Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on "Snobgate"

Well, over at Taylor Marsh's blog, that's what they're calling it in the comments. (HT: Instapundit).

You know, I try to maintain a consistent policy against hysteria, and to use Obama's own words, "fake controversies," on my blog, and in my political discussions. The thing is, the more I think about Obama's latest verbal infraction, I'm increasingly convinced that this really isn't a "fake controversy," or an example of phony outrage. This new firestorm and Obama's response to it, along with what seems to be, to paraphrase the Declaration of Independence, a long train of political abuses, self-inflicted, leaves me with persistent questions about Obama's judgment, character, and his political sense. I may be overreacting, or in a pessimistic political mood, but, to be blunt, I'm wondering if he even makes it to the nomination, let alone the Presidency.

I mean, how many times can he keep fracking up like this, and people not start asking questions? I'm going to share my personal thoughts why this in fact a big deal later on, but consider this from Mickey Kaus, on why the "bitter" remark is the least of Obama's worries:

1) It lumps together things Obama wants us to think he thinks are good (religion) with things he undoubtedly thinks are bad (racism, anti-immigrant sentiment). I suppose it's logically possible to say 'these Pennsylvania voters are so bitter and frustrated that they cling to both good things and bad things," but the implication is that these are all things he thinks are unfortunate and need explaining (because, his context suggests, they prevent voters from doing the right thing and voting for ... him). Yesterday at the CNN "Compassion Forum" Obama said he wasn't disparaging religion because he meant people "cling" to it in a good way! Would that be the same way they "cling" to "antipathy to people who aren't like them"--the very next phrase Obama uttered? Is racism one of those "traditions that are passed on from generation to generation" that "sustains us"? Obama's unfortunate parallelism makes it hard for him to extricate him from the charge that he was dissing rural Pennsylvanians' excess religiosity.

2) Even if Obama wasn't equating anything on his list with anything else, he did openly accuse Pennsylvanians of being racists ("antipathy to people who aren't like them").

3) He's contradicted his own positions--at least on trade and (says Instapundit) guns.. Isn't Obama the one trying to tar Hillary as a supporter of NAFTA? Is that just 'boob bait'?

4) Yes, he's condescending. It's not just that in explaining everyone to everyone Obama winds up patronizing everyone. He doesn't patronize everyone equally. Specifically, he regards the views of these Pennsylvanians as epiphenomena--byproducts of economic stagnation--in a way he doesn't regard, say, his own views as epiphenomena.** Once the Pennsylvanians get some jobs back, they'll change and become as enlightened as Obama or the San Franciscans to whom he was talking. That's the clear logic of his argument. Superiority of this sort--not crediting the authenticity and standing of your subject's views--is a violation of social equality, which is a more important value for Americans than money equality. Liiberals tend to lose elections when they forget that.

Yes, they do. I don't care how much stuff you promise them. Voters will not support you if they perceive that you don't respect their values, even if you in fact do. The culture matters.

UPDATE: John Judis over at TNR, all but sounds the death-knell. Let me say that I count myself as something of an Obama fan, but I've always been a swing voter in this election. I've leaned toward Obama in the past (I voted for him in the primary), and part of me still wants to, but as I've said before, I could vote for either of the three. This might be all moot by November, if things proceed as they are.

HT: Simon

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