In defense of Barack Obama

Our hobbit friend Frodo (BLOG LINK) had predicted, even before George W. Bush took office, that one day his approval rating would drop to 24 percent.

On Thursday the Associated Press poll showed Dubya’s approval rating at 27 percent. It’s really scary: to think that 27 percent of Americans think Bush is doing a “good job.”

Who, then, was responsible for Bush’s re-election in 2004? Primarily, one-issue voters, who I suspect remain in the approving percentile.

To be sure, within that 27 percent are the people squawking loudest about the following remarks made at a San Francisco fundraiser by Sen. Barack Obama:

“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,”

The premise in all this media uproar is that these one-issue voters have been insulted. It’s a shame they cannot see it as an opportunity for soul-searching self-improvement.

Given the fact that Democratic strategist James Carville has described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle,” I have no problem with the camps of senators Clinton and McCain claiming Obama is “out of touch” with voters (NY Times, 12 April 2008, LINK). This is, after all, a heated political contest. All three candidates now have been victims of a 24/7 cable news and Internet smorgasbord of soundbites blown entirely out of proportion in a frenzied rebirth of “yellow journalism.”

My regular readers know I’ve supported Hillary Clinton since she entered this mad race. Barack Obama doesn’t need me to defend him. He’s got Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Jack Cafferty and a whole host of reporters and pundits to do that. Let’s just say, then, that I am defending the truth.

“Out of touch?” “San Francisco liberal elitism?” “Condescending?”

Like it or not, Sen. Obama is right. What he’s talking about is what got Bush re-elected and could very well result in a McCain presidency. Let me exlain.

I once read that certain pooh-bahs, potentates, sheiks, emirs, princes, kings and other rulers in the oil-rich Middle East encourage hatred of Americans because it takes the minds of impoverished peoples off their fleets of Rolls Royces. Made sense to me.

Similarly, the Republican Party – with, in my opinion, a platform of hate - wants to take the minds of lower- and middle-class Americans off the problems which plague them.

Wouldn’t do for Americans in need to realize the Democratic Party is more populist, more in tune to their needs, more dedicated to solving their problems.

Suddenly, it’s incredulous that Sen. Obama would say such a thing? Gimme a break. This is not a novel idea: it’s rooted in the political strategies of Lee Atwater and his protégé Karl Rove and melded into the frontline in a cultural war.

How does the GOP accomplish this? In recent election cycles, they have brought out those old “hot-button” emotional issues, “God, gays, guns and abortion.” Under the auspices of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn), they even threw in flag-burning, gay marriage and poor Terri Schiavo. As Obama points out, immigration and trade have been stirred into the caldron.

Anything to take American minds off education; health care; the economy; energy, fuel and grocery prices; job losses; housing foreclosures and other problems close to home.

Nice diversions from the debacle in Iraq.

These red herrings create one-issue voters who ignore the candidates most likely to improve their lives and vote for those who claim to champion the issues they feel morally obligated to defend.

Sen. Obama used the word “bitter.” Yes, there are Americans out there who are bitter; they are angry; they are frustrated; they feel powerless. Yesterday, in discussing “our lot in life” with a friend, I remarked that I’m not bitter, that I feel blessed when I get a break. Her reply startled me. “I’m scared,” she said.

She’s scared because she quit her job a few years ago to care for an aging parent. Her husband works hard, with little fringe benefits, to support the family. Living costs are climbing. And, with no health insurance, they can’t afford to get sick.

It is time for an awakening in this country. The Democratic Party is not made up of “far-left extremists out to destroy the American way of life,” as proclaimed by a power-hungry right-wing chorus which makes its money manipulating the “have-nots.”

I have no doubt this is what Sen. Obama was trying to say, and telling the truth will probably hurt him with some voters.

Maybe those too easily swayed by the emotion-stirring techniques of propagandists.


bbj said...

BJ, you hit this nail squarely. You are absolutely on target with your comments, and I thank you. If this sort of thinking makes me an elitist, then I guess I've finally reached the upper ranks.

Truth is truth. I'm a Hillary supporter too, but I wish she didn't have to feel she has to pounce on this . . .

Frodocampaignus said...

The "elitist" just finished paying off his student loans.
Barack Obama is a better candidate today than on the day that Frodo decided to support him. He has responded to the political assaults with humor, and with class.
The political obfuscations highlighted in this very good article have indeed helped to drive our very good people apart. It will take humor and class to bring us all back together.
If Senator Clinton is "Annie Oakley," then Frodo can't wait to see how Senator McCain is characterized. How does "Judge Roy Bean" grab you ("The Law West of the Pecos")?

Father Tim said...


I read with interest your comments. I find abortion a central issue of our times. But that doesn't mean I don't think of other issues and know where the candidates stand. I look at the economy, crime, education and other issues as does the rest of this country. I guess I'm one of those stupid Americans who "clings" to religion. That is in implication I picked up from your column. Reread it well and meditate on what you just wrote. It is offensive to me and is one reason the Democrats are in very, very big trouble. Think outside the box, Betty. There's a whole world out there. . . really.


Frodo said...

Father Tim; as one who admires your committments, please accept a defense from one who respectfully disagrees with you. Given the specificity of the Tax Code, relative to the definition of "an exemption (i.e., 'drawing a single breath')," and the INS acceptance of citizenship for one who is "born" in this country, there is a valid argument that current statutory law defines that rights of citizenship do not extend to the unborn. Frodo recognizes that is anathema to your very being, and Frodo does not mean to imply that he demeans your beliefs. Frodo simply believes the issue does not lay in the hands of government; and this issue is not alone. Our friend has merely stated that some, for sheer political reasons, have taken personal beliefs and substituted them for the purposes of government. That Sir, requires their atonement. Government, to Frodo, serves a valid role by defending the beliefs, now matter how disparate, of us all. It cannot guarantee that all are served as they believe.
No offense was intended, so says this reader.

Eowyn said...

You know, Father Tim, I actually did not read what BJ said the way you took it.

I do actually think she was talking about a subset of people who are pointedly not like you but narrow, not concerned with more than a part of the political picture. And the part is then rendered meaninless by isolating it. You sound like a person with a full range of concerns as a person and citizen. But one is dear to your heart.

I think Obama may have used the wrong word to convey the thought that some people become stymied, and bitter, and go away and hide in an idea rather than participate in it as part of the world.

B.J. said...


As I told my good friend Tim, I was tossing around a qualifying or clarifying paragraph to add to this post, but didn’t have time to fully express myself as I was running out the door to an early morning eye appointment.

I did not mean to disparage any person’s beliefs – to hold fast to our beliefs is our birthright as Americans. Whether I support or oppose any one of the issues interated, the point is, as Frodo has suggested, they should not be used as tools to divided Americans. This is what the Republican Party has done in the last two election cycles, and this is its opening to do so again.

Appropriate to the point of my post is Abraham Lincoln’s “house divided” speech, in which he paraphrases Matthew 12:25 with these words, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I personally think the GOP has rascals in its upper echelons who want nothing more than to keep us divided in order to achieve political gains.


Nurt said...

B.J. - Once again you hit the nail on the head with today's post. I too, am a firm Hillary supporter but THANK YOU for pointing out that Obama was just speaking the cold, hard truth. Yes, people are mad and down right sick and tired of the current status of our nation. We are watching our middle class disappear. There are so many issues that need to be brought to light. We are not all happy go lucky, drinking beer and shooting Crown Royal. We are mostly a worried nation. When we pull up to the pump and have to decide whether to fill up or buy groceries, something is definitely not right. Thanks for your honesty.

Anonymous said...

I pondered over you comment that stated, "far-left extremists out to destroy the American way of life." The problem is that there is more than one "American way" of life. Until the republicans see this fact and accept it, we will never convince them to vote democratically even if they feel that the majority of thier "leaning" is away from the republican party. I like to see it as enhancing the american ways of life. I like that we are a melting pot but it is more like chili. We still have the meat and the beans and the veggies that are clearly identifiable yet it is flavored with a wonderful rich chili sauce that brings it all together. Republicans need to quit smashing the beans and other ingredients to an unidentifiable mush and let this savory concoction be as it is. My Two Cents. LOL. Phillip

Eowyn said...

Where I live it's the left that dominates the state. And, believe me, they do not believe or care that there is more than one American way of life! It's an urban thing, and unfortunately I live there.

I think the country is just so big that it's become almost impossible to appreciate the texture of the differences. I guess I am hoping for that to change somewhere in here.

Jan said...

Jan's area had the most churches per capita than any city in the world. With 7535 population and 137churches she can assure you the area is populated by the radical right.

Those Reagan Democrats are right in the group of those tired of being used and abused by the lies from the radical right. They've been hit by job losses and home foreclosures. Bitter and angry? You bet. Just like a hornets next.

This place is Redneck Bubba area. Alabama is #2 on the list of states where the poor pays more taxes than the rich. Florida is #15 on that list.

Jan is not a proponent of abortion, but doesn't feel God gave her the authority to make that decision for other women.

What would she do if she were in the other woman's position? She doesn't know because God didn't give her the authority to say little children have to be brought into the world to be sexually abused, addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, abused in any form, live in dire poverty with no food, clothing, shelter and other neccesities of life.

Nor to have them torm from mother's arms to be sent to the killing fields for sport and/or profit for the extremely rich. War makes toys of God's children where they are maimed, mutilated, and burned beyond recogniiton by bombs. Pro-life? Not at all.

Do pro-life people have no qualms about the thousands and millions of innocent people and children killed and destroyed by bombs?

Can the poor and middle class endure another four, or more, years of this with the McCaniniacs becoming the torch bearers for the Bushites? John Hagee, Ron Parsley and others of their ilk plan that very thing. They are the Jeremiah Wright for the McCainiacs.

BJ, your post is right on target with these issues. "Annie get your gun" may be the American mantra as America slips into that abysmal bottomless abyss hewn out for us by the heartless--and perhaps
soul-less renegades who have not stepped foot on the killing fields, escept, of course, for photo ops.

'Nuff said. Jan rests her case for the time being.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jan. I bit my tongue in not saying that anti-abortion, pro-life is the swing I've taken over the course of my life, quite different than where I started out. But to see this stance without measure, though a child will be brought into the world without support, medical or otherwise, to be brought into the world in danger. . .well, now that's a different matter, and that isn't so simple as yea or nea. Unless you think suffering has it's good side. I don't.

Wad said...

Obviously it's Hillary, not Karl Rove, who is distorting Barack's truth-telling into a baloney accustion of elitism. Hopefully she can manipulate the yahoos who are easily swayed by the emotion-stirring techniques of propagandists.

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