Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bitterness vs. Resentment

Tom S. at Rustbelt Intellectual has, what I think, is the best take on the whole Obama "bitter" comment.  Here's a small piece, but read the whole thing:

By nearly every measure, working-class Midwesterners and Pennsylvanians, black and white, have been left behind for the last thirty years. They were failed by Clinton and Bush administration policies that allowed major corporations tax breaks for sheltering their money in offshore havens. They were stiffed by a wild-West subprime mortgage market whose collapse has forced many blue-collar homeowners into foreclosure. They lived in places that have been ravaged by sixty years of systematic federal disinvestment. They were left behind by the Republican evisceration of labor laws that once protected the rights of workers to organize. They have watched their wages have stagnated, as their pensions and benefits have been cut, and as their once decent jobs have been replaced by McJobs.

Let me also add that analysis similar to what Obama was trying to say has been a commonplace within the Democratic party for decades. According to this line of thinking, working class people, rather than voting their pocketbooks, have abandoned the party of FDR as a result of skillful Republican use of wedge issues like race, guns, religion, and immigration. For example:

The Republicans, when they needed to prove Michael Dukakis was soft on crime, brought out Willie Horton. . . . The Republicans, when they needed to cover up for their senseless economic strategy that is driving income down for most American families while they work harder, blame it on quotas so there can be racial resentment instead of honest analysis of our economic falsehoods.

And who said such an elitist and condescending thing? Bill Clinton in 1992.

Update: Here's an even better Clinton quote:

You know, he [Bush] wants to divide us over race. I'm from the South. I understand this. This quota deal they're gonna pull in the next election is the same old scam they've been pulling on us for decade after decade after decade. When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them. They know if they can keep us looking at each other across a racial divide, if I can look at Bobby Rush and think, Bobby wants my job, my promotion, then neither of us can look at George Bush and say, "What happened to everybody's job? What happened to everybody's income? What ... have ... you ... done ... to ... our ... country?"


KipEsquire said...

So everyone's to blame except: (1) the unions that collectively bargained almost every heavy industry in America straight into bankruptcy, and (2) the local politicians who had decade after decade to "do something" about their declining economic bases?

Go figure.

jjv said...

A comparision of Bill Clinton's comments with Obama's does not reflect well on Obama. I may disagree with him but there are racial voting that make no sense from a policy point of view. Obama's comments can fairly be read to accuse lower income whites not of thinking that Christianity and gun ownership are right and true, but merely turning to them out of bitterness. This is an "opiate of the masses" approach to religion that does not serve Democrats well. Further, why should lower income whites vote their economic interests only, if rich Bay-ites don't? The subtext is that only a fool or someone blinded by anger would think Christianity, marriage or the 2d Amendment important. Great message for San Francisco, elsewhere, not so much. Its also pretty bad for the most anti-free trade candidate in the race to baldly reveal its all a scam and a pander. What drove him to anti-free trade views? The sad fate of beign forced to write two best sellers, skating into a Senate seat and being the idol of millions? One weeps at the injustice.

Many Republicans have been hoping for Hillary as the only Democrat to give them even a glimmer of hope for winning this year. Obama, true to his word, is making me audaciously hopeful!