Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Bitterness Kabuki

Obama blew it.* Not catastrophically, not in the Tuzla manner, but he did screw up. He will now spend seven months watching himself describing working-class whites clinging to guns and god. But Hillary has her Tuzla debacle to watch, and McCain his Shi'ite-al Qaida axis (among so many others). But what he blew was a matter of emphasis, not reality. He made the mistake of crudely voicing the truth (poor whites are angry, and they are in a defensive crouch). Clinton and McCain will now depend on poor whites to forget it again, and vote for the aristocrat who can most effectively pantomime redneck "authenticity" despite the knowledge--held by both voter and candidate--that the act is kabuki, that the candidate will continue to screw the poor. (I no longer place bets at this table--so far, I'm on a helluva losing streak.)

The good news is that the press are sharks, and so they won't hammer this point. Moreover, voters are distractable--if they ever paid attention at all--and they won't remember his comments a week from now. But that aside, there's this: Obama could actually turn it back against Clinton.

In her clumsy (vicious, petty) attack back, Clinton has stupidly made it about "bitterness," not clinging. She's handing out "I'm not bitter" bumper-stickers in North Carolina. But of course, people are bitter. (Now that Penn has left, perhaps she has no one to tell her 81% of people think we're on the wrong track.) Obama may have sloppily diagnosed the cause, but not the disease. And now, even before the Monday news cycle picks up again, he's running with the bitterness argument, too:
Barack Obama understands us. He's got it right, we are frustrated -- frustrated with polices that enable businesses to leave our community, pensions to be stripped, health care benefits to be taken away and homes foreclosed. Unlike his opponents, who have been part of the Washington establishment that are out of touch with us, Barack Obama will change Washington. It is policies that hurt us. He will take on the special interests and fight for us.
Robocall from the mayor of York, PA
I'm going to make a bold prediction here: I think this helps him in Pennsylvania. Not enough to win, but enough for Democrats to fall in line behind him after the election and start calling for her to step down. She went all-in on this gambit, and I think it's going to backfire.

(See predictive record above.)

Obama on Friday: "You go into 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."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right. Great commentary.