The corporate media pundit class thinks they ‘got’ Obama. I think it’s just more silliness but it looks like they’re going to run with it.
In Guns, God and Government: Obama Courts Bitter and Clingy Pennsylvanians the silly, snarky ABC News’ The Note writes,
Did Barack Obama just hand Hillary Clinton and John McCain a nicely gift-wrapped, up for interpretation, potentially damaging quote?
… [Obama:] “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,” Obama said. “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.”
So far, the Obama campaign is not confirming nor refuting the comments, but Clinton has already weighed in on the stump in Philadelphia.
“I saw in the media it’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter. Well, that’s not my experience,” Clinton said. “As I travel around Pennsylvania, I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic, who are positive, who are rolling up their sleeves. They are working hard everyday for a better future, for themselves and their children. Pennsylvanians don’t need a president who looks down on them, they need a president who stands up for them, who fights for them, who works hard for your futures, your jobs, your families.”
Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist who leads an influential weekly meeting of conservatives, went as far as to argue that Obama’s line would cost Democrats the White House.
“That sentence will lose him the election,” Norquist told ABC News. “He just announced to rural America: ‘I don’t like you.'”
“Now you can vote against that guy not because you don’t like him,” Norquist added. “You can vote against him because he doesn’t like you.”
I think Obama did a good job of describing some of how small-town people have been tricked into voting for Republicans. And I think a lot of those people are going to see it, too.
Update – It is starting. Republicans Quickly Pounce on Obama Remarks,
Within moments, Republicans had pounced. Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign told Politico’s Jonathan Martin that Obama’s comment revealed “an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking.” Schmidt added: “It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans.”
Within hours, the National Republican Congressional Committee had issued a release pushing Rep. Chris Carney — a vulnerable freshman Democrat from Pennsylvania — to condemn Obama’s remarks.
Here is my take on how they’ll use it. They’ going to run with “Obama doesn’t like you.” This gives people cover for bigotry. It’s not that they don’t like him, they can use this to say he doesn’t like them. But Obama does pretty well describe the “Reagan Republican” voters here. And those voters are coming to understand how they have been played. They vote for Republicans, Republican hand the treasury over the Wall Street. They have handed over their pensions, health insurance, jobs, and now their sons and daughters in Iraq so a wealthy few can have ever-bigger jets. And they are figuring that out.
Update – Hillary is also jumping on it, using the Right’s talking points. Great. This sort of stuff only helps the Republicans if Obama becomes the nominee. And Obama is right.
Late update – Obama takes it and knocks it out of the park: