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Monday, April 14, 2008

Cling States

posted by on April 14 at 10:00 AM

This hit on Obama’s “Religion is the opiate of the people” quote was originally posted yesterday. Spazzy comments thread. So, into the Monday mix.

Barack Obama may have spoiled Howard Dean’s dream of winning back the Reagan Democrats (see: here, here, here, here and here for the snowballing reaction to his “Snob-ama” comments about how working class people “cling” to guns and religion and anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiment because they’re bitter about economic issues.)

Sloppy, dude. Is that why Obama joined the Trinity United Church of Christ? Nope. He joined, he says in the Audacity of Hope, because, “religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking…” I guess he’s a lot smarter than most of the bitter voters in Pennsylvania. (He is actually, but… sloppy, dude.)

This is not going to help him in all those Red states he won. But we knew he wasn’t going to win those Red states anyway…right?

We were counting on those swing states he won: Colorado, Virginia, and Minnesota. No guns and religion in those places. Sigh. (For what it’s worth: Clinton’s swing state victories are Ohio, Florida, and New Mexico—worth more electoral college votes than Obama’s batch.)

Given Colorado and Virginia and Minnesota’s clinginess with guns and/or religion, Obama might have just botched our swing state theory.

I’ve been saying all along, Hillary’s strength is one that has typically eluded the Democratic nominee (Kerry, Gore, Dukakis): Her appeal to the working class.

And then, after Ohio, I wrote:

The fact that Clinton won Ohio by double digits is a disconcerting asterisk and makes me nervous about the pending Obama nomination.

Well, thanks to Obama, Ohio is no longer a swing state. It’s now a cling state.

RSS icon Comments


Obama made the mistake of telling the truth, as Michael Kinsley says, a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth.

Posted by gaffe | April 13, 2008 10:31 AM

So far we have seen only evidence that Hillary appeals to working-class voters more than Obama does. This may or may not translate into much appeal by objective standards. My suspicion is that her appeal to working-class voters will be low if her counterpoint changes from the law professor with a funny name to the mavericky war hero.

At this point I don't see either one winning in November. John McCain is a lousy public speaker in set speeches but he's very strong everywhere else -- much stronger than most Democrats realize.

Posted by Andy James | April 13, 2008 10:33 AM

Media pundits (and a certain Stranger writer) assume that working class voters are so insecure and ignorant that they will vote against their self-interests because a candidate used the word "bitter" to describe their disillusionment with government.
The reaction is loaded with hypocrisy: "It is insulting to people who only care about guns and religion because they're too stupid to care about anything else." Doomsayer Mr. Feit and others believe that working class voters will carry a grudge all the way to November, one that will completely trump every economic, foreign policy and quality of life issue that affects their lives. In my opinion, THAT attitude is elitist and condescending to working class voters.

Posted by Bub | April 13, 2008 10:36 AM

And aren't the dogs snapping at his backside at what was essentially a truth? Unvarnished truth from a politician? God help us.

And Hils and McCain are calling Barack dismissive and such by him inferring that people who are gun crazy or bat-shit on Jesus are bitter. Hmmm. Ignorance and/or bitterness did help elect the doofus we've endured for eight long years and helped elect him - um - TWICE (Florida notwithstanding). Why not remind everyone the real reasons for this great national mistake?

Posted by Bauhaus | April 13, 2008 10:40 AM

Hey Bub @3,

I'm not stuck on the "bitter" thing. People are bitter.
I'm stuck on the "cling" thing.
Now, that's condescending.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 13, 2008 10:41 AM

Dear Obamaniacs,

The truth, if you can handle it, and you can't, about your candidate is on

Click on

Remember George McGovern?

The more Obama makes elitist statements that go well in San Francisco and Seattle's Capitol Hill cafes but not in the real America, the more Michelle talks, the more his Chicago connections are aired, the more videos surface of his pastor, the more likely it is that John McCain will sweep the general election.

By historical standards, the Democratic primary has been a picnic. Hillary really hasn't thrown the kitchen sink at Obama, although she should.

Wait until the general election gets going, and the Republicans begin airing TV commercials featuring Obama's all-star cast. They've got plenty of footage that no spin from Obama's camp will unspin.

That's the truth and you know it in your heart of hearts.

Posted by Mr. Astonished | April 13, 2008 10:43 AM

Prediction: Superdelegates will nominate Hillary. McCain is the next President. Thanks, Dems. I knew if you continued to drag it out, your candidates would implode. First, Hillary, now Obama. You guys are brilliant.

Posted by McCain/Crist '08! | April 13, 2008 10:44 AM

I think this could be the "I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it" moment for Obama that sunk Kerry's presidental bid.

Posted by Jeff | April 13, 2008 10:48 AM

"Stuck on the 'cling' thing" indeed. Punditry and perspective, oil and water.

How I won't miss this particular strain of analysis a month from now.

Posted by tsm | April 13, 2008 10:48 AM

Lead story in the LA Times: Clinton Foundation linked to firm aiding China crackdown. hahaha,0,499290.story

Posted by McCain/Crist '08! | April 13, 2008 10:50 AM

@8 - There's no video, and only one crappy audio feed.

Posted by tsm | April 13, 2008 10:54 AM

Cling is a poor choice of word for political purpose, but it captures the truth. When there is no stability in the labor market, when steel mills give way to call centers give way to walmart with only condescending and ineffective 'retraining' offered as a solution, what can you hold onto?

The ability to defend yourself and a faith in something better coming.

It's undeniable this does not go un-exploited. The merger of evangelical Christianity and the GOP wrote social justice out of the Bible, replacing it with prosperity gospel and the attendant presumption Jesus would disapprove of progressive taxation.

Prisons are our main rural jobs program nowadays, and that says a lot about the situation.

Posted by SomeJerk | April 13, 2008 10:56 AM

I said it on Friday and I'll say it again: he's fucked. You don't win general elections in this country by bad-mouthing gun owners or religious people.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 13, 2008 11:02 AM

Clinton knows she's not going to win the nomination so she's trying her next best option, torpedoing Obama so that McCain wins and she can re-run in four years.

Posted by bob | April 13, 2008 11:10 AM

I love that Hillary (Mrs. $109 million) is talking about *other* people being elitist. She's lived in a bubble for how many years now? Just listening to her comments from the other day where she used some variation of America(n) something around 20 times in a relatively short time made me even more certain that there's no way on earth I can support her with money or by volunteering.

Hillary thinks people are hopeful? Really? Has she seen the recent polls? I think the percentage of hopeful Americans stands at something like 15%, right? Americans aren't hopeful or happy or optimistic.

@14 is right. She knows she's not going to win, so she's torpedoing Obama by, remarkably, parroting right wing talking points. It's unfortunate, but that's the stage we're in right now.

Posted by Michigan Matt (soon to be Balt-o-matt) | April 13, 2008 11:17 AM


Seattle is as much "real America" as anywhere else. It's not elitist to point out that religion and guns are refuges of the bitter. Obama's mistake was in not stressing the positive aspect of guns and religion before pointing out how they were being abused to divide Americans.

I think he's smart enough to improve how he talks about this. The open question is whether the rest of us are smart enough to see above the bullshit.

Posted by Cascadian | April 13, 2008 11:20 AM

Oh cool it, Josh. This is not a story. It's just a load of crap that today's media poodles yap over. Tomorrow it will be something else.

Non-stories like this are just an excuse for a bunch of pundits to trip over themselves to show how knowledgeable they are about "the American People", particularly "the middle class" - something they are absolutely clueless about.

What does Hillary Clinton, of the wealthy Chicago suburbs and the Ivy League, know about "the middle class"? What does John McCain - a product of the military welfare state his entire life - know about "the middle class"? What do any of these pundits - denizens of the limousine and beltway crowd, most of whom make millions of dollars a year - know about working class people?

IF Obama gets the nomination, he will have a lot more to worry about that some stupid story that only a bunch of failed reporters and ex-politicos (which mostly comprise the pundit class) care about: Rigged voting equipment and American racism will be much more of a challenge than something these Pomerainians of the media world bite their nails over.

But at least he's at least marginally electable - unlike Hillary Clinton - the true McGovern in this race.

In the meantime, I wish reporters and pundits of all stripes - yes, even of "The Stranger"'s stripes - would concentrate on John McCain: His ties to crime, to the Bush Family, and his failing health. God knows I'm no doctor, but he looks half dead - and that thing on his neck/face keeps getting bigger. Why won't anyone talk about that?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | April 13, 2008 11:23 AM

So all of a sudden everyone out in the midwest and bluecollar workers etc are not bitter. All this time they were just happy
and all the wave of emotoin stirred up about people fed up with Illegal immigration, the economy, the way the war is going is just some BS angle the media outlets were giving us.
Bs. I have seen more comments in different news outlets and blogs from 'Blue collar workers and yes Bitter americans about the current state of affairs. I have never in my life heard so much bitching about the border issue, economy and the administration (yes republicans are fed up with Bush his cronies and McCain.

what really gets my goat is everyone calling for Obama to say he mispoke and apoligize. He didn't mispeek. It was what in college they say telling like it is....stop beating around the Bush.
Stop reading into his words to find something that has nothing to do with what he said. Whats with this takeing one word'Bitter' and acting like it doesn't exist in the hearts of many americans blue or red.
I take offense when people say we are going down the wrong path. I hear more condencension that all the hard work and status of america is going in a misguided direction. I hear that kind of talk more from Americans in the Midwest bluecollar way. People are bitter and most of realize that and do not need Obama to apoligize.
the media however wants you too and Clintons and McCain just eat it up and try to suck up as your better friend.
No one is happy with the economy and not being happy is being bitter. it is in the freaking dictionary people. god!

Posted by Zenophobic Bitter American | April 13, 2008 11:44 AM

Josh doesn't have fucking a brain. I thought he was leaving?

Posted by Todd | April 13, 2008 12:01 PM

@17: Agreed.

I think that the more this race goes on, the more I despise Clinton. I think that if this race is lost in November, the Clintons will be the new Ralph Naders of the Democratic Party, and I'll be more than happy to dance on their political graves.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will be able to backdoor a president through the vice-presidency that will probably make Bush look like a liberal atheist.

Posted by bma | April 13, 2008 12:02 PM

So Obama's toast because of bunch of white-collar people are offended on behalf of blue-collar people? Really, are small town gun owners really that insecure about their lifestyle? What if he (or any other candidate) said something like "highly educated, urban voters cling to Whole Foods and NPR because these consumer choices give them a sense of purpose they are otherwise lacking"? I doubt many people who fit that description would be terribly offended.

Posted by CG | April 13, 2008 12:07 PM

I don't see this doing the kind of lasting damage that will prevent Obama from beating McCain in Colorado, Virginia or, for that matter PA and Ohio. It would be better if Obama did not, 10 days before the PA primary,have to expend resources and energy counteracting Hillary's hypocritical attacks. But, I don't think Democratic primary voters in rural counties are stupid enough to see a sloppily worded statement so out of context that it's going to send them all, or even a significant number, Hillary's way.

Are elite superdelegates going to steal the nomination from a black candidate who's won it fair and square based on the excuse of one passing misstatement? If so, the Democrats are doomed in November anyway.

And, as far as running against McCain goes, for every Obama flub, there are at least 10 from McCain. McCain is a deeply flawed candidate in all kinds of ways.

I still say that the only thing that can defeat Obama, now or in the fall, is rampant racism. And, as much as Hillary has been willing to go there, we should not presuppose working class voters' tendencies on race, to assume Obama can't beat McCain. This is just too great a historical opportunity to give in to our worst fears about other people's feelings about race.

Posted by Bill LaBorde | April 13, 2008 12:11 PM

I was almost positive this was a non-story like every other faux-outrage-of-the-week before it, then I turned on Fox News yesterday and saw Geraldo trying to "report" on Obama's obvious self-desruction, pimping clips of Hillary calling him "elitist", which I couldn't help but laugh at. I don't think I've seen a clip of Hillary in the last 3 months where she didn't come off as a condescending and privileged, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, I was relieved to see that the other cable networks weren't "covering" this 24/7. Obama will reframe it properly--he already started to do so--and I think we have much more ammunition against John McCain come November than a mere poorly-worded statement.

The number 1 and 2 issues in the upcoming race will not be guns, religion, trade, or even immigration. I think they will be the economy and the war, and McCain has already demonstrated that he is out-of-touch with the mainstream on those issues. He's so deeply invested in a 100 year Iraq war and supply-side economics that he can't back out of that, and the only way he comes out not looking completely backwards is for us to be utterly ineffective at calling him out.

Judging by stuff like this, I think the Democratic machine is much better prepared this time around:

Poor wording, sloppy wording? Sure. Serious threat to his presidency? I don't think so.

Posted by w7ngman | April 13, 2008 12:11 PM

@11 there is a video:

FYI everyone in that room, except Obama and the catering staff, at Gordon and Ann Getty's is a billionaire*, not merely run-of-the-mill upscale San Franciscans. I especially enjoy the snickering. Preview of McCain's first ad!

*or the spouse or child of one. A few may not have cashed all their stock options or received their full trust fund and therefore are not technically billionaires, yet.

Posted by Billionaires4Barak! | April 13, 2008 12:20 PM

Don't be so reactionary Josh, this after how many blunders Hillary's campaign has had? "Mispeaking" that she was under sniper fire? Obama has his one true blunder and suddenly it's all over for him.

Posted by Todd | April 13, 2008 12:24 PM

This would never have happened if Al Gore had just run for the White House like he was supposed to have done.

It is Al Gore's fault!!!! Damn you Al DAMN YOU TO HELL!!! ((shaking fist in the air))

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 13, 2008 12:25 PM

I might be inclined to believe this is a problem for Obama if we heard from someone who wasn't a media pundit or a campaign partisan saying it was.

As it is, we're stuck with a multi-millionaire who spends $1500 a hair cut lecturing the rest of us to stop being elitist.

Posted by ru shur | April 13, 2008 12:29 PM

@24 - that's going to be the basis for a McCain ad? That shaky, distorted, low-resolution clip? Yeah, good luck on that one.

Sorry, Clinton fans, this is no "for it/against it" moment, and it will not sink Obama against McCain, much as many of you would like to see it do so.

Posted by tsm | April 13, 2008 12:32 PM

This doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Maybe it's because I just don't care about the gaffe of the week any more.

Posted by Sam | April 13, 2008 12:57 PM

Hey, gang. Still in MN with my Mom, who's now in hospice.

We'll win in the fall. With either Clinton or Obama. McCain has shackled himself too tightly to Bush's "legacy."

But... you would be astonished, off the hill, how many Democrats are regular churchgoers and/or hunters. It would be nice to speak to them as if they were not petulant children.

Posted by Big Sven | April 13, 2008 1:08 PM

I agree. It was sloppy. However it was true. Whereas Hillary's sloppy blunders have been to tell lies (sniper fire, president clinton and I disagree on free trade with Columbia, etc).

Hillary needs to be careful to not overplay her hand. She can't exactly lecture on the 2nd Amendment and working po' folks with her 12 million dollar tax return. She should just sit and wait to see if this has legs with voters and let the superdelegates decide.

Posted by Jason | April 13, 2008 1:39 PM

@24 - That's not the video. Did you even watch it? Yes, it's in San Francisco but it is not the quote the media is talking about.

Posted by Todd | April 13, 2008 1:39 PM

@13 says "You don't win general elections in this country by bad-mouthing ... religious people."

Unless the religious person is a former pastor at Obama's church.

Posted by stinkbug | April 13, 2008 1:40 PM

"[H]e says in the Audacity of Hope ...'religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking…'”

Uh, excuse me, but that's exactly what religious commitment requires.

Posted by chasman | April 13, 2008 2:15 PM

Only a matter of time until his honesty was spun into something that would fuck this up. Hillary is such a piece for capitalizing on this with her phony down-with-the-people b.s.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | April 13, 2008 2:16 PM

What? You're kidding!

George Bush's approval ratings are in the 20s. Most people feel that the Iraq War was a mistake and assume some level of dishonesty preceeded the invasion. Most people feel our economy is currently a mess, between subprime mortages and the plummeting dollar. Most people are even more or less dissatisfied with the Dem Congress for not doing enough about any of this.

But this overwhelming disapproval in the economic and foreign spheres -- this quantified unhappiness with the direction of the country -- couldn't be called, say, bitterness? Really? What? You're kidding!

And after such bitterness toward a systemic failure of the government and of the markets, we can't say people are "clinging" to something that hasn't or won't fail them -- like religion and local tradition? Really? What? You're kidding!

Grow up, you baby. I realize that Obama was making a more specific claim -- that the vanishing jobs in Ohio and Pennsylvania left people bitter and that in turn they clinged to what would not fail them when they felt the markets and the government had failed them.

People who never liked Obama won't like this either. But the people he could reach will take the point, I think, and appreciate that he didn't back down.

I love that the same week McCain has to change his mortgage policy because of public uncertainty and bitterness, we're expected to believe that Obama sunk himself by speaking to that same uncertainty and bitterness.

Posted by What? You're Kidding! | April 13, 2008 2:35 PM

"He (Obama) went to Harvard and became an educated fool" - Bobby Rush

Posted by McG | April 13, 2008 2:40 PM

I don't know why I'm bothering; your minds won't allow a word I say to be heard anyway, but here goes. You nitwits who keep insisting that "what Obama said was right" are so clueless that you honestly scare the hell out of me. Sure, there are a lot of people going through some pretty bad times in this country. And a lot who aren't. The ones who are religious were that way long before the economy went south. And the ones who are into guns and/or hunting were that way too. As were the people who actually believe the laws of this country should be obeyed (I know, silly them - of course you're all too "enlightened" to be bothered with such things), and that when someone breaks the law by coming into this country illegally, we need to toss their ass back out. Yep, maybe they're stupid back-woods yokels and maybe they aren't, but at least they have some values, and they had them long aefore the economy turned to shit.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 13, 2008 2:54 PM

5280, it's so nice of you to speak down to us. if you don't think we will read/comprehend what you post, then why bother?

Posted by Go away! | April 13, 2008 3:11 PM

5280 - That's right, what's really important is to have values. And if those values happen to be homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, oh well.

Posted by valuesvoter | April 13, 2008 3:16 PM

The only people who seem to think what Obama said is elitist are the elites. Has anyone actually asked working class voters if they feel offended by what he said? Not by what people are SAYING he said, not by the wholly invented narrative they've spun around certain specific words he said, but what he actually said. Nobody found offense in this until these lying shitheads TOLD them to find it offensive.

The Clinton and McCain campaigns made this whole fucking thing up, and now they have the willing assistance of huge segments of the media They take a simple (and probably largely true, god forbid) statement, take it out of context, and then attribute their interpretation of it to "regular" people. This is a recipe for more of the same -- more bullshit, more gratuitous, self-interested lying, more horrible government, more actual elitists who tell people how to think, rather than someone who seems to want to tell people some version of the truth and has enough respect for them to do it. Awesome.

Obama had his response right at first, now he's backpedaling, which is a shame. He's not immune from these forces either, unfortunately. The response he really should have given was, "Fuck these assholes. Normal people know what I meant."

Seriously, I think he should start swearing more. People want an actual person to be president.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | April 13, 2008 3:21 PM

This is all such unmitigated horseshit. The people who were offended by this statement and what it's claimed to represent are diehard Hillary and McCain supporters who were looking for something, anything, that will stick. Obama handled the artificial outrage as well as any politician could. Pundits - people like Josh - will yammer away about it for a week or so just to have something to say. And the rest of the world will go about its business and forget about this shit by May.

Posted by whatever | April 13, 2008 3:31 PM

Fuck off, Josh.

You play it like you haven't already made up your mind. But you spoke vociferously on behalf of Clinton at your precinct caucus, got elected a delegate for Clinton, then refused to come clean with it in public when I confronted you about your lack of objectivity. I don't know why I didn't just out you months ago.

You've been supporting a candidate whose only hope of getting her party's nomination has been to beat Obama with superdelegates, and take down the Democratic Party with her in the process. Now you're supporting her as she trashes Obama, picking up her line that Obama has just cost the Dems the election.

But oops! What about when Bill Clinton said on the campaign trail in 91 that "All these economically insecure white people... are scared to death?"

Just like Clinton, Obama was criticizing how politicians manipulate people's economic insecurity by appealing to cultural issues. He wasn't saying religion is the opiate of the people.

As for Obama not respecting the "working class", what about all the pundits who said his speech on Reverend Wright was too intelligent for average Americans to understand? Obama hasn't been speaking down to people on the campaign. If anything, he's reached more Republicans than Hillary has by talking about the potential for unity and change and overcoming previous kinds of partisan divides.

You Hillary backers need to stop taking up conservatives' talking points against Obama, and hoping against hope that Hillary has a chance.

Posted by Trevor | April 13, 2008 3:31 PM

Bullshit. All Obama has to do is talk about Clinton's $109 million fortune, the millionaire beer babe McCain married to get access to her fortune, and then about his $1200/month job doing community organizing. He just has to talk about knowing what it's like choosing between buying medicine and food, and being raised by a single mother. Point out that the first stop on McCain's biography tour was to a naval based named after his grandfather, the admiral. Talk about the fancy schools they all went to, but that only he needed a scholarship for. Talk about how he understands Bill Clinton's experience growing up better than HRC possibly could, because he's been there. A little of that will go a long way.

Posted by Gitai | April 13, 2008 3:55 PM

I question whether political journalists should be representing candidates in a caucus, but at the very least such representation should be made very clear. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't see Josh note anywhere that he was a Clinton delegate.

So is this another case of the Stranger thinking journalistic ethics are just for the other guys?

Posted by ethicssmethics | April 13, 2008 4:09 PM

Chill out, Josh. I find it very hard to believe that anyone outside of the punditry will remember this episode in November.

Oh, and Minnesota does not belong in your list of "cling states," however the term is defined. Though technically considered a swing state, it has long and deep progressive roots (the Twins and the Vikings play in a venue named for Hubert Humphrey, for chrissakes). And Minnesotans came out in droves for Obama during our open primary. The GOP will have a chance of carrying Minnesota in November if Hillary is the Democratic nominee or if our governor is McCain's running mate. But even then it'll be an uphill battle for them.

I know this concept can be difficult for people on the coasts to grasp, but its well worth learning: not all "heartland" states are the same.

Posted by MplsKid | April 13, 2008 4:10 PM

Typical Feit. Haven't you left yet?

Posted by Daniel K | April 13, 2008 4:12 PM

Your post is sloppier than anything Obama has said. I think rural and working-class people will in the end turn away from Hillary's vastly more condescending response to Obama's remarks; her backwoods parody of concern over these people, who she knows nothing about, and whether they "cling" to religion or not, is awfully precious from a woman who's never gone into a church in her life unless she knew the cameras were rolling.

Posted by Fnarf | April 13, 2008 4:22 PM
Posted by stinkbug | April 13, 2008 4:41 PM


Again -- please, you're frigging kidding me. What kind of straw man are you pummeling? No one said that people only became religious because they lost their jobs. Obama must be wrong, because people hunted and prayed in PA before 1980!

You're clueless to paraphrase Obama like that. The point is this: if people feel like they can rely in turn on the health of their local economy, on their government, on their traditions and on their church, and the first two fail them, the burden shifts. That's it. If you invest yourself in your church and your government and your government fails you, you're going to make a deeper investment in your church.

Is that really a controversy in anyone's imagination? No. But people say it is, possibly because they'd like not to talk about how little the government has actually served that demographic (like Hillary) or they'd like to assert that government has a different role anyway (like conservatives).

Posted by What? You're Kidding! | April 13, 2008 4:58 PM

Wait. Feit's a Clinton delegate? Shouldn't he have, you know, mentioned that?

Posted by Michigan Matt (soon to be Balt-o-matt) | April 13, 2008 5:06 PM

Once again, this attack will blow back in the face of the attackers (McSame and Bush-Lite). Obama FTW!

Posted by Sirkowski | April 13, 2008 5:20 PM

I love how Capitol Hill lefties -- whether you live there or not, you're part of that pack mentality that permeates Slog -- try every which way to triangulate your man Obama.

He's toast.

Give me a break. A few examples:

-- Michelle who could not find anything to be proud about America, while earning her $300,000-some salary and whining about the cost of kids' ballet school.

-- Rev. Wright.

-- Chicago financial relationships.

-- Effete San Francisco fundraisers.

-- Endless loops of Obama trying to be a regular guy who bowls . . . Kerry windsurfing?

The Republicans can't wait to start running the commercials.

You don't have to go to rural America to find the real America.

You can drive to the cheap apartments in Federal Way or Lynnwood; you know, the ones you Slog people pass by on the way to Sea-Tac as you fly off to Burning Man, hung over from another late night out at another Capitol Hill hip club.

Obama was a flash in the pan.

You can knock Bill and Hillary all you want, but Bill has and always will connect with real America, and Hillary is learning fast to show her emotions and connect with voters.

Posted by Mr. Astonished | April 13, 2008 5:30 PM

I give the fuck up.

There are two possible outcomes here.

First possibility: Obama wins the nomination. Clinton supporters get bitter (oh no, did I say bitter? Oops!) and keep ragging on him with even more ferocity than McCain out of sheer bitterness, 'cuz, well, they're just that kind of people. The party collapses, Obama loses the election, and Clinton supporters spend fifty years screaming "We warned you he wouldn't win!" and pretending that Clinton was a shoo-in by contrast.

Second, less likely possibility: Clinton steals the nomination, the majority of Democratic voters are denied the nominee they voted for, and get furious about it. Will Clinton try to placate them? Why would she - they're just a bunch of worthless kids and cult members and woman-haters and "activists" in "irrelevant states", right? Fuck 'em. The party collapses, Clinton loses the election. 100 years in Iraq! Yay!

Anyone know which other developed nation has the easiest route to citizenship?

Posted by fuck you all! | April 13, 2008 5:41 PM

Wow, yeah, boy we're doomed, all right. No sense feeling hopeful and optimistic I guess. Lowest common denominator and worst case scenario. Got it. Everyone bookmark this comment page to see how retarded this all sounds next November.

Posted by Peter F | April 13, 2008 5:47 PM

You're so full of shit your eyes are brown, Mr. Astonished. "Effete San Francisco fundraisers"? What the hell does that even mean?

Hillary's connection to ordinary Americans is a figment of her imagination, and you've bought it. You're a fool. She's far more condescending than Obama is -- and has a laundry list of negatives, like the feeble one you've tried to assemble here, a mile longer than Obama's.

Posted by Fnarf | April 13, 2008 5:56 PM

I don't know -- an awful lot of you are either trying to defend, or trying a completely indefensible and very, very campaign-counterproductive comment.

"Clinging to guns" and "clinging to religion" and "clinging to antipathy to people who aren't like them" (in other words, clinging to bigotry) sincerely hurts Obama's appeal in at least three ways:

1) It creates a clear syntactical parallelism, easily understood by ordinary Americans, that lines up guns and religion with bigotry as all being bad things;

2) It curses small-town Pennsylvanians with about the worst curse in America today -- which would be anything along the lines of either bigotry, xenophobia or racism;

3) The comment was made to win approval from rich San Franciscans, so the snob accusation is going to stick for a good long while ("Snob-ama" has suddenly become a hot new nickname in cyberspace).

Ordinary Americans do notice these things and will remember all of these things. This has a half-life of way, way longer than a week or so, sorry to say for Obama supporters.

I believe Obama will be stuck with ongoing very negative consequences among millions of ordinary voters for this particular remark. The reputation for urban-elite snobbery, which he has already been starting to develop in his campaign and which, unfortunately for him, has only been greatly inflamed by this remark, is also likely to stay with him for the entire campaign. He has neither understood specifically why so many people are offended by the comment, nor at all disavowed the parts of the comment that people are actually insulted by.

Posted by Ed | April 13, 2008 6:03 PM

this is great -- stole it from huffington post, but on point and said better than i could say it. From Jane Smiley:

You know, I just spent seven and a half years disagreeing with the administration that has given us an unprecedented military and economic mess. I saw it coming, it came, and in some ways it was worse, and promises to get worse, than I foresaw. I the course of these seven years, I have had my patriotism questioned and demeaned fairly often. I was even put in a book, as one of a hundred people who were hurting America. When I got into this book, my relatives worried that I would get shot by some rightwing nut, even though several of them were and are rightwing nuts themselves (and they carry guns). All this time, though, I considered myself a patriot and a loyal American because I was able to see the destruction that was being wreaked upon the nation, and in particular, upon the middle and working classes, by the Republican liars and war criminals and job outsourcers and health care destroyers and army wreckers and infrastructure ignorers and media whores and agriculture blackmailers (see this month's Vanity

So now, Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them--that the countryside and the small towns are dying in many places in our country, and that the corporatocracy doesn't care enough to do a thing about it. He points out that immigrant-baiting, gay-baiting, gun-baiting, and religious pandering have helped to destroy those towns and that countryside, that those being destroyed have been cynically enlisted by their very own destroyers to provide the votes that help accomplish the destruction. And this is what Senator Hillary Clinton says about it: "Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans."

From Senator Clinton's remarks, I infer that to actually see what has gone on in the US in the last 20 years is unAmerican. It doesn't matter who you are, where you were born, what you pay in taxes, what else you might have contributed to the culture, how you vote, who you support. If you don't support fundamentalist religion, job outsourcing, and free access to guns, then you are not even American.

I cannot believe how angry this makes me. I cannot believe that after the last seven and a half years, I can even get this angry. Yes, I know she is pandering to her audience. Yes, I know she will do anything to get elected. Yes, I know that she and Bill Clinton are corrupt to the core, and that I should have never expected anything better of her. But, please, any of you angry white women who still support this craven shill, don't mention it to me. Do me the following favor -- apologize to your children for not stopping the war that HIllary voted for, the war that is going to impoverish them. Then apologize to them for the effects of global warming that are going to make their lives hell. Then apologize to them for the school shooting they may someday see, the one where the kid gets the guns out of his father's gun case, or buys at a gunshow. Apologize to them for the meaningless wars they are going to fight and pay for. Then tell them that "American values" killed their hopes and maybe killed them. And ask them if they think it's going to be worth it.

Posted by cross posting sucker | April 13, 2008 6:12 PM

Obama may have figured out that if he keeps speaking the truth, he won't have to handle the enormous shit sandwich that awaits our next president.

Posted by midwaypete | April 13, 2008 6:33 PM

@28- This is not the video from the comment he made in SF, well I guess this is just more shit to hit the fan than for him isn't it. Did you watch the video? I love how Obama set's up his transition of speaking about the bitterness of working class and rural America with a comedic routine(if I'm wrong why is he smiling, why is there snickering, and than laughter); is he on the Tonight Show? I was just thinking what if someone talked about the anger in the African American community with a comedic opener, would that be appropriate?

Posted by DemosOnSelfDestruct | April 13, 2008 7:31 PM

The people insulting small town midwesterners are all of those who seem to think we are a bunch of fucking fools who will vote against Obama because of the way he phrased this statment rather than voting on things that actually matter, like the war, economy, health care, etc. I mean, just give me a fucking break. The only ones who care how he framed this comment are the yakking classes and the chattering fools who seem oh so committed to making this election about something that doesn't matter. Well wake up, we're not as fucking stupid as you are. This election actually matters.

Posted by Mike in Iowa | April 13, 2008 7:45 PM

Mike in Iowa -

Yes, we have a low impression of small town Midwesterners because of, say, the fact that you helped reelect one of the worst presidents in history. Did the people of Iowa vote for Bush over Kerry because of "things that matter"? Could you explain that to me?

Posted by bob | April 13, 2008 8:10 PM


Josh is a political journalist? He sure had me fooled.

Posted by ivan | April 13, 2008 8:19 PM

@62 - fuck off bob. if some european dickhead said the same thing to you about bush and the war because you're from the US, and the US elected bush, i'm sure you'd say they're right and profess your sheer idiocy from the highest rooftop. because obviously whoever wins an election is supported by 100% of the electorate, right?

it amuses me that the stranger is now all of a sudden an expert on the midwest and is sensitive to their feelings, given their urban archipelago shtick (and it was a shtick, because it was a lame knock off of the bit).

Posted by some dude | April 13, 2008 8:52 PM

@54 brings up a point that I am curious about. I've heard chatter before that if Obama wins the nomination the Clinton supporters will be bitter and not vote for him. I hadn't heard the opposite sentiment, that if Clinton were to win the nomination Obama supporters wouldn't vote for her.

Forgive me if this has been asked before and I missed it but I wanted to know if this is true. If the candidate you are not supporting gets the democratic nomination will you really not vote for that candidate?

Posted by PopTart | April 13, 2008 9:02 PM

Snobama was speaking to his base the latte liberals when he put his foot in his mouth. His supporters are as out of touch with middle class blue dems as he is. But, he has mortally insulted the voters he or anybody needs to win the GE. He is liked by way latte lefties, kids and blacks. That is not enough to beat McCain. He is getting little puff ball shots from Hillary compared to the Atom Bombs the Repubs will hurl at him over this, Wright, Rezko, his wife and The Weathermen. This is his mortal wound to his campaign and what happens when an unvetted person gets this far.

Posted by Gayle In Oregon | April 13, 2008 9:37 PM

Gayle@66, please do continue to dismiss the majority of the Democratic-voting electorate as "latte lefties" and "kids". It's worked so well for your candidate so far. You forgot to mention they're mostly in "irrelevant states", though.

Posted by tsm | April 13, 2008 9:52 PM

Some Dude -

First, if someone claims that the people of Iowa are going to vote the right way based on the right issues, it's reasonable for me to express skepticism and point out that in fact the last several elections that hasn't been true. What's changed?

Second, I've had that conversation a number of times with Europeans and most understand very well that it's a matter of demographics. There are more rednecks in Texas and Iowa than there are places like Portland and Seattle.

Places where "He's a good Christian man" is a more compelling argument for a candidate than "He lied to get our country into an war that we can't win".

Posted by bob | April 13, 2008 10:25 PM

PS -

I guess you Clinton supporters must be really proud of the way she's going on about how much she loves hunting and guns. Clinton will say or do anything needed to get elected, no matter how cynical or dishonest. This is the person you want to lead our nation?!

Posted by bob | April 13, 2008 10:33 PM

@65 Hi Poptart, I've asked the same question and I'm afraid the answer is that many Obama supporters on slog and elsewhere are so busy demonizing HRC, that I doubt they will vote for her if she were to somehow get the nom. Similarly, the few HRC supporters here sometimes take pot shots at the Obama supporters (though I haven't seen many write that they wouldn't support Obama in the general) Maybe in other places there is that 10% that won't vote for Obama but I doubt they were really democrats in the first place. So, there is no united front, often no reasoned discussion, and generally no engagement with the other posters as rational human beings with feelings. The narcissism of small differences since both candidates have 95% of the same voting record. However, some people on both sides do occasionally engage and acknowledge that this kind of internecine warfare is not good for the democrats and that in the general election only a united party will win. It is just too bad that so many people have such a hard time acknowledging commonality of purpose.

Posted by LMSW | April 13, 2008 10:41 PM


__you've__ been saying all along?

I've been saying all along this whole idea he is flawless and trancendent is just so much kool aid popping baloney. that his negatives will come out. that the GOP will somewhat successfully paint him as another adlai steenson/dukakis/kerry a big fat urban liberal who can't get the Archie Bunkmer Dogpatch Hardhat vote.

BTW this notion isn't exactly new. It's only the ONLY WAY THE REPUBLICANS HAVE WON ALL BUT 3 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS since fucking Lyndon Baines Kohnson what .. oh about 44years ago. Just a half century or so of SUCCESS in running against any Democrat who is a true blue liberal. Instead of a (a) Carter post watergate or (b) A CLINTON.

But instead o folks recognizing this rather obvious reality, we goet folks saying dumb things like the above post (Clinton "will say or do anything needed to get elected" despite numerous postings that show....

they're all fucking politicians so grow up and wipe the fairy dust from your eyes.

For example just last week Obama did a super pander by coming in favor of the NRA position on the Second Amendment. Wow. total news. Because on that questionnaire he answered in 1996 he was in favor of a ban on possessing handguns.

Well what a big 180 that was. OBviously DOING OR SAYING ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED.

So sorry for the caps and stuff but it's not like this trajectory has been kept secret. It's not like just a few super prescient reporters at super hip weeklies noticed this possibility. We've been screaming it in your ears for about two months and usually all you hear in response isn't any rational arument but basically fuck you you GOP troll.

Just about ten days ago I posted polls ALREADY showing Obama TIED in Mass. and MN and behind in these other states he supposedly would carry and BEHIND IN OH PA FL. He's consistently worse than HRC in Pa OH FL MI which are the swing heartland of the states Democrats need to win.

Spoke to one Obama supporting friend today whose attitude was "Well sometimes you got to say the truth even if it means you lose an election. Those people Obama was talking about -- well he was right, they do cling to religion and they're cdumb and they should vote their economic interest. Oh well sometimes you have to lose one to win more later on" basically admitting the general election is lost, it's party building for next time, as if in the end those poor misguided dumb ass cracker whites are going to wake up one day and realize "gee we are dumb as shit. those hoity toity folks at U chicago and HArvard and out in Capitol Hill in Seattle and Upper West Side they are so right. We ought to vote with them and we hereby throw away our guns and our religion, why, we've been opiated with them too long."
Sad thing is (a) we will lose this one and (b) no we won't be building anythign for the future becuase (c) you can't represent or lead people if you fundamentally look down your nose at them.

They kind of figure out you don't like them.

So they don't vote for you.

Kinda a big fucking problem.

Posted by unPC | April 13, 2008 10:49 PM


When I see "Snobama," I interpret it as Sno-bama, not Snob-bama. So, you might want to find a different derogatory term for him, one that doesn't remind people of snack cakes.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 14, 2008 12:17 AM

Clinton's reliance on pollsters and the like may have proved to be her undoing in this race, and her pollsters have been consistently *w*r*o*n*g*.
The Clinton magic is over, kids.

Obama's not my dream candidate but he's brought dialogue to the table that nobody has had the stones to broach since (as #71 so eloquently put it) fucking Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The Clinton magic is over, kids.

Most of the media backlash is coming from Fox News if it's not coming from the other candidates or pundits. I grew up in one of these "bitter" areas and we damn sure didn't feel the power of the Clinton era economic boom. Is the Obama campaign trying to court white underclass rage? I don't know if this is playing with fire or not.
The Clinton magic is over, kids.

Even though McCain effectively sucked Bush's cock for 8 years, there is still enough of a public perception of him as not being a continuation of Bush(that 'Maverick' bullshit somehow still flies) that he's going to be subtly reminding people that, if Clinton gets the nom, his name isn't Clinton OR Bush. As it stands, Josh Feit and people like him who think HRC isn't already lined up to be fucking slaughtered by everyone who has had years of preparing dirt on the Clintons is in for a rude awakening. Look at Bill, who's been reduced from the status of slick charismatic genius to fat, crying loudmouth a mere eight years out of office.

The Clinton magic is over, kids.

Posted by Wackistan | April 14, 2008 4:34 AM

Clinton magic? It's worked pretty good when it comes to making money.

Tell me, how are the Clintons going to handle the charge that they are elitist and out of touch given that they've made over 100 million in the past 8 years? The VRWC has barely unloaded on Clinton.

Any Democrat is going to face a firestorm from FOX, Rush, et al. I think Obama handles it better than Clinton.

Posted by midwaypete | April 14, 2008 6:41 AM

@72 Mmmm snack cakes.

@73 It would be nice to elect a president without relying on a "magic" feeling about that candidate. But of course, thats your point, right? That there never was any magic. I think that the magic or the specialness, which people attribute to their own candidate, which campaigns work hard to get people to attribute to a candidate, is a not so subtle appeal to a yearned for, idealized good parent, who will make everything better. Without buying into Jong's Oedipal argument completely, this influence how people react to different positions and statements.

Clinton appeals to the "I've got your back, no matter what" ideal of a supportive, fighting parent. Since all parents must eventually fail their children in order for the children to grow up, it doesn't matter that much to people whether Clinton has character flaws (all parents do) as long as she is fighting for them. This implies a "us against them" dynamic. This dynamic simplifies the world into easy polarities (its called splitting in psychology). On the positive side, there really are malevolent people and groups in this country and out in the world, who the parent can act to defend people against. More problematic are other factors which although they need to be addressed, will require sacrifice on the part of the electorate (global warming for instance).

The negative side of this leadership iconography is that the polarized others (say republicans). in this case, may be galvanized to action by fear.

Obama on the other hand, has been going for the parental peace keeper role. He gives asks people to compromise, to listen to the other, to find commonality rather than difference. Yet in appealing to this parental role, he asks that people accept some disappointment, in exchange for a more unified peace.

This was a hard lesson for people as children and it isn't easy lesson for adults either. It is definitely a more evolved position, however, given the last 40 years of reactionary felt compromise (as well as actual cultural progress), many people are saying in effect "I'm tired of this compromise, I'm scared of where this country is going, I don't want to be a part of a unified whole if it means more compromise." Additionally, given Obama's actual positions and voting record, the republicans will fight just as vociferously. The other drawback of this role is that it puts him more firmly in the "I know best, you children need to stop squabbling" role, thus the accusations of superiority. in contrast Clinton adopts the "I'm one of you who made good" role.

Given the level of animosity within the democratic party I'm not sure that people will unite behind either parental role. Maybe if people stopped viewing the candidates as parents entirely, and stuck to the issues (as unmagical, and unspecial as this feels), we would be better off.

Posted by LMSW | April 14, 2008 6:48 AM

#74 -

I can just say "yup."

#75 -

Sadly, you are right that American political races at this level are largely driven by spin, showbiz, and vague cults of personality first and issues and administrative ability second. To be perfectly honest, I'm not opposed to HRC if she gets the nom and she will get my vote even though I've consistently been underwhelmed by her Senate and the Clintons' legacy. Unlike some angry Clinton or Obama partisan crybabies who have declared they will pick up their balls and go home(or maybe even vote for McCain), I recognize that both are actually pretty capable administrators and are savvy enough to do some work to repair the flaming mess that is the State Dept, EPA, et al. Obama's just struck me that he's a little bit more savvy, all told.

I do beg to differ though that their styles really do indicate a fundamental difference. Clinton's showing no evidence that she's willing to deviate from decades of established bad policy that has basically been proven fruitless. Why not meet with Raul Castro? Why not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Being willing to establish a dialogue with international "bad boys" indicates that their is some substance to Obama's "peacekeeper" approach. Our playing unconditional hardball internationally is starting to wear thin and it's going to come to a point where nations who don't act in the US's best interests will just start to openly defy us. Then there will BE no dialogue.

To ask how far a nation can take this approach before it falls flat, just ask the Israelis after Olmert screwed the pooch with Lebanon and basically handed the country to Hezbollah(just like Hezbollah planned).

Who's harboring a threat to the US? Iran, Iraq or Pakistan? Here's a hint - there's only one answer and the answer is not a Shi'ite theocracy although apparently McCain and Bush couldn't be bothered to care and HRC is unfortunately tarnished by her bad-faith vote for what she undoubtedly thought was a cake-walk war against the Arab Manuel Noriega. You lose, Hill. Her bitching about Iran like it was going out of style last year was another powerful barometer that she's simply lazy and willing to listen to the same post-cold-war shills who figure we are invincible without really doing her homework. In a nutshell, there is some substance to her being "more of the same". You don't have to be a complete wimp or a loon to not be a predictable hawk.

Posted by Wackistan | April 14, 2008 9:43 AM

"If [Republicans] could cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, middle-class Americans would see fewer benefits from their tax dollars, feel more resentful paying taxes, and become even more receptive to their appeals for tax cuts and their strategy of waging campaigns on divisive social and cultural issues like abortion, gay rights, and guns."

-- Bill Clinton, in his 2004 memoirs, My Life, making the same argument as Sen. Barack Obama.

Posted by God Bless the Internet | April 14, 2008 9:47 AM

"The more Obama makes elitist statements that go well in San Francisco and Seattle's Capitol Hill cafes but not in the real America"

The real America?

Go fuck yourself.

San Francisco and Seattle are part of America. I think it's high time we have a president who represents the interests of more people than the "God, Guns, and Guts" crowd.

The implication that people with an education and a more liberal outlook aren't "real Americans" is insulting and wrong.

Posted by AMB | April 14, 2008 10:05 AM
Spazzy comments thread.

Yeah, we love you too, Josh.

This month can't pass fast enough.

Posted by tsm | April 14, 2008 10:09 AM

You don't think Clinton has negatives, unPC? You're an idiot. She's got negatives out the wazoo, a million times worse and more than Obama. Clinton is a bundle of negatives. The one drinking kool-aid is you.

Clinton's attacks on Obama do not boost her; she's finished. They hurt both Obama AND Clinton, and help only McCain. McCain could not ask for a better campaign booster than Hillary Clinton.

And for Clinton to attack Obama for being elitist and out of touch and contemptuous of religion is one of the most hypocritical things I've ever seen. SHE DOESN'T GO TO CHURCH. OBAMA DOES.

The Clintons are finished in the Democratic Party, whatever happens in November.

Posted by Fnarf | April 14, 2008 10:18 AM

Well, despite the best efforts of media pundits and campaign shills like Josh and Susie, no one seems to be buying it. Hillary's even getting boo'd by her own supporters in PA.

What kind of retard runs on a platform that everyone is happy and things are going great? Hillary/Nero '08!

Posted by ru shur | April 14, 2008 10:38 AM

I love this thread! Hillary is doing a great job!

Posted by McCain/Crist '08! | April 14, 2008 10:41 AM

Obama's remarks just cost the Democrats the presidential campaign.

It is that simple.

You don't come spouting off your distaste for the 2nd Amendment and private gun ownership, and think you will win Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Texas in the general election.

Game over.

Say hello to 4 years of President McCain.

This was the final straw to the Dems sinking ship.

Posted by Reality Check | April 14, 2008 10:43 AM

Obama scares people who want things to remain as they are. Media pundits are out in force trying to tear him down because he's representing a change that's going to hurt them. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, it's kind of hard to maintain divisive partisanship when we realize that we're all one.

Posted by AMB | April 14, 2008 11:12 AM

In retrospect, I suppose it's a good thing that he didn't add NASCAR to his cling list.

Posted by rexmundane | April 14, 2008 12:29 PM

Webb said the same thing in 2006. Is he elitist too?

Posted by ru shur | April 14, 2008 2:52 PM


Hey there! Maybe you should try mixing it up a little and stop repeating the same thing over and over again. How about a little of your misogynistic whining, you know, just to mix it up a bit.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 14, 2008 3:21 PM

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