Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bitters and tonic

Yes, I’ll admit that I was one of those that heard how horrible Obama’s recent comments were about some small-town Pennsylvania residents before I heard the actual comments. And then when I did hear them, I kept waiting for the horrible part.

For the record, here it is:

“But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Now you point out to me the part of that that isn’t absofuckinglutely true.

Or call me elitist, I guess. But you’ll have to call me an elitist from a town exactly like the one that Obama is on about. And as for my knowledge of Pennsylvania, well, I can tell you that the guy putting his French fries under his sandwich bun is from Pittsburgh, and the gal buying Cheez Whiz is from Philly. I spent 6 years in Pennsylvania, and I’ve toured Erie, Scranton, Altoona, Lancaster, York, Reading, Wilkes-Barre, Johnstown, Harrisburg, and every tiny shithole in between. I’ve been broke down in the middle of the night on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and subsequently spent two days cooling my heels in the flea-speck coal-mining town of Charleroi. I’ve been swimming in the Monongahela in my underwear, and I’ve stumbled out of club in Philly at 2 a.m. in a bad neighborhood and in bad company. And let me tell you, I sure did laugh out loud when I saw the young men in The Deer Hunter drinking Rolling Rock, because everyone knows, Mr. Cimino, that they should’ve been drinking Iron City.

Sorry about the PA-credential waving, but I’m getting a little tired of being accused of being a snob just because I think it’s better to face the truth about the futility of some people’s lives than to blow smoke up their ass about how all they need is Jesus, the flag, and a gun to call their own. Yes, those people are fucking bitter, and goddamn it, they have every fucking right to be. They got screwed. And no one has done a damn thing about it except promise them it will get better, but it never does.

The funny thing is, that if it were not for Reagan, who is still beloved by so many of the cluelessly bitter, things might have gone very differently for many of them. It was Reagan, more than any of the others, who unleashed the dogs of deregulation upon them, and yet most of them still regard him as someone who looked out for them in a fatherly kind of way, not as someone who pulled the rug out from under them and set them adrift in various bleak corners of America, where they have, over the years, become gradually more and more grateful for a job at the local Wal-Mart. Yeah, the Wal-Mart, where they can buy the very foreign-made products that are the reason their lives are in the crapper in the first place! Yeah! Fuckin’ irony! Woo hoo!

So what exactly does one say to people who still idolize those who screwed them? Do you say “Good for you, you god-fearing people! You are the salt of the earth!” Or, do you dare to be called elitist, and say something more along the lines of WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!!!

Not that it’s likely to do much good. I mean, this, this whole deal is some tough shit for humans. You see it all the time, you know, where someone is hurt in some way by a loved one, whether it’s a parent, or a spouse, or a lover, and when they’re abused, wounded, hurting, where do they go for comfort? Isn’t it frequently to that same loved one? It makes no sense, and yet, it is kind of who we are. It is the essence of being human, in a way, to look to those who have hurt us to make the hurting stop. Because who else can wound us as deeply as those who love us the most?

C’mon, y’all know what I’m talking about. Having learned where to go for love, it is a damn difficult thing to unlearn, no matter the urgency. And I’ll wager that there are a good many of us that have been struggling with some version of this dilemma our whole lives. And we’d be lucky, damn smart and lucky, if we ever figured it out. If we ever.

And there is some little nugget of that propensity at work in our social and political lives, isn’t there? Oh, one could argue, I suppose, that it was a politically unwise thing to do, for Obama to speak such truths. After all, the Democrats supposedly can’t win if we don’t pander to those who think that immigrants, gays and feminists are the cause of all their problems. But if Obama’s not the guy who speaks, as they say, the inconvenient truths, then who the fuck is he? Not the guy he started out to be.

So as far as I’m concerned, the antidote to too much truth is more fucking truth. And you know what? I’ll bet there are lots of voters out there who feel the same way. I’m starting to wonder if Obama isn’t the electoral embodiment of that old “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” chestnut. It’s certainly confounding to the Republicans that he is responding to these pseudo-scandals by refusing to tuck tail and hide, and hey, me likey whatever confounds the Republicans.

And lastly, I have to say that the my-every-campaign-move-is-one-big-sloppy-valentine-
to-the-Republicans award this week goes to Hillary. In trying to make hay out of Obama’s statements, Hillary referred to him as someone who, for example, “goes to a closed-door fundraiser in San Francisco, and makes comments that do seem elitist, out-of-touch, and frankly, patronizing.”

San Francisco.

Get it?

San Francisco.

Hillary very carefully makes sure we all know where he was. In San Francisco, that tried-and-true Republican code name for immoral latte-swilling immigrant sodomizing atheist liberals.

Except it’s Hillary saying it. It’s Hillary invoking the stereotype we usually have to go to a Sean Hannity or a Rush Limbaugh to enjoy. Hillary, calling forth the San Francisco bogeyman against another member of her own party.

I’m sorry, but of all the dirty names I could stomach her calling Obama, the one I least expected was “Democrat.”


Spooney said...

We gots plenty of us immoral latte-swilling immigrant sodomizing atheist liberals down here in LA too!
Great post, baby!

Lisa said...

God, might as well pull "card-carrying member of the ACLU" out of the mothballs while we're at it, y'know?

Mmmm. Cheez Whiz.

Dad E said...

It used to be that people could work for a company in a one-company town from the time they graduated from high school until retirement. About 25 years ago things changed. Companies moved where there was cheaper labor or were bought by another company who consolidated or went out of business. People lost their jobs that allowed them to enjoy the dreams of the working middle class. Untrained for other work and/or lack of opportunity left them no place to go except to accept lower paying service jobs.

I was out of a job for 18 months years. They were the most difficult time of my life. I clung to the idea that if I keep trying and don't give up, I would survive. I got lucky. Some people don't.

'Bubbles' said...

As long as the American people define themselves as "middle of the road" (for which I have been guilty, BTW), then the politicians will pander to it. Hillary was burned back in the early days of the Clinton administration for not being middle of the road enough (then being female just made it worse)and conservatives made a mockery of it. At what point, though, does the fundamental principal you stand for get so diluted with the need to pander to middle of the road that you lose effectiveness?

I agree with Obama and your assessment as well. The analogy of the behavioral model in an abusive relationship to the propensity of middle america to go ahead and believe the crap that the conservatives blow while experiencing loss of their freedoms and their entire lives go down the toilet is really descriptive.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Spooney: I am not an immigrant.

Lisa: We should start a "card-carrying member of the ACLU" countdown.

DadE: Yes, too bad that we aren't doing anything about that. You know, I watch high-tech companies bringing in more and more job candidates on visa programs, and it's not because they will take a cheaper salary. Legally, you can't pay them less than the going rate for US workers. Plus, you have to pay attorney fees for all that visa paperwork. Companies hire foreigners to work scientific positions in the US because there aren't qualified US candidates. The end. Our school system sucks, and that's the answer right there.

Bubbles: Good, I was afraid my whole analogy to an abusive relationship was, ah, all about me.

SkylersDad said...

Hillary knows she is in trouble, and is going to try whatever she needs to in this race. Sell her soul to the devil (read Neocons), lie about being right in the middle of a fire fight, or my personnel favorite - throw down a shot and a beer... What the fuck was that all about?

Spooney said...

Ooops, I cut & pastied form your post. I missed that part.

vikkitikkitavi said...

SkyDad: Well, Hillary's campaign is on deathwatch, and such tactics are standard in her position. The frontrunner can afford to be gracious.

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

Anyone who knows me even a little will know not to get me started talking about rural Pennsylvania.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You had me until I started picturing you in your underwear. Hubba hubba.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Randy: Well, at least the expert on Pennsyltucky didn't call bullshit on me.

Dr.MVM: Yeah, and I was thin then and in my 20s!

I was also absurdly full of myself and completely unstable, but I doubt that any of the guys I fucked in those days ever noticed.

Anonymous said...

At this point, it seems as if Obama is the electoral equivalent to the Terminator, or at the very least one of those Bobo the Clown punching bags. Knock him over and he gets right back up.

Distributorcap said...

all in all --- hillary is practically handing the job to John mccain......

and talk about the pot calling the kettle black --- this wellesley educate....

Grant Miller said...

I'm thisclose to not voting for the Democrats if Hillary Clinton is the candidate. I never thought it'd come to me wasting my vote on a third party type, but it may.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Funny how Regan's fatherly like figure was enough for the average middle-Americans to buy into him, and still not realize the consequences.

Madam Z said...

I'm with you on the where-is- the-horrible-part of Obama's speech. I live in small town PA and I think he gave a pretty damn accurate description of many of the residents. I am disgusted with Ms. Clinton's "calling forth the San Francisco bogeyman against another member of her own party." I wonder if there is ANYTHING she wouldn't say, if it would snag her a few more votes.