Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama, Marx and another planet

Yesterday I posted on Nation editor Kartina Vanden Heuvel’s attempt to justify Sen. Barack Obama’s “bitter” remarks in San Francisco. Vanden Heuvel was long on attacks of “the Right” and linked her readers to Obama’s remarks in Muncie, Indiana attempting to explain his “bitter” remarks.

But she didn’t quote the “bitter” remarks or link to a transcript, audio or video of them, all easily available.

That’s a very good indicator even a leftist ideologue like Vanden Heuval realizes how damaging those remarks are to the Change candidate who “wants to bring us together.

More damage today and from pundits who are quoting and providing context for the “bitter” remarks.

First Bill Kristol in the NY Times begins - - -

I haven’t read much Karl Marx since the early 1980s, when I taught political philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Still, it didn’t take me long this weekend to find my copy of “The Marx-Engels Reader,” edited by Robert C. Tucker — a book that was assigned in thousands of college courses in the 1970s and 80s, and that now must lie, unopened and un-remarked upon, on an awful lot of rec-room bookshelves.

My occasion for spending a little time once again with the old Communist was Barack Obama’s now-famous comment at an April 6 San Francisco fund-raiser.

Obama was explaining his trouble winning over small-town, working-class voters: “It’s not surprising then that 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.”

This sent me to Marx’s famous statement about religion in the introduction to his “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”:

“Religious suffering is at the same time an expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the sentiment of a heartless world, and the soul of a soulless condition. It is the opium of the people.”
Or, more succinctly, and in the original German in which Marx somehow always sounds better: “Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes.”

Now, this is a point of view with a long intellectual pedigree prior to Marx, and many vocal adherents continuing into the 21st century.

I don’t believe the claim is true, but it’s certainly worth considering, in college classrooms and beyond.

But it’s one thing for a German thinker to assert that “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.” It’s another thing for an American presidential candidate to claim that we “cling to ... religion” out of economic frustration.

And it’s a particularly odd claim for Barack Obama to make. After all, in his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, he emphasized with pride that blue-state Americans, too, “worship an awesome God.”

What’s more, he’s written eloquently in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” of his own religious awakening upon hearing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “Audacity of Hope” sermon, and of the complexity of his religious commitment.

You’d think he’d do other believers the courtesy of assuming they’ve also thought about their religious beliefs.

But Obama in San Francisco does no courtesy to his fellow Americans. ….

Kristol’s entire column is here.

Now take a look at some of what the New York Daily News’ Michael Goodwin is saying this morning. It’s a scorcher. - - -

Having grown up in one of those small Pennsylvania towns Sen. Barack Obama sneers at, I know what really makes people there "bitter." It's slick-talking politicians who look down on their beliefs and values.

Small-town people get doubly "bitter" when those pols have the gall to ask for their votes while demeaning their lives. See, even hicks don't like being played for suckers.

When they accused Obama of being out of touch for saying small-towners "cling to guns or religion" out of frustration, Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain were too kind.

Snob-ama is not just out of touch. He's from another planet.

He might consider going back there, because the White House now looks out of reach. All the more so because he later added opposition to gay marriage as another sign of benighted bitterness.

Snob-ama's lame concession yesterday that his mistake was "I didn't say it as well as I should have" only makes the repeated smear worse.

He should get off his Ivy League horse and apologize to the millions of Americans he insulted. As it stands, he has confirmed he doesn't understand or respect them.

Through his warped vision, if you own a gun, oppose gay marriage or want our nation's borders sealed, you're just bitter over your lousy job. Amazingly, he even sees the embrace of God as a reaction to the bad economy.

As gaffes go, they don't get much bigger. Then again, it's not a gaffe when you believe what you're saying, as Snob-ama clearly does.

The trouble started when the Chicago Democrat, after saying Washington had failed to stem the tide of lost jobs, dropped a bombshell on his fellow Americans by saying: "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."

In one sentence, Snob-ama de-legitimized every choice people in America are free to make. It's arrogance on steroids, fueled by a secular, elitist view of middle America as filled with ignorant red-necks.

Turn his screed around and it comes out this way: If the hicks had good jobs, they wouldn't need God or guns. Then the borders could be wide open for the enlightened world to come here 'cause our hate would vanish. …

Goodwin’s entire column is here.

I agree with everything Kristol and Goodwin are saying.

Here we are at Monday. Obama is still trying to “clarify” his remarks by obfuscating them. He continues to make things worse for himself.


mac said...
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Anonymous said...

Isn't Mr. Obama's snobbery especially galling and phony when you consider that he and his wife are Ivy League alums only because an affirmative action policy took seats away from more qualified non-black applicants?

And, did either of their families pay their educational expenses?

Anonymous said...

Snob-ama. Heh. Heh.

I think this has been a great opening for Clinton but I see her outrage as being disingenuous and opportunistic. Just 16 years ago, Hill and Bill were the IT couple and basked in the fawning attention of Hollywood, the Jayson Blair Times, and all the best and beautiful of the Left.

The problem is the beautiful people have a new champion and Hillary has to make do with the gun totin', Jesus lovin' folks from "flyover country." Only the most irony challenged would miss the fact that these are the very "red state" type people that the Left has made sport of for decades. Just how do PA voters differ from those terrible Republican voters who go to church, support the 2nd Amendment, and believe that immigration should be lawful?

Obama is the last of a long line of condescending, insular, Leftists who believe primarily in their self-evident moral and intellectual superiority. The problem is, in their own way and in their own day, the Clintons were part of this long line of arrogant, condescending, elitists.

So now, the knuckle-walking, BITTER hicks of small towns are noble and worthy Americans (not to mention VOTERS). I wonder if this newfound interest in and respect for these Americans among Democrat elites will last past November.

Anonymous said...

It's almost like Mr. Obama has a list of the groups he needs to cement a victory in the general election. He's going down the list diligently insulting each of these groups in turn. He's now angered the Jewish vote with his association with Louis Farrakhan/Pastor Wright; he's angered people of faith and gun owners with his cheap-shot at "small town Pennsylvanians;" most military voters are probably not too pleased with his ignorant statements about the war in Iraq; and he seems not to understand the effects of his cannon mouth. His supporters are horrified, but the rest of us are wryly amused.
Tarheel Hawkeye

justice58 said...

Barack spoke the truth and the pundits can't handle it! The people in Pennsylvania are bitter! And the blame is laid on the Clinton/Bush Administration!

Barack--an elitist(Major Eye Roll)

What next...

mac said...
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justice58 said...

"The founding fathers "planted slavery and white supremacy in the DNA of this republic."
Where did he lie? Pray tell!

JWM said...

To Mac,

Do you remember when Dems were proud to be called Deaniacs?

Anyway, help me keep myself and others from going too far here at the JinC "knitting circle" name-calling.

To Anon @ 10:

Re Q1 - Yes, absolutely.

Re Q2 - It's a good question. It’s pertinent, too.

I'd love to know the answer.

To Anon @ 10:50

You say: "Obama is the last of a long line of condescending, insular, Leftists who believe primarily in their self-evident moral and intellectual superiority. The problem is, in their own way and in their own day, the Clintons were part of this long line of arrogant, condescending, elitists."

If you're right, you just made my day and that of Americans who love what this country stands for.

To TH,

If you listened to the Fox all-stars tonight, you might think they read your comment.

To Justice 58,

I'd like to believe Obama is not what is popularly called “an elitist.”

I appreciate your visiting here and commenting civilly.

To Mac @ 2:42,

I should have rejected this comment.

That's said not to criticize you (at many blogs your comment is a "no problem," but to criticize myself, because I want to keep
things here like “the knitting circle.”

To Justice 58 @ 3:19,

Tens of thousands of white Americans joined the Union army because they wanted to eliminate slavery. Many of them gave their lives in that cause, just as some whites, shoulder-to-shoulder with some blacks, gave their lives in the civil rights struggles.

Those are facts.

Wright's DNA remarks are more of his hate-speech. Self-pity, too.

Thank you all for commenting.


mac said...
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Anonymous said...

John -

You might take a look at Peter Whener's column at NRO; the address is:

I suspect the longer this campaign goes on, the more gaffes will be committed by Mr. Obama. One has to remember how little experience he really has.

Turning to Justice58's comments, I find I must disagree strongly with them and her continuing disparagement of this country. First of all, no place is Utopia except for the garden in Heaven (and even that got ruined). This country is a great country, probably the greatest in history. As for the Founding Fathers, they did as best they could with what they had. Had they not made the compromises they did, there would have been no United States of America. Absent the Constitution, with all its warts, the country would not have lasted. As it was prior to the Constitution, it was coming apart. More than likely, there would still be slaves today in the South (and who knows where else). Secondly, a little war was fought from 1861 through 1865 over the matter because of the obstinacy of the South in coming to terms with Lincoln. Some 600 to 700 thousand men died in a country 38 million. That is a staggering number. I will concede that after the war mistakes were made, the most egregious being the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessey vs. Ferguson which eviscerated the 14th Amendment, and allowed separate and (un)equal to be the law of the land. That folly was fianlly corrected in Brown vs. Board of Education and in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I will note in passing that Dwight Eisenhower tried to pass a Civil Rights in 1957, and it was voted down (now get this) by the Democrats. Finally, I might add that blacks in the post-World War II period made enormous income gains, despite discrimination and retained intact families. It is only in the post Civil Rights Act period, after 1964, that those gains have abated and black families have disintegrated. Don't blame the country for that. Look inward.
Finally, this country is peopled by immigrants. My mother was an immigrant, my father's parents were immigrants, and my wife is an immigrant (an escapee from that dystopia called communism). They all came here penniless, and somehow they made it. Whatever faults the Founding Fathers may have had have been subsumed in the larger American community that was meant to be a melting pot for all (until multiculturalism came along, and now we have hyphenated Americans, instead of just Americans). Moreover, whatever faults they may have had, they left us a wonderful Constitution and a wonderful economic system, otherwise no one would have risen above poverty and immigrants would never have come here in the first place.
Justice58 - whatever faults this country has, be very thankful you are here and not elsewhere. In most other elsewheres, we could not have this debate.

Jack in Silver Spring