Saturday, April 12, 2008

Going Postal

I know it's the silly season and all, as the paid poli-monkeys wait for the homestretch before the Pennsylvania primary so's they can dust off their crystal balls and make their foolish guesses, but check the coverage of Obama's "gaffe":

As his political opponents heap on scorn, Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged that he chose his words poorly when describing small-town Pennsylvanians at a fundraiser on Sunday. But he didn't back off the message he had sought to convey.

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," Obama conceded before a crowd in Muncie, Ind., this morning, as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republicans prepared to hammer him for a second day.

Since even the Post itself admits that Obama's corrective was only about the fineries of phrasing and not actual meaning, the headline ("Obama Concedes He Misspoke") is overstating the extent of things. Obama said what he meant, and reiterated as such. He did not "misspeak", nor did he "concede" anything, other than perhaps the obvious -- that both his opponents are craven hypocritical opportunists, and the people who are supposed to be professional enough to know better appear to be borderline retarded. (Then again, check out the commenters in Murray's column, many of whom appear to be actually retarded.)

Here's what Obama actually said in the first place:

"In a lot of these communities in big industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people have been beaten down so long," he told the donors. "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 going to 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."

If anything, Obama is being too kind, too conciliatory on this point. There are a lot of great things about small-town life, to be sure, but there's no getting around the fact that they can also be seething reservoirs of ignorance and futility, of people who will enthusiastically vote against their own self-interest time after time because of some idea they have in their head about how things are supposed to be.

For example, in the county I live in, there was a referendum last summer on whether to allow the local tribe to build a casino. Personally, I don't gamble, nor do I have a burning need to see the latest incarnation of Bad Company between a couple hands of blackjack. But that's me; the fact is that these places also have hotels and golf courses and restaurant buffets and other things to do. And in a sparsely populated county with chronically high unemployment, where a substantial number of people (including myself) have to commute into the neighboring county (80 minutes a day round trip for me) just to get a living wage, the 400-500 jobs created in the county would have been significant.

So what happened? Well, one of the local strains of god-botherers got together and weighed in against the pervasive immorality, and the initiative lost by a handful of votes. So people still go to the nearby casino, which is literally a couple hundred yards across the county line, thus enhancing their tax base. And amazingly, people still gamble and drink and do enough crank to choke a horse, because there's nothing else to do, and now that gas is four bucks a gallon it costs too much to go anywhere else. Result: frustrated, broke, bored goobers left to their own devices. Way to preserve those small-town values, fuckheads.

And this is California we're talking about here. Imagine what life is like in rural Kansas or Oklahoma if you happen not to come from a land-owning family, in a town dominated by little more than a looming Wal-Mart and a sense of resentment, alleviated only by the occasional parade or football game. So really, if anything I think Obama understated his case. The fact is that the god/guns/guts crowd is always going to hump the same leg, it's just that when times get tougher and the frustration builds, the urge to use their imaginary friend as a comfort mechanism becomes even more pronounced.

And then they turn around and vote for a drooling moron simply because he told them that everything they think -- even on issues they know nothing about -- is absolutely correct.

Now, compare and contrast with the tender caresses of Poor Ol' Straight Talk's ridiculous efforts to differentiate himself from the current boobocracy:

Speaking before a global investment firm this afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took pains to distance himself from President Bush even as he reiterated his support for Gen. David Petraeus's handling of the war in Iraq.

During a town hall meeting at Bridgewater Associates, McCain vowed to confer more with congressional leaders on matters of war and "be humble" in his dealings with foreign leaders. Asked whether he would reject Bush's "preemptive war" strategy, he declined to rule it out but said he would take a sharply different tack when weighing military action overseas.

Wow. So he's going to be, like, totally different, except where he's not. That clears things up. Aside from voicing his principled opposition to torture (except, you know, when push actually comes to shove and he votes with the fuckers anyway), everything else is a wafer-thin parsing of current policy, both foreign and domestic.

And it's on economic issues where McCain seems most out of his depth (which, considering his indistinguishable foreign policy notions, is considerable). Bush also talked a good game about cutting spending when he was out on the stump, when it's easy. But then you get there, and you need the vote of a raging fucktard like, say, Don Young, and he wants a bridge. And there are 534 more Don Youngs, each with an endless list of bridges they'd like to build with your money. Everybody swears they'll cut spending until they get there and realize that it's all sops to their corporate sponsors or make-work boondoggles for aggrieved constituencies who had their old jobs outsourced to Bangalore and Shanghai, so some asshole's stock could go up half a point.

"I think you need to consult more closely and carefully, not with every member of Congress, but with the leadership of Congress," he told the crowd of several hundred Bridgewater employees. "If they're not in on the takeoff, they're not going to be in on the landing.... In other words, consult with them a whole lot."

Fuck. Fuuuuuuuuck-argh. I don't know about you, but if I have to listen to another four years of mindless Chance the Gardener "in other words" locutions, my teeth will break from gritting them too much and too hard. There oughta be a law against this monkey-fuck of a rhetorical trope, simplistic and shallow and implicitly condescending. I have never once heard an "in other words" that added any value to the original point or explained it any further, and that is true a hundredfold of everything Bush has ever saddled with this lazy phrase.

And all the while, the grand designs and master plans of these clowns continue to disintegrate right out from under their bullshit. In other words, their own arguments are undermined by actual events with a rather disturbing consistency.

Fuck "in other words", assholes, just say what you came to say. Most of us can keep up, really, and the ones who can't were just festering in their ratholes anyway, waiting only for someone to stroke their prejudices just enough to motivate them to vote against themselves one more time. This is Obama's true failing, that he misplaces some of his trust in the sort of folks whose political decisions are permeated by Stockholm syndrome.


thedevilzone said...

I had heard about this "gaffe" but hadn't bothered to seek it out, figuring one of my relatives would be throwing it in my face soon enough.

But, um...that's it? He suggested that they might, in fact, sorta be losers, even if it's not their fault? News at eleven - every single person gasping in mock horror at this thinks the exact same thing. It's like Roy Edroso is always saying about people like Jonah Goldberg - why don't they actually go fucking live in places like Fritters, Alabama and Queef River Junction, Tennessee if they think small towns and jus' folks are so superior?

I was in Steelton, PA in 2004 for my grandmother's funeral - as the name suggests, it used to be a huge steel town, and jesus, what a dilapidated ghost town it is now. I get seriously depressed in places like that; the sheer sense of ennui and hopelessness that hangs like a blanket over them is just too much. Everybody that lives there has to fucking know it. But we can't say that living in such conditions produces bitterness and obsessions with triviality?

(I like that he made sure to mention that Bubba Feelyerpain didn't do jack-fucking-dick-all about it either; being too busy preaching the gosepl of neoliberalism. But hey, a bunch of minimum wage jobs were created during his administration!)

thedevilzone said...

Oh, sweet merciful fuck, it just gets better.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton activated her entire campaign apparatus to portray Mr. Obama’s remarks as reflective of an elitist view of faith and community. His comments, she said, were “not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans.”

Mrs. Clinton suggested that Mr. Obama saw religious commitment, hunting and concern about immigration as emotional responses to economic strain rather than as deeply embedded values.

“I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith,” she said at a rally in Indianapolis. “The people of faith I know don’t ‘cling to’ religion because they’re bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.”

...Seizing on his remarks with zeal, Mrs. Clinton mentioned them throughout the day on Saturday. And the campaign deployed several public officials in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina to keep up the drumbeat.

An "elitist view", unlike the girl who "...came up as a child of wealth on the hardened sidewalks of a posh suburb before heading to Wellesley, with nothing but regular checks from home, a meal plan and a roof over her head standing between her and the cold, mean world. She then went to Yale Law, married a future state attorney general, governor and United States president before fighting her first bout."

But good heavens, I just simply did not see that one coming. She's even triangulating when it comes to rhetoric now! What's Father Time McCain going to say now that Hillary's stolen his "snooty elitist unamerican" thunder?

(What I wouldn't give for Obama to point out that the reason you don't see many black hunters could be possibly because of a strange reluctance on their part to walk deep into the woods with a bunch of armed, drunk rednecks. Who can fathom the Negro mind?)

And I usually think attempts to justify 21st century beliefs by way of some line from the Gospels is a complete waste of time, but in this case, I'd love for all the "Jesus was a liberal!" types to point out to her that, actually, being "materially poor" was indeed mentioned a few times, as you would expect from a bunch of societal dropouts eagerly anticipating the end of the world. Might be why it caught on among slaves of the Roman Empire, too.

But I know, I know, she's only saying these sorts of things to get elected. Once she's in, she'll immediately shun all these troglodytes and veer leftward faster than a racecar driver as her true progressive nature reveals itelf. Right? Right? Hey, is that Ralph Nader cackling manaically over there?

Drinking won't be enough to help. I think I need to take up a crack habit.

Heywood J. said...

It's funny you should bring up hunting, since the penultimate pre-election set piece is showing each candidate duded up in Elmer Fudd gear, each just trying to look slightly less ridiculous than the others, while noted sportsmen like Fatboy Russert and Bean Bag Matthews snort and chuckle as if they could competently strangle a chicken, much less hunt deer. Can't wait for that one come October.

But yeah, for Li'l Miss $109 Million and Straight Talk McCoors to pull the jes' plain folks shit is the depth of hypocrisy. Maybe one (1) of these enterpsising stenographers can ask Miss Thang or Grampa Simpson when the last time was that either of them went to a fuckin' church for anything besides schmoozing an influential god-botherer with a sizable flock to fleece.