Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The one who's really in touch

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I spent time with family over the weekend and generally took a few days off from paying close attention to the presidential race. And so I haven't yet commented on Obama's now-infamous "bitter" remark, the moment's story of stories. Actually, I don't have much to say about it other than that it was mostly true. The problem is, Americans can't handle the truth. Or, rather, those in the media and political classes who claim to speak for "the American people" can't handle the truth, which is that the "heartland" is not what it is made out to be: America at its purest and most genuine. It and those who live there have been romanticized to the point where any critique of it and them, even any perceived critique of it and them, however decontextualized, is taken to be an attack on America more broadly. It and they do not deserve such status, but they have been accorded it nonetheless. Which is why Obama has been so broadly criticized himself. It hardly matters that what he said was taken out of context, let alone that it was mostly true, that is, that many in the "heartland," such as western Pennsylvania, really are bitter and really do vote against their economic interests and for god and guns instead and really do harbour deep-felt resentment against whatever Other their demagogues parade in front of them. What matters is that he said something that could be exploited by his political opponents and turned into the story of stories by a bloodthirsty media establishment.

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All that is a longer-than-intended preface to this:

Obama's "bitter" remark -- taken out of context and played up by the media to ridiculous and sensationalistic effect -- have been met with the predictable responses from the likes of Bill and Hillary, Krazy Kristol, Joey Loserman, and every talking head in the chattering class, not to mention from Johnny McCain and the GOP.

But here's Obama himself discussing his remark, and the whole post-remark flap, in Terre Haute, Indiana, last Friday:

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