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Old 04-14-2008, 02:53 PM   #106
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From David Coleman, who was actually at Obama's speech in San Francisco:

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Last Sunday evening I attended the San Francisco fundraiser that has been the center of recent political jousting. The next day, when asked about the talk Obama delivered, I too commented about his answer to a question he was asked about Pennsylvania. Over the past week, though, I have had a Rashomon-like experience concerning those remarks.

Clinton, McCain, and media pundits have parsed a blogger's audio tape of Obama's remarks and criticized a sentence or two characterizing some parts of Pennsylvania and the attitudes of some Pennsylvanians. In context and in person, Senator Obama's remarks about Pennsylvania voters left an impression diametrically opposed to that being trumpeted by his competitor's campaigns.

At the end of Obama's remarks standing between two rooms of guests -- the fourth appearance in California after traveling earlier in the day from Montana -- a questioner asked, "some of us are going to Pennsylvania to campaign for you. What should we be telling the voters we encounter?"

Obama's response to the questioner was that there are many, many different sections in Pennsylvania comprised of a range of racial, geographic, class, and economic groupings from Appalachia to Philadelphia. So there was not one thing to say to such diverse constituencies in Pennsylvania. But having said that, Obama went on say that his campaign staff in Pennsylvania could provide the questioner (an imminent Pennsylvania volunteer) with all the talking points he needed. But Obama cautioned that such talking points were really not what should be stressed with Pennsylvania voters.

Instead he urged the volunteer to tell Pennsylvania voters he encountered that Obama's campaign is about something more than programs and talking points. It was at this point that Obama began to talk about addressing the bitter feelings that many in some rural communities in Pennsylvania have about being brushed aside in the wake of the global economy. Senator Obama appeared to theorize, perhaps improvidently given the coverage this week, that some of the people in those communities take refuge in political concerns about guns, religion and immigration. But what has not so far been reported is that those statements preceded and were joined with additional observations that black youth in urban areas are told they are no longer "relevant" in the global economy and, feeling marginalized, they engage in destructive behavior. Unlike the week's commentators who have seized upon the remarks about "bitter feelings" in some depressed communities in Pennsylvania, I gleaned a different meaning from the entire answer.

First, I noted immediately how dismissive his answer had been about "talking points" and ten point programs and how he used the question to urge the future volunteer to put forward a larger message central to his campaign. That pivot, I thought, was remarkable and unique. Rather than his seizing the opportunity to recite stump-worn talking points at that time to the audience -- as I believe Senator Clinton, Senator McCain and most other more conventional (or more disciplined) politicians at such an appearance might do -- Senator Obama took a different political course in that moment, one that symbolizes important differences about his candidacy.

The response that followed sounded unscripted, in the moment, as if he were really trying to answer a question with intelligent conversation that explained more about what was going on in the Pennsylvania communities than what was germane to his political agenda. I had never heard him or any politician ever give such insightful, analytical responses. The statements were neither didactic nor contrived to convince. They were simply hypotheses (not unlike the kind made by de Tocqueville three centuries ago ) offered by an observer familiar with American communities. And that kind of thoughtfulness was quite unexpected in the middle of a political event. In my view, the way he answered the question was more important than the sociological accuracy or the cause and effect hypotheses contained in the answer. It was a moment of authenticity demonstrating informed intelligence, and the speaker's desire to have the audience join him in a deeper understanding of American politics.

There has been little or no reaction to the part of the answer that was addressed to the hopelessness of inner city youth who have been rendered "irrelevant" to the global economy. No one has seized upon those words as "talking down" to the inner city youth whose plight he was addressing. If extracted from an audio tape HuffPost Blogger Fowler, those remarks could (and may yet) be taken out of context as "Obama excuses alienation and violence by urban youth." But in context, Senator Obama's response sounded like empathetic conclusions and opinions of a keen observer: more like Margaret Mead than Machiavelli.

As the week's firestorm evolved over these remarks at which I was an accidental observer, I have reflected upon the regrettable irony that has emerged from Senator Obama's response to a friendly question: no good effort at intelligent analysis, candor -- and what I heard as an attempt to convey a profound understanding of both what people feel and why they feel it - goes unpunished. Such insights by a political candidate might otherwise be valued. In a national campaign subject to opposition research, his analytical musing has instead created an immense amount of political flak.

Now and "in this time," to invoke one of the candidate's favorite riffs, such observations and remarks shared among supporters are just a push of a record button on a tape recorder away from being spread across the internet to be dissected by political nabobs. What struck me immediately after the fundraiser as so refreshing turned out to be a moment Senator Obama is forced to regret. Today we marvel at de Tocqueville insights about American communities. Apparently, such commentary is valued as long as it is three centuries old and doesn't come from the mouth of a contemporary observer who might be elected president.

So much for the political ironies. But there is one more personal observation that was missed.

I happened to be on the balcony when Senator Obama's vehicles arrived and he emerged from the Secret Service SUV. Obama shouted the friendly greeting "How are you guys up there doing?" to the group of us looking down from the balcony and then said, "You have to excuse me, I need to call my kids in Chicago now." All of us stood and watched the leading candidate for the Democratic party nomination for president have a short conversation with his kids before he entered a fundraiser to make his remarks.

No tape of that conversation has emerged as yet. Who knows how casual remarks of a father to his children or his wife on a cell phone could be spun to support the argument that as a father speaking to his kids two time zones away before they go to bed, his comments sounded as if he "looked down" upon them. Given his relative height and the age of his kids, he probably does. But that would be precisely as relevant to his capacity to unite and lead this country as were the remarks at the fundraiser that have been so deconstructed over this past week.
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Old 04-14-2008, 02:59 PM   #107
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from CNN...

April 14, 2008
Pennsylvania crowd jeers Clinton attacks on Obama
Posted: 02:29 PM ET

Watch Clinton's comments Monday.

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) – On Monday, with the Pennsylvania primary just days away, Hillary Clinton continued to hammer Barack Obama over his comments that small town Americans "cling to guns or religion" because they are "bitter."

But the audience at a forum put on by the Alliance for American Manufacturing didn't appreciate her line of attack.

"I understand my opponent came this morning and spent a lot of his time attacking me," she said at the beginning of her remarks here.

Many in the crowd responded with audible groans, and a few shouted, "No!"


Obama spoke to the same forum earlier in the morning and ribbed Clinton for doing a shot of whiskey in front of TV cameras on Saturday in Indiana.

Clinton continued, "I know that many of you, like me, were disappointed by the recent remarks he made."

This time, a louder, sustained chorus of "No!" emanated from the audience. Clinton soldiered on.

"I am well aware that at a fundraiser in San Francisco he said some things that many people in Pennsylvania and beyond Pennsylvania have found offensive," she said.

This time, a smaller smattering of jeers.

It was only when Clinton concluded her opening remarks by attacking President Bush that she received a warm round of applause.

The Clinton campaign later said the disgruntled reaction to her remarks came from Obama supporters in attendance.

Several audience members told CNN after the speech they came to the forum to hear each candidate talk about trade issues, and were not interested in the political back-and-forth of the Democratic primary race.

When Clinton focused on policy and expounded on enforcing trade agreements, creating new jobs and standing up to China, she received some hearty ovations.

But despite Pittsburgh's working class reputation, it was at times a tough crowd for the New York senator.

As the question and answer session began, one man asked Clinton for assurances that American workers would not be "tricked" like they had been when her husband signed NAFTA in 1993.

A press release distributed to reporters by the Alliance for American Manufacturing calculated that Pennsylvania lost 44,173 jobs due to NAFTA between 1993 and 2004.

Clinton, who spent much of her speech attacking America's trade imbalance with China, responded by drawing a line in the sand between her policy positions and her husband's trade record.

"As smart as my husband is, he does make mistakes," Clinton quipped.
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Old 04-14-2008, 02:59 PM   #108
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U2Democrat ^^

Context is everything.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:01 PM   #109
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I’m not surprised by these comments. When I hear things like this I shrug my shoulders and go on. Why? Because from what I’ve seen and read neither of the Democrat candidates has the foggiest idea who these people are and they honestly couldn’t care less. Hillary and Obama can stop trying to buddy up to small town folks. In good old WPA we call them phonies. Senator McCain can jump on board with them. I see no difference in him.

Respectfully Mr. Obama, I’m not bitter because I’m not being listened to. People in small towns are used to being thought of as cartoon oafs by politicians. We get it. You don’t get US. You never will. The thing I find funny is you can’t even pretend.

I’m sure I’ll catch all type of heck for this but I see no difference in Barak or Hillary or McCain. They’re all the same. This is my first opportunity to vote for President. From what I can tell, it’s going to be a lesser of two evils election to me.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:07 PM   #110
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Frankly, neither Clinton nor Obama were born with silver spoons in their mouths. Obama and his mother lived on food stamps for awhile. He had to work hard on his own to get where he is now. When he graduated from Harvard Law he could have taken a 6 figure job and rest on his laurels, but instead he became a civil rights lawyer and worked in the southside of Chicago.

I think he knows how hard it can be, and to charge that he doesn't completely disregards his life story.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:15 PM   #111
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^
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:58 PM   #112
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Quote:
Originally posted by lynnok

I’m sure I’ll catch all type of heck for this but I see no difference in Barak or Hillary or McCain. They’re all the same.
Then you need to look harder.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:26 PM   #113
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Life can be hard and it’s heartening to know that with hard work and personal sacrifice an individual can achieve great things. I also know that many people with political ambitions realize this at a young age and make careful, deliberate choices in their lives with those political aspirations in mind.

That said, there still exists a certain “flyover state” mentality on one side and innate distrust of politicians on the other.

I would like nothing more than to be able to cast a vote for a candidate instead of for the one who will do less harm.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:34 PM   #114
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And thus, you are proving Obama's comments.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:52 PM   #115
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^ That she's all over guns, God, racism and opposition to NAFTA and has no other way to explain her frustrations because she lives in the Rust Belt?
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:55 PM   #116
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No, she may not use the word "bitter" but she's tired of being led on and let down by politicians.



ETA-and I don't see anything wrong with that sentiment.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:01 PM   #117
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What's so bad about being bitter anyway? It's what drives me into politics, I get so frustrated that I feel the best way for me personally to make a difference is to work the system from the inside.

You have to take your feelings of anger and frustration and turn it into something positive, in any situation not just dealing with politics.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:02 PM   #118
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Honestly, if he'd stopped at using the word "bitter" (or better yet, "wary" or "skeptical" or "distrustful") I don't think there'd be nearly as much grousing about it. It was a gaffe, period, and not a well-advised thing for someone running for office to say. It may not turn out to be a big deal, and I completely agree that Hillary's campaign responding by passing out "I'm not bitter" stickers and having her fondly reminisce about duck-hunting with Dad or what the hell ever is hilarious, but it was a gaffe.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:07 PM   #119
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Again, I honestly don't see what is so wrong about the term bitter. I feel like there's a lot of truth to it.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:14 PM   #120
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
[B]Honestly, if he'd stopped at using the word "bitter" (or better yet, "wary" or "skeptical" or "distrustful") I don't think there'd be nearly as much grousing about it. It was a gaffe, period./B]
The mistake was labeling people in small towns. period.

On page one of this thread the day this broke I said he really stepped in it
and he did.


The "smart" thing to do
would have been just to say,


" I misspoke.

I was tired. People is small towns love this country. And we need to do a better job getting our message to them.

Hillary's message is better than McCains. We believe ours is the best.

Come November the people in small towns and big towns will realize our programs and policies are the change we all need to move this country forward."
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