Has Obama hurt himself in small-town Oregon?

Kevin Kamberg

Jeff Mapes poses a superb question: Has Obama hurt himself in small-town Oregon?

For anyone who has been hiding from the internet or the political chat shows, Obama set off tremors by declaring that when small-town working class voters are embittered by economic change, "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."

I fault Obama for having couched it as a sweeping generality because generalities invariably toss the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. But his statement rings true for far too many small town Americans, as I had demonstrated for me a couple weeks ago in my hometown of Forest Grove.

I was out in my front yard at dusk one evening last week talking politics with one neighbor when the guy who lives on the other side of me wandered down his driveway. Noticing that we were talking politics he paused, leaning against his fence, and as soon as he figured out that we were talking Presidential candidates he jumped in with his opinion.

I'll tell you what, I ain't gonna vote for no (n-word) or a lesbian! That Obama's just a (n-word) and Hillary is a dyke! They'll just raise our taxes and let that Osama guy bomb us. We don't need that!

I've been neighbors with this guy for a number of years and to say that he's an angry man would be something of an understatement. I've been regailed on more than one occasion by examples of all the people who have ever wronged him. Believe me, the list is long! In fact, his default position seems to be to bad-mouth anyone he doesn't know. Which is what I was on the receiving end of until I happened to strike up a friendly conversation with him one day and thereafter he decided that I was okay.

Now, I don't think this guy is religious. I'm pretty sure that organized religions are on his list of institutions which have wronged him. And I don't know for a fact that he's into guns. But I'd be VERY surprised if he's not. However, I do know that every time - and I do mean, *every time* - a hispanic moves into the apartments across the street he starts telling all of the other neighbors that the hispanic individuals are drug dealers. He's called the local police numerous times to report his unfounded suspicions.

His white neighbors whom he doesn't like seem to get lumped into one of two categories: Drug Dealers or Child Pornographers. Just Saturday evening he was telling me that an older guy living on disability at the end of the road, with his wife, their grandchild and her aged mother, is allegedly a Child Pornographer. He didn't know how to pronounce "pornographer" and so I had to help him with that word. But it was clear enough what he was accusing the poor guy of. Fortunately, I know the disabled guy and he's one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. He's also very well liked by his other neighbors.

The first guy I was talking to is mature enough not to use such derogatory terms about Obama and Clinton. But his view of them isn't all that different from the second neighbor, except that he seems intrigued by Obama. But anyone with the last name of "Clinton" is an enemy of the state as far as he's concerned. And this guy, I know for a fact, is a gun fanatic. I've known him very well for close to 20 years and he used to be a member of a local self-styled "Washington County militia" back in the 90s. Needless to say, he's very anti-immigration.

Both neighbors railed against hispanic immigrants and the Democrats who, they believe, coddle them.

Both neighbors are classic examples of the "working poor." Although the entire neighborhood is a working class neighborhood. The ex-militia guy has hit on very hard economic times. He's trading his handyman skills with his landlord for free rent as a means of helping him get back on his feet economically. And that is almost entirely due to the fact that the landlord is also his young son's grampa. (interestingly enough, all three of us neighbors in the conversation are single custodial parents)

In short, both of these guys have reacted to the world around them exactly as Obama described.

I don't know if Obama has hurt himself in small-town Oregon. But I do know that there is a great deal of truth in what he said. My neighbors are living evidence of that.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Kevin:

    This is one of the times we agree on a lot of things. I've seen the exact same thing, especially while living here in Gresham and in a small rural community in Texas. The funny thing is that the rural town is now in the next "loop" around Houston and is quickly growing, bringing in many new residents and changing the make-up of the town -- something heavily disliked by the town's longtime residents. It may mean they gasp get apartments!

    A big problem is once again part of a quote taken out of context. His speech said:

    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 feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre...I think 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, and they feel so betrayed by government, and 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 (laugher), then that adds another layer of skepticism (laughter). But -- so the questions you're most likely to get about me, 'Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What's the concrete thing?' What they wanna hear is -- so, we'll give you talking points about what we're proposing -- close tax loopholes, roll back, you know, 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. So we'll go down a series of talking points. 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. So it's not surprising then that 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.

    It's another one of those situations where what you were saying might not have been understood exactly the way you wanted it to. But in reading the text of what he said, it's pretty obvious what he meant. And the sentiment of what he said these people are going through is something I run across every day in Gresham and did in Texas. It's not true of everyone in those towns, and Obama made it clear he wasn't saying everyone was like that. But it is definitely true of some people.

    I think he did an excellent job of explaining what he meant when he said this:

    "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's its 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 rich. Senator 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.'
  • verasoie (unverified)
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    Kevin,

    I don't get the impression from your story that either of those people were really planning on voting for Obama, at least definitely not the first one, and the second one was evidently already a lost cause to Hillary so Obama apparently can only be an improvement on her with this crowd (from your example using just two people).

    I tend to think most people will recognize the truth in his comments and admire him for it, as there's really nothing more condescending to someone in a morass to say "no, you're not in a bad situation" (as per Hillary) when Obama was saying "you've been screwed economically for a generation now, and justifiably upset by it, and I'm going to do something about it."

  • (Show?)

    Yeah, the question isn't "Can Obama get racists and assholes to vote for him?" ...

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    "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."

    Nice going Barak! With one sentence you’ve marginalized scores of people who, through critical thinking and reasoned analysis, happen to hold views different from yours. At the same time you give Hillary a chance to get up off the mat in Pennsylvania.

    You’re well on your way to becoming this years John Kerry!

  • (Show?)

    Man, all you have to do is read and watch Obama's quick and easy pivot on this whole "bitter" thing, and compare it to Kerry's tortured rationalizing and high-abstract reasoning. It was painful to watch while it happen to Kerry, but Obama is like a guy walking a wire between towers, and McCain and Hillary are throwing fruit at him. You see him wobble, then regain his balance and finally start swatting the fruit back at them with his stick. "Surely he'll fall, this time! Those bitterfuits are even bigger than the Wrightberries they threw earlier!"

    Obama is the anti-Kerry. People LIKE listening to his clarifications.

  • (Show?)

    This comment was on a post about this topic at www.momocrats.typepad.com...I edited it a bit for length...the second paragraph makes my point better than I ever could..

    "I posted this on the other thread re: this topic but want to make sure as many people [and women, in particular] have a chance of seeing this. As a constituent of Senator Clinton's, I do think I have a unique perspective on this.
    

    I grew up in rural Upstate NY and now live in Buffalo, NY. I hate risking sounding like a drama queen, but, whether in the country or the city, we just continue to do worse and worse, no matter how hard we try. Since my senator, Hillary Clinton, promised us 200,000 jobs back in 2000, we have lost 30,000. Last year, Forbes named Buffalo, the 2nd largest city in the state, as the 2nd poorest city in the whole country. In the last 7 years, 37,000 of my neighbors have moved away in search of opportunity. Then, to add insult to injury, we carry the heaviest tax burden of any state in the union, one which is set to increase AGAIN, and yet no one seems to notice or care.

    I honestly can’t remember the last time anything made me cry, but I’m trying to hold back tears again… when I think of the injustice of it all. We have no retirement fund. We can’t afford life insurance. Thank goodness, at least we have some form of health insurance, even if it doesn’t cover things like the $175 speech evaluation our older boy needed. So it has to go on the credit card that never seems to get paid down to a reasonable level for long. And, I know in many ways we’re the LUCKY ones in this world, even in this country. And that’s just wrong. We should be able to do so much better, if we stop letting the rich get richer while the rest of us just survive. The more things “change”, the more they stay the same. I want someone who hasn’t sold their soul to the lobbyists who keep us all in these dire straits. I have no illusions about just how much Obama will actually be willing and able to accomplish. I’m not setting him on some pedestal. If anything, I like that he’s willing to compromise & take the small win when that’s all we can get for the moment.

    Bottom line, I shouldn’t be in tears when writing about my life and the role my elected government plays in it. I’m not only bitter, I’m pissed off and frustrated as hell, but still - somehow - hoping we can do better. I’ve given Clinton a shot by voting for her twice as my senator. I have to hope that someone with less of a “history” in government and with lobbyists won’t so quickly forget their promises to me. God, I hope so, for my kids’ sake."

  • (Show?)

    Um... Buckman, are you saying people enjoy having their family wage jobs being outsourced to China?

    I think it's fairly pathetic to have one candidate who owns 8 houses (McCain) and another who has filed joint income tax statements showing they earned 107 Million dollars over the last 7 years (the Clintons), trying to pretend that Barak Obama is out of touch with the experience of real world middle class Americans.

    While I'm not sure I think Kevin's neighbor is a representative example (seriously, that guy sounds like he has borderline personality disorder and/or mild clinical paranoia), I do think there is a lot of frustration pent up in America.

    And I think it is an advantage, not a disadvantage, for Barak Obama to openly talk about it.

  • ws (unverified)
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    People do get afraid when their livelihood is threatened. That is the time when they can be unwittingly receptive to all sorts of dishonorable suggestions disparaging others. Obama and Hillary will always have to be on their guard.

    People under stress, can easily be overwhelmed by complicated opinions of why things are the way they are. The Hillary is a 'this' and Obama's a 'that', thing is what I feel that a lot of those people are thinking. Because of this, the chance is good that they'll just take the easy route and vote for relatively conservative white guy vietnam vet 'bomb-bomb-McCain'

    Obama's different. Here's a guy that says things that people actually have to think about for a little in order to understand what he intends and what it means to them. I think it's going to take people a while for some people to get used to that, and hopefully come to realize that in the case of Obama, it might be worth having a black guy for president after all. Or a woman that might like gals too...so what?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    We need to be careful with the geographic stereotypes.

    It is an absolute fact that the economic good times that happened in the 1990's didn't get too far into rural areas, some trickle in, but not what happened in urban areas. It is a fact that when economic hard times happened, it happened harder in rural areas.

    So, Obama was speaking to a truth - but he didn't say it well.

    I'm hearing reactions to the word "cling" he used. Yet, that is the very word I would use in a certain context. That context goes something like -

    They may have lost their house so they don't have that to cling to anymore. They may have lost their job that they clinged to for 20 years through lay-offs and hard times. So all they have left to cling to today is their religion and their family.

    As far as the gun part - well there is a "gun" culture that holds that if your family gets hungry enough, you go hunt down something to eat. In the context of survival, clinging to a gun would be an appropriate phrase.

    So, does this poor choice of words equal elitism? Hmmm, one has to consider both context and source to come to a conclusion. The context certainly was not one of attempting to put down or insult rural people. It was the reverse, one of acknowledging that times are hard for rural America. The source is a fellow who grew up with a single parent, and who was in part raised by a grandmother, and who is not independently wealthy, and who has no history of elitism. - So, no the charge of elitism doesn't stick there.

    What strikes me as elitism, is an entire other aspect of this issue. We have rarely had anyone running for President acknowledge the real problems of rural people. Sure, some talk about the "plight of the farmer" as if all rural people were farmers. But no one in recent memory has really made an effort to understand the real economic and social issues in rural America. When we finally get a Presidential candidate who puts it together - that there are economic pressures, that religion is important, that guns are important - he says it in a sloppy manner, and his opponent is all over him about that.

    But wait - what has she said or done about rural American in her 35 years of experience? Nothing. I cannot think of one thing Hillary Clinton has done for rural America. Not one thing. In fact, her big State election strategy is a write off of rural America. Rural and low population States just don't matter in her world view. So, who exactly is the "elitist"?

    So, I compare and contrast Obama and Clinton on rural issues, and Obama comes up the big winner. Sure, his statement at a closed door fund raiser in California was poorly done - but at least he was talking about rural America instead of sweeping us under the carpet, again, like most urban Democrats have done for the last 30 years - Clinton included.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Um, I don't own guns and back their private ownership because I like to hunt and target shoot or because I'm scared of burglers. I own guns because I trust no power center that is armed and enable by force. I do not place absolute faith in power and that is the alternative. Now it may be true that I like to hunt and shoot targets, but those are side benefits.

    This has not one thing to do with my economic status or my bitterness. In-artful is perhaps a bit light as a description. Quite frankly, since he believes it, Obama should say the 2nd is an individual right and shut the hell up. He can do himself nothing but harm by going farther.

  • Marshall Collins (unverified)
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    I find nothing wrong with what Obama said. Especially if you read the entire speech and not just the "bitter" snippet. I have seen what he is talking about in action. I grew up in the quaint little town of Oakridge. It was a town built around logging mills which have long since left. For over 20 years the town has heard from both republicans and democrats saying "if you vote for me I will make it better" and no matter who it was and what letter was next to their name it got worse. When the elections would come around as a kid and then a teenager all people would talk about were abortion, gays, guns, porn, church, cops, the death penalty, and the environmet. The most substantive economic conversations I ever heard was when the single sentance "They'll raise/lower taxes" was occaisonally uttered. The economy wasn't on these peoples minds when electing their leaders because after years of "negative" conditioning they realized that it didn't matter what the candidates said, they were still going to be screwed in the end anyways.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Obama has admitted his way of saying what he said about bitterness and guns wasn't well phrased, but his basic premise was in the ball park. He is also getting support here , here and elsewhere.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    You are all making mountains out of molehills. You all need to stop being uptight about this and go onward.

  • DH (unverified)
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    This is ridiculous and yet another example of how tone deaf and off the charts the HC campaign is. Just today she brought up the Obama comments at a rally in PA and she was BOOED by the folks for bringing it up. The HC campaign has hammered to hard on this and now she is just annoying many people.

  • (Show?)

    This brings back memories. So glad I don't live in FG any more.

  • Becky (unverified)
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    The past three decades of social and political change have radicalized many people who have taken that change personally as an attack on their very identity. I do not believe most liberal Americans have any idea how defensive their social and political advances have left conservatives feeling. In urban areas, people are exposed to more ideas and influences and this modifies their views tremendously. But in small town America, particularly where people have been subjected to extreme stresses such as job loss, the lack of exposure to modifying influences allows their wounds to fester.

    And anyone who has ever had an infected wound knows very well that even the kindest touch, no matter how necessary it is, is extemely painful and something from which your instant reaction is to quickly withdraw.

    It's becoming painfully obvious to me that far too many Americans cling desperately to the beliefs they were handed by their parents or favorite talk radio hosts, but because they did not arrive at those beliefs through their own critical thinking and research, they cannot logically defend them, nor do they have the thinking skills to be capable of doing so. Clinging is all they can do.

    They have a team or even tribal mentality about their beliefs. Their beliefs are how they define themselves. For that reason, they cannot even consider the possibility that someone with a different opinion might have a valid point to make or might make a good leader for this country. In fact, any effort to reach them simply strengthens their resolve to cling to those beliefs and reinforces their irrational conviction that the person is not to be trusted and is actually trying to destroy their kind.

  • (Show?)

    Uh, how about, There really is a Third Way, but it's not the DLC definitioon of ceding every point to the slimers.

    The way he handles his gaffes and those of his surrogates is big plus for him.

    The day of the “gaffe” Axlerod comes out and apologizes for the wording but does not retract the statement and its meaning. Next Day Obama comes out in Indiana and goes through the whole thing again saying basically,

    “Yeah, I said they’re bitter and people do return to the reliably familiar after thirty years of watching their blue collar lifestyle go down the tubes while being lied to and disrespected again and again by politicians from both parties”.

    This is the same theme of “Legitimate Grievance” all around that he started pushing in his books and held through round 1 of Rev. Wright thing. Consistent messaging.

    Yesterday I watched Clinton and Obama each go on a CNN special about the role of religion in the lives of the candidates and in gummint. Hillary was first and made sure to bring up the God n guns thing, followed by Obama who again basically reiterated his remarks without backing down. He was applauded repeatedly and went right out to work the room full of evangelicals as soon as the event was officially over.

    Today, at a Manufacturing trade forum, Clinton did it again and was actually booed by some of the crowd. Obama came on next and got huge applause.

    Bottom line? He ain’t lying on his back with his nuts in the breeze like Gore and Kerry did when attacked, nor is he resorting to the Tit for Tat viciousness of old style mudslinging.

    I have to say that I hadn't imagined that "the public" was ready to get beyond all of the predictable attack and lie standard stuff, but increasingly it's looking like they're sick of it and willing to listen to the actual message and not the message spun by surrogates of the opponent.

    <hr/>

    Oh, and there's might be a pony in the pile somewhere when Steve Maurer, TJ and I all agree on a something

  • (Show?)

    Pat:

    Although not how I'd have worded it, you did a great job of expressing much of what I thought.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Bitter... you bet.. I hardly know anyone who isn't bitter, except maybe a few beltway politicos and pundits who are pulling in the big money... I grew up in K. Falls and Klamath County. People there haven't got over the closing of the mills in the 80s. The Rs have managed blame it all on the liberals and environmentalists and tell them that the liberal Dems are going to take away their guns and take God out of America somehow, and convert everyone into homosexuals.

    What Obama said about bitterness and rural America is absolutely true. You ask people in Eastern and Southern Oregon whether they are bitter.. you betcha they are. Have a drive out in that country and compare it to the Willamette Valley. Those people are barely hanging on, most of them. Did Obama hurt his chances with them? I doubt it, since most of them don't think government can or will do anything for them anyway. They are going to vote R anyway. And Hillary Clinton is nowhere in rural Oregon either. Those small numbers of Dem voters that exist in rural Oregon are going to vote for Obama by a large majority I think. The Clinton years didn't help them one bit, and they like Hillary even less than they liked Bill.

  • Randy (unverified)
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    Obama looks more and more like the typical elitist twit that the Democrats love to nominate. There is a long line of them that win the primary but lose the election.

  • Steve Buel (unverified)
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    This all reminds me of visiting my sister in southern Idaho recently. The huge majority of people watched Fox news and were Republicans and Bush fans. The Republicans had not done one thing for them economically and yet they were all big supporters. This seemed to pretty much support what Obama is saying.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    Unlike Kerry, Obama spent years working as a community organizer to help poor people on the South Side of Chicago. Not from some glitzy office, but on the streets with them. Prior to that he had a pretty humble upbringing, being raised by his grandparents for the most part, and spending a few years growing up in a third world country. Elitist? NOT.

  • James Mattiace (unverified)
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    When I heard of the Obama "gaffe" I immediately thought... sounds like something directly out of Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas?" and am awfully surprised no one has mentioned it here.

    From this current perspective Clinton's (I mean Bill's) presidency looks positively gorgeous compared to the current occupant, but I remember some really dark times for the working class during the Clinton supported NAFTA years and DLC triangulation. Workfare my a$$

    Obama may have phrased it poorly originally, but I too have run into those people on the doorstep who have found both national (and I stress national) Dems and Reps seeking to better corporate life over everyday workers' lives. And they are righteously angry and turn to those "values issues" that seem to distinguish candidates.

    At the local and state ;level it itsn't quite the same and frankly I am 100% shocked that Hillary would jump on something she damn sure knows is true as an attack point.

    Kudos for Obama saying it. And further kudos for not backing down on it.

    If we can create dialogue out of this with those who feel like they have been economically brushed aside then a better Oregon has been formed...

    James Mattiace

    .

  • Ryan H (unverified)
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    I have to agree with some of the above postings that these are examples of exactly who doesn't really care what Obama says. I think the focus is and will be on drawing distinctions between Clinton and Obama. Clinton's not really helping convince me by piling on this "elitist" argument and furthering this ridiculous political tactic. George W. Bush was a wealthy, ivy-league New Englander from a long line of true elitists. Look up some Barbara Bush quotes and you'll be treated to some serious elitism. The whole family is so ridiculously out of touch it's amazing. Obama is downright folksy compared to G.W. I'm disappointed to see Hilary helping continue the patently false notion that Democrats are snobs and Republicans are good beer-drinking buddies.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Kudos for Obama saying it. And further kudos for not backing down on it.

    And more kudos for Obama having the character and honesty to admit that he didn't phrase his words as well as they might have been phrased. This stands in sharp contrast to other politicians who can't admit to having made a mistake even though almost everyone else in the nation, including some of their own supporters, knows it.

    It is interesting that Hillary, who still really hasn't admitted she was wrong on the Iraq war, is in cahoots with all the right-wing pundits hammering Obama on this issue when many people basically agree with him.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    It is interesting that Hillary, who still really hasn't admitted she was wrong on the Iraq war, is in cahoots with all the right-wing pundits...

    If Joe LIEberman is dissing Obama then that is a good sign Obama was right.

  • (Show?)

    And more kudos for Obama having the character and honesty to admit that he didn't phrase his words as well as they might have been phrased.

    That is a great point, Bill. I couldn't agree more.

    Oh, and ditto about Lieberman!

  • (Show?)

    Having lived in a small town in Oregon for over six years before moving to Portland, I find Obama's comments indefensible, as are those who try to spin them as anything but arrogant and urbane elitism.

    Obama's arrogance did not permit him to apologize for these remarks, and I don't give him points for saying "sorry if you took it that way." The fact that these comments were made in a private gathering says to me that Obama thought he was among his own - he could let his "act" down - and what came out what an insult to working-class Americans.

    The elitist label is a sure-fire loser to a Democratic presidential politician in a Presidential election. No one is making any stretch to brand Obama with that label - he has earned it for himself, many times over, but this is the clearest example yet.

    Vote for Obama on May 20 - if you want to see President McCain inaugurated in January.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)
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    Barak and his wife never made more that $100k before he sold his first book. His mom died of cancer because she couldn't afford insurance. or treatment. Does that sound elitist?
    He is speaking truth and Hillary knows it. I think it is obvious to most people that she is being calculating and insincere and they are really getting sick of that kind of politics. I believe there is a great thirst for a leader who will speak the truth as he or she sees it. This won't hurt him.

  • DH (unverified)
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    Chris,

    It is indefensible spin jobs like yours that have left such a bad taste in so many mouths. Until the last couple of months, my reservations about your candidate were just that, reservations about HC. Then her campaign and its supporters just went ape shit. Your posts and comments are either born out of unmitigated gall, delusions, or a "win at all costs" mentality. Whatever shred of dignity or self-respect were left are now at the bottom of the boilermaker your candidate guzzled to look cool with the crowd. Seriously, get a grip.

  • (Show?)

    How is it "truth" to say that in a nation where the vast majority of folks are religious that they're only "clinging" to religion out of bitterness? Does that go for Buddhists in Burma and Tibet as well? Does it go for those "clinging" to tribal religions in Africa or Australia? Does it also go for muslims all over the world?

    How is it "truth" to imply that everyone who harbors some bitterness about economic reality must be leaning toward xenophobia or racism?

    How is it "truth" for a politician to say he wants gun control in 1996, then say he's all for individual 2nd amendment rights now, then brand rural gun owners as "clinging" out of some bitter desperation?

    That isn't truth, it's at best Americanist Marxism (economy determines superstructure) and at worst ivy-league arrogance. And in Obama's case, I feel it's a pretty certain bet it's the latter.

    Sorry, I've lived in poverty and been down with the out-of-work in both cities and rural settings, and America is better than Obama (and those of you who echo him here, at his worst) argue.

    And I know prep-school smug when I see it - no street cred granted on this one.

  • Karl Smiley (unverified)
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    Chris. I guess you didn't listen to what Barak said. He never said that the majority of folks who are religious are only "clinging to religion out of bitterness". For Pete's sake he is religious himself. He also never implied that "everyone" who harbors bitterness about economic reality must be leaning toward xenophobia and racism. I'm a gun owner and he sure as heck didn't offend me.

    Do you seriously believe that people don't find refuge in religion when the material world craps on them? Or that poor econmic times can't exaserbate racial and ethnic tensions?

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Chris: Having slandered Obama on a personal level, not his policy positions, how is it that you intend to support him so strongly as you promised to do in the fall when he is our nominee?

    Do you honestly think this kind of stuff does you or your candidate proud? You are marginalizing yourself more with each muddy post you slam on the wall.

  • DH (unverified)
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    There is a thresh-hold for smelling the foulness of this misadventure. After you are covered in enough of it, you lose your ability to detect it.

  • KJBEugene (unverified)
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    I swear, Hillary could shoot someone in the head live on CNN and Chris would find a way for it to mean that Obama is bad.

    Personally, I find it refreshing when a candidate stands by what he says and refuses to pander. Yes, he could have phrased things a little more artfully, but he repeatedly shows himself eager to ask hard questions and actually talk to voters like adults. Clinton comes across as desperate and soulless by comparison, and people can see that (Notice that Obama's still 10 points ahead in today's Gallup poll.)

    This has all been a bit incredible to witness: The MSM had all but anointed her the winner last fall. This primary was supposed to be a victory lap that would be over by February 5th. However, her campaign has been (to paraphrase Keith Olbermann) akin to watching someone falling down the stairs in slow motion: coming in third in Iowa, losing twelve primaries in a row, NAFTA, Bosnia, Mark Penn, Columbia, etc., blah-blah-blah, and so on. And I'm supposed to trust her leadership abilities how?

    While Clinton has been basking in her "inevitability", Obama's been out there working hard and, state by state, taking his message to the people, and the results are now becoming apparent to even the most desperate Clinton backers. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Obama wants to lead while Clinton wants to be president. And as much as people like Chris want to huff and puff and pout, that's why he's winning.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    Obama and Novick both suffer from the malady of saying what they think. Karen Armstrong one said of Confucius, in The Great Transformation": "He was too blunt and honest to succeed in politics." How interesting that more than 2500 years have elapsed, and the characteristic of candor is still a political liability.

    To those rural Oregon voters who feel compelled to vote for Hillary, the DINO, Clinton, go for it. And to those bloggers here who feel compelled to pounce on Novick every time he utters a non-programmed phrase, that's your prerogative too. As Mo Udall once said, when Democrats form a firing squad, they tend to form it in a circle. And I guess the authentic, non-programmed Democrats are the first ones to get shot.

    I don't know Novick's fate yet, but I'll say this about Obama -- Hillary might yet get McCain elected, but Obama will at least win the nomination.

  • Ivan (unverified)
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    OK, PLEASE LETS VOTE(assume blogers on this topic are the superdelegates) OBAMA WINS!! AM SO HAPPY, THAT THE FOLKS SUFFERING UNDERSTOOD OBAMA'S MESSEGE UNLIKE THE SILLY POLITICIANS- REMEMBER THIS ELECTION IS ABOUT US THE PEOPLE- NOT THE POLITICIAN AND DATS WHY, OBAMA WILL WIN!!

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    Having spent a great many years living in small Oregon towns and the Metro area I've very interested in the response to Kevin's post. Both Clinton and Obama supporters I know recognized the Obama statements "in context" as what happens when people have to endure disappointment after disappointment in unfulfilled campaign promises. Like the flood victims in Vernonia, people turn to each other,help each other out, go off hunting or fishing together, look forward to the routines of church dinners because it is familiar. We are all fed up with gas prices, food prices, the economy, trillions in debt, crumbling infrastructure, foreclosures, the war....

    Meanwhile, Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's Campaign Chair will be in Medford tomorrow to open the 6th Oregon Clinton office. Maybe I'll have the opportunity to tell him about the deer hanging in my tiny apartment shower when I was in college waiting to be butchered for my freezer..now that boyfriend was something else with his huntin' rifle!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    We keep hearing and reading about the tribal conflicts in Iraq and how they will make it difficult to stabilize that country that Bush and his tribes tore it asunder. Guess what!! We have a tribal problem right here in the United States. The difference is that people here choose their tribes based mostly on culture and ideology. Just now we have the neocon, right-wing and Clinton tribes ganging up on Obama doing what they can to tear him down to their level, which is probably impossible. It is all so disgusting and contemptible that if Hillary gets the nomination I'll probably not be the only independent who will find it very difficult to vote for her as much as we might detest McCain.

    Re: the link above to Joe LIEberman's crummy little bit of crap, it seems he has forgotten that Obama campaigned for him when LIEberman was running for the Senate. Obama deservedly lost some points for supporting LIEberman so perhaps it is poetic justice that sleazy Joe stabbed him in the back.

  • Bridget (unverified)
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    As someone who grew up in a rural area, who now lives in a rural area, I've met my fair share of rednecks.

    However,I find Obama's comments insulting.

    There are certainly people who cling to their guns, religion or antipathy for others not like them.

    These clingers aren't limited to the blue collar workers among us. I've heard many of my white collar colleagues espouse the same sentiments.

    So what that Kevin lives next to a redneck loser? That guy wasn't going to vote for Obama anyway.

    I live next to really nice blue collar folks who were offended, and who may just decide to vote for Hillary now.

    To simply apply this as a blanket to blue collar workers is wrong.

    Just for the record, I'm an Obama supporter, who made her kids get up at 4 in the morning to see him when he came to town.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    "Re: the link above to Joe LIEberman's crummy little bit of crap, it seems he has forgotten that Obama campaigned for him when LIEberman was running for the Senate. Obama deservedly lost some points for supporting LIEberman so perhaps it is poetic justice that sleazy Joe stabbed him in the back."

    Agreed. There's bad karma coming your way when you support Joe against a fellow Democrat who opposed the Iraq War. I guess Barack must like the guy personally, but "friends don't let friends support Lieberman."

  • sandra longley (unverified)
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    I must say, Obama has the "I believe in bitterness" constituency, and i have noticed his supporters are oozing it, you would be a hard group to be around-he definately draws the negative crowd-not very civil either-whereas we Clintons are upbeat and positive and optomistic, we are small town-big town, being bitter is a choice youve made, being optomistc is a choice I've made. And if your candidate is doing so well, why wouldn't you be more gracious, you must think you can slander your way into the presidency. I truly feel sorry for you, and pray every day you will feel better about youself and your life and your prospects

  • DH (unverified)
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    Gosh Sandra, you are so right. Thanks for helping me to see the light.I was almost brainwashed with all that " The Audacity of Hope" and " Change We Can Believe In " negativity and biterness. Oh no! I am out of H-C Kool-Aid. I can just feel my biterness oozing back into me.

    Sandra and Chris need to get together on eharmony. I'll pray for you too Sandra.

  • Stacy6 (unverified)
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    I was born in Klamath Falls. Graduated from Klamath Union High School many years ago. Mom still lives there. Obama's viewpoint, IMO, is valid and was honestly offered without the condescending sugarcoating or idealized salt-of-the-earth BS so many politicians sling in the direction of rural America. I get the feeling that Obama has far more understanding of rural economic realities than Hillary "$109,000,000 in income over 7 years" Clinton.

    Better one harsh truth than a hundred pretty lies.

    The truth and the context: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-coleman/i-was-there-what-obama-re_b_96553.html

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Here's the transcript of a speech that Obama just gave in Pittsburgh that explores in some detail the issues that he clumsily touched upon in his SF talk that has attracted such criticism. An excerpt:

    "Because politics didn’t lead me to working folks; working folks led me to politics. I was standing with American workers on the streets of Chicago twenty years ago, and the reason I’m here today is because I don’t want to wake up one day many years from now and see that our companies are still getting hurt because foreign governments are still bending or breaking the rules, or that we’re still standing idly by while American jobs get shipped overseas, or that we still haven’t made the investments in infrastructure and in training our workers that we desperately need.

    "The reason I’m here today is because I know what it’s like to go to college on student loans, and see a mother get sick and worry that maybe she can’t pay the bills. I know what it’s like to have to scratch and work and claw to build a better life for your family. And I don’t want to wake up many years from now and find that the American dream is still out of reach for too many Americans."

  • Viki (unverified)
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    For some reason Obama supporters keep bring Hillary and Bill earning for the last 8 years, but forgot to mentioned that not Hillary and defiantly not Bill were born wealthy. Clinton also gave to charity much more in % from their income than Obama. Hillary was growing in middle class family and had her first summer job when she was 13 and worked ever since.

    Regarding Obama “bitter” remarks: his campaign first deny it, because it was off-the –record and they didn’t think it would be a tape.

    On the “Compassion debate” on CNN Obama was asked:”When the life begins?” Forty three years old man who is running for president should took a stand on this issue time ago, but not Obama. He “didn’t formulate his opinion yet”. What is he waiting for?

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    "Re: the link above to Joe LIEberman's crummy little bit of crap, it seems he has forgotten that Obama campaigned for him when LIEberman was running for the Senate. Obama deservedly lost some points for supporting LIEberman so perhaps it is poetic justice that sleazy Joe stabbed him in the back."

    Agreed. There's bad karma coming your way when you support Joe against a fellow Democrat who opposed the Iraq War. I guess Barack must like the guy personally, but "friends don't let friends support Lieberman."

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    People have such short memories. Back in '92, Hillary, that traditional gal, who hunts ducks in every spare moment, loves guns, and slugs down whiskey in one swallow, took some heat for being an "elitist" by putting down stay-at-home moms announcing how proud she was for not "staying at home baking cookies" like some other politician's wives.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    The audience for these attacks by Hillary is not the voter as much as it is the SDs. It's the last ditch Tonya Harding strategy, convince the SDs that Obama can't win and convince 80% of the undecided to back her, a long shot admittedly. Apparently it's not working, with the SDs or the voter.

    Polling from last week is unchanged or improved for Obama. A good reliable poll- Quinnipiac has it unchanged from last week, and Gallup tracking has Obama with bigger lead, Survey USA has a four point shift towards Obama. CQ Politics predicts a small delegate gain for Clinton from Pa, not much for all the ill will that Clinton will have gained in the party for her Republican style attack ads.

    And this quote from WaPo: Rep. Mike Doyle (D), an undecided superdelegate who represents Pittsburgh and surrounding towns in the Monongahela Valley, said yesterday that he was not particularly troubled by Obama's comments.

    "I don't disagree with a lot of what he said. My dad was a mill worker. My grandfather was a steel mill worker, and when the steel industry collapsed, nobody's family was hurt more than mine," Doyle said. "It's not inaccurate to say a lot of politicians have come through these towns, made a lot of promises and failed to deliver. I thought he was spot-on when he said how people feel."
    
  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    Hillary, in contrast with the bad elitist, Obama, tells us who is in touch with "real Americans." http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/guide_ad

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Answer to original question, no. It's a totally media made up phony contrived controversy to made a 'regular guy' Obama look bad, while making the multi-multi-multi millionaire John Sidney McCain III, look good.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    This is a very interesting development. Barney Frank, a Super D for Clinton, and brother of Ann Lewis, a high level member of the Clinton campaign says that the candidate trailing in delegates should drop out before June 3. Since it is very clear who will be trailing, he is saying indirectly that Clinton should drop out.

    From A.P."Frank: Trailing Democrat Should Drop Out

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Barney Frank said the trailing Democratic presidential candidate should drop out of the race by no later than June 3 — the date of the two last Democratic primaries — even if it is the candidate he supports, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    "Probably sooner," the Massachusetts congressman added in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. He suggested that the trailing candidate should drop out once it became clear that candidate had no remaining practical chance of winning the nomination.

  • genop (unverified)
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    By branding the messenger elitist, we trivialize the message. The majority of the electorate feels disenfranchised. This leads to cynicism and a sense we can trust little in our lives. Our skepticism breeds distrust and fear. We cling to those things which empower us and become isolated. Protectionist. To overcome this phenomena we must recognize those interests we share in common and apply ourselves to achieve the common good. Which candidate might better lead the way. A shot and a beer, or the bitter truth?

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    I like Obama much better than Hillary, but he needs to stop ruminating in public. My above post was another one that went before I was finished with it and the half post reflects my view considerably less than I like. Neither of the candidates is good on the 2nd, an individual right reading by Obama is historically correct and considering his record he should stop right there. Hillary should STFU, she has no redeeming features on the issue and her play acting will only push this into the forefront.

    People who are pressed by conditions beyond their control have two reactions, they hold tighter to and become more protective of the things they have control over. Religion is an excellent example, it is their's so screw off. Guns are a bit more complicated, they are a matter of personal control but they are also a symbol of resistance (potentially). The 'other' is a tad more complicated, there are actual measurable and observable effects on labor from illegal hiring, that will play badly with someone suffering.

    If a NE OR nail bender can deal with the issue in this manner I expect better from Barack. It is bad news for a candidate to put half formed thoughts out where they can be played against him.

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    Chuck,

    In fairness to Barack, I believe that the words were spoken at a private function. Apparently a blogger was there and recorded it. The rest is history.

  • sandra longley (unverified)
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    <h2>Add to the list of Penn. states commentors, Mr. nutter, the mayor of Philly who on Sunday said, Barrack Obama was out of touch with the people of Penn. and did not acurately describe his constituents, Guess Obama meant to say they were"typical white american bitter small town people" he seems to be big on stereotyping people, or haven't you noticed? Remember about the power of words as he likes to say, why should saying something at a private fundraiser be an excuse for bigotry, he is what he is.I got that from page 4 of "OBAMA 4 DUMMIES"good nite and remember I'm praying for you!!!!</h2>

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