As soon as crackly audio of Barack Obama’s comments about “bitter” rural dwellers surfaced, the histrionics began.
Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the pundit class declared this was It – the defining moment of the campaign, that would seal Obama’s fate as a macchiato-sipping McGovernik destined to be a footnote as that black guy who adorably thought he could run he free world.
But most polls in Pennsylvania haven’t budged and Obama maintains a comfortable lead nationally. More of those rural voters gave him money than Clinton.
So what if a candidate stumbled and no one cared? Why, the talking heads and seething rivals would keep wailing on it until people did.
So much for the media being in the tank for Obama.
Under our modern rules of simplistic, soap opera-style politics, Obama should be a goner. This campaign has been an endless parade of stupid statements, often by surrogates, typically followed by feigned outrage and resignations. Sideshow antics are deemed critical turning points, from Hillary the “monster” to Rev. Jeremiah Wright to anything that froths from Bill Clinton’s yap.
Lady Hillary’s entire raison d’être for staying in a mathematically impossible race is to goad Obama into saying something that finally convinces the unwashed masses (and superdelegates) he’s unelectable.
Obama must be taught a lesson, Senator Schoolmarm insists. You just can’t say this in politics:
“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.”
Shame on you, Barack Obama. Shame on you for that ghastly gaffe (which the brilliant Michael Kinsley defines as when a politician tells the truth).
Spend a day in the rural 7th Congressional District and tell me Obama isn’t dead on. That’s the reason a smooth-talking preacher like Republican Tim Walberg beats an effective congressman with the promise to round up illegals and rescue fetuses from slaughter. That was more important to dowtrodden voters two years ago than Joe Schwarz busting his hump to secure $10 million to expand I-94 or save hundreds of jobs at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.
McCain and Clinton are still piling on. There’s something mildly amusing about two long-time multimillionaires blasting the guy who grew up on food stamps as a shameful snob.
It’s unfortunate politicking by McCain, who in January admirably told Michiganders the truth that auto jobs weren’t coming back.
But Clinton’s jabs are fiercer, since she desperately needs “Bittergate” to be the death blow for Obama. Now Hilly’s got a gun and recently recovered memories about hunting ducks with Gramps (let’s hope these hold up better than sniper fire at Tuzla). She’ll reign over us with the sunny optimism that’s marked her indignant, calcified campaign.
Too bad she once slammed southern working-class whites this way: “Screw ‘em.”
The year was 1995. Newt Gingrich’s Republican revolution had engulfed the nation as a backlash to Clintonism. Angry white men were everywhere, railing against their witchy wives and black guys taking their jobs. And Hillary was incensed by their betrayal.
But there’s an eerie parallel with the bitter white women who are the bedrock of Clinton’s campaign today.
Their narrative (just ask Gerry Ferraro) is a page out of the angry white male handbook: Baby Barack is an affirmative action hire out to snatch the job out from under the vastly experienced Clinton. Missing from this (racist) feminist parable is the obvious fact that our heroine’s résumé is only worth considering because she has her husband’s last name (ooh, gutsy move, Mrs. C.) and claims his time in the White House as her own, a truly ballsy move.
“It’s her time!” the Clintonistas whine.
So when I heard about their “I’m Not Bitter” bumper stickers, I almost spit out my Merlot, elitist that I am.
Look, their girl used to be young and idealistic like Obama, but she learned, thanks to that vast right-wing conspiracy, that getting down and dirty was the only way to win. The new face of Girl Power looks a lot like Machiavelli: The ends justify the means, baby.
So if Obama glides to the nomination on that unbelievably naïve “Hope” campaign, it’s just not fair.
Which is what almost certainly will happen, gaffes be damned. The Clintonian kitchen sink strategy is crumbling.
And that’s a truly bitter pill to swallow.