Identity Crises

That Bill Kristol is as hilarious as ever today. He is comparing Barack Obama to Karl Marx:

But it’s one thing for a German thinker to assert that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.” It’s another thing for an American presidential candidate to claim that we “cling to … religion” out of economic frustration.

Note the “we.” Another member of the elite who doesn’t get it.

Obama in San Francisco does no courtesy to his fellow Americans. Look at the other claims he makes about those small-town voters.

Obama ascribes their anti-trade sentiment to economic frustration — as if there are no respectable arguments against more free-trade agreements. This is particularly cynical, since he himself has been making those arguments, exploiting and fanning this sentiment that he decries. Aren’t we then entitled to assume Obama’s opposition to Nafta and the Colombian trade pact is merely cynical pandering to frustrated Americans?

In Kristol’s world, the unwashed masses who live in those anonymous small towns are too dim to notice where their jobs went (which, if true, would make them almost as dim as Kristol) and wouldn’t be against “free trade” if demagogues would just leave the subject alone.

IMO Kristol shows us how really out of touch he is here:

He’s [Obama] disdainful of small-town America — one might say, of bourgeois America.

Either Kristol has no clue whatsoever about the real working-class folks of small town America, or he doesn’t know what bourgeois means. Or both. Either way, there is a huge class of Americans who are utterly invisible to Kristol.

This goes beyond just looking down on the simple peasants. Kristol doesn’t even know they exist. (See also fubar at Needlenose.)

Meanwhile, Obama is fighting back. ABC News reports:

“Shame on her,” Obama said, echoing one of Clinton’s own atacks on him. “Shame on her, she knows better.”

Obama said he was disappointed with her for her response and then launched into a new criticism of Clinton over her recent admission of being a hunter, and compared her sarcastically to Annie Oakley.

“She’s running around talking about how this is an insult to sportsmen, how she values the Second Amendment, she’s talking like she’s Annie Oakley! Hillary Clinton’s out there like she’s on the duck blind every Sunday, she’s packin’ a six shooter! C’mon! She knows better. That’s some politics being played by Hillary Clinton. I want to see that picture of her out there in the duck blinds.”

Obama said he is amazed and surprised by this “dust-up” but admitted that his words were chosen badly. He said he deeply regretted … that his words were misinterpreted.

This is exactly the right response. He shouldn’t back down. I think it’s possible that, when the dust settles, this episode will have resolved in his favor. Senator Clinton is already having to answer questions about the last time she went to church or fired a gun.

Here’s what’s sad: If I had read this column by Carl Bernstein six months ago I would have said Carl had fallen victim to Clinton Derangement Syndrome. Now, I suspect it’s close to the truth.

Here are some really good “see alsos”: Kevin Hayden at American Street; Ron Beasley at Middle Earth Journal; RJ Eskow at Huffington Post; Oliver Willis.

Here’s a particularly excellent commentary by Gary Younge. And David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers writes “A surge of new voters in Pennsylvania is likely to help Obama.

Update: Robert Reich:

Bitter? You ain’t seen nothing yet. And as much as people like Russert, Carville, Matalin, Schrum, and Murphy want to divert our attention from what’s really happening; as much as HRC and McCain seek to make political hay out of choices of words that can be spun cynically by the mindless spinners of the old politics; as much as demagogues on the right and left continue to try to channel the cumulative frustrations of Americans into a politics of resentment — all these attempts will, I hope, prove futile. Eighty percent of Americans know the nation is on the wrong track. The old politics, and the old media that feeds it, are irrelevant now.

Read the whole thing.

Update 2: Quote du Jour from John Cole:

So, in case you are keeping score, yes, American voters are dumb enough to vote for Bush twice (and I include myself in that number, sadly). They are not, however, dumb enough to sit around and listen to an Ivy League educated lawyer who has spent all but two of the last 40 years living in a Governor’s mansion, the White House, and a NY mansion and who made 110 million over the past six years call someone else elitist.

Go figure.

16 thoughts on “Identity Crises

  1. I’d add Robert Reich’s op-ed and the story about the housing price meltdown gone global, both in the NY Times.

    We really need the solutions of Senator John McHoover now.

  2. “In Kristol’s world, the unwashed masses who live in those anonymous small towns are too dim to notice where their jobs went…”

    I’ve read Obama’s words. It is in Obama’s world where this occurs, not Kristol’s. After all, Kristol is remarking on what Obama has said.

    “Either Kristol has no clue whatsoever about the real working-class folks of small town America, or he doesn’t know what bourgeois means. Or both. Either way, there is a huge class of Americans who are utterly invisible to Kristol.”

    Again, Kristol is just responding to the these views by Obama, not the other way around. It is Obama who just doesn’t get it. Obama is the old politics, and the media is helping him out.

  3. I think Obama has the right ideas about how working class people feel. But I’d extend it to all working class people, small towns and big cities. Just because I live in NYC doesn’t mean I’n not scared of losing my job. The financial sector, which the City has depeneded on for jobs, routinely contracts as banks and financial firms merge and downsize and send jobs out of the City. The manufacturing sector has been devastated for years. The last time was unemployed (early 1990s) it took 14 months to find a new job and that came with a loss of $10,000 in salary. It’s took 12 years to get back to where I was. I’m scared about the economy and bitter about how we have become a less mobile society.

  4. I did indeed read all of Robert Reich’s post. On the one hand, we have brainy, eloquent people like him who are clued in to the reality of blue-collar bitterness; on the other, we have the lockstep, anti-labor hypocrites like Kristol, who keep banging themselves in the chin with their jerking right knees.

    But just wait… next we’ll be hearing from the deeply offended Annie Oakley fans.

  5. SteveL, I take it you don’t read much at all. Your reading skills seem a little crude.

    Kristol clearly said that Obama is wrong to think small-town people are against “free trade” because of economic frustration. Kristol thinks the only reason small-town people are against “free trade” is that politicians like Obama have “exploited” the issue. That’s what KRISTOL said, son. These are Kristol’s arguments against what Obama said, notice, not what Obama said.

    And I say again, apparently Kristol thinks small-town people are too stupid to notice where their jobs went.

    You, on the other hand, are too stupid to think for yourself. The right-wing media machine is telling you that Obama is the elitist, and you believe them because, well, you’re an idiot.

  6. joan16 — Annie Oakley fans are already taking umbrage at TalkLeft. However, it’s not clear to me if Hillary Clinton should feel insulted by being compared to Annie Oakley or if Annie Oakley should feel insulted by being compared to Hillary Clinton.

  7. Kristol is the NYTime’s version of a comic relief. Of course, he’s not comical, he’s not a relief so he must be sleeping with somebody. (That’s the Hollywood explanation for a talentless someone who reaches stardom.)

    The righties have done a stellar job of convincing the American people that all their woes, fears and sleepless nights are the result of an America ruled by elites -tax raising, sushi-eating, leftwing freaks – rather than corporate America, the power-brokers who really pull the strings that activate their puppets in DC.

  8. Kristol is like W; he’s never had to work for any thing in his life. Talk about elitest. Probably couldn’t get a job on his own. His mother and father get him jobs.

  9. Carl Bernstien’s article is right on the money. He hit on every sentiment of disdain I hold for Hillary. I particularly like his usage of the term “scorched earth” to describe Hillary’s campaign tactics…it sums it up nicely. My inclination to express that same observation would be to revert to the vernacular of my New York construction worker roots, and say… The bitch will claw your balls off and hang them on her broom if you get in her way.

  10. John Cole is striking a bum note though. You’re not an “elitist” because of belonging to the elite. Obviously, both of the candidates belong to the elite, and can’t pretend otherwise. Obama’s elitism lies in thinking the working classes follow populist bullshit because they have been shafted by the elites; Clinton’s lies in agreeing, and using populist bullshit to batter him with.

  11. Obama’s elitism lies in thinking the working classes follow populist bullshit because they have been shafted by the elites

    Are you saying that the working class won’t listen to a populist message even though they’ve been shafted by elites? Or are you saying that working people don’t know they’ve been shafted by elites?

    I think either statement is wrong, note. I’m just trying to understand what’s being said so I can try to guess what’s “elitist” about it.

  12. McCain says while talking about the bitter people referred to in the recent Obama flap..“These are people who produced the generation that made the world safe for democracy.”

    I know McCain is old, and might be prone to a little disorientation, but wouldn’t the generation that made the world safe for democracy have been born around 1900, and the people who produced them have been born in the late 1800’s? How does a Woodrow Wilson campaign slogan fit in to the Obama flap? Maybe McCain just finished reading Johnny Got His Gun?

  13. BHO: People are angry and upset, and for good reason.
    MSM: How dare you utter the obvious truth?

  14. I just can’t help it. Obama’s Annie Oakley comment, very funny, evoked Hillary packing pistols which in turn evoked Walter Mitty which in turn evoked Hillary liberating the women of China, Hillary negotiating peace in Northern Ireland, Hillary ducking live-fire in Yugoslavia, Hillary saving the world when the ‘red’ phone rings at 3am.

  15. If you look at it, Obama has brilliantly exposed some of the most offensive AND deeply-ingrained conservative narratives to fresh scrutiny. Whether it’s Wright, or “bitterness,” he is succeeding at re-inverting the populist narrative. He seems to have taken “What’s the Matter with Kansas” to heart.

    The outcome, if he plays it right, which he has so far, is to discredit the entire edifice of right wing propaganda posing as “balanced” news, which is precisely why the heavies on the right are blowing such a gasket. Not only will the right-wing populist inversion run aground, landing former Reagan dems squarely back in the Dem camp, but the whole establishment media that played along with it for so long will find itself isolated, rejected, and most importantly, irrelevant.

    Whether Obama pulls it off or not, he has given us a strong hint of what needs to be done and which neither the democratic party establishment nor the establishment media has been capable of doing: just telling the truth and letting the chips fall where they may. Until recently, it has been precisely the dems’ fear of speaking the truth that makes them look “wimpy.” But telling the truth nails them as “elitist.” It’s a “heads you’re a wimp, tails you’re an elitist” bait-and-switch tactic, and Obama has just thrust a deep stake into the heart of that zombie-narrative.

    More please!

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