Elitism for Elites

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conservatism, Democratic Party

It always amuses me when upper-class people with power and privilege start screeching about “elitism.” Today all manner of political, media and blogging elites — people with advanced degrees who’ve never been to a tractor pull in their lives — are snorting about elitism because Barack Obama said something that anyone with a real redneck background knows to be true — working-class, small-town whites feel left behind, bitter and frustrated.

This remark allegedly is an insult to working-class, small-town whites in Pennsylvania. I have a different perspective. Granted, my background is southern Missouri small-town working-class white, rather than Pennsylvania small-town working-class white, and there are subtle cultural distinctions between the two. While I may have kinfolk in half the trailer parks in the Ozarks, I admit that doesn’t qualify me to speak for Pennsylvanians. But over the past forty or so years small-town, working-class white America has been living through the shared experience of diminishing opportunity combined with increasing financial instability.

In community after community, the old factory or mining jobs that sustained the local economy are gone. Forty years ago, young folks left high school, signed on to jobs that paid Union-obtained wages and benefits, and looked forward to all the trappings of American middle-class affluence — homes, new cars, trips to Disney World. Now the bright young people move away to cities, and those who remain in the small towns sustain themselves — barely — by flipping hamburgers or cashiering at Wal-Mart.

The only ones who aren’t bitter and frustrated are those too young or too dim to realize life was much better a couple of generations ago.

I concur with many of Obama’s critics that the place of guns and religion in American culture is older, deeper, and much more complex than Obama’s remarks reflected. But don’t tell me small-town, working-class white folks in America aren’t xenophobic. They are, deeply, and they have been going back generations. That’s just a plain fact. Believe me, you don’t know the half of it until you’ve lived among them.

What’s rich about the current flap is that the biggest reason small-town, working-class whites have tended to vote “conservative” in recent decades is that the Right has stoked that bitterness, frustration and xenophobia, election after election, and turned it on the Left. As Joe Bageant pointed out in his pretty-brilliant book Deer Hunting With Jesus, small-town, working-class whites learn everything they know about the outside world from highly paid media elites like the perpetually angry and xenophobic Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. Fear and anger are the bread and butter of right-wing politics; it keeps the rubes compliant.

Limbaugh, btw, may be from southeast Missouri, but his family had tons of money. True Redneckland would have been a place Limbaugh visited growing up, but he never had to live there.

And today you’ve got people like John “Power Tool” Hinderaker (highly paid lawyer; graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard Law) discussing Obama’s “bigoted opinion, common among urban liberals, of people who live in ‘small towns.” I don’t know why Hinderaker put quotes about “small towns”; maybe he thinks there are no such things.

Quoting Oliver Willis:

Apparently Fox, Drudge, and Politico are just tired of a slow news week and are looking for something – anything – to whip up a frenzy over, and of course the go-to people for quotes on this are the elite of elite cons like Grover Norquist and Karl Rove. I mean, when is the last time those guys had a conversation with someone making less than six figures… besides the help?

I’ve long believed you aren’t a real American until you find yourself in some rural Kentucky roadhouse at 1 a.m. singing “Rocky Top” with the rest of the drunks. I dare say this is an experience not many of Obama’s critics have had. I admit that I’m far enough removed from my own roots that I no longer remember the words to “Rocky Top” beyond most of the first verse and the refrain, but I used to could sing it all the way through. I suspect, however, that the small-town, working-class world I grew up in would be utterly alien to the likes of Hinderaker.

From a working-class perspective, the three presidential candidates represent different slices of the elitist pie. You’ve got Senator Hillary Clinton, who grew up in an affluent suburb of Chicago and graduated from Yale law school; Senator John McCain, son of a four-star admiral and U.S. Naval Academy graduate; and Barack Obama, the biracial graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law.

American politicians going back to Andrew Jackson have emphasized the more common aspects of their biographies to appeal to voters. Failing that, one might get away with affecting folksiness as George W. Bush does. But politicians need to be careful when they presume to speak for the folks.

“It’s being reported that my opponent said that the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are bitter; well, that’s not my experience,” Mrs. Clinton told an audience at Drexel University.

Does anyone besides me find that hysterically funny? Of course it’s not been her experience. The only time she speaks to small-town, working-class commoners is when they’re lined up to shake her hand at a photo cop. She’s never been one of them. Obama has never been one of them, either, but he’s not pretending to be. Senator Clinton may think she’s found a talking point that will help her keep the lead in Pennsylvania, but she might want to be careful about portraying those small-town, working-class folks as being happy and optimistic.

Oliver Willis makes another good point:

It’s intriguing that Dems are never supposed to voice any criticism of rural America (which isn’t what Sen. Obama did) but Republicans are allowed to insult San Francisco, Massachusetts, the coasts, etc. It’s like there’s a double standard or something.

It’s all part of the Right’s elitist program of selling snake-oil to the rubes.

Update: See also Ezra Klein and Marc Ambinder.

Update 2: See also Steve Benen, John Aravosis and John Cole.

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55 Comments

54 Comments

  1. ironranger  •  Apr 12, 2008 @1:16 pm

    The outrage is ridiculous. I’ve lived in small town/rural Minnesota for over 50 years hearing xenophobic, bigoted, bitter comments from people from all walks in life, not just from those who struggle but from folks who are doing just fine & more than fine. I would be surprised if any other small town in this country was different. It’s just a matter of degree.

  2. Mark Gisleson  •  Apr 12, 2008 @1:18 pm

    Your take is perfectly synchronized with my rural northern Iowa upbringing. Barack’s initial statements and his reiteration of those statements made perfect sense to me.

    But no, the concern trolls will never figure this one out because they’ve come to believe in their own propaganda. The Clintons and McCains truly think that Wall Street is just Main Street on steroids (the good kind).

    I had no idea, btw, you were a country girl, but I should have guessed. Former rednecks make the very best Buddhists…..

  3. Michael  •  Apr 12, 2008 @1:33 pm

    I’m from Western PA, and what Barack Obama said seemed perfectly reasonable to me, though maybe not phrased as well as he could have.

  4. Swami  •  Apr 12, 2008 @2:36 pm

    Rocky Top

    Wish that I was on ol’ Rocky Top
    Down in the Tennessee hills
    Aint’ no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top
    Ain’t no telephone bills
    Once I had a girl on Rocky Top
    Half bear, other half cat
    Wild as a mink,
    but sweet as soda pop
    I still dream about that.

    Rocky Top you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me
    Good ol’ Rocky Top
    Rocky Top Tennessee,
    Rocky Top Tennessee

    Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top
    Lookin’ for a moonshine still
    Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top
    Reckon they never will

    Rocky Top you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me
    Good ol’ Rocky Top
    Rocky Top Tennessee,
    Rocky Top Tennessee

    Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top
    Dirt’s too rocky by far
    That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top
    Get their corn from a jar

    Rocky Top you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me
    Good ol’ Rocky Top
    Rocky Top Tennessee,
    Rocky Top Tennessee

    I’ve had years of cramped-up city life
    Trapped like a duck in a pen
    All I know is it’s a pity life
    Can’t be simple again

    Rocky Top you’ll always be
    Home sweet home to me
    Good ol’ Rocky Top
    Rocky Top Tennessee,
    Rocky Top Tennessee

  5. zeppo  •  Apr 12, 2008 @3:44 pm

    Boy, is that the truth…. I, a non-Southerner, lived in rural Alabama and Mississippi for about 10 years, minus the stints in Birmingham. Xenophobic, on the nose! I could just feel the distain and anger as old ladies glared at me when I went into the hardware store…. Angry, you bet. Most rural Southerners are STILL upset they lost the Civil War. Whose to blame for their ills, their lack of good jobs, their bumping along the line between lower middle class and poverty? Anyone who isn’t one of them, of course.

  6. zeppo  •  Apr 12, 2008 @3:47 pm

    And I must say, I still don’t much care for “Rocky Top”, given that’s the fight song for the University of Tennessee, given that I am a grad of Miss. State. Univ. Football fans in the South are pretty insufferable….

  7. Stella  •  Apr 12, 2008 @4:09 pm

    Thanks Swami, and thank you, Maha – good song, good post. Saturday’s always slow on the web. This is a hilariously ridiculously petty flap.

  8. Bonnie  •  Apr 12, 2008 @4:11 pm

    In order to run for President a person has to be a millionaire. This is a fact. Unless there is some serious campaign reform, we will never see someone born in a log cabin become President. However, this is another fact out there that seems to get forgotten. Short of being an editor or reporter from a small community paper, almost everyone in the press is in that “elite” class and have no clue into what the rest of us deal with on a day to day basis. Recently, Cokie Roberts made some stupid remarks and tried to claim she was speaking for all Americans. Cokie Roberts probably makes more money in one year than I will in my entire life. She doesn’t speak for me; nor do any of those other millionaire “elite” press people. In my opinion, all of these elites are WAY overpaid. I haven’t seen a one of them do what is in t he best interests of the country–like telling the truth and really and truly investigating all the Bush scandals. If we still had a poor man’s press, Bush would have been run out of town on a rail in his first term.

  9. liz  •  Apr 12, 2008 @4:57 pm

    I’m from small town South Carolina…. and recently was through rural Missouri. I didn’t see any Obama or Clinton or McCain bumper stickers there. I did see a lot of water, with some people still not able to reach home. The mood in the cities in South Carolina is similar to the mood in the smaller towns…. and you’ll find more Colbert 08 signs than anything.

  10. euthyfro  •  Apr 12, 2008 @5:02 pm

    And this is where Obama needs to go, where they’ve all feared to go: Class consciousness, Class identity, Class antagonism and when they call it Class War say “Yes, Mrs. $109million Clinton, and yes, Mr. Whoknowshowfilthyrich McCain this is Class War.”

  11. Ugh  •  Apr 12, 2008 @5:28 pm

    This isn’t about people being bitter.

    Being bitter is fine.

    It’s the second part about clinging the religion and guns.
    That’s the issue here. It’s a statement that devalues people.

  12. maha  •  Apr 12, 2008 @5:45 pm

    This isn’t about people being bitter.

    Being bitter is fine.

    Go tell that to Hillary Clinton.

    It’s the second part about clinging the religion and guns.
    That’s the issue here. It’s a statement that devalues people.

    There’s a lot of truth in what Obama said, though. As I said, the place of guns and religion in American culture is older and deeper than Obama indicated, but there’s no doubt in my mind that much of the over-the-top religiosity and the more extremist aspects of gun culture are connected to feelings of alienation.

    It’s complicated.

  13. John Cole  •  Apr 12, 2008 @6:02 pm

    That Republicans and the idiots in the media are saying it is not what is irritating me, as it is to be expected. The fact that Hillary is pushing it is driving me crazy.

  14. mellowjohn  •  Apr 12, 2008 @6:05 pm

    there was a bit on npr the other day about truckers in west va and their struggles to stay in business.
    i was pretty sympathetic, but then asked myself “well, who did you guys all vote for last time? oh, yeah… you kept john kerry from taking away your guns and your bibles – just like karl rove told you to.”
    dopes.

  15. Swami  •  Apr 12, 2008 @6:14 pm

    Score one for Hillary for what’s it worth. Obama conceded that his statement was worded as such that it allowed Hillary’s campaign to twist it against him. His message was clear to me even though he didn’t have the luxury of brutal honesty. When he referred to people transposing frustrations by using religion as a political narcotic —I thought of Bush’s “Defense of Marriage Amendment” crusade. How he manipulated the religious right to secure a political advantage by promising to run down homosexuals and put them back into the closet while at the same time protecting my marriage of 33 years from the assaults of predatory homosexuals, or even guys like Larry Craig ( the recreational homosexual)..

  16. Josh  •  Apr 12, 2008 @6:18 pm

    In later statements, Obama adds a critical clarification.

    Working class people reply on things that they can count on, like religon and their community. Because they can’t count on Washington.

    That’s not devaluing people. He’s listening and thinking about the problems of rural America — which is a lot better than just promising them things will get better every 4 years.

  17. Katie  •  Apr 12, 2008 @6:51 pm

    What gets me is that it’s not the people Obama was speaking about that were offended by his comments. They’re all nodding along. It’s those who profit off of the low-income Americans without microphones that are whining.

  18. skippy  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:13 pm

    i love the description i found in the comments section of orcinus: right wing drama queens.

    i am avoiding this whole mess…it doesn’t seem like anything obama said is worthy of 24/7 analysis, let along the screaming that his campaign is over with.

    i wonder (tho not enough to research it) if any of these whiners actually bothered to talk to the small town inhabitants to see what they think of what obama said.

    i predict that, like the rev. wright affair, will not significantly disturb obama’s tragectory.

  19. Clyde  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:14 pm

    Whether you actually believe in what Obama says or not, the fact is that most Americans aren’t going to need a bunch of Obama supporters to once again condescend to them by explaining what Obama really meant. And you can’t, and in most of the explanations here I see the same big brushstrokes of painting middle America as a bunch of gun toting, bible thumping, racists. And it doesn’t matter one damn bit how much some of you believe it to be true. Just go say that to one of them, tell them to their face that’s what they are and see how far it gets you. That’s why you just don’t get it.

  20. dweller  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:16 pm

    Well the finally got one on Obama eh? Never mind that the other two candidates probably say the same in private.

  21. maha  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:23 pm

    I see the same big brushstrokes of painting middle America as a bunch of gun toting, bible thumping, racists.

    The xenophobia goes deeper than just racism. For example, for years the Right has stoked fear of a “liberal elite” (that does not, i fact, exist). Anyone who lives in a city and has ever sipped a latte can become something to be feared and hated.

    Just go say that to one of them, tell them to their face that’s what they are and see how far it gets you. That’s why you just don’t get it.

    Like I said, these are my people. I know them well. I get it a lot better than you do.

  22. Reich Winger's NightMare  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:27 pm

    If after seven years of Bush you’re not bitter then you haven’t been paying attention. Or else you’re a Republican cashing in on the looting.

    I was born and raised in blue collar middle class suburban Cleveland, Ohio and now live in rural central Kentucky. I’ve seen alot. From both sides. And I can say from first hand experience, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

    Yes, people are bitter. Even here. And I’ll venture to bet we’re not alone.

  23. DwKIRT  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:41 pm

    Good to know that I am not the only person living in the Ozarks that CAN see the forest despite the trees!!

    It baffles me how the right can continually convince “conservative” voters to vote against their own best interests time and time again.

    After the latest media blitz over Obama’s comments and how they are blatently taking them out of context and implying that they mean something other than the absolute truth is very sad and makes things seem very hopeless.
    It is disheartening, and makes me want to throw up my hands and say to hell with it, I am going to stop worrying about these “rubes” and take care of myself. Some people just cant be helped.

  24. DwKIRT  •  Apr 12, 2008 @7:48 pm

    And in defense of maha, I myself dont need to “say that to one of their faces”, I live amongst these people, work with them, go to church with them, drink beer with them!! And they say it to MY face and of course I agree with them 100%

    They ARE bitter, They ARE angry about all the immigrants flooding the region, They dont want their guns touched but unfortunately dont realize the other 9 Bill of Rights are being stripped

    What Obama said is 100% true.

  25. JonathanL  •  Apr 12, 2008 @8:18 pm

    What blows me away about this “controversy” is that what Obama said was both thoughtful and accurate. Since we are so used to hearing nothing but bullshit and foolishness in USA, such a statement actually jars the ears.

  26. Donaldd  •  Apr 12, 2008 @8:31 pm

    This the speech of Small town Blue Collar workering people! This is what Obama Meant to say in his speech. He was not talking about Bringing guns to church.

    Stick= Cling
    stick to your guns (British, American & Australian, informal, American, informal)
    to refuse to change your ideas although other people try to make you change them. David’s family were against him becoming an actor but he stuck to his guns. Stand by your guns and don’t let them talk you into working full time if you don’t want to.
    See also: gun, stick
    Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms © Cambridge University Press 1998

    stick to your guns
    to refuse to change your beliefs or actions. My parents want me to study accounting, but I’m sticking to my guns and majoring in philosophy.
    Etymology: based on the military meaning of stick to your guns (= to continue shooting at an enemy although it puts you in great danger)

  27. Donaldd  •  Apr 12, 2008 @8:54 pm

    Blue Collar workers know just exactly what Obama meant in his speech; They live it every day.
    “Workers won on this fight because they stuck to their guns.”

    Snobs like Hillery Clinton and John McCain are idiots claiming to know how Blue Collar workers feel or talk; They don’t know shit from Shinola.

    Not only as Blue Collar workers Bitter about Corporate America in Control of our government. They are also optimistic a change for the better will arrive soon. Most know they can’t get it from MORE OF THE SAME Clinton or McCain.

  28. Donna  •  Apr 12, 2008 @9:39 pm

    I am in my seventies and feel I need to respond: Obama tells the truth. It can hurt, The things as guns and religion etc is all many have to hang on to because this government hasnt took them away from us yet. And yes their is fear of someone else being different and mistrust in not knowing who will threaten what you have left. But isnt that exactly what he wants to change? Hasnt the politicians used the gun issue to get your votes? Hasnt the politicians used religion as wedges to meet their criteria? Havent our values been evaluated by what they want from us not themselves? Its time it surfaced ! Those eletists seem to be the one who do all the judging and Barack Obama is far from that! Donna

  29. Hume's Ghost  •  Apr 12, 2008 @11:59 pm

    I have yet to see a response that beats this jaw-dropping one from Mark Noonan at Blogs for Victory:

    http://blogsforvictory.com/2008/04/12/obama-issues-weaselly-non-apology/

    Over the past month or so I’ve had plenty of people send me commentary on Obama Sr’s communism and the clear indications that Obama Jr is also at least somewhat communist in viewpoint – but, of course, the communist viewpoint long ago absorbed the liberal viewpoint, and Obama isn’t the only senior Democrat with communist connections (Hillary has hers, too). These days, in a lot of ways, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Lenin and any so-called liberal Democrat – of course, the liberal Democrats will vehemently deny this, but that is more a function of their ignorance of just what Lenin was advocating pre-Revolution. And there lies the real problem – Obama isn’t a communist and, in fact, is likely so ignorant of history that he’s unaware that what he considers his liberalism is actually just a species of junior-league Leninism.

    And this guy was a contributor at Townhall.com last year.

  30. biggerbox  •  Apr 13, 2008 @1:31 am

    I’m probably making too big a deal of this, but Hillary’s own phrasing comes off as pretty f-in’ elitist to me.

    I notice she didn’t say “That’s not true”, or “I haven’t seen it.” or “That’s not what I’ve seen”, or even “that hasn’t been my experience.” Instead it was “That’s not my experience.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but that construction sounds false. It sounds like someone who’s been in therapy, or maybe just law school, and has learned to discuss “my experience” as an external, almost abstract concept, so they can say threatening things in a non-judgemental way. Like there is no objective reality, there is merely everyone’s “experience” of reality. Hillary is so focus-grouped and polished that even when she’s trying to hit the other guy, she’s doing it in this passive “We’re all entitled to our own experience” way. She’s not saying Obama is wrong, even when she’s trying to say Obama is wrong.

    Except, of course, she also knows he’s not. Because he wasn’t really saying anything she would disagree with, were it not for the need to find some new way to attack him, and get that snafu with Bill talking about Bosnia again out of the news as fast as possible.

    Stirring this pot is an act of desperation, and truly a pathetic display. Of course, that’s just “my experience”.

  31. comsympinko  •  Apr 13, 2008 @1:34 am

    I totally agree with the author.

    However.

    I might not be a “real American.”

    I sure don’t know the lyrics to “Rocky Top.”

    But I’m pretty sure anyone who finds themself singing “Rocky Top” in a rural Kentucky roadhouse at 1 AM with the rest of the drunks would have the everloving shit beaten out of them.

    “Rocky Top” is a Tennessee song.

    As in, the University of Tennessee’s fight song.

    I’m pretty sure most “real Americans” know the intimate intrastate brotherly love felt by Wildcats and Volunteers.

    Our author, not so much.

    Glass houses and stones, anyone?

  32. Mike G  •  Apr 13, 2008 @2:08 am

    It’s those who profit off of the low-income Americans without microphones that are whining.

    To borrow a quote from the Freeway Blogger –
    “I’m sick of hearing what rich people think”.

  33. linda smith  •  Apr 13, 2008 @2:42 am

    i agree will obama i am bitter as hell how nothing is done ever in washington. but every four years someone comes along with promises. the clinton years wasnt all that great a little money we want more. i worry about my children furture. we have this liar running with her columbia trade,bosnia sniper and naft trade.lets not start on the 109b she has in her bank account. she will never get my vote. far as mccain monger he could never get my vote. bomb,bomb,bomb iran and surge iraq and the issue the republicans will use to get the christian votes. using gun control, gay marriage and abortion but not the economic and war issues.

  34. MikeInMilwaukee  •  Apr 13, 2008 @3:10 am

    Is it wrong for me to google “becoming a Canadian Citizen”?

  35. serena1313  •  Apr 13, 2008 @5:09 am

    Maha while I agree with you there is one caveat that ought to be mentioned. Obama did not grow up wealthy. He was raised by his mother who divorced his father when Barack was age 3 ? As single young mother living off food stamps, Ann relied on her parents to help take care of him.

    About 5 or 6 years later his mother re-married. They moved to Indonesia. Living on the outskirts of Jakarta their home had no electricity, streets were not paved, inflation ran 600%. He attended a Catholic school, Franciscus Assisi Primary School.

    When Obama was 10 his mother sent him back to Hawaii to live with her parents so he could attend Punahou, a private school, that he’d gotten into on a scholarship. He also got scholarships to Harvard Law & Colombia. In fact Michelle and Obama just recently paid-off their school loans from his book royalties.

    So when Michelle said something that was misunderstood — I cannot recall her exact words — what she meant was that if Obama was not elected she was afraid that she and her husband might not really re_member what it was like struggling to make ends meet. So his “wealth” is actually something new.

    Obama neither inherited nor marry into wealth. After he graduated he was offered a lot of lucrative job offers — 6 digit salaries — but instead chose to become a community organizer for about $30,000 a year or less.

    Therein knowing this I think it helps put things in a different perspective. He has lived in similar circumstances maybe not as dire, but certainly more so than any other candidate running for office. He relates to it. His message of hope makes more sense I think knowing his background. It resonates. He really does “get it” from his own life experiences — he is authentic. …. IMHO

  36. maha  •  Apr 13, 2008 @6:09 am

    comsympinko — I admit, it’s been a few years. But it really was Kentucky and it really was “Rocky Top,” which used to be the hillbilly national anthem. I have no idea when Tennessee made it their school song, but that hadn’t been done yet in them days.

  37. D.R. Marvel  •  Apr 13, 2008 @8:44 am

    Dunno ’bout Kentucky…Gave uip drinking many years before I moved to the Bluegrass State…

    But one of the all-time favorites for 1 am sing-alongs in virtually every “slop-chute” I’ve ever been thrown out of was “Bottle o’ Wine”…

    Well I ramble around this dirty ol’ town…

    Singin’ for nickles and dimes…

    Times gettin’ tough, I ain’t got enough…

    To buy a little bottle of wine…

    Ohhh…

    Bottle o’ wine, fruit of the vine…

    When you gonna let me get sober…

    Leave me alone, lemme go home…

    Let me go home and start over…

  38. jerri  •  Apr 13, 2008 @8:48 am

    I have in laws that live in north central Pa. The town they live in has no tax base….they turn off the street lights at 10 pm to save money. But, they roads to this town were excellent. The walmart has no problems getting that cheap stuff from china.

  39. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 13, 2008 @9:00 am

    All,
    Media!
    Where for art thou?…

    Stop licking/kissing his ass, and start investigating it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m sooooooooo “f”ing tired of all of this BULL$#!&!!!!!!!!!

    Investigate!
    Adjudacate!!!
    Incarerate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Each, and every, one of these evil-clown’s.
    EVERY ONE of them!

    Investigate!
    Adjudacate!!!
    Incarcerate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry, C. Powll, you slept with the dog’s, and now you have flea’s – the size of hub-cap’s!!!
    And, no amount of mea-culpa’s can seprerate your “Culpa.” from your “Mea…”

    YOU droppwed the shit at “Pottery Barn,” now YOU have to pay for it.!
    ASSHOLE!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Sadie Baker  •  Apr 13, 2008 @9:13 am

    Wiki is your friend:

    Although a staple of their concerts, the song did not achieve mass popularity until Lynn Anderson had a hit with it in 1970, and when the “Pride of the Southland” University of Tennessee marching band used it for one of their drills in 1972. The song was very popular and was officially adopted as a state song in 1982. In the 1970s, the song achieved such popularity among bar crowds that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, old-time band the Red Clay Ramblers [1] national tours included a crowd-pleasing satire informally titled “Play ‘Rocky Top’ (or I’ll Punch Your Lights Out.)”[2]

    Personally, anyone who knows how to use the construction “use to could” passes the hillbilly purity test for me. I reckon.

  41. KingGeorgeTheTenth  •  Apr 13, 2008 @9:37 am

    This one story again allows us to examine how rotten our 24 hour journalism has become. The talking heads will say “…some call Obama’s statement elitist… (put on clip of Clinton saying… “that is not my experience…”[which is like the whole ostrich situation of someone sticking their heads in the ground]…). So this story will be played for a couple of days, a week at the most, the talking heads will all regurgitate what the two sides said and pretend its a real dialog.

    Of-course what gets missed is that Obama is correct. The incredible thing about Obama is he is such an effective communicator that he can literally let us understand what he thinks, not just the talking points he comes up with at the end like all the other politicians seem to. In effect he can elevate communication – the tv’s talking heads largely are still trying to keep up with his level of communication.

  42. Brad  •  Apr 13, 2008 @10:13 am

    And people wonder why politicians never seem to say anything of substance: when they do, the media finds it too much for their little minds to handle and freak out. I hope that Obama isn’t eventually turned into an overcautious platitude spouter. That’s what seemed to happen to Kerry, and you can see how inspirational he turned out to be.

    Regarding the religion and guns” thing, I don’t think Obama was meaning to imply that the connection to guns and religion is ENTIRELY explained by that feeling of powerlessness regarding the government. He was simply acknowledging that, in the absence of any hope for large-scale change, some folks cling to what they have some control over on a more personal scale. Personally I think he was very astute in his comments – but of course, astute comments seem to overwhelm the brains of far too many voters. I sure do hope that at some point in the future a politician can actually talk to us like we’re thinking adults and not get attacked for it. Wouldn’t that be swell.

  43. Swami  •  Apr 13, 2008 @11:01 am

    If after seven years of Bush you’re not bitter then you haven’t been paying attention.

    That’s about the size of it. It’s the most accurate assessment yet. Bring to mind a remembrance of Bush’s inaugural bash and try to square that in terms of relationship to the governed. A classic “let them eat cake” scenario wherein anybody seeking a bond with their government could find cause for bitterness. I think barbed wire barriers and club wielding thugs in uniform to exclude the uninvited Americans also speaks volumes to a sense of bitterness felt.

    A government of the people, for the people, and by the people…? I’m just not seeing it.

  44. Tiny Tim  •  Apr 13, 2008 @11:28 am

    Can we all resist the temptation to define what background and experiences one must have to be a “real American?”

  45. Christine Buckley  •  Apr 13, 2008 @12:05 pm

    Bitter doesn’t even cover it — and it’s not limited to whites. I have a friend — born in Mexico, now a citizen — who came here becaue America was the land of opportunity. She has two children to support. She’s been looking for work around her small town for over two years without success. Wal-Mart would hire her, but would only pay her $5/hour — not enough to cover her bills, childcare for my godson who is 4, and pay for gas to get to the job. Her last job was helping to pack up a Motorola factory that was moving to Mexico!!! The only jobs I can find on my computer around her are in the military — and since she’s over 40 it’s not an option.

  46. TJ  •  Apr 13, 2008 @1:43 pm

    Don’t know about ‘Rocky Top’, didn’t get much play in the San Joaquin Valley and thereabouts where I did most of my serious drinking back in the day. Yeah, the one in California, where the white wine drinking stops at the Coast Ranges (if it makes it that far) and from there on it’s Okies as far as the can see (well, ok, Mexicans too, but they got their own thing.) Didn’t much go in for chorale singing either, woulda seemed kinda queer (gay, now.) And knowing all the words to a song more’n four stanzas long? Also queer. But throw a little ‘Okie From Muskogee’ or ‘Take This Job And Shove it’ or ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown’ on the jukebox and you got your audience participation, mostly some buncha guys jumping in on the chorus (all we knew) as loud as they could. By 1 AM, tell the truth, things had usually gotten kinda morose and most guys were sorting out who they were gonna get in a fight with out in the parking lot after the bartender crowbarred us all outta there. ‘Nother good ol’ boy sport I don’t miss much. On the subject though, nobody much likes being categorized then analyzed but if you gotta do it, saying what you’re thinking, offensive or not, beats talking down to folks you don’t know much about and who don’t need (or appreciate) talking down to anyway.

  47. oclday  •  Apr 13, 2008 @3:15 pm

    Obama should have saved his breath and just called working class Americans typical white people. Oh that’s right he found out that was impolitic to say a while ago.
    Racism isn’t limited to whites and it isn’t limited to the working class, nor is faith or guns. But the elitism BO expressed is limited to the rich and the well educated.
    Stop making excuses for him, he admitted his mistake. Your guy isn’t perfect, get over it. Or get used to it because this crap is the little league stuff. He will need your blind support when he starts to make decisions that really impact America and American lives.
    God help us all.

  48. Mary The Prez  •  Apr 13, 2008 @5:03 pm

    Wow, I am sure glad you all out there straightened out the ‘Rocky Top’ controversy! I have lived most of my life in TN, saw the song writers who actually wrote that beautiful ode to our mountains down here recently. I was afraid this side bar discussion was going to distract you guys, but you held on and made your points that Obama did, in fact, speak the truth and the whole truth. Hell, we are all bitter, enraged about the War For Nothing, pissed about no jobs, our foreclosures (which McShame blames on US), and the fact we don’t have any health insurance.
    I have three kids unemployed, no income myself except for Social Security, so yep, bitter is definitely my new word!
    Love your blog, too, Maha!
    I am a first time visitor, an old ragin’ granny from (close to) Rocky Top!

  49. Chief  •  Apr 13, 2008 @6:40 pm

    Hinderaker, Dartmouth and Harvard Law, what a pompous, self-rightous bigoted ass. I would like to invite him to Main Street small town Ohio, also. Here is a copy of a comment I left at Liberty Street, yesterday.

    ——————————————————————————-

    It would be nice to host Victor Davis Hanson and/or Ed Morrissey in the midwest town in which I reside, about 25 miles north of Dayton, OH.

    At the north end of town is the ex-Miami Industries plant and parking lot. Overgrown, it’s been closed for years.

    Miller-Meteor used to make those unchanging taxi cabs. they’re gone.

    The Aerovent Fan building has been empty for years.

    Decker Meats – slaughter house and meat packing plant – history.

    I know there have been more plants close but I’ve only been living here a year and a half and that’s all I can pull off the top of my head.

    Hanson & Morrissey are as out of touch as Clinton & McCain.

  50. Swami  •  Apr 13, 2008 @7:53 pm

    Hillary says..”Americans who believe in the second amendment believe it’s a matter of constitutional right, and Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith”.. Huh? What exactly is she saying here? Could be me lacking in comprehension, but I’m just seeing/hearing a conglomeration of words that says nothing by saying something…mindless filler to dull the ears of the unsophisticated listener,perhaps?

  51. maha  •  Apr 13, 2008 @9:19 pm

    oclday — it appears idiocy knows no racial boundaries, either. Now, go out and graze with the rest of the sheep.

  52. maha  •  Apr 13, 2008 @9:22 pm

    Mary the Prez — I hope you’ll come back to visit again sometime. :-)

  53. E.D.  •  Apr 14, 2008 @7:45 am

    I agree with you 100%. I grew up in rural Central NY and a lot of my relatives still live there. Racist, homophobic, xenophobic, insular, and left behind still apply. Going home is like going back in time to the late 80s.

    Interestingly, I think things are starting to change. Last time I was home, my grandparents said they were going to start voting Democrat. My grandfather also said his next truck would be a Toyota, because a friend of his really liked the one he just bought.

    I thought I was in Bizarro world.

  54. Vigilante  •  Apr 14, 2008 @9:32 am

    It’s time for me to come out of the closet:

    I am now, and always have been, an elitist. That’s why I supported JFK and RFK. And that’s why I’m voting for the Senator from Illinois. Obama is the one to put America Barack on track.

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