Posted by Rojas @ 5:35 pm on April 14th 2008

Obama as Marxist

No, not in the pejorative sense that the term is usually applied. In the more literal sense that he appears to have adopted the idea that what’s in your wallet determines what you believe.

Obama’s comments of last week, which Brad discussed here, have been much mulled over. To recap, in case you haven’t had them slammed forcibly into your cerebral cortex by TV news:

“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,” 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.”

I’ve been mulling this one for a while, and what bothers me is not the “bitter,” which is the part Obama spends all his time defending, but the “clinging”.

The idea Obama expresses in his speech was kicked into the national consciousness by Thomas Frank, with a book in which he managed to insult the entirety of my home state. His assumption, and Obama’s, is that economics is so all-consuming a factor in people’s lives that it determines the rest of their preferences, on issues ranging from gun ownership to belief in a Supreme Being. One does not “cling” to an item one chooses voluntarily as a rational individual; one “clings” to the first thing that comes to hand in an emergency, such as a piece of drifting wreckage.

And yes, that is elitist, and yes, that is patronizing, and yes, that is flat-out stupid. Not just towards those who are economically disadvangtaged, though it treats them as incapable of making rational decisions (an aspect of his mindset which is broadly reflected in his policy preferences). It is at least equally insulting towards people like myself, who choose to be pro-gun without having the fig leaf of economic disadvantage to hide behind.

And in fact, it’s insulting of people who are pro-gun or religious or protectionist in that it lumps those two sentiments in with overt racism as similarly irrational sentiments.

If this were some sort of isolated statement, we could chalk it up to a misphrasing. But more or less every subsequent comment he’s made on the issue has distanced him from the obvious aspect insult while reinforcing the subtler, more insidious aspects of the insult that I describe above. And, as I mentioned, his views on economic and social policy are FULL of evidence of this fundamentally Marxist, economically-deterministic view of human nature.

This is, I think, the first major complaint Obama’s opponents have lodged about him that has real merit. Bottom line, I think it applies equally to Clinton, so she has no business trotting it out there. But the argument itself is a legitimate objection to Obama’s candidacy. He needs to give the rest of us credit as rational entities possessing free will.

30 Comments »

  1. I’m basically pro-gun. I have no desire to repeal the 2nd amendment. I’ve owned a rifle in the past. Recently I’ve contemplated purchasing a handgun at times.

    I don’t feel insulted. What am I missing here?

    Comment by tessellated — 4/15/2008 @ 1:57 am

  2. He seems to be saying you are pro-gun out of irrational, and perhaps infantile, fear of the strange, different and unknown. That you can’t “hack it” in the big city with big thinkers like Obama, who knows what is best for you.

    That is how I hear it.

    It is the classic beat-down technique against people who oppose some sort of change – you are just afraid. But that is just a way of avoiding a real argument

    For example, people will claim someone who opposes open and unthinking immigration does so because of “fear” of people who are different than them. There is not basis for this statement, however, and it is just a technique to silence debate.

    I opposse most immigration becuase I think it, on average, lowers my quality of life in several measures. I don’t fear immigration anymore than I fear a hotdog when I think I could be eating fillet mignon.

    Comment by daveg — 4/15/2008 @ 4:08 am

  3. See, I thought he wasn’t saying being pro-gun was infantile, just that there are more important things to base your vote on that people are often willfully distracted (or disillusioned) from contemplating.

    This whole “bitter” thing is an interesting controversy, in that it seems to be tea leaves that people are reading whatever they want into (myself included). Thomas Frank, Jim Webb, Karl Marx, John Edwards, John Kennedy, you name it, the interpretation to support it is there.

    Comment by Brad — 4/15/2008 @ 4:44 am

  4. daveg:

    I don’t see where in his statement he says the ALL pro-gun people are bitter, small-towners driven to irrationality by economic hardship. Even if you interpret his statement in the worst possible light, it still allows for happy, shiny people who are religious or love to shoot their guns etc.

    1. Polka dot people like popsicles.
    2. All people who like popsicles are polka-dotted.

    Statement 2 does not follow from statement 1. What does it say about *you* and Rojas that you interpret his statement as a “beat-down”, a personal affront against you? I’m not saying you are wrong to feel as you do, I just want to understand why you feel targetted?

    Comment by tessellated — 4/15/2008 @ 10:35 am

  5. It seems to me that the reason this is politically relevant beyond the Pennsylvania primary is that, as Joe Scarborough said, Republicans have for years been painting mainstream Democrats as effete elitist intellectual snobs who think that middle America is peopled by impressionable morons. Then Obama said something that could, by some misrepresentation, serve as an example of that, said behind closed doors to a bunch of rich San Francisco liberals.

    So, as I said in my post on the issue, it’s a gift to Republicans but, beyond that, I think that it’s going to raise suspicion amongst those who do believe some of that stuff about Democrats in general (and it’s not entirely without truth for some Democrats, in my personal experience, just not most as it has been made out by the Republicans) but who had believed that Obama was different.

    The theme of “you thought Obama was different, but he isn’t” is going to run parallel to the “McCain-Bush” stuff, in that in both cases it’s a ploy to make someone that really is different to their party and its unpopular figures, past and present, appear to actually be just another X,Y,Z. I know that it’s working to some extent with the attacks on McCain (although it’s taken root much more amongst liberal activists than amongst the middle, I suspect, and those activists aren’t going to vote for anyone with an ‘R’ by their name) and I guess it’ll work to some extent with Obama. Both Obama and McCain do share a lot with their parties, of course, but the matter of what they share is going to be the big one. I suspect it’ll work better for Obama than McCain if all else is equal because, while both parties have well-known pathologies that are equally reviled in different times and places, the Republicans are carrying an anvil on their backs thanks to Bush’s Whitehouse and Delay’s former House of Representatives.

    Comment by Adam — 4/15/2008 @ 10:57 am

  6. tess:

    The situation is akin to John McCain addressing a neo-Confederate organization and asserting, “Black people are lazy because our support of the welfare state is making them that way.”

    McCain doesn’t say “ALL black people,” but given the presuppositions of his audience, he doesn’t need to. The nature of the group to whom he is speaking ensures that they will apply his logic in a broad-brush fashion to every member of the alien group.

    Barack Obama’s audience isn’t likely to draw distinctions between you, or me, or any other pro-gun advocate, because that would ruin the pretense that we’re all irrational in our support of gun rights. They buy into his argument that the views of people other than themselves are economically driven, because it prevents them from recognizing that their opponents might have a point. This is ironic, of course, given that they would never apply the logic of economic determinism to themselves.

    It is an exercise in demonization of the other, and Obama has made himself a willing enabler of that mindset.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/15/2008 @ 11:25 am

  7. Let’s be clear here, John McCain hasn’t said that stuff or addressed a neo-Confederate organization (not at least since he was at CPAC, hoho).

    Comment by Adam — 4/15/2008 @ 11:42 am

  8. He hasn’t?

    Screw that. I’m voting for Obama.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/15/2008 @ 12:00 pm

  9. An addendum:

    A lot of people are making the assertion that the failure of this matter to produce a bump for Hillary is proof that Obama is impervious to attack politics.

    Think again. The central problem here is that the alternative to Obama, from the perspective of the offended parties, is even WORSE, and is proving it with the most ham-handed political response imaginable.

    “My opponent doesn’t understand the common man” can’t work for Hillary Clinton, particularly not when she’s engaged in attempts to impress us with her incipient alcoholism and Elmer Fudd-esque shotgun skills.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/15/2008 @ 1:31 pm

  10. Interestingly, with this and the Wright flap, BOTH Obama AND Hillary took a hit to their numbers.

    I find that funny.

    Then I realize that the only immediate beneficiary has been John McCain, and then I also realize that that’s part of the explicit fallback point for Clinton, and then I don’t find it funny anymore.

    Comment by Brad — 4/15/2008 @ 1:36 pm

  11. *She* and her partisans might believe she could make a plausible run at the presidency 4 years from now if McCain wins out vs. Obama, but I really don’t think so. Too many people are going to remember her as the utter shithead who handed the prize to the competition.

    That’s my take anyhow.

    Anyhow, as to the substance of what Rojas has said: I suppose I must be a crypto-marxist because however inartfully Obama put the matter, I think there is some truth to it. I really do think people economically depressed tend to look outwards for scapegoats or turn inwards to tradition for comfort or turn their attention to a world where material possession means little. I don’t see why that is hard to see or even controversial. I think Obama’s big mistake here was to state the case too broadly so that small-town folks who aren’t the subject of his comment nonetheless feel as though they are.

    Comment by tessellated — 4/15/2008 @ 4:12 pm

  12. I wrote mine first.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2008 @ 10:58 am

  13. Still no mention of the Kristol argument?

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 11:08 am

  14. Wow. That one’s even from the same day.

    Clearly, I have my finger on the pulse of conservative opinion. Either that or I’m a fantastically skilled plagiarist.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2008 @ 11:24 am

  15. Well, when you start posting parallel thoughts to William Kristol on Democratic politics, it might be time to start reevaluating. :)

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 11:36 am

  16. Or, alternatively: if Kristol is thinking like me, maybe our blog has saved the Republican party from itself.

    You can thank me later.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2008 @ 12:02 pm

  17. publius at Obsidian Wings has a take that I’ve been pondering as well. It’s perfectly fair to talk about the specific problems Obama has on this front, of course, but it’s also worth noting, in contrasting with McCain, that part of the problem/danger is as much a GENERAL problem that Democrats have against Republicans in terms of the perception of “elitism”. For whatever reason, Republicans have successfully held the perception that they are the anti-elites—and successfully defined liberalism as INNATELY elitist, and thus it’s practitioners as all suspect—for awhile now.

    I’m a bit underwhelmed by John Judis’s argument that Obama will struggle with working class whites in industrial swing states. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I think he focuses too narrowly on Obama.

    The fundamental problem is that any Democrat — not just Obama — will struggle with this group of voters in the general.

    Of course, I find the Jonah Goldberg Republican style elitism just as obnoxious—that being that, say, soldiers are inherently heroic and thus everything they do is good, and people who like country music and are distrustful of gays are more authentically American then people who live in Philly and like public works. Separate argument, perhaps, but similar in kind (and it is, incidentally, not McCain who is being the worst pusher of that kind of essentialism, but Hillary).

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 3:05 pm

  18. George Packer, hitting the nail on the head:

    To say that you can see through someone—that what someone believes is actually something else entirely—is an act of condescension, and the person being seen through is naturally going to take exception. One doesn’t have to be Bill Kristol to know this. It’s as if a politician were to say to Andrew Sullivan (who won’t tolerate a bad word about Obama), “You’re just clinging to gay rights because you’re frustrated by the size of government. Once we cut entitlements, you won’t care about same-sex marriage.”

    The real problem with what Obama said is that it’s basically untrue. In southwestern Pennsylvania, religion, hunting, and insularity predate the post-industrial era. They’ve have become politically manipulable points in part because of economic decline, but to confuse wedge issues with traditional values is the mark of the high-minded reformer or the political junkie, or both…

    Conservative propagandists like Kristol are predictably and unfairly wrapping Obama’s disastrous sentence around his neck and garroting him with it. So is Hillary Clinton, and the spectacle of her swallowing a boilermaker in a Pennsylvania bar is crass opportunism that will antagonize more voters than it charms. These days the winner is always McCain.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2008 @ 4:20 pm

  19. I think it’s a little naively idealistic on the free will front to say that people’s decision-making paradigms can’t be affected by anything other than the purest of personal judgments. I think it’s pretty fair to look at the decision-making of groups and wonder if they’re not influenced by other factors in coming to their conclusions (and what those factors or influences might be), and broaching that topic is not ipso facto proof that you roundly believe that people who disagree with you are unable to think for themselves.

    I suppose I haven’t said that yet in this thread.

    There; said.

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 4:54 pm

  20. Also, poor people are stupid.

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 4:55 pm

  21. Rojas, the more I hear you pound on about this the more I think you and the people you are citing are just flat out wrong.

    Where is Obama positing a causal relationship? The things I have heard him say discount this Marxist line of critique you have leveled against him. I think you and rejects like Kristol jumped on a single, ambiguous line and took the most unforgiving (from a conservative point of view) interpretation possible. Then, you and others proceeded to ignore what he has said since then, and by “since then” I mean later THAT SAME DAY.

    Nobody’s looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up, they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody is going to help them. And so people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns and are they going to have the right to bear arms or they vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and the things they can count, but they don’t believe they can count on Washington.

    I’ve tried to keep myself ignorant of this idiotc blowup as long as I could because I think it is just so much hot air, but I guess I get drawn in regardless. I think it is pretty clear from this quote that Obama isn’t suggesting people are robotically driven to believe in things they would otherwise disown if rich. He’s clearly saying people vote strategically based on what they think is achievable given the politics of the day. If years of voting for economic relief is met with failure from the voter’s perspective then said voter will shift their vote to other issues where it will be rewarded. You might dispute the validity of this theory, but it doesn’t strike me as Marxist.

    Comment by tessellated — 4/16/2008 @ 6:36 pm

  22. A fair point, tess.

    The bottom line is that I don’t believe that what Obama is selling in the passage you quote is the same product that he was selling in San Francisco.

    As I noted in the initial post, I didn’t jump on this when it happened. I had to wait a couple of days to think about it, and I made the best attempt I could to integrate it into the rest of his campaign strategy.

    I can understand your skepticism about the line being parroted by Kristol and myself, as we’re both right-wingers of different sorts. So let’s check the reaction on the left.

    Barbara Ehrenreich:

    I spent an hour yesterday trying to persuade Tom Frank, author of What’s the Mater with Kansas? and the apparent intellectual source of Obama’s remark on white working class “bitterness,” to weigh in with an op-ed somewhere…Where both Obama and Clinton have gone wrong is in their stereotypes of white working class men-involving guns, religion, and now, in Clinton’s case, boilermakers.

    Timothy Noah:

    Frank’s is probably the dominant theory today about how the Democrats lost their core working-class constituency. This is in large part because Frank avoids the usual euphemisms and pieties to make his case with clarity, humor, and anger. These qualities render What’s the Matter With Kansas? insanely readable, but they also make it unwise for any politician to adopt its diagnosis as his own. Working-class people don’t like being told they’re deranged (or “bitter,” to use Obama’s term), even—make that especially—if it’s true. Obama will therefore have to either shut up about Democrats’ struggle to win working-class votes—that’s the usual tack, and the one I’d probably advise—or find himself another theory.

    It’s not just me, and not just people on the right, seeing this comment in Frankian terms. And it’s not just me seeing it as a claim that Obama denies the deicionmaking capacities of people who choose religion, guns, and otherwise.

    Nor is it just Obama who believes this. He is working within a context that gives him every incentive to make exactly the claims that you deny he meant to make. George Packer:

    Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” is a book-length exposition of Obama’s one sentence. In fact, it’s such a familiar line of thinking in liberal circles that the most common defense of Obama is that he was simply saying what everyone knows is so.

    Emphasis mine.

    A critical point. Obama’s explanation, and yours, is that he merely wanted to make a point about the abandonment of these people on economic issues; specifically, that they seek refuge in other, desirable aspects of their lives. How does he, and how do you, explain:

    antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment

    in the context of the rest of his remarks?

    I can’t see any way to explain his juxtaposition of that with the rest of his laundry list of cultural bugaboos as anything other than an insult to the rationality of the people of whom he’s talking. And neither can Barack Obama, apparently, because those are the items on the list that he never, ever bothers to mention when he’s excusing himself.

    Packer and I are right. He was preaching the gospel of economic determinism to a choir that believed in it, and he got caught. The rest has been spin.

    The question we have to ask now is which one Obama actually believes: his original comment, or his subsequent spin.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/16/2008 @ 9:14 pm

  23. Also, poor people are stupid.

    I think that’s what Rojas has been saying, although he might just be saying that people from Kansas are stupid. It’s hard to tell, probably because he is poor and he is from Kansas.

    Comment by Adam — 4/16/2008 @ 9:27 pm

  24. The bottom line is that I don’t believe that what Obama is selling in the passage you quote is the same product that he was selling in San Francisco.

    To be fair then (to all; not just Obama), the full remarks he made that day in San Francisco:

    OBAMA: So, it depends on where you are, but I think it’s fair to say that the places where we are going to have to do the most work are the places where people feel most cynical about government. The people are mis-appre…I think they’re misunderstanding why the demographics in our, in this contest have broken out as they are. Because everybody just ascribes it to ‘white working-class don’t wanna work — don’t wanna vote for the black guy.’ That’s…there were intimations of that in an article in the Sunday New York Times today – kind of implies that it’s sort of a race thing.

    Here’s how it is: in a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long. They feel so betrayed by government that when they hear a pitch that is premised on not being cynical about government, then a part of them just doesn’t buy it. And when it’s delivered by — it’s true that when it’s delivered by a 46-year-old black man named Barack Obama, then that adds another layer of skepticism.

    But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What is the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is so we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — to close tax loopholes, uh you know uh roll back the tax cuts for the top 1%, Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to uh middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide healthcare for every American.

    But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. 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.

    Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you’ll find is, is that people of every background — there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you’ll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.

    Comment by Brad — 4/16/2008 @ 9:34 pm

  25. Here’s my impression for what it’s worth.

    The blue collar/union job class has been much dismantled since the 1970’s and especially since the 80’s. Both parties have enabled this as both parties subscribe to ideas of labor flexibility, free trade, globalization, etc.. making these old high wage jobs redundant, extinct, casualties of a changing environment, victims of nature. The death, not only of old industries, but of small profitable farmingis not a result of politics, but of economic laws, economic realities. This is a view everybody subscribes to.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/19/opinion/19summers.html

    “Not so long ago, we were all Keynesians. (“I am a Keynesian,” Richard Nixon famously said in 1971.) Equally, any honest Democrat will admit that we are now all *Milton* Friedmanites.”

    So then we have a bunch of communities who are suffering due to Friedman’s market forces of nature who cannot be blamed for their effects.

    Job losses, business migration, tax revenue decreases, home value losses, none of these effects have a “legitimate” cause. Soon people are leaving their boarded up houses and derelict businesses (who may have lost to the market forces of Walmart) for better times elsewhere (they hope) and the people who are left start seeing societal breakdown. Cracks in the pavement, crime, welfare recipients, divorcées. People are angry, afraid, and stressed.

    These people see a societal breakdown which is a result of an increase of poverty, which we’re told has nothing to do with politics. So what does the societal breakdown have to do with? The answer they have left is a breakdown in tradition.

    This is where things get nasty. When people are stressed, they are willing to listen to authoritive personalities. People like Limbaugh and company take the symptoms of societal breakdown and paint their opponents in blame for them. When people are not economically stressed, these traditional issues are not front and center.

    As Krugman writes:
    http://select.nytimes.com/2006/06/19/opinion/19krugman.html

    In case you haven’t noticed, modern American politics is marked by vicious partisanship, with the great bulk of the viciousness coming from the right…

    So what’s our bitter partisan divide really about? In two words: class warfare. That’s the lesson of an important new book, “Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches,” by Nolan McCarty of Princeton University, Keith Poole of the University of California, San Diego, and Howard Rosenthal of New York University…

    What the book shows, using a sophisticated analysis of Congressional votes and other data, is that for the past century, political polarization and economic inequality have moved hand in hand. Politics during the Gilded Age, an era of huge income gaps, was a nasty business — as nasty as it is today. The era of bipartisanship, which lasted for roughly a generation after World War II, corresponded to the high tide of America’s middle class. That high tide began receding in the late 1970’s, as middle-class incomes grew slowly at best while incomes at the top soared; and as income gaps widened, a deep partisan divide re-emerged.

    Further Krugman:
    http://select.nytimes.com/2007/01/26/opinion/26krugman.html

    American politics is ugly these days, and many people wish things were different. For example, Barack Obama recently lamented the fact that “politics has become so bitter and partisan” — which it certainly has.

    But he then went on to say that partisanship is why “we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that’s what we have to change first.” Um, no. If history is any guide, what we need are political leaders willing to tackle the big problems despite bitter partisan opposition. If all goes well, we’ll eventually have a new era of bipartisanship — but that will be the end of the story, not the beginning.

    Or to put it another way: what we need now is another F.D.R., not another Dwight Eisenhower.

    You see, the nastiness of modern American politics isn’t the result of a random outbreak of bad manners. It’s a symptom of deeper factors — mainly the growing polarization of our economy. And history says that we’ll see a return to bipartisanship only if and when that economic polarization is reversed.

    After all, American politics has been nasty in the past. Before the New Deal, America was a nation with a vast gap between the rich and everyone else, and this gap was reflected in a sharp political divide. The Republican Party, in effect, represented the interests of the economic elite, and the Democratic Party, in an often confused way, represented the populist alternative.

    In that divided political system, the Democrats probably came much closer to representing the interests of the typical American. But the G.O.P.’s advantage in money, and the superior organization that money bought, usually allowed it to dominate national politics…

    But if the real source of today’s bitter partisanship is a Republican move to the right on economic issues, why have the last three elections been dominated by talk of terrorism, with a bit of religion on the side? Because a party whose economic policies favor a narrow elite needs to focus the public’s attention elsewhere. And there’s no better way to do that than accusing the other party of being unpatriotic and godless.

    Thus in 2004, President Bush basically ran as America’s defender against gay married terrorists. He waited until after the election to reveal that what he really wanted to do was privatize Social Security.

    And so, people blame gays and immigrants for things rooted in economic hardships.
    Someone can ask Dick Cheney ‘The American people do not support this war you and John McCain support.” and he can answer “So?” but Barack is a jerk for stating ‘People don’t believe the government has influence on economic issues (force of nature, ya know), so they focus on culture issues instead.’

    It’s all very silly how hyper-sensitive the media has become to “radical statements”.
    And that there’s such a long history of it makes it sad.
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/04/16/gah/index.html

    Comment by thimbles — 4/17/2008 @ 3:23 am

  26. Well, I don’t think that many people are arguing that Cheney isn’t an utter jerk, too. At least, not around here.

    People are right that the government doesn’t have that much control over economic issues; market forces will nearly always win in the end, so you’re better trying to guide the river than dam it, even if intervention is the best course. Personally, I think that there was some truth in what Obama said when it’s applied to some individuals, but I don’t see that it’s true across the board. The things to which Obama referred are natural human reactions to people that look different, and the human enthusiasm for hunting, and the belief in the supernatural.

    Comment by Adam — 4/17/2008 @ 12:35 pm

  27. Rojas #22:

    We’ll have to differ on bottom lines then because I don’t see much reason in either of the passages quoted by the candidate to spin it the way you do. I’m not sure what part of his campaign strategy you think gives weight to your suspicions either.

    The reason he expanded the list of issues people vote on beyond god and guns is because people vote on wedge issues. I’m sure those people who do, think it’s positive despite what you and I may think. No doubt they think they are voting perfectly rationally when they vote against gay marriage. The fact that you don’t approve of that issue (presumably) but you do approve of voting for gun rights changes NOTHING. The argument still remains that they are strategically switching their vote from economics where no good can be gained to some other issue that they believe progress can be made; your valuation of that other issue is irrelevant.

    The only way, in light of his later comments which I have quoted, that you can spin it otherwise is to say — as you have — that you don’t believe Obama. Ok, fine, call him a liar and move on then. I think your evidence (conservative prejudice, and ambiguous quote, and bloggers who have picked up on the FRanks meme) are pretty flimsy and therefore feel justified in saying you are jumping to conclusions.

    Comment by tessellated — 4/17/2008 @ 1:49 pm

  28. Okie-dokie.

    Comment by Rojas — 4/17/2008 @ 2:00 pm

  29. Well, I don’t think that many people are arguing that Cheney isn’t an utter jerk, too. At least, not around here.

    No, I wasn’t saying that people don’t believe that Cheney is a condescending jerk here, I was saying that the media obsessively focus on democratic “condescension” and minimize the same for republicans. It was the same during the reverand Wright thing where you had a bunch of gay bashers accuse Obama of proxy discrimination (against whites).

    The things Obama said are natural reactions, but natural reactions are enhanced by the environment they’re in. It’s natural to murder, but you usually need special circumstances to trigger the act. It’s natural to fear differences:
    http://www.salon.com/mwt/mind_reader/2007/10/31/prejudice/index.html
    but special circumstance are required to make these fears our primary motivations.
    I don’t think Obama was talking about hunting and guns, what he was addressing was gun politics. The NRA, The Assault weapons ban, cold dead hands crap.
    I don’t think Obama, who is religious (something the right makes much hay over), is claiming god is
    just a crutch. He’s talking about God Politics. Prayer in school, gay marriage, ban abortion crap.

    That’s shit used by the GOP to create

    stupid, petty personality-based attacks to ensure that our elections aren’t decided on issues (where they*republicans* have a decisive disadvantage). Media stars — some due to sloth, some due to ideology, some due to an eagerness to please the Right and convince them how Good and Fair they are — eat up the shallow trash they’re fed and then spew it out relentlessly, ensuring that our political discourse is overwhelmed by it, our elections dictated by it. That happens over and over. It’s how our media and our elections function.

    Comment by thimbles — 4/17/2008 @ 2:45 pm

  30. Forgot the link to the second artcle. Must be time for bed,
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/04/17/debate/index.html

    Comment by thimbles — 4/17/2008 @ 2:47 pm

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