Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama and the "bitter" flap

Can someone help me parse the "bitter" flap over Barack Obama? Specifically, I want to understand what the problem is with this statement:
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. 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.

—Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), April 2008
The Clinton campaign is saying that this statement offends small-town Pennsylvania voters somehow, and offends small-town voters everywhere. Now I realize that Senator Clinton is kitchen-sinking Senator Obama, throwing everything at him and hoping that something, anything, does damage, but this is ridiculous.

Maybe it's because I was born and raised in a small town in western Pennsylvania, but I don't think that anything Obama said in that statement is offensive. Jobs really are drying up out there; these communities have little to hope for anymore. Ronald Reagan came in and basically broke the back of American industry, throwing the entire Rust Belt out of work. It's been 27 years since Reagan was elected, and things haven't gotten better in Pennsylvania or anywhere in small-town America. President Clinton pushed for NAFTA which didn't help anyone but the owners of those corporations who wanted to see their share prices go up while they were cutting jobs and lowering production—a formula that doesn't make a lick of sense no matter how you look at it. If your economy and your way of life has been getting destroyed for almost three decades by both Republicans and Democrats, why wouldn't you be bitter?

Please go, Senator Clinton. You can't win the nomination, and you won't. You're only hurting our nominee and guaranteeing a third Republican term. We don't need that. Give it up and go back to New York already. You're adding absolutely nothing to the debate.

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