Barack Obama calls Midwesterners “bitter”

During a San Francisco fundraiser, Sen Barack Obama referred to small-town Pennsylvanians and "other Midwesterners" during his remarks:

"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of 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 has 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."


because God knows that folks in the coasts wouldn't react in such a way if they lost their jobs, right Senator?

                                                        fuck'im and fuck the horse he rode in

classist, elitist fucker

Read and post comments | Send to a friend


24 thoughts on “Barack Obama calls Midwesterners “bitter”

  1. The thing is: I think he is absolutely right about Midwestern Republican voters. The Republicans in Kansas are bitter about how things are going, but instead of looking at all of our failed economic policies, they go right to blaming immigrants or gays or abortion or whatever. That's why they keep voting against their own interests, because they don't even understand how they've ended up where they are. (Tom Frank covers this ground in his book "What's the Matter with Kansas?")

  2. you are right on with Republicans voting against their own interests, something that "WtMwK" covers in painful, excruciating detail. what raised my dander is that he is not just talking about Republicans. midwestern "flyover country" Democrats have been fairly progressive and inclusive.

  3. I'll give you and anyone else the right to be bitter, but there are other ways to express it than cling to guns* or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment* which reminds me: I happen to be a liberal that believes the 2nd amendment gives the right to own firearms.

  4. I do love my guns. Plus, it's not like Obama is likely to make me any less bitter. If he were to get elected, I'd go on being a bitter Midwestern liberal, because he would fail me in all the same ways other Democrats fail me. Not least of which his total weasel-wording on any gay issues.

  5. I grew up in small town Western PA, and I think he's totally right. It bothers me to no end that Hillary is playing this up – as though she's a woman of the people. She grew up in suburban Chicago and is from a wealthy family.
    I wish this campaign was over. 2 years of this crap is WAY too much.

  6. He was answering a question about the issue challenges that volunteers faced when working PA, posed by a couple from SF, preparing to travel there, who asked what those challenges would be. His statement was a laundry list. "Cling" was a word that wasn't well-chosen, but he was listing the issues that those people vote on.
    Before you buy into the idea that someone whose chief strategist and husband both make money supporting the Colombian deal is "in touch" while a guy who worked in communities to rebuild them after the steel plants closed is "out of touch," at least be willing to consider the context of the remarks and the history of his life's work.
    I wrote about this in non-inflammatory tones with regard to how the GOP divides voters along these lines over at Daily Kos. I hope you'll take a minute to read it, as I respect you and I hope you still respect me despite our differences of opinon.

  7. I hear this a lot but I don't understand it because I know his positions. So I'm curious to hear, honestly, what part of his policy on gays bothers you.
    You can read his policy statements here and his answers to the Human Rights Commission's questionnaire on GLBT issues here for reference.

  8. Answering just for me, not Subi, I'll say that on paper, his policy positions look good, but I never hear him using his charismatic action to say the only words I respect: full and equal rights for all Americans. I consider "civil union" a weasel word and his whole discourse on "don't ask don't tell" was a masterwork of weasel words. Of course, this is why I'll always be a bitter voter–all politicians are weasels, because in this day and age they feel they have to be. Because of the way "news" gets manufactured over a word like "bitter."

  9. I understand where you're coming from in terms of always wanting more than we get out of politicians.
    I have some magic words, too, on the issue of abortion. I just want one damn politician to say, "If life begins at conception, then millions of lives are lost every year through natural causes." I want just one damn politician to acknowledge that codifying that definition will make it possible to charge a woman who is perceived as not having eaten right or having exercised too strenuously with murder. I know all of us activists understand that, but I want a politician who is also a staunch supporter of abortion rights to come out and say it.
    Obama got closer than anybody last night in the CNN forum by admitting he didn't know and by bringing up the myriad questions it suggests: "Does it begin when the cells divide?"
    But I was still disappointed in it.
    I guess where I'm coming from with LGBT issues is that any Democrat is better than any Republican, and he brings to the table a lot of commitments that are not only positive, but also capable of being passed into law. That's the other side of any coin and the conundrum with the weasel words at the end of the day: can a president really translate his or her positions into laws he or she can sign?

  10. Which is why my official voting policy is to hold my nose and vote Dem. I said earlier that even if Jesus and the Dalai Lama were running together on the Repub ticket, I'd really hesitate before I voted for them.

  11. Perhaps I didn't make it clear – I meant, I'm not sure what his stand on gay issues is i.e. whether he really supports gay rights and intends to make them a major part of the agenda or not. During the Caucus I was seeing a lot of blogposts saying his support for gays was merely lip service, and links to interviews and videos confirming the same. Probably the same is what Redzilla is saying above; I distinctly remember that in one state his campaign partner – for lack of a better term – was someone who was a known anti-gay. A community religious leader I think. I distinctly remember that the link to that article had quoted this person as saying "God cured me of homosexuality". I just can't remember his name.
    So what I meant was, I don't want to form a solid opinion of Obama unless I know what his stand is.
    Thanks for the links – I'll check them out later though, because the internet is pretty abysmal right now.

  12. Huh. My Midwestern family may be snarky, but I'm pretty sure they aren't bitter. Farmers tend to roll with the punches because they are always in a precarious position, regardless of which party is in charge. As my DadH would probably say, there's no sense in wasting time and energy being bitter, it is what it is and you learn how to make the best of it.

  13. To be honest, I can't really see what all the fuss is about. O.K., I'm a liberal, biased towards Obama. I'm also an Aussie who has just been through our own election, so maybe I do understand what all the fuss is about. In normal times, no-one would take any notice.

  14. I was born & raised in western Nebraska. I have news for Obama and Hillary both — many western and mid-western people pretty much think if the government closed up shop tomorrow that it wouldn't be a bad thing. Politics and politicians ain't real — their hometowns, their ability to hunt if they want, and their communities of faith are what is real, in good times and bad. They aren't bitter, they just wanna be left alone.That any signifiant portion of Americans buy into the illusions that politicians or Gov't can do anything that effects an ordinary American in how they live their lives for the better just goes to show how outta touch with reality Americans are, and red state, blue collar workers and small business owners are pretty much frightened out of their minds that the Left may actually believe their own ideology.They already think Obama is a classist, elitist fucker.

  15. saska, thanks for providing context as to the circumstances of Obama's remarks – which I still find personally and deeply offensive. the reason I feel so strongly about them is the insinuation that the behavior Obama described is unique to the denizens of fly-over country, as if they are somehow different or lower than the coast folks. this sense was augmented by the fact that the remarks were delivered in "safe" San Francisco. had Obama made those remarks in Altoona, PA I may not feel as strongly.
    I notice in the news that after refusing to do so for several days, Obama is now regreting the "bitter" remarks. I hope he recognizes why so many of us were insulted by them.
    I read and enjoyed your piece in the Daily Kos, and I do agree with your point that the Republican party has very effectively used the concept of God and Country to divide Democrats against each other – a topic very effectively discussed in the book RedZilla mentioned, "What's the matter with Kansas?".
    and finally, I wish the election had been a year ago: I liked both Obama and Clinton much better then. I'm getting pretty tired of both of them. I will vote for whichever one gets the nomination – I ain't voting Republican.
    but I do wish, I do so wish, the process hadn't debased both Democratic contenders as much as it has. I wish.

  16. Christianity… thanks for your comments.
    I must say that in my anger at Obama's remarks, I may have made myself unclear: I am a Democrat and a liberal who believes in the role of government and who votes Democrat over Republican. as I mentioned in the post immediately above, the real source of my anger is that as an (adoptive) Southerner/MidWesterner, I am sick and tired and angry of the stereotype Obama adscribed to those of us in flyover country.

  17. Hi Mariser,
    One thing I appreciate about the way Obama has run his campaign is his willingness to acknowledge when he hurts someone, and his willingness to try and make it right. In this circumstance, he accepts at face value that people are offended by what he says, and instead of just changing his position or telling them not to be upset, he seeks to clarify his remarks in a way that will help them understand that he's not against them.
    You might get something out of this piece by someone else who was at the fundraiser, particularly the fact that he rejected the idea of categorizing voters and only after starting from that basis, provided the laundry list now being quoted of issues that people vote on. I don't expect it to change your mind, but I do hope that it might lessen your hurt in some way.
    And I agree with you wholeheartedly that this entire primary season has been too long, too bitter, and too vicious to leave anyone standing as a paragon of virtue. I'm not blind to the mistakes in the Obama campaign. I, too, am a Democrat who will vote against McCain. I, too, am sad that every day that feeling of voting for someone instead of against someone fades. Still, I hold on to what I want for this country and I do things now that I haven't done since Bill was president, like canvass and volunteer and even do things in my own community because I have been awakened to the fact that it's up to us to fix this place.

  18. I think that he has been spun regarding his position on LGBT issues due to a few things his campaign did. The person to whom you refer is a gospel singer who 'converted' from 'being gay' (a concept I find baffling given my own opinions on the subject), and Obama did not remove him from the entertainers list. Perhaps I am, in turn, spinning it when I say that I think if he removed the guy from the bill of entertainers, he would have been telling someone who is none the less respected and enjoyed as an entertainer to take a hike because they disagreed. And most frequently what I see from Obama is that he is unwilling to shut out opposing points of view, that he takes them into consideration, but that he also has his own positions and they do not swing in the wind.
    His church (again, much-maligned and misunderstood) is one of the few branches of that church that actively supports ministering to the gay faith community. He spoke at the national conference of evangelicals in favor of better support for HIV/AIDS-affected communities and countries and told them that he felt contraception was a necessary part of ministering in all communities. That was not a friendly audience for those remarks, but in the end they were well-received. So I think he's used his voice and his skills of persuation in places where you wouldn't expect — that he spends less time preaching to the choir and more time preaching to the picketers. One of the things I admire him most for.

  19. Like MMB, I think he described a LOT of things about my home town (and others like it) very, very accurately, though in the "fell through" part he didn't go back quite far enough – should include both the Reagan and Carter administrations.I'm sure a lot of people in this neck of the woods are mad as hell at some of these remarks, but…. he was actually *in* my home town 2 weeks ago, and to be honest, you would probably get the same ideas that he expressed in the final sentence by driving down the main drag. Two serious problems that he didn't mention: alcoholism and drug abuse. (Heroin was the drug of choice up here in the mountains for a long, long time…)

  20. I grew up in small town Western PA, and I think he's totally right. It bothers me to no end that Hillary is playing this up – as though she's a woman of the people. She grew up in suburban Chicago and is from a wealthy family.
    I wish this campaign was over. 2 years of this crap is WAY too much
    .Amen, MMB!!! [from my seat in the middle of nowhere, Central PA]

  21. Hi mariser. Yeah, i know — you've been in the neighborhood for a longgggg time. I enjoy your comments and unique perspective, although they are sometimes different than mine. I am not a Republican myself; everyone i grew up was and still is, tho. If i am a Conservative, it would lean to the Barry Goldwater/Libertarian side of things i suppose, although i'm pretty moderate on the social side of things. As long as someone isn't hurting others or infringing on another's rights, then there should be freedom to do what you want, right?I can understand you anger — the Democrats for years have said they stand for "the traditional blue collar worker" yet wouldn't be caught dead in a trailer park, tractor pull, Church potluck, or NASCAR event. Could you see stiff, wooden Gore at any of these events? or a Northeastern politio like Kerry, who, btw, had a lower grade at Harvard than W? Truth be told, i'll be voting for McCain, but i wouldn't take it too hard if Obama won. If Clinton wins, i'm checking on home prices in Mexico, which would be cheaper than moving to Canada. We'll see…

  22. Lots said here. I'll just pull a quote from The Simsons:"There's this great wasteland between New York and L.A. called America!"

Comments are closed.