Monday, April 14, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

By now I'm sure everyone has heard or seen the latest big news in the political arena. I'm referring, of course, to Senator Obama's recent statement in California. You know, the whole "cling to guns, or religion..." comment. Here are my thoughts:

As a small-towner with strong Constitutional and religious beliefs and no anti-immigrant or racist sentiments, I found his remark incredibly offensive...and I'm not one who gets offended easily. Let's put aside the obvious broad generalization and stereotype and focus on the things that I think most people would find offensive about what he said.

First, he's speaking to a group of high-society Californistan smarmies who, as a general rule, tend to look down their cosmetically-enhanced noses at us ignorant small-town folks, which basically means that Obama was pandering to his audience. He took a cheap shot at working class citizens in order to gain a few favor points with the Calisocialists. Most small-town midwest people don't relate well to the Cali crowd and certainly don't share the same values, so when a candidate makes a back-handed comment about the hicks of America to get a few chuckles from his high-society Left Coast audience, it's generally not going to go over well on Main Street USA. Granted, giving Obama the benefit of the doubt, that may not have been his intent. But, nonetheless, that's how it looks and we all know in politics that perception is very much reality. Bill Clinton won twice with this notion.

Second, Obama's comment once again shows a disconnect between the working class and the Democrat party, which is supposed to be THE PARTY of the working class. The working class tends to be religious, and faith is very important to their culture. To the Dem elites, this is a mystery, since religion is usually viewed as archaic...implying a certain degree of ignorance or lack of enlightenment and sophistication. Religious people simply don't know any better and they should be pitied for it. We should seek to teach them, enlighten them, show them the "truth". And the government should take the lead in this. Religion is the dividing issue between democrats and the middle class. Dems don't get it, don't support it, don't understand it, don't relate to it, seek to minimize it and, as a result, lose votes because of it.

Us hee-haw folk are just ignornt backwoods hick fools who dont know no better, we just love Jesus and shoot our guns and hate the colored folk and it's all 'cause the govment took our jobs and left us without no pot to pee in. This is basically what Obama said, whether or not he meant it, that's what he said and that's what many people heard.

Obama continues to disappoint me. He's championed himself as the voice of change, of hope, of reform, but these recent comments were spoken in the voice of a pompous, elitist ass...for lack of a better term. He issued his usual obligatory explanation, thin on apology and heavy with exasperation, as though it's the fault of those he offended for being offended by his remarks. How dare they? They should know what he "meant" and leave it at that.

As far as political ramifications, I think this will hurt Obama, probably more in the general election than the primary. Pennsylvania is over. I don't think he has a chance. But it doesn't matter, he doesn't need Pennsylvania to win the nomination. However, he very much needs it to win the general election. His image as a voice for the common man has been tarnished and it will be tough to repolish.

Maybe one day the Dems will get it. Maybe they'll understand that people don't "cling" to religion like a crutch, they adhere to it because it is a central, vital part of their lives. And our affinity for guns is simply part of our culture. It doesn't go hand-in-hand with racism or xenophobia. And it has nothing to do with the status of the economy. We believe in gun rights and adhere to a deep faith and always will, regardless of what the economy is doing.

And, no, we're not bitter. We're hard working American citizens who (as Alan Jackson says) bow our heads to Jesus and stand up for Uncle Sam. We don't need your pity. We don't need to be enlightened. But a little respect and understanding would be nice.

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