Monday, April 14, 2008


Unless you live under a political rock, you have probably seen Obama's comments that most of America is bitter about not having the government give them jobs and that's why they turn out gun-toting, bible thumping bigots who join the KKK and hate immigrants (not exactly his words, but that's the feeling I get from his speech, and yes I have read it in context).

Though I find the content of the speech itself and the political fallout from it, which will probably be long lasting, interesting, that's not what interests me the most this morning. There are two parts to his slander of middle America. The first is that social conservatives cling to religion, gun rights, controlled immigration policies, and limits on trade (I won't deal with his comments about "antipathy to people who aren't like them" because I think it is a misplaced stereotype) not because they are rational but because they are bitter about being jobless. I think Obama quickly realized how deep this cuts and has run away from those comments, instead characterizing the debate as being about whether or not people are bitter (or more precisely whether or not they deserve to be bitter).

What really catches my attention is the comments on various conservative blogs (one of the most exemplary can be seen on Volokh) stating that Barack is right, we should be bitter. All of them that I've seen list a litany of charges against Republicans always including involvement in Iraq. What I find interesting about these posts is that every one I've seen is very clearly written by a liberal. I can't claim to know where they stand on gun rights, religion in schools, or the border fence, and I certainly don't know where they live. I've also never really spent any time in PA, but I have spent time in small towns in GA. I have a difficult time imagining that the biggest problem of the average citizen of Altoona, PA is supply contracts being awarded to Halliburton.

What I seem to be seeing is what Psychologists call projection; big city liberals (including Barack himself) think people should be bitter, so they're quick to jump to defend comments that they are. If you go read reports actually coming out of the Alleghenies, though, the closest thing I see to bitterness is indignation that the hardworking people of small town America were so slandered. This brings me to the second problem with his statement. You will note the above linked press coverage is of people who take pride in caring for themselves through their own hard work. To insinuate that they are bitter because the government hasn't come in and taken care of them like little children is deeply insulting. Zell Miller got this, but then he thought the Democrats were "a National Party No More."

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