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The Slow Descent Into Hell
Barack Obama showed his deft political touch today, and demonstrated his keen insight into the lives of the little people in this country, with a speech that is sure to be worth at least thirty points in Pennsylvania in the upcoming primary:
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 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.
I asked around the area, to see how his obvious compassion for Pennsylvanians was viewed. This is just one story, from one man in West Deer Township, but I'm sure that it's typical.
"By cracky, it's like the man sees into my very soul!
"Thirty years ago, I had a good job in the mill in Pittsburgh. I was bringing in a good income, going to jazz clubs, discussing Proust over white wine and brie, with my gay friends of all colors. I was all for free trade, so that we could sell the steel overseas, and I never bothered to go to church, let alone actually believe in God.
"But then, the plant closed down, and I couldn't get another job. I went on unemployment, and found odd jobs here and there, but they barely paid the rent on the loft, and the payment on the Bimmer. I couldn't afford the wine and brie any more, and had to shift over to beer and brats.
"Of course, as a result, I started hanging out with the wrong crowd--the beer drinkers.
"And it wasn't just the beer. Some of them actually went out in the woods in the fall, and shot animals. And kilt 'em. With real guns!
"I was shocked, of course. For all their diversity, none of my gay friends would have ever thought of doing anything like that. But with my job loss, and lack of money for pedicures and pommade, they didn't want to hang with me any more. So I borried a twelve gauge over'n'under, and went out with my new beer-drinking animal-killing friends in the woods. And I'll tell you what, when I shot down that eight-pointer, I felt a sense of power over the helpless in a way that I hadn't since I'd been looking down on the rednecks when I had that good job in Pittsburgh, driving around town in my 528i.
"But somehow the killing, and hating those two-timing nancy boys wasn't enough. I was still in despair. I started to search for answers, and I thought that I found them in Jesus. It started small, just church on Sunday, with prayers and a lecture from the preacher.
"But it didn't stop there. Soon I was attending Wednesday night revivals, and huzzahing and hossanahing, and babbling with the best of them. After a few months I'd graduated to juggling garter snakes, then rattlers.
"But it wasn't enough. Despite all the gun caressing, and animal killing, and hatred of people who weren't like me, and anger at the Colombians who were...doing something to me--I'm not entirely sure what, and the tongue speaking and snake handling, I still couldn't find a job.
"My social life continued to deteriorate. Not only was I no longer interested in those sensitive swishes, or literature, but I was starting to look with lust at my sister. And not just look, I'll tell you what. She'd been out of work, too, and was getting mighty interested, if you know what I mean.
"I have hit rock bottom.
"Please, help me, O Bama. Forgive me, O Bama. O Bama, my Bama, rescue me from this living hell in which Reagan, and Bush, and Clinton, and Bush, have consigned me. Restore unto me my loft and my teutonic status symbol. Give me back my poofter friends, and my pinot grigio and my baked gruyere, and lattes. Save me from the killing and the beer, and most of all, from Jesus. Save me, O my Bama, and I will commit my vote unto you.
This is just one story of the many lives that Barack Obama has touched, and blessed, this day in the benighted Keystone State. But with his obvious compassion, and ability to feel the pain of others so unlike him, he is sure to carry the state in a couple weeks.
[Late evening update]
Ace has more:
Obama To Rural Pennsylvanians: Vote For Me, You Corncob-Smokin', Banjo-Strokin' Chicken-Chokin' Cousin-Pokin' Inbred Hillbilly Racist Morons
Yeah, that's about it.
[Saturday morning update]
More from Mickey Kaus:
Excuse me? Hunting is part of working-class American culture. Does Obama really think that working-class whites in Pennsylvania were gun control liberals until their industries were downsized, whereas they all rushed to join the NRA ...
[Mid-Saturday morning update]
This is turning out to be the Blazing Saddles election:
It's amazing how many lines from that movie work for this campaign.
[Update a couple minutes later]
Oooh, oooohhh, there's more! I found Obama's Facebook page. Note that one of his favorite books is one about an obsessive hatred of a white whale.
So, is a cigar just a cigar? I report, you decide.
[Update a few minutes later]
One more (more serious) thought. When Obama talks about "clinging to religion," is he saying that his religious belief is founded in something other than economic hardship? Or is he implying that, despite his words and church attendance for the past twenty years, that he's at heart an agnostic, if not an atheist? Was the church thing all for political show (as it was with at least Bill, if not both Clintons)? And of course, if these are his true feelings (and I suspect that one is more likely to hear what he really thinks when he perceives himself to be among a friendly audience), then it's not surprising that he could sit through twenty years of Pastor Wright bigotry and hatred and find nothing exceptional or objectionable about it. He's smart enough to know that others will find it so, so he pretends to be outraged when called on it, but he wasn't smart enough to see how his remarks in this case would be viewed by those to whom he unconsciously condescends.
I think that this could be a campaign killer in the fall. That sound bite will be shown over and over again. I just regret that it came out this soon. Unfortunately, the Democrats still have a chance to eject him before he gets the nomination. But even if they do, it will still be an electoral disaster for them. The problem is that it isn't just Obama. Most of them are just smart enough not to voice their bigotry publicly, but this is how much of the party itself views rural and middle America, and it's going to hurt them all through the fall. And justly so.
[Late morning update]
Mark Steyn has further thoughts:
I had a ton of fun covering Kerry's awkwardness with Americans but, in fairness, it was essentially a consumerist snobbery: he preferred the Newburgh Yacht Club for lunch over the local Wendy's, he'd rather be windsurfing off Nantucket than rednecking at Nascar, etc. Obama's snobbery seems more culturally profound, and unlike Kerry he can't plead the crippling disadvantage of a privileged childhood. Rather, Barack's condescension reveals a man out of touch with the rhythms of American life to a degree that's hard to fathom. As Michelle says, they "chose" to "leave corporate America", and Barack became a "community organizer" and she wound up a 350-grand-a-year "diversity outreach coordinator". I've no idea what either of those careers involve, and most of us seem able to get along without them. But their remoteness from the American mainstream perhaps explains why the Obamas seem to have no clue how Americans live their lives.
But that's the modern Democrat Party. Without the media (which is as elitist as they are) in their pocket, they'd never stand a chance.
[Early afternoon update]
Was Obama's faux pas the sound of the horse beginning to clear its throat for its aria? This kind of thing is what keeps Hillary from dropping out.
[Another update a few minutes later]
And of course, Iowahawk has to pile on, with a golden oldie about rebellious youth:
Like most of their classmates, these North Shore Neckies were once bound for some of the top universities in America -- Yale, Duke, Stanford, Northwestern -- until they succumbed to the allure of the Downhome slacker lifestyle. Now some openly talk of dropping out, learning TIG welding, waiting tables at Waffle House or draining oil at Jiffy Lube; some even hint of enrolling at Iowa State. What drives privileged teens to such seemingly self-destructive behavior?
Only Barack can save us from this ongoing tragedy.
[Late afternoon update]
Obama is doing damage control with some of the
[Update on Sunday evening]
I've quit updating have some follow-up thoughts on Obama, and what this means about his attitudes toward individualism, here.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: The Slow Descent Into Hell.
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