Monday, April 14, 2008

Time to "Man Up" Barack!

Below is a transcription of the relevant portion of a Sunday (April 13th) response by Barack Obama, as he spoke to a crowd of steel workers, U.S.W. Local 1688 members, in Steelton, PA.

A video of that response was posted on YouTube by his campaign.

Here it is:

Obama was responding to prior comments he made to a group of well-heeled donors at a private Democrat fundraiser in San Francisco a week ago today. His original remarks, made at that event (which was closed to the press) did not surface until an obviously unofficial audio clip of his comments surfaced, and was linked on The Huffington Post just this past Friday.

Regarding the Sunday response, the AP, per Beth Fouhy and Kimberly Hefling filed a story today -- Obama Lashes Out at Clinton. But it focuses almost exclusively on the political aspect of his Sunday remarks, in which the reporters parsed his attack on both Hillary Clinton and John McCain for their responses to his original speech in San Francisco.

Below is the transcription of first part of yesterday's (Sunday) comments, the portion "explaining" his original remarks.
Over the last couple of days we've seen a whole dust-up, a dust-up about me talking about the frustrations and struggles of workers, not just here in Pennsylvania, but all across the Midwest, including my home state of Illinois.

Now . . . I am the first to admit that some of the words I chose, I chose badly because, you know, as my wife reminds me, I am not perfect. She reminds me of this frequently, and events often remind me as well.

So, I'm not a perfect man and the words I chose, I chose badly. They were subject to misinterpretation; they were subject to be twisted. And I regret that; I regret that deeply. But . . . but . . . but . . . when people suggest that somehow I was demeaning religion, when I know that I'm a man of deep faith, somebody who in my own life has held on to faith, held on to my confidence in God during times of trial and tribulation, then it sounds like there's some politics being played.

When people suggest that I was somehow being elitist in demeaning hunters, when I have repeatedly talked about the tradition that people pass on from generation to generation, hunters and sportsmen, and how I have consistently spoken about my respect for the Second Amendment, when people try to suggest that I was demeaning those traditions, then it sounds like there's some politics that's being played.

And what really burns me up is when people suggest that me saying that folks are mad, they are angry, they are bitter after 25 - 30 years of seeing jobs shipped out, pensions not fulfilled, healthcare lost, the notion that people are surprised and are suggesting that I am out of touch, because I spoke honestly about peoples' frustrations, that tells me there some politics going on.
. . . .

In the first place, note that rather than apologize for his San Francisco statements, he is merely conceding that he chose some words badly, not that he even misspoke (ala Hillary' concession on the non-existent sniper incident). All he is conceding about his choice of words is "[t]hey were subject to misinterpretation; they were subject to be twisted." Are we to conclude, then, that the real fault lies only with those who "misinterpreted" or "twisted" his words? His only real concession, seems to be that he was just not crystal clear.

And, Barack gives the credit for pointing out his lack of clarity to his wife, Michelle! She, whose own lack of clarity on how she generally feels about this country, or on other subjects, e.g., our meanness as a people, are hardly the most instructive examples of lucidity!

Secondly, note also how he has also chosen to utterly ignore a few of the most egregious comments from the relevant portion of his original statement madeout on the West coast.

As a reminder, here was the key portion of the "private" comments to the San Francisco elites -- Barack Obama discussing the bitterness of small town Pennsylvanians:

It's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to their guns, or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.

So . . . what happened to his explanation for his comment about the bitterness of the Pennsylvania voters harboring, "antipathy toward people who aren't like them?" That one sounded to me like the Senator was telling the San Francisco elites in "code" that small town Pennsylvanians are a bunch of bigots. Where am I wrong? Where is Barack's explanation? And, I might add, his context was what can be deemed pure Marxian analysis -- they harbor these feelings, according to Barack, arising out of their economic frustrations.

And, why has he offered no explanation of his comment about their "anti-immigrant sentiment?" Funny, over the past few years I thought the public debate in this country was focused throughout pretty exclusively on peoples' concerns about "illegal immigration," not on "anti-immigrant sentiment." It was a long and instructive public debate; and one in which the balance of persuasion has clearly came down on the side of those who have urged the implementation of measures protecting our borders prior to providing, in federal law, for a process of possible absorbsion into our society of those who are here, many quite unlawfully.

Therefore, his characterization of the issue as "anti-immigrant sentiment" simply sounds like another unfair accusation of bigotry on his part, and is not a fair comment about peoples' feelings on the topic. Where am I wrong?

Finally, what about his reference concerning "anti-trade sentiment?" This is the really strange one. I thought he and Hillary are both "anti-trade," or at least they are both telling us they are -- at least this week! So why was he raising that point with the San Francisco crowd? Was it more "code" message for a rich crowd hailing from a major United States port . . . as in, don't worry about that! We'll deal with the issue your way once we get this election out of the way!!??

Why should we not conclude that Obama is really talking very quietly one way to a group of well-heeled folks, many of them very interested in free trade, and quite another way to manipulate union voters in Pennsylvania who are upset over outsourcing of jobs?

After the comments written above, he then went on to attack both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. The attacks on Clinton were especially belittling, even asking rhetorically and quite sarcastically if she thought she was some kind of "Annie Oakley," arising out of her sudden gun-hugging tendencies?

But the upshot is that Obama has clearly not adequately answered for what people are seeing as his stereo-typing elitist comments to the San Francisco fundraiser crowd. Recall that this is a guy who just recently called his own grandmother a "typical white person." That, incidentally is another comment he has not been called to account for by anyone.

He made the comment the day after his speech on race relations, in a radio interview. During the interview, he referred to his Grandmother, the woman who raised him, as a "a typical white person." It was his phrase. Makes you wonder . . . what exactly is a "typical white person" in the mind of Barack Obama? Should he not have to answer that question?

It seems that the time may be fast approaching -- or probably has already arrived -- when Barack Obama is going to have to "man-up" and directly address several of the things he has been saying, ones that he has been getting way with so far.

Snippets of explanation in politically-laced speeches to supporters will simply not do any longer.

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