4.12.2008 | A bitter pill to swallow

The latest kerfuffle from the campaign trail involves Obama's use of the word "bitter." Not as in the kind of discourse we've seen between the candidates, and no, not to describe Hillary's attitude toward Obama's lead in pledged delegates racked up in "undemocratic" caucuses (and, to be fair, the attitude Obama's supporters will probably have if superdelegates reverse the results of those caucuses).

No, the bitterness in question here is that of working-class Americans who have seen their wages decline and their jobs shipped overseas over the last couple of decades. Because if that happened to me, I know I would be shouting to the hills for joy. Enough irony, though; here's the substance of what Obama said (the offending word highlighted for our benefit):

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 ... as a way to explain their frustrations."

And Clinton's response:

I saw in the media that its being reported that my opponent said the people of Pennsylvania who faced hard times are ‘bitter.’ Well, that’s not my experience as I travel around Pennsylvania I meet people who are resilient, who are optimistic who are positive who are rolling up their sleeves.

So for once, Hillary takes on the role of the wide-eyed optimist, Obama the pragmatic realist (or, if you would believe his opponents, "elitist").

But the difference is that while Obama inspires optimism about the future and our ability to solve problems, it seems Hillary wants people to feel good about themselves even as economic opportunities disappear around them. We'll see which approach wins at the ballot box in the weeks and months ahead.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

when obama goes off script he shows himself to be the elitist prick that he is. clinton never had a foible like this.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Omar said...

Since I wrote this, it has surprised me that people have taken "clinging to guns and religion" as an insult. In times of hardship people do try to latch on to things they can understand as a source of comfort and pride. It's been said that a gaffe in Washington is when you tell the truth. And that's what I also meant by the title of the post.

3:09 PM  

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