's worth pausing to remember that Obama worked for years as a community organizer, while Hillary's lifetime of public service involved being a corporate lawyer, First Lady, and a US Senator.

What's your poison?

Espresso, black, and a nice grappa on the side.

Yum!

Hillary knows all about the working class, and supporting the little guy, having served on the board of WalMart for six years.

Just describing them as 'latte drinking' seems to feel as a slight to quite a lot of them.

Yes, the Clintonites surely intend it as a term of endearment -- one previously popularized by Republicans with similar friendly intentions toward city dwellers. We're just being oversensitive.

My, how candidates get in trouble when they offer a sociological thesis on the campaign trail.


The only problem with that Jes is that it was reported by an Obama supporter who sat on it for a week because she was concerned that it would damage his campaign. So neither the report of his remarks nor the timing of the report can be readily hung on the VRWC.

OCSteve,

Please correct if me I've got this wrong, but I thought the original report came from Mayhill Fowler at The Huffington Post, who appears to be at best a neutral observer of both campaigns. From reading her blog posts I wouldn't exactly describe her as an Obama supporter.

Hmmm...since I was out of the news cycle this weekend and seem to have missed this hubbub about whatever the fnck it was Obama said recently that is supposedly so horrible or out of touch, I'm thinking I'll treat it the same way I treated whatever the fnck the whole Schiavo thing was about that I happened to be out of the country for: ignore it in its entirety and attempt to be blissfully ignorant about it for eternity.

Seems about right.

"The more I think about NAFTA, the more I realize how little the Clintons truly understood about the particular perils of free trade for manufacturing workers -- NAFTA opened up the gates for outsourcing precisely because, without health care reform, it required American workers to compete at a gross disadvantage to workers in other countries where health care is subsidized."

NAFTA is a treaty among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Three countries. Certainly I'll agree that your comment fairly describes Canada, but Mexico?

And what "other countries" that participants in NAFTA, are you referring to, exactly?

Could you perhaps cite which clause of NAFTA you have in mind, with a cite to a specific effect?

"NAFTA opened up the gates for outsourcing"

Do you have some stats to support these claims?

And do you feel that absent free trade, we could have more U.S. manufacturing jobs at their previous rates of pay, and if so, what sort of economic trade-offs would you recommend the country make to pursue that goal at what level of priority?

I'd like to truly better understand these perils, myself.

Thanks.

Ugh, I don't think this is quite at the level of Schiavo. You'd have to have been in hiding for a long time to miss all of that one. Somehow I doubt there'll be any congressional action addressing whether working-class Americans are bitter. But maybe Clinton will sponsor a resolution.

I don't think that we (meaning people of not of the rightwinfg) should buy into tightwing memes at any level. I hate the concession to "prolife" and I am not about to concede to this crap about elitism.

To refer to a politician as "elitist" is name calling. To link that so called elitist politician to legions of unnamed bu presumably elitist "other" people is to create an imaginary enemy. Republican politicians ALWAYS run for office by promoting fear of an imaginary enemy. If it isn'rt Communists, its gays. If it isn't gays its those latte drinkers in San Francisco who somehow aren't as good Americans as someone from a snall town.

That's the ral elitism--the snobs who think that they are the real Americans and who self-aggrandize becuase they thiey think that they are better than whoever the rightwing is hating on in a given election cycle.

It's just a divde and conquer ploy.

I don't give a crap if Obama understands the role of religion in small towns. It's mnore important to understand the role of the martgage crisis in the lives of low income home owners.

The whole elitism myth is just another kind of rightwing bullying tactic design to shut down converstation about the problems of ordinary Americans and the solutions that might work for them. Republican politicians don't want the elelcgtion year to be about health care or access to post high school educatiomn or jobs.


And shame on Clinton for promoting this crap. AS if she isn't going to be portrayed as an elitist to if she gets the nom. Stories about her dad being a hunter won't do a thinkg for her.

And what makes her think that small town voters are going to be impressed that she drinks boilermakers? The drug of choice in the small towns around here is meth.

Ugh, I don't think this is quite at the level of Schiavo. You'd have to have been in hiding for a long time to miss all of that one. Somehow I doubt there'll be any congressional action addressing whether working-class Americans are bitter.

Heh, I missed enough to come back and go "who is this Schiavo person and why are people talking about her." Missed the whole congressional action and subsequent court decision. Obviously, I haven't managed to learn about it subsequently, sadly.

"not" to learn about it, obviously.


Could you perhaps cite which clause of NAFTA you have in mind, with a cite to a specific effect?

Gary,

I think it has become fairly common to use NAFTA as a synecdoche for our overall trade policy in the broadest sense of the word, used by folks who aren't familiar with the details of GATT, WTO, and most favored nation status.

It might be more constructive to educate them rather than slamming them for not being familiar with these details, which does nothing to discredit their overall sense that something has gone wrong despite their not being familiar with the exact mechanisms whereby it has happened.

"It might be more constructive to educate them rather than slamming them for not being familiar with these details,"

If your assumption, which is that the writer is, in fact, not "familiar with these details," is correct, than I agree, and take your point.

However, the claim I responded to is this: "The more I think about NAFTA, the more I realize how little the Clintons truly understood about the particular perils of free trade for manufacturing workers...."

This is an explicit sharp critique of "how little" others "truly" understand about the specific issue, which is an explicit claim by the writer of possessing true understanding, after much thought ("the more I think about NAFTA"), while others, including mere Senators and presidential candidates, are marveled at for "how little" of that understanding they have -- flat assertion -- of "the particular perils of free trade."

These are strong claims, on issues of public policy, made in a place where public policy and politics are discussed and debated. I see no reason they shouldn't be taken at face value, and replied to respectfully, with a polite request for elaboration and support for claims made, rather than to assume that the writer is foolishly making careless assertions that would be difficult to support.

But your response may certainly, indeed, be a better approach.

Incidentally, I'm a big fan of your stuff. :-)

It might be more constructive to educate them rather than slamming them for not being familiar with these details...

Unfortunately, that too is a trap: "Who are you to 'educate' me or anyone else?"

ThatLeftTurnInABQ: … I thought the original report came from Mayhill Fowler at The Huffington Post, who appears to be at best a neutral observer of both campaigns

Marc Cooper, her editorial coordinator described her as a “declared Obama supporter” and an “ardent Obama supporter”. Also, she was at the fundraiser because she had donated the max to his campaign. I haven’t read any of her other posts though.

Yes, NAFTA was to some extent symbolic, but it was a huge symbol. The factory that my brother worked for moved to Mexico -- and many companies moved to Mexico first and then Asia. The direct to Asia link really began in earnest after NAFTA (and I'm not blaming NAFTA for that.)

If you really think that employer provided health care does not work as a constraint on the competitiveness of U.S. industries, what can I say, because I think the proposition is generally noncontroversial, it's the cure that's so controversial. Here's one link that outlines structural issues that disadvantages of U.S. manufacturers: http://www.nam.org/s_nam/bin.asp?CID=216&DID=227525&DOC=FILE.PDF

Dean Baker also had a great analysis of some of these structural issues as they relate to economic opporunities and wages in an article that includes a chapter called "The Doctor Drives a Lexus."


Unfortunately, that too is a trap: "Who are you to 'educate' me or anyone else?"

Model 62,

Yes, that does sound like kind of an elitist assumption doesn't it? But is it really elitist if the education is assumed to be a two way street rather than only running one way?

Personally, I read this and other blogs primarily for two instrumental purposes (i.e., beyond just the virtual community bit): to educate myself (thank you everybody else here who is providing me with a free education), and for entertainment. Occasionally emoting is a motivation as well, so make that 3 reasons ["nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition"!].

Given these motivations, I for one do not begrudge somebody else getting up on a soapbox and letting me know where and how I can learn a thing a two. If there are other people here who do not feel the same way, and I unintentionally step on their toes, then I will gladly apologize when the time comes.

YMMV of course.

My bias has come to be that voting decisions are not the result of logical reflection (eg. SAT test taking skills) -- they are the result of the answer to this question: Is he (she) a member of my tribe?

So how do privileged rich Republican candidates consistently get the nod of white blue collar voters? I believe it was Publius who pointed out about a year ago: They come across as the kind of rich person the blue collar person would be if he or she were rich!

So W drives a white Ford pickup, and he passes the tribal identity test. To take it a step further, in many blue collar communities, the respectable thing to do is to vote Republican.

It breaks my heart, but there is no way that Barack Obama can convince many of these white blue collar folks that he is one of them, even though he has probably spent more face time with blue collar folks than any of the other candidates.

Obama can, and probably will, still win in November. But it won’t be because of his bowling abilities.

Somehow I doubt there'll be any congressional action addressing whether working-class Americans are bitter.

Hmmm... so if Congress won't act to even acknowlege the fact of working-class bitterness, let alone address its causes, then maybe working-class voters might look to vote according to other issues that Congress might address like gay marraige and guns? Isn't that exactly what Obama said?

I've been to your home town. I don't think there was any industry there in the first place, was there?


These are strong claims, on issues of public policy, made in a place where public policy and politics are discussed and debated. I see no reason they shouldn't be taken at face value, and replied to respectfully, with a polite request for elaboration and support for claims made, rather than to assume that the writer is foolishly making careless assertions that would be difficult to support.

Gary,

Your approach makes sense. I was advocating for what I think (perhaps mistakenly pace Model 62) is a gentler style of reply than logic chopping right out of the gate, but you're the pro at this, not me. I blush to receive your praise, but know that it isn't deserved except in so far as that to some very small degree I'm trying to emulate the example that you, hilzoy and the other regular posters set here for measured discourse.

Thanks!


Unfortunately, that too is a trap: "Who are you to 'educate' me or anyone else?"

Model 62,

The other answer is that I was thinking of the "education" coming more from Gary (with his seemingly inexhaustible fount of information) than from myself. My own knowledge of these subjects is sufficiently broad and deep as to provide some grasp of how ignorant I am, and not much more.

Jes: Do you think this is a bigger story than Bush saying sure, he endorsed torture?

ABC News interview with President George W. Bush:

RADDATZ: ...ABC News reported this week that your senior national security officials all got together and approved -- including Vice President Cheney -- all got together and approved enhanced interrogation methods, including waterboarding, for detainees.

BUSH: You mean back in 2003?

RADDATZ: Are you aware of that? Are you aware of that?

BUSH: Was I aware that we were going to use enhanced...

RADDATZ: That they all met together?

BUSH: Of course. They meet together all the time on...

RADDATZ: And approved that?

BUSH: ... a variety of issues.

RADDATZ: And approved that?

BUSH: Yes.

RADDATZ: You have no problem with that?

BUSH: In 2003?

RADDATZ: Yes.

BUSH: No. I mean, as a matter of fact, I told the country we did that. And I also told them it was legal. We had legal opinions that enabled us to do it. And, no, I didn't have any problem at all trying to find out what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed knew.

RADDATZ: OK.

BUSH: And guess what? I think it's very important for the American people to understand who Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was. He was the person who ordered the suicide attack -- I mean, the 9/11 attacks. And back then, there was all kinds of concerns about people saying, "Well, the administration is not connecting the dots." You might remember those -- that period.

RADDATZ: I remember.

BUSH: Well, we started to connect the dots, in order to protect the American people. And, yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved. I don't know what's new about that; I'm not so sure what's so startling about that.

Chris Floyd:

This pattern has recurred over and over throughout the Bush Administration. Bush and his minions commit crimes and atrocities in secret; they move heaven and earth to conceal their filthy deeds; they squirm and squeal like panicked rats when their some small portion of their evil comes to light; they belch forth a relentless series of self-contradictory lies to cover up, obfuscate or explain away the crimes; and when at last their malefactions can no longer be denied, they trot out the president himself to say: "Yeah, we did it; so what?" And then....nothing happens.

And now nothing is happening again. It is an astounding phenomenon. Bush is the most widely despised president in modern times. The war he launched on false pretenses against Iraq is deeply unpopular, and is plainly bankrupting the country. His economic policies have plunged millions into ruin, want and insecurity. The opposition political party controls the Congress -- a bastion they could have used as a bully pulpit to rally the public and as a battering ram to bring down an openly criminal, shamelessly unconstitutional, dangerous, illegitimate regime. And yet....nothing happens.

It's worth pausing to remember that Obama worked for years as a community organizer, while Hillary's lifetime of public service involved being a corporate lawyer, First Lady, and a US Senator.

That's not an entirely fair summary of Hillary's public service, Hilzoy. She has claimed her start in politics began here in Texas, helping organize minority voters in 1972.

I don't regard myself as remotely knowledgeable on economics, despite a moderate amount of reading over the years, for the record, and as a rule, I largely try to opine little about subjects I don't know a fair amount about.

I read and read Brad DeLong and Max Sawicky a lot, among others, myself.

Thus I posted a couple of queries, rather than explications, on NAFTA.

Part of my point was that NAFTA was desperately sought by corporations and their lobbying outfits at almost the same time as the Clintons supposedly desperately wanted to enact health care reform. I don't think Clinton leveraged that desperation as a means of getting something in return for workers. He got almost no goodwill from Republicans in Congress for having worked so hard for NAFTA.

Of course, there was so much else that doomed health care reform, it's hard to know whether anything would have made it successful. But it has always troubled me that Clinton tries to highlight the "emotional" appeal of health care reform with very sad stories instead of hitting the harder side of it -- that it has economic consequences way beyond just how much it costs you personally to get care.

russell: “How the hell has Hillary Clinton, of all people, become the spokesperson for hardscrabble America?”

The same way FDR became the spokesperson for Depression America – a mysterious osmosis thru time of building rapport. The ‘thru time’ part is important. We’ve seen her stand up to numerous smear attacks (she’s a lesbian, she’s a liar, she’s a crook, she’s a feminist bitch, she’s a terrorist-sympathizer) and through it all maintain a tough minded equilibrium.

Obama, on the other hand, comes across as a well-intentioned wonk, a charlotte-russe candidate who seems more apt to sulk when confronted with criticism than stand tough. In my neighborhood bar yesterday (a cornucopia of trenchant political assessment) a ‘real’ democrat (the non-liberal-progressive working-class kind) had this to say when asked what he thought of Obama: “Nothing but a little smart-assed shit, a teacher’s pet who never had to work hard at anything in his life except maybe to clap black-board erasers together in class.” That from a ‘hardscrabble’ urban union democrat (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).

A Wonk-Class vrs Working-Class conflict, with half the Democratic-leaning voters leaning away from the wonk, and the other half toward Hillary.

NAFTA in particular does illustrate one of the things Obama's talking about: It was pitched originally as a bundle of allegedly free-trade boosting measures plus help for those who might suffer setbacks from it. Then the help got cut, but we were promised that it would follow. It didn't. The same pattern occurs again and again, whether it's tax restructuring or whatever - those who will benefit from the removal of old barriers get theirs; those who will be hurt by them don't. And then when people complain "sure, we've got great gadgets, but we'd like reliable jobs, too", they get told "you've got great gadgets, what's the problem?"

NAFTA makes a handy synecdoche for all of this, as LeftTurn points out.

Re: silence on Bush's nonchalant acceptance of responsibility for ordering torture:

Nothing happens even here on Obsidian Wings, where it's all election all the time. One article on TPM Muckraker, no further emphasis.

The only way the media will cover these war crimes is if candidates talk about it.

I'm not going to hold my breath. Probably a sign of elitism to care about our government having an official policy of torture!

In my neighborhood bar yesterday (a cornucopia of trenchant political assessment) a ‘real’ democrat (the non-liberal-progressive working-class kind) had this to say when asked what he thought of Obama: “Nothing but a little smart-assed shit, a teacher’s pet who never had to work hard at anything in his life except maybe to clap black-board erasers together in class.” That from a ‘hardscrabble’ urban union democrat (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).

I'm sure he formed that opinion after long and careful thought.

one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. ... Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow.

And, foolish me, I thought this story would be the shock.

"A Wonk-Class vrs Working-Class conflict, with half the Democratic-leaning voters leaning away from the wonk, and the other half toward Hillary."

Just out of curiosity, Jay, which half of Democrats do these Democrats fit into?

Daily Democratic Presidential Primary Tracking Polling History

Date Clinton Obama

04/14/2008

44% 48%

04/13/2008

46% 45%

04/12/2008

44% 46%

04/11/2008

44% 47%


04/10/2008

41% 48%


04/09/2008

41% 50%


04/08/2008

40% 51%


04/07/2008

41% 51%


04/06/2008

42% 50%


04/05/2008

41% 51%


04/04/2008

42% 48%


04/03/2008

43% 46%


04/02/2008

45% 44%


04/01/2008

45% 46%


03/31/2008

43% 46%


03/30/2008

42% 47%


03/29/2008

42% 48%

03/28/2008

44% 46%


03/27/2008

46% 44%

03/26/2008

45% 45%

03/25/2008

46% 43%

03/24/2008

46% 44%

03/23/2008

45% 44%

03/22/2008

46% 44%

03/21/2008

44% 45%

03/20/2008

43% 46%

03/19/2008

42% 47%

03/18/2008

44% 45%

03/17/2008

44% 46%

03/16/2008

44% 47%

03/15/2008

45% 46%

03/14/2008

42% 50%

03/13/2008

41% 48%


03/12/2008

42% 47%


03/11/2008

41% 48%

03/10/2008

44% 46%

03/09/2008

47% 45%


03/08/2008

46% 45%

03/07/2008

49% 43%

03/06/2008

48% 43%

03/05/2008

48% 43%

Thanks.


And now nothing is happening again. It is an astounding phenomenon. Bush is the most widely despised president in modern times. The war he launched on false pretenses against Iraq is deeply unpopular, and is plainly bankrupting the country. His economic policies have plunged millions into ruin, want and insecurity. The opposition political party controls the Congress -- a bastion they could have used as a bully pulpit to rally the public and as a battering ram to bring down an openly criminal, shamelessly unconstitutional, dangerous, illegitimate regime. And yet....nothing happens.

matt,

I can think of several more subtle explanations for this apart from the obvious one that the American people and the press support Bush's policies on these issues far more than we would like to admit, except for the incompetent administration of said policies which is proving to be an embarrassment.

The first is that the Democratic leadership wants to approach these issues with great caution and timidity because they are haunted by the memory of how quickly the Vietnam war went from being unpopular to being a very convenient political club which the GOP used to beat down opposition for a generation, once the war was actually over and the dolchstosslegende came out. They are worried that what looks like a popular and winning stance on these issues now will be used to destroy the Democrats in future elections and this GOP will make hay off of this for a very long time, well into the mid 21st century.

The second is that the Democratic leaders in Congress are far more complicit in this regime of semi-legalized torture than has come to light at the present time, so they are playing a game of trying to damage Bush and the GOP just enough to swing the electorate in their favor without forcing all the dirty evidence out into the light of day which will show that their hands were not clean either.

The third (and more flattering) explanation is that the Democratic leadership thinks that it is not a foregone conclusion that Bush will actually step down from office next January, and that there is a very real risk of additional terrorist attacks on the US being leveraged by the neocons into a much more dramatic overturn of our constitution than we have seen up to this point, so opposition to Bush needs to go softly until after he is actually out of office and no longer has direct control over the levers of power.

These hypotheses are pure speculation so take them with a very large grain of salt. I listed them in what IMHO is their order of plausibility, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Jay Jerome: I don't think I've ever heard an adult derisively call someone a teacher's pet. And if I did, I probably wouldn't think much of their maturity. It's just not a concept that most people have, oh say, past the age of thirteen.

I'd really hate for an election as important as this one to come down to attitudes as pre-adolescent as those.

I feel like a troll for staying off-topic, but there's no open thread and there's been no post on the ABC stories here, and no mention of the ACLU's campaign to demand a special prosecutor.

Here of all places.

If the only lens in which you're willing to view these issues is through the campaign, then have a look at this post by dday at Hullabaloo about McCain's response to the recent revelations.

Obama was clearly trying to explain that it was perfectly rational for people to vote on guns, religion, etc., instead of economics when neither party was really offering them anything economically helpful to them and that Dems needed to change how we do things and NOT blame people for voting GOP instead of DEM. Maybe the problem was that he thought that he had to say it the way he did to get his point across to the people at the fundraiser. Interestingly, it seems that a lot of the people he was talking about themselves seem to get it and not be offended although lots of people seem to want to be offended for them. I also think that people are getting that Obama is not a guy who backs down, that he is confident and comfortable with himself and if it didnt come out quite right, he will acknowledge that and just say it better. That is itself appealing to a lot of voters. It was a source of Reagan's "Teflon" success. And it is why Obama will be able to survive the right-wing noise machine and keep his principles. In fact, the source of all of the hand-wringing is fear of that noise machine and the belief that you have to be oh so careful to not give them anything to jump on. But they will find something to jump on no matter what and the answer is not to abandon what we believe but to DEFEND it and Obama is showing that is what he will do.

Prove to me, von, that you're not, in fact, the queen of the space unicorns.

But I am the queen of space unicorns.

I have no desire to respond to Jes, Davebo, or Slarti: It's useless to debate folks who believe that McCain said that the US Federal Government and/or "the US occupation," will (per Jes) "solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens".

Slarti: What he meant by that one syllable can only be answered by von; most certainly it cannot be answered by you.

Not that that will stop you.

Coming from the first person to leap in and respond on Von's behalf, Slarti, that's kind of sweet, in a pink unicorn sort of way.

Von: It's useless to debate folks who believe that McCain said that the US Federal Government and/or "the US occupation," will (per Jes) "solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens".

That was CharleyCarp, actually.

And if you're still sticking to your claim that the US federal government is not responsible for the war in Iraq, I second Davebo's question.

Sorry - I meant "the occupation of Iraq". But it's so easy to get the two mixed up.

There is another lens through which you can view the Hillary vs. Obama camp divide, to get back to the topic of the top level post (with apologies to Nell - the Bush torture regime really deserves a separate thread).

That would be the hypothesis stated by the author Kevin Phillips, in a number of his more recent books but most fully in "Cousin's War", that the present day split between the Dems and the GOP is the manifestation of an cultural/ethnic/religious sectarian struggle between two opposing factions in Anglo-American history which he traces from mid-17th cen. Britain and the English Civil War thru the US Revolutionary War, the US Civil War and right up to today.

In this view, it has been Cavaliers/Tories/Confederates vs. Roundheads/Revolutionary Patriots/Yankees the whole time, sometimes openly and more often below the surface. The Democrats and the GOP spent most of the 20th cen. switching sides as a consequence of their ideological battles and poaching from each other's bases (FDR taking Yankees away from the GOP, Nixon and Reagan returning the favor with the "southern strategy" on up to the present day with Bush/Rove). Compare the electoral map of today v.s elections 100 years ago, and you can see that the maps look the same but with the labels switched.

The divide between Obama and Hillary supporters (and Obama's difficulty finding common background with some of the rural PA voters he was speaking about) reflect the fact that the Democratic party is large enough (and the swapping process has not finished yet) to still have some of both camps, hence the party tends to get pulled in two directions.

This doesn't play out in a simple way geographically because both the Yankees and the Rebs generated extensive cultural and ethnic diasporas that crisscross the US in a micro-demographic fashion, hence there are areas in "northern" states which are substantially Confederate in cultural affinity, and which tend to be found in rural areas rather than in the cities, and the converse applies to urban areas in “southern” states.

Coming from the first person to leap in and respond on Von's behalf, Slarti, that's kind of sweet, in a pink unicorn sort of way.

I'm just leaping in and responding on behalf of von's words; von can respond on his own behalf.

Or not, as he prefers.

But, I know, it's always better to respond to what you're sure other people meant, rather than to just what they said. Which, looking upthread, was "no".

I have no desire to respond to Jes, Davebo, or Slarti

Damnit, that smarts.

Von, it's (a) a joke and (b) just as true as the claim re: Obama's promises. I.e., not really. But there is something there, what with the extent "conservatives" seem to be comfortable with US micromanagement of various facets of Iraqi life.

Exaggerations are fine, CharlieCarp. The problem is that a certain percentage of the blog thinks that McCain's position is that the "the US occupation will solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens". Or really thinks that McCain said that we'll be in Iraq forever. Or one of the other myths that get repeated but are not, in fact, supported by an actual quote from McCain in context.

allmaya: :“It breaks my heart, but there is no way that Barack Obama can convince many of these white blue collar folks that he is one of them”

No, he really isn’t one of them.

His grandfather and grandmother were middle-class people, not working class: the grandfather a furniture salesman and store manager; the mother eventually a bank vice-president.

His mother wasn’t working class either: she was of the educated-class: a hippie-style liberal college student, she went on to become an anthropologist.

Obama didn’t grow up or live among working-class Americans: not in Jakarta where he lived from age six to ten; nor in Hawaii, where he lived in a hi-rise apartment, and attended an elite private high-school.

Similarly, there isn't any blue-color jobs in his work history: nothing to show he had to bend his back or work up a physical sweat or spend long hours hunched over a machine or a broom or a mop. He was a starched-collar not a blue-collar guy; a pencil-pusher and a page-turner, not a manly-kind-of roll up your sleeves blue collar dude guy that working-class men and woman would ordinarily relate to.


The same way FDR became the spokesperson for Depression America – a mysterious osmosis thru time of building rapport

I'm not stepping into the Hillary vs Obama thing. There's no upside to it. Not for me, anyway.

I will point out that FDR became the spokesperson for Depression America by kicking ass, taking names, and getting legislation passed. The whole thing did take some time, but I think he established his bona fides in about 100 days.

Nothing against Hillary, because love him or hate him FDR's boots are kinda hard to fill, but I don't think Hillary has that same track record behind her.

My comment upthread was more an observation that, once upon a time, Hillary was seen as the absolute pinnacle of elitist, I-know-better-than-you, high-falutin' meddlesome liberalism.

Now she's the working man's friend, knocking back a shot and a beer with the boys.

I doubt she, personally or politically, has changed all that much. Politics makes strange bedfellows, that's all.

In fairness to Jes, the following requires a clarification:

"Jes: Who is responsible for the US occupation of Iraq, if not the US federal government?

Me: No."

No, the US federal government is not "responsible for the US occupation of Iraq." Depending on the meaning of the question -- which is unclear -- the Bush Administration, the Congress, and/or the DOD may be "responsible for the US occupation of Iraq." But "the US federal government" is not.

Von: Depending on the meaning of the question -- which is unclear -- the Bush Administration, the Congress, and/or the DOD may be "responsible for the US occupation of Iraq." But "the US federal government" is not.

So the legislative and administrative branches of the US federal government are responsible for the US occupation of Iraq, but because the judicial branch isn't responsible, you can't say "the US federal government" because that only applies when all three branches are responsible for something.

Okay.

I threw out the Phillips "Yankees vs. Rebs" hypothesis by way of pointing out that it is possible that Obama is both economically blue-collar in his background while also not a member of the same cultural/ethnic/religous group which "blue collar" is being used as a handle for in this rural PA controversy. This handle refers to a category which is not really based on economic class as much as it is on other demographic factors.

This doesn't mean that Hillary belongs to this group either, of course.

Jes -

I was actually thinking more about the post office, the SSA, the Patent Office, the DOJ, and all the various other parts of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the US Federal Government who have nothing to do with the occupation of Iraq.

He was a starched-collar not a blue-collar guy; a pencil-pusher and a page-turner, not a manly-kind-of roll up your sleeves blue collar dude guy that working-class men and woman would ordinarily relate to.

Jay, you've been watching too much Chris Matthews.

To your point, I invite you to tell me the name of the last candidate for President who remotely resembles your description.

And no, George Bush doesn't count. He didn't even own his damned ranch until he ran for President.

Thanks -

If Obama can hit a duck from a blind with a six-shooter, he deserves to be president. Maybe they learn how to do that at Harvard.

I've never trolled before, here or elsewhere. But I'm seriously distraught at the silence.

As far as I can tell, there's been not a word of the ABC stories (about the Principals meetings and about Bush's nonchalant confirmation) on Yglesias, or Kevin Drum's blog, or here.

I'd like to ask one or more of the blog owners here to consider joining in to support the ACLU campaign -- at a minimum.

The problem is that a certain percentage of the blog thinks that McCain's position is that the "the US occupation will solve all the problems of Iraqi citizens".

To be honest, I think McCain's real position on this is that he doesn't actually care one whit about the problems of Iraqi citizens, but he'll say whatever sounds good to the audience of the moment.

Or really thinks that McCain said that we'll be in Iraq forever.

Bush's position is that the US is going to be in Iraq "forever" - that is, as far ahead as Bush cares to think about anything to do with US foreign policy, which is 20th January 2009.

McCain's real position, I think, is that he's cravenly not going to say anything that could in any way be considered criticism of the great George W. Bush - or himself and his Republican colleagues who handed Bush everything Bush wanted to smash up Iraq and break the US military. So just as Bush is never going to make plans for withdrawal from Iraq, neither is McCain.

It's possible that, if the election can be rigged to get him in, McCain is going to break out on 21st January 2009 with sudden, hitherto unannounced plans to wtihdraw the US military from Iraq.

But trusting that a Republican President is going to behave better than his past record suggested he was capable of is what got a lot of Republicans supporting George W. Bush in 1999. You really want to make that mistake again, Von?

These hypotheses are pure speculation so take them with a very large grain of salt. I listed them in what IMHO is their order of plausibility, but they are not mutually exclusive.

All three are explanations that I've considered many, many times before; none of these hollow excuses (and I don't want to scorch the messenger/postulator, so please don't think my burning fury is meant for you) provide any absolution for the effect this has had on so many lives (whether "innocent" or of those who are complicit in "terror").

I've (unfortunately) said it before and (even more unfortunately) I'll say it again: fnck them all.

And I'd like to second Nell @ 04:10 PM.

She sees them.

She sees them, and not like a particularly distasteful bug under a microscope, or as a bunch of bigots (as convenient as that might be for some to think).

She sees them as rubes to be pandered to.

it is possible that Obama is both economically blue-collar in his background while also not a member of the same cultural/ethnic/religous group which "blue collar" is being used as a handle for in this rural PA controversy.

Look, just a couple of observations here.

My father grew up on what was, basically, a subsistence farm in rural GA. He finished 8th grade.

My mother grew up in Brooklyn. Her mother was an Italian immigrant, her father was a guy from PA coal-mining country who worked at Con Ed.

They were working class poor. I am not, and never have been. It's a socio-economic position, not a genetic trait.

Neither Hillary or Obama are working class people. To my knowledge, neither grew up working class poor, and even if they had, they have left that status behind long ago. They are Ivy-educated lawyers and life-long political professionals. Both are wealthy, and both are currently members of the US Senate.

It really doesn't matter that they aren't working class people. What does, or at least should, matter to working class people is that they have an interest in working class people, have a desire to understand the dynamics that create problems for working class people, and that they represent working class people well in their positions as Senator.

Neither Clinton or Obama are going to experience or think about the problems of the working poor in the same way that the working poor do. We don't want them to. What they bring to the table is, hopefully, insight into the larger issues that create problems for the working poor, and power to address those issues.

That's why it's really stupid, IMVHO, to fault Obama for talking about the social and economic dynamics of rural PA in an abstract and analytical way. He *should* be thinking about them in an analytical way. That's how you solve problems.

If I walk into my doctor's office and say, "my head hurts", I don't want him to tell me about how his hurts too. I want him to look at my head and figure out how to fix it.

I don't want political leaders who are going to get 'all real' with us and 'feel our pain', if you'll allow me to coin a phrase.

I want political leaders who solve problems.

I think both Hillary and Obama have perfectly good records WRT the issues at hand. I wish that, in this case, Hillary would just either stand on her own record or STFU. I find her claims of being a blue collar girl to be kind of risible.

It's not the stupidest, or most negative, thing I've heard from a politician, it just seems unnecessary and counterproductive. She has other things she could run on.

Thanks -

I'd like to ask one or more of the blog owners here to consider joining in to support the ACLU campaign -- at a minimum.

Seconded.

The rest of us can get on the horn to our reps to voice our support.

Thanks -

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad