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Yeah, the media is going into feeding frenzy.

The Clinton people, the McCain people, the media sensationalists, etc are all going to pile on right now.  

The pundits will declare Obama dead just like they did during the Wright affair.  

Obama supporters everywhere will be worried and sleep fitfully.

But the pundits are going to be wrong again.

This quote and the resulting feeding frenzy are a huge opportunity for Obama to get the attention of low-information small town voters who are skeptical of him and convince some of them to vote their pocketbooks instead of their culture.

Will he make the most of this opportunity?  If his response to the Wright affair is any indication, I think he will.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama needs to prove he is an accessible, regular guy to win the votes of these people.  

But let's face it, Obama is never going to "fit in" small town America.  

Many democrats have tried.  Remember John Kerry's hunting trips?  What a joke.

Obama is right not to try to be a poser.

If he tried traditional pandering, he would barely move the needle with these folks, especially the ones who usually vote Republican when cultural issues rise to the forefront.

There's only one way he can win their votes: if he can convince them to  elevate economic concerns over cultural concerns.

Indeed, cultural issues have been the blight of Democrats everywhere...and the republicans are counting on playing the God, guns, abortion, patriotism cards yet again.

Most of the time, Dems just hide in the corner and try to pander.

I don't know whether Obama intended for these comments to come out or not.

But if it is an accident, it's a good one and it gives him a huge opportunity.

First, it will eventually come out that his comments were more absolving than insulting to small town America for voting against its interests.  

He is saying that they have been legitimately screwed and have a right to be bitter.  Hillary and McCain will say that these people are singing Kumbaya every night, but Obama is going to be speaking a truth out there: people are bitter, but that doesn't make them bad people or racists.

The media feeding frenzy means that whenever Obama decides to respond on camera, he is going to get a ton of attention.

In particular, those low info voters who were supposedly slighted will be tuning in.

And I hope Obama will not try to backtrack on the essential point he was making, but instead use the opportunity to start convincing voters to vote their economic interests, not their cultural preferences.

When the spotlight is on him, he should present his economic plans that help those small town voters a lot more than McCain's do.

He can use the attention gained from the media revving up the culture wars to make an economic pitch to voters who otherwise might not have been tuned in enough to hear his pitch.

And once again, he can treat these folks as adults and say to them that he understands that times have been tough and that he gets their fears and bitterness and he wants to do something about it.

He can cast the Republicans as the snake oil peddlers that they are and show them that he has the best plans for their interests.   Instead of pretending and pandering on cultural issues, he instead can make the case why these cultural issues should be secondary to economic concerns.

Will he offend and lose some who find what he says patronizing? Sure.  But few of these hard core values voters were probably open to voting for him in the first place.  And it's harder to paint a black guy as an elitist than a blue-blooded northeasterner like John Kerry who came from wealth and speaks in a stilted voice.  

But I think some of them will take a hard look at his  economic plans and decide to vote their interests instead of their culture.

Obama has, wittingly or unwittingly, made a huge shot across the bow of the people who demagogue cultural issues to sway voters and make them forget their own economic interests in the voting booth.

Obama is challenging the entire notion of voting based on cultural distractions.

Wow.

UPDATE:

Well, right after I published this diary I went to the kos frontpage and saw this response by Obama:

Bravo, Senator Obama, Bravo.

He is saying exactly what he should be saying.

This is going to be a net positive for him.

Originally posted to RKA on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07:07 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Only Opportunity If Obama Is Forceful (11+ / 0-)

    The only way this can be a positive for Obama is if he come out strong and unyielding in his exposing of McCain and Clinton as the protectors of the super-rich.

    The reason the corporate media is attacking Obama is becuase he spoke the truth.

    He needs to hit back hard and pull no punches.

    Well I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari... Tehachapi to Tonopah--Lowell George

    by frandor55 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07:15:32 PM PDT

  •  Trust me on this one... (16+ / 0-)

    Obama is right.  People are bitter, distrustful of not only Washington politics but local politics as well.  People who actually now vote, are willing to vote on single issues such as gun control, or abortion, or gays, because these are about the only topics they feel they have any control over, pro or con.

    I live in one of those small rural type communities, and I know just Obama was talking about.  Guns, religion, sexuality, racism, have all been issues that are central to how people think and react.

    The only place I believe Obama got it wrong was just how distrustful people are, or just how they feel they no longer matter.  In my 28 years of living in my community, it has grown from about a thousand families to about fifteen thousand families.  The county identifies my community as an area with larger numbers of children than anywhere else...the county average is 1.5, my community average is 3 (and many have more).  

    On election day, for the most local election, out of at least 30,000 adults, only 800 vote in the "district supervisor" race.  Attendance at local meetings before that Board number about 5 people per month, with a max of about 100 if it is focusing on an really "important" issue.  

    My neighbors of 28 years wont attend any meetings, local or county, because they believe government will do what it will no matter what people think.  If that isn't giving up, I don't know what is...

    •  HIllary sounds like a fool... (15+ / 0-)

      when she says that people are not bitter out there.

      It is she and the media who are being patronizing.

      They don't think Obama can speak the truth and talk to voters like they are adults.

      I hope and suspect they will be proved wrong.

      I wonder if this will spur a conversation in small town America that will lead to more, not less support for Obama.

      We'll see.

      •  If Obama can get people... (8+ / 0-)

        who never voted, or haven't voted in many years to actually turn out, and I believe he has done that already more so than any other candidate, he will do much for all communities in my opinion.   More than that, if he actually wins the Presidency and by action proves that what people think really does matter, it will uplift our entire country.

        Last year, with a lot of work, me and a few others actually turned out over 200 people from my community at a county commission meeting on a "development" issue.  We further collected over 3,000 signatures on a petition, and inspired others to phone or write pre-meeting who didn't attend.  We won the day but not the "battle" so to speak; but trust me, people power and governmental response to it is an empowering feeling.  

        •  If he maintains engagement in office... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LtdEdishn, crystalboy, ratador, Livvy5

          ...he will have the grassroots power to get his agenda passed.

          Won't it be great if Republicans feared opposing Obama's agenda because Obama's grassroots armies could defeat them at the next election?

          I think this may actually happen..

          Obama is harnessing the power of democracy in an unprecedented way...

        •  Yep -- that's exactly what scares the GOP (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LtdEdishn, deepeco, RKA, Livvy5

          and corporate elites to death - and remember, they own most of the airwaves - tv and radio - and will focus on anything that could help stop Obama from getting into office. They know that this guy will win the election and spoil their power/money party, that their jig is up because he will see to it and he will involve and listen to the American people --you know, the people he and our representatives in congress are supposed to be working for (but yet haven't been). Barack Obama will be a transformational President.

          Pennsylvanians for Obama - BRING IT!

          by Kim from Pgh PA on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:27:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you are right.. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            crystalboy, Livvy5

            But I think Big Media ought to consider that is Obama manages to get more people interested in politics, ultimately that is going to benefit the political media with viewership...so long as they adapt to the new generation and stop feeding us the sitcom psychodrama that has become the staple of political narrative.

      •  I loved how Hillary said people are rolling up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lisastar, Rorgg

        their sleeves.  It's like uh no?  They don't have jobs to roll up their sleeves up for.  Do you understand that?

        The thing I hate about her is she always goes for the lowest possible common denominator.  This is just yet another example of her taking the low road.

        And John McCain...well, he's just...out of touch.

      •  Hillary and McCain, two multi-millionaire... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Livvy5

        Washington insiders calling Obama elitist is just ironic as hell. I can't help thinking of them and their surrugates as piranhas, launching into vicious attack mode with a frenzy because they get thrown a bit of chum. They're despicable.

  •  if he effectively uses this (and he's off to a (13+ / 0-)

    great start), to turn himself into the economic populist who voters can channel their anger at DC through, he'll be golden.  

    "There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it. Always." -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by duha on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07:26:37 PM PDT

  •  Guns, God and Gay (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frandor55, deepeco, crystalboy, Rorgg, RKA

    That electorate is not voting for Obama anyway.  Politicians and the media have mistakenly given this group too much power for far too long (remember John Kerry and his ridiculous hunting trip; or Mitt Romney and his shooting of varmits?).  You would think the vast majority of Americans are gun toting hicks.

    What Obama just did was further alienate those who were a lost cause.  But in the process, he gets to bring out a whole new group that will think "hey, maybe this guy can do something for me other than this silly 2nd Amend thing I've been worried about my whole life."  "So what if Gays marry?  I want a job."  

    Obama just tossed the "wedge" issues overboard.

    •  Exactly! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55, jarotra, deepeco

      You know, I almost wonder if he intended for these comments to leak out of the fundraiser.

    •  I don't think he (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55, deepeco, Rorgg, Livvy5

      alienated them at all, and I can only say that as one who lives in a community such as he described.  The fact that he honed in on what was actually driving the discontent shows he really is tapped into what drives many Americans in small communities.

    •  Um, gun toting hicks? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smckenzie23

      You do realize that about 40% of American households have guns, right?

      Are we all gun toting hicks?

      Oh, and silly Second Amendment thing?  Do you find the First Amendment hilarious?  The Fourth?  

      Are they all silly to you, or just that one?  

      •  At least (0+ / 0-)

        he didn't call them knuckle dragging hillbillies. That really sends them over the rainbow.

      •  The 2nd amendment is an interesting topic (0+ / 0-)

        IMO it's clearly talking about Militias.... because any other interpretation means the govt can not restrict ANY weapon ownership.... you really think that's what they meant?

        •  Do you know what the militia is? (0+ / 0-)

          (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
          (b) The classes of the militia are—
          (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
          (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

          http://www.law.cornell.edu/...

          What do you think it means?

      •  Why hicks? (0+ / 0-)

        Where in Obama's comments does he call people anything like hicks?

      •  2nd amendment (0+ / 0-)
        1. That means 60% of households do not have guns;
        1. No.  Not everyone who owns a gun (like me) are gun toting hicks.  There are some of us who appreciate much more important issues;
        1. The purpose of that amendment has been largely eviscerated.  Now it is thought of as an amendment that protects your right to hunt.  So yes.  It is simply not as fundamental a right as the Fourth and First.  See, e.g., France, England, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, etc...
        •  You scare me. (0+ / 0-)

          You really think the Second Amendment is less important than the rest?

          You really don't see that it is the most revolutionary part of the Bill of Rights?

          In what other country do citizens have the right to fight against -- or even overthrow -- their government?

      •  Um, yes. (0+ / 0-)
        1. That means 60% of households do not have guns;
        1. No.  Not everyone who owns a gun (like me) are gun toting hicks.  There are some of us who appreciate much more important issues;
        1. The purpose of that amendment has been largely eviscerated.  Now it is thought of as an amendment that protects your right to hunt.  So yes.  It is simply not as fundamental a right as the Fourth and First.  See, e.g., France, England, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, etc...
    •  He shouldn't not get some of those voters. (0+ / 0-)

      He supports the 2nd Amendment and has spoken intelligently about this issue. He is for civil unions and equal rights for gay couples, but not for gay marriages (at least not now). He is a Christian man and doesn't have a problem with religion - he respects everybody's right to believe and practice whatever faith (or non-faith) he or she wants to.
      AND BONUS! He wants to improve most Americans' lives in ways that will really make a difference. What's not to like? I think he can get more of these voters than maybe is expected -- especially if he focuses on this issue of voting against your own economic interests and why that is....maybe when people understand that they are being duped repeatedly at their own expense, more will vote their interests. I have to hope.

      Pennsylvanians for Obama - BRING IT!

      by Kim from Pgh PA on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:42:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The attacks continue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    empathy, haruki, RKA

     

     Clinton spokesman Phil Singer has since responded to Obama's words on his remarks.

       "Instead of apologizing for offending small town America, Sen. Obama chose to repeat and embrace the comments he made earlier this week," Singer wrote in a statement. "It’s unfortunate that Sen. Obama didn’t say he was sorry for what he said. Americans are tired of a President who looks down on them — they want a President who will stand up for them for a change. The Americans who live in small towns are optimistic, hardworking and resilient. They deserve a president who will respect them."

       As has McCain's spokesman, Tucker Bounds.

       "Instead of apologizing to small town Americans for dismissing their values, Barack Obama arrogantly tried to spin his way out of his outrageous San Francisco remarks. Only an elitist who attributes religious faith and gun ownership to bitterness would think that tax cuts for the rich include families who make $75,000 per year. Only an elitist would say that people vote their values only out of frustration. Barack Obama thinks he knows your hopes and fears better than you do. You can't be more out of touch than that."

    I suspect Barack will address this again tomorrow.

    Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom- Barack Obama

    by jenontheshore on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 07:58:01 PM PDT

    •  I'm glad.... (6+ / 0-)

      ...that the Mccain and Clinton people are dumb enough to keep pushing this.

      It's going to give Obama more and more opportunities to cast them as hypocrites, panderers, and wrong on the issues generally.

      I was worried that Obama responded too well too fast on a friday night when few are paying attention.

      But hopefully the Clinton and McCain folks will keep giving Obama  the chance to deliver a populist message.

      You know the rush's and hannity's are going to keep this story alive and so Obama is going to get to drive the conversation towards his economic proposals.

    •  No, they're voting their "values" because (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crystalboy, RKA, Livvy5

      the GOP is goading them into it -- while pretending to understand, empathize and respect them. Then once they reach their political goal, they forget about what they said to those voters and continue to look out for themselves at the expense of most Americans. Expose these assholes for what they are doing, Obama!
      Talk about patronizing -- isn't lying to people and then showing they in fact didn't mean what they said and don't care looking down on them?
      The hypocrisy is astounding.

      Pennsylvanians for Obama - BRING IT!

      by Kim from Pgh PA on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:50:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  YES YES YES (0+ / 0-)

      Now it's the issue... the economics of the "rest" of america.

      Obama will trounce Hillary and especially McCain on this topic.

      They really don't get it

    •  amazing similarities (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kuulray

      in the openings of these responses, no?

  •  I wonder if speaking the TRUTH (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tjb22, haruki

    will bring out more big endorsements for Obama? Seems to me that when he doesn't back down and speaks the truth and other candidates attack him for that, they stood up and said no more, Obama is correct.

    Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any. Emerson

    by ElizabethAM on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:04:03 PM PDT

  •  THIS is how I'm learning to support Obama. (5+ / 0-)

    He gave a great response.  A truly great response.  The kind of response that shows how he will be able to beat McCain in the General.

    Who says the prolonged primary isn't making him a better candidate?

    Look how far he's come in a year.  Better speaker.  Better debater.

    And he's learning how to explain himself and how to respond to cricitism -- quickly, effectively, and positively.

    If he can improve as a candidate this well in a year, maybe he really can learn how to be a good president too.

    (If only his most fervent supporters would just shut up for a minute so the rest of us could figure this out for ourselves.)

  •  Isn't he good? Darn! And getting better. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fatcatnichols

    Jeremiah Wright is Alright, Goddamn It!

    by 174winchell on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:31:14 PM PDT

  •  I am glad there is a debate coming up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    empathy, RKA, Livvy5

    it is obvious this will come up...

    if played correctly, this could be the item that ends the election...

    it would be different if it was going to be all campaign vs campaign...

    but he will be able to speak directly to voters...

    and as long as Clinton and McCain act like all is well and people think every thing is a-ok, Obama will be in the driver's seat...

    that being said...it could also blow up in his face is the media is able to drive the story..

    but remember...Reverend Wright was supposed to be the end all be all...and it actually HELPED him...the media doesn't get it...

    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you...then you win -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by justmy2 on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 08:45:17 PM PDT

    •  HIllary has to be dreading the debate... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      empathy

      Tuzla, Penn, Bill Clinton, etc, etc....there are a lot of questions she is going to have to dodge.

      It's funny, I was so sick of debates earlier...I am kind of looking forward to this next one...

      My guess HIllary is going to play the victim, but we'll see...

      •  A lot has happened since the last debate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MAORCA, Livvy5

        and we've been in the very frustrating position of having to watch the media narrative being shaped by people (the other campaigns, the MSM) for whom truth is subordinate to other goals.

        So yeah, I'm also looking forward to the debate, where Barack will have the opportunity to state truth directly to Hillary and we will be able to watch how she responds when it's put right out there on the table.

        That being said, I won't be surprised if he chooses not to say anything at all about Tuzla in the debate.

        Yes We Can! Because this time MUST be different.

        by NWTerriD on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 10:16:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  making lemonade out of lemons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MAORCA, Livvy5

    and leading the country while he is at it

    "Obama is challenging the entire notion of voting based on cultural distractions" -- exactly. I agree, his strength as a leader and as a politician/orator will turn this into a net positive.

    Thank you, Howard Dean!

    by Ruth in OR on Fri Apr 11, 2008 at 09:14:33 PM PDT

  •  Keith Olbermann (0+ / 0-)

    tried to get Chuck Todd to say whether it was devastating. Chuck replied that it broke on a Friday night, which I inferred meant that it'd be old news by the beginning of next week.

  •  He is good (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MAORCA

    That lawyer thing work like magic.

  •  I think it could be an (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MAORCA, Livvy5

    opportunity if he keeps it honest.  If he does indeed use this as an opportunity to say to small town voters that they do have every right to be "bitter" against government...and about how they've been ignored by both  political parties.  

  •  Bitter gun totin' bible thumpers (0+ / 0-)

    So he is saying he's losing Pennsylvania because the folks in small towns are gun totin', bible thumpin' xenophobic hillbillies?
    What stupid and pathetic things for him to say.  He's saying he's
    losing Pennsylvania because of hillbillies?  
    Well look out Mr. Obama.  Wait till you get to West Virginia and
    Kentucky!

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