Barack Claims Voters Are Bitter. He’s Right.

Barack Claims Voters Are Bitter. He’s Right.


This has become a mini-firestorm…

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them…And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

After reading this, people are saying Obama is elitist, condescending, etc. Yeah, okay…if you read this as him saying he’s better than voters you could have a point. But he’s clearly not. He’s explaining how the American experience has gotten steadily worse because of the bitter partisan battles we’ve been fighting throughout the last three decades.

Folks, consumer confidence is at an all time low. Prices for the basic goods are climbing every month. Our dollar is consistently dropping in value. People are losing their homes. More and more manufacturing jobs are being shipped overseas. Does anybody really believe that voters aren’t bitter? That they somehow feel that the people in D.C. really care about how they’re doing? And as a result, does anybody really believe that there’s not a fair amount of working-class Americans who allow wedge issues to define their vote because they think that’s the only thing they can control?

But hey, I’ll let the guy respond for himself…

My guess is that the Obama camp hopes Clinton and McCain keep pushing this “bitter” meme and try to define him with it, because it’ll make him the Howard Beale of 2008.

  • gerryf

    Partisan politics is a convenient scapegoat for the situation we are in, but it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what is really wrong. It is a symptom, not the cause.

    What has really happened is our government has been taken over by corporations and special interests and the every man has been abandoned. Big money has won.

    People will say there isn’t a bit of difference between the GOP and Dems and while one can make that case in some ways, it is mainly because the last Dem to serve as President was not far removed from the corporatists in the GOP.

    We may be too far gone down that path already, but our only hope is a dramatic, inspiring leader with vision that can curb the momentum and turn things back to a government for the people.

    McCain won’t do that. Clinton won’t do that. Obama is our last, best shot.

  • Lach in PA

    Obama Clarifies: His “Typical White American” Statement

    “Typical White American” = Unfriendly, Gun toting, Racist, Bigot, Delusional, Religious Zealot,
    and although not required but preferably a Native of Pennsylvania.

  • Dos

    I want to my window and yelled, “Things could get considerably better!” I just don’t know if it had the same effect.

  • Neo

    When I posted about this yesterday, I had found the part ..

    anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

    .. as just breathe taking in regard to the fact that just the day before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had exercised the “nuclear option” and taken the Columbian Free Trade agreement out of contention for an up or down vote.

    But why would Nancy Pelosi be bitter ?

    But alas, here was the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for POTUS basically saying that this was a cynical act, probably a cynical political act which was not in the interest of the nation, but nonetheless standard Democratic fare of the day.

    Does Obama think that Pelosi and the House are cynical and/or bitter ?

    I will watch and wait for an answer.

  • TerenceC

    Not the smartest thing to say 2 weeks before an important primary – but having spent considerable time in the Midwest and PA I don’t think he’s off the mark. If it takes being thought of as elitist and condescending to make those points then so be it.

    Clintons, Bush’s, Regans have all pandered to the people in these small towns and groups and then smiled while their local economies were shipped out of the country. Who the hell wouldn’t want to shoot something, talk about it at church, and commiserate while their children and grand children moved away because there was no where to work.

    Cheney shooting people in the face while bird hunting, Bush acting like a regular guy clearing brush, Clinton going into the McDonalds for the morning gossip. Obama telling them that they have gotten economically screwed for decades by pandering Washington insiders is at least the truth. So if the opposition wants to make something about – let them – but I think they’ll only end up hurting themselves because they are who he’s talking about. It’s like a trap almost.

  • gerryf

    Who is “people” saying his elitist? For crying out loud, one idiot on McCains staff says it, then an idiot on the Clinton staff repeats it…how the heck is what he said elitist?

    People are bitter, and if 28 percent of the people in this country–the same boobs who still support Bush–think things are going along swimmingly, why the heck should anyone listen to them?

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    Justin, you silly goose. You completely missed the point. The simple use of the word “bitter” is not what is so elitist. It was the last line you quoted that people have a problem with:
    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.
    People believe that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world because they are bitter and frustrated? People own guns and advocate second amendment rights because only because they are economically disenfranchised? People who want border enforcement are “clinging” to xenophobia – does that mean you are a bitter racist xenophobe, Justin?

    Boilerplate Marxist “opiate-of-the-masses” elitism, plain and simple. These typical middle-class rubes merely “cling” to these worthless moral concepts of religion or gun-ownership or national sovereignty because they are “have-nots” in a world of “haves.” You see, man does live on bread alone and small town yokles don’t get enough bread. Obama’s government will start handing it out in January. Get in line.

    When an elite academy-trained millionaire lawyer who never worked a day in his life tells small town working-class conservatives that he knows more about what motivates them than they do, how is that not elitist?

  • TerenceC


    “When an elite academy-trained millionaire lawyer who never worked a day in his life tells small town working-class conservatives that he knows more about what motivates them than they do, how is that not elitist?”

    Who are you talking about here, seriously?

  • Dos

    Jimmy – you are 100% correct. The point was missed. Sometimes BHO forgets the distinction between campaigning and academic lecturing. This was, of course, a strain of the “I feel your pain” brand of politics, but it came out as an elitist assault on core values. But I guess that is the bet (wrong bet) that BHO was making — that guns, religion, marriage, et. al. –are not “core values”, but rather psychological proxies for their frustration with the economy. Stupid politically and stupid intellectually.

  • TerenceC

    They aren’t core values – they are emotional values or institutions. That’s why people get so “pinged” whenever someone talks about it politically. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to drill down on the issues effecting small town America – they are primarily economic – not lifestyle related.

    Small towns have been devistated by economics, businesses close, schools have less money, housing values decline, “pillar” businesses close (restaurants, movie theatrs, bakeries – and are replaced by big box stores which destroys down towns, etc etc.

    Small town people typically engage in more outdoors type activities – much more so than city people (frankly because outdoor activities are really the only things to do, and in many cases they hunt and fish for fresh meat). So there will be behavior that is gun focused, or fishing focused, or camping focused, etc.

    People from larger cities generally have a finer appreciation for differences in people, races, nationalities, religions – and especially tolerance of differences in general. Why, because they are surrounded by it day in and day out. Small town people generally form behaviors that stress the continuity of the local group, the church, hunting, ice fishing, (working at the mill), but in recent years (atleast 25) that community has undergone some very destructive processes.

    I see nothing wrong with what he said except that his opponents/enemies will distort, twist, and lie and turn it into something racial. That wasn’t the isuue, economic destruction and what’s left over was……people need to admit it, not complain about it.

  • mw

    Do we really want Howard Beale for President? Just asking.

  • Justin Gardner

    No, I didn’t miss the point guys. That’s why I said…

    And as a result, does anybody really believe that there’s not a fair amount of working-class Americans who allow wedge issues to define their vote because they think that’s the only thing they can control?

    All I can say is I’m from a working class family, and I’ve seen members of my immediate and extended family allow wedge issues to define their vote. So I know it’s not an elitist point of view.

    And by the way Jimmy, where are you getting this myth that Obama has had some sort of privileged life?

    Dos, would you quit with the BHO stuff please?

  • TerenceC

    If it gets ratings…….

  • Justin Gardner

    Do we really want Howard Beale for President? Just asking.

    Do you really think I was being absolutely literal? Just asking.

  • vwcat

    Obama is saying nothing we have not said here in the midwest. If Billary, the 109 million dollar couple, want to paint him as elitist, then they are calling those of us who have suffered from the Clintons love of free trade elitists as well.
    The clintons have gotten rich off our backs and believe me, they are part of the reason the middle class has been destroyed. So, yeah, we are bitter.
    And if anyone thinks Hillary has really changed her tune or believes the lies she is peddling on the campaign trail as a reformed free trader, I suggest you read her record on this.
    She is not telling the people the truth. She is still a free trader.,1,2301897.story

  • mw

    “She is still a free trader.”

    Yet another reason to embrace Billary.

  • reason

    The pied piper just dropped his flute.

    People don’t “cling” to their religion and guns because they are bitter. These are basic american values and rights. Obama is out of touch and his facade is beginning to crumble. By november he will be as despised as Billary.

    It doesn’t matter now who the democrats nominate now, their ineptness has handed McCain the presidency.

    It’s too bad really. Many of us would like to vote for a democrat and the issues they stand for. But the democratic leadership is inept and full of obvious charlatans who use those issues for their own personal aggrandizement.

  • Jimmy the Dhimmi

    And by the way Jimmy, where are you getting this myth that Obama has had some sort of privileged life?

    Because he has actually had a privileged life.

    I gotta say though, those spin doctors really earned their paycheck this week. This nonsense that Obama really meant that people tend to ignore economic issues and vote values because the government won’t do enough for them is rather clever. But of course its utter B.S. These values that small-town americans vote for, like marraige/abortion, illegal immigration, gun control, ect… are the exact antithesis of everything Obama stands for.

    Does he actually think he is going to change their minds and ignore social issues simply by raising taxes and creating a socialist welfare state? He can assuage their frustrations by using government to engineer a more robust economy and those people will no longer have to “cling” to those issues? Does he realize that these very same people value small government and low taxes? Of course he does. He’s just full of sh*%

    By the way, I can tell Terrence C is not from a small town. But he knows why townies act the way they do, even if the townies don’t know it themselves. Townies are too poor, too uneducated, too racist and too stupid to know what motivates their own behavior, or what they really value in life. Did you go to Harvard with Barack?

  • mw

    This is recoverable. Few people are paying attention to this crap outside of the blogosphere, whether it is this or the Billary Bosnia flapdoodle. I still think we are heading for a Billary Obama ticket and a Dem win in the fall.

    But I also still wonder if we would even want a “figurative” Howard Beale for president.

  • TerenceC


    Atleast everyone here knows you aren’t a partisan hack blogger trying to find a way to lessen McCains inevitable loss in Nov.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    He’s right, when people lose their livliehood and become frustrated they hang onto what is still solid and controllable, like drawing strength and comfort from their religious beliefs, and their right to gun ownership for hunting and defense, they take comfort inthir families, people who don’t realize these things are the ones who are out of touch.

    Sad how far this country has fallen when a man gets bashed for telling people the truth, truly its a nation in decline that refuses to address its problems

  • TerenceC

    TPMcafe – astral66 had an amazing post – if you’e interested… captures Western PA like nothing I ‘ve been able to find.

  • reason


    McCain and Hillary are known. Their records speak for themselves. Obama is just a sugary speach that is tailored to fool children and the weak minded. His facade is crumbleing and it cannot survive until november.

    I really wanted to vote a democrat in this term, I think most of america did too. Many of the key democratic positions are those that we want to see implemented. Unfortunately the democratic leadership are mostly just demagogues and charlatans. They don’t believe the things they say to get elected and most americans see right through them.

    It doesn’t help the democratic cause that when someone like Lieberman stands up for principle they boot him out of the party… Americans like a leader who stands on principle and who says what he believes. Like him or not McCain unfortunately fits that suit better than either Hillary or Obama.

  • TerenceC

    Lieberman lost the Senatorial Democratic primary in CT – he lost the vote to Lamont. It was his choice to leave the Dem party – he was never kicked out. Since you didn’t know that it’s obvious why your other contentions are so silly – so I won’t comment on the rest of blurb because it isn’t worth it.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Sorry, McSame doesn’t stand up for principle, you’ve just bought his media illusion, he’s flipflopped on lobbyists on torture on tax cuts and he’s constantly lied about the war effort, telling us victory is in reach just a few months away over and over.

    Go ahead and vote McSame if you want, but don’t fool yourself, all your getting is four more years of Bush policies, a stacking of the supreme court with right wing judges and a further erosion of our rights.

    And if all that wasn’t bad enough his economic plan will increase deficits his tax plan will add another three trillion to the debt on top of what Bush’s projected debt, and that doesn’t include the likely invasion of Iran and the reinstitution of the draft, alsong with the economic costs those moves will incur

  • reason

    Lieberman was forced out when the party decided to back Lamont. This was in spite of Joe’s long standing and steadfast support for democratic causes. They didn’t like his principled support for the war so they iced him. The dem leadership used spin to try and hide their fickle nature but we all know what truly happened.

    Your argumentative and dismissive style is a useful illustration of another reason why most people don’t like or trust the current democratic leadership. People want a leader they can trust. One who says what he/she means and doesn’t demean the people when they say it. The current leadership treats the people as being “silly”. They claim to be for the “little people” yet treat them like lepers whenever confronted by one.

    It looks like we will have to wait until 2012 and hope a true leader emerges that honestly represents the people and the democratic principles we all support. 2008 has already been given to the republicans.

  • Avinash_Tyagi

    Actually the only people responsible are you reason, Obama is here and he is speaking out for the people, if you ignore him because you don’t like the phrasing then you yourself are to blame, and you’ll do the same in 2012 if another person comes up, you’ll watch as they try and voice the will of the people but dismiss it as being condescending or elitist. Perhaps its more that you say you want the truth and the voice of the people to be heard, but become angry when its actually spoken.

  • Eric Dondero

    Actually, after reading his comments the one thing you can conclude is that Barack Hussein Obama just hates White people. Why should we be surprised. This is a guy with strong ties to Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan.

    Obama is nothing short of an outright Racist. Anyone who votes for him is a supporter of Racism.

  • Daniel Merritt

    I think the real question is if Obama meant “the only reason people believe in God, own guns, or feel racial tension is because the economy is down” or “the only [or main] reason these are the >key electoral issues< is because the economy is down.”

    There’s pretty good social science evidence that, while belief in religion and unconscious prejudice don’t decline in economic boom times, people DO become less inclined to act or speak in a racist manner, certainly less xenophobic, and less interested in legislating their religion on others instead of privately practicing it.

    A popularly written book on this issue is “The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth” by Benjamin Friedman.

    I do find it a bit odd to lump guns in there, except in the context of the triad of divisive social issues. Maybe it’s just because my support for a moderate right to own guns is blinding me to the connection, but I don’t see it. I think that’s an emotionally charged issue, but also more empirically/utilitarian based and less susceptible to unrelated bitterness and anger.

  • Justin Gardner

    Eric, if you want to spread memes, go to Free Republic. Comments like the one you just posted aren’t welcome here.

  • Marvin the Martian

    Ummmm Justin — Eric is right — Obama has proven himself to be a racist — he has used the term “typical white person” in speeches and in his books. Pray tell, “what is a typical white person” and when you are done explaining that, then you can explain to me what “a typical black person” is like. And when you are done explaining this racist terminology, you might want to rethink what Obama really stands for. Black racism is not the answer to America’s ills, whether or not you walk around with a guilty conscience.

  • Justin Gardner

    See, this is where the discourse breaks down because there’s no honestly no reasonable way you can come to the conclusion that Obama is actually a racist. Just because somebody talks about race and draws distinctions does not mean somebody is a racist.