This latest uproar about Sen. Obama's words has been both interesting and problematic - for him and for me. Here's the link to the whole thing: Obama Exclusive (Audio): On V.P And Foreign Policy, Courting the Working Class, and Hard-Pressed Pennsylvanians When I heard him say what he said, I bristled. But my response had more to do with where he said what he said and how he said it, than what he said.
Frankly, I believe he's right, given the tin ear and blind eye government has turned to a lot of people's concerns. Plenty of people are bitter and cynical and deal with it in a variety of ways! But why did he wait until he left those - "bitter" Pennsylvania voters - to speak before a decidedly non-working-class San Francisco fundraiser, to say what he said?
Couldn't he find any of his prolific, "I feel your pain words" to share with the "bitters" directly?
Was it because no one on the Pennsylvania campaign trail ever raised the issues of joblessness or dissatisfaction with government to date? Or, was it that he felt more comfortable saying what he did to this particular group?
Being the great orator that he is, I don't believe he misspoke when he said, "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."
What I heard were the words of one who feels so socially and educationally superior he would not deign to deal with bitterness in such a manner. What I heard was the elitism about which so many are up-in-arms.
And before anybody gets their panties in a bunch, I do not feel he always has to be perfect in his delivery. He is, after all, human. But what I DO expect and look for as he speaks, is as much honesty as he can muster as a politician and consistency in his message. When I listened to the actual audio, I heard some of the former and less of the latter.
Something about the introduction by Sheila Jackson Lee immediately gave me pause though I'm not sure why. I'd like to have actually seen the group to whom he spoke, because I got the feeling he was among people with whom he felt comfortable enough to speak unfettered. Much like the "two-ness" W.E.B. DuBois wrote about in his "Souls of Black Folks," this conversation is reminiscent of those some Black folks had, and still have, when there are either no whites around, or no whites around who are like-minded (Latinos can be substituted for, or included with, "whites" in that statement as they were also a group in front of whom most Blacks wore the "mask" back in the day).
Some of us dispensed with that kind of dual-personality disorder as the times changed which required it (or we just grew to know ourselves better). Some of us have not.
The media continuously stated, it was a "closed" fundraiser. That fact, along with the price of admission, was also very telling -- after all, what working-class person can spend a grand or more for one night of mingling? Let's be clear, this was not a "regular fella" fundraising event.
Now, is every person with a lot of money elitist? Not necessarily. I know a couple people with a few pennies to rub together who are not. For me, elitism rears its ugly head when people believe the having, which gives them more access, somehow makes them superior to those who have-not.
I believe the senator from Illinois has an elitist state of mind and I'm not mad at him for it. I just wish he'd be whoever he is and let the people decide if they want to vote for that person or not.
(P.S. A word to the wise for Sen. Clinton: He's laid a golden egg at the right time and the right place for you. Don't wear this gift out by harping on it. Take the gift, say your piece, don't brandish any more weapons, don't throw back any more shots with beer - just move on. If you keep throwing it in his face and bringing it up ad nauseam, it WILL backfire on you!)
Correction: The introduction was made by Rep. Barbara Lee not Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee