John Baer is a Philadelphia Daily News columnist and lifelong Pennsylvanian. If you're one of the five or six people who missed Hillary Clinton's most recent flail of desperation, which, as is the case with most of her campaigning, is pulled directly from Karl Rove's playbook, Baer's article Decades of working-class neglect: now that's insulting is mandatory reading. Here's an excerpt:
Baer goes on to identify a laundry list of substantial economic and political insults that have kept the rust belt a rusty shade of rust for decade after down-and-out decade. He nails Obama's intention in unleashing the "bitter" comment in the first place:
As a native-born, small-town Pennsylvanian, a son of native-born, small-town Pennsylvania parents - one from the coal region, one from Lancaster County - let me assure you that the so-called offensive, condescending things Barack Obama said about the people I come from are basically right on target.
"Bitter" perhaps best describes my late mother, an angry Irish Catholic who absolutely clung to her religion.
Dad, also a journalist, wasn't really bitter as far as I know, but he sure liked to hunt.
So, despite carping from Hillary Clinton and annoying yapping from her surrogates (really, it's like turning on the lights at night in a puppy farm), I take no offense.
What's offensive to me is suggesting that small-town, working-class, gun-toting and/or religious Pennsylvanians are somehow injured by a politician's words.
Are you kidding me?
They're injured all right, but the injury is long-term and from lots more than "just words."
They've been taken for granted by political parties and candidates who stay in power by - and this was the apparent gist of Obama's remarks - forcing attention and debate on issues tied to guns, religion and race (precisely because such issues resonate) rather than real problems such as health care and the economy.Obama credits Pennsylvania's people with being able to understand him, and with being resilient in the face of Hillary Clinton's Rove-written onslaught of misdirection and outright deception. Baer ends his article with the hope that Obama is correct.
The 24-hour broadcast-news cycle will jabber on this for days - the irony being that Obama's "words," which had positioned him so well, now threaten to trip him up.
Another irony is that the candidate running to effect change where change is needed, and to offer hope to those without it, is suddenly tagged as somehow diminishing those he seeks to serve.
So the question is whether Obama effectively defuses this, as he did the controversy surrounding his former minister. And that remains to be seen.
Just don't tell me that he insulted a state or, given his background, that he's an out-of-touch elitist.
And I especially don't want to hear such arguments from a candidate who spent decades in the bubble of a governor's mansion, the White House and the U.S. Senate, and under the blanket of $109 million income during the last eight years.
Pennsylvanians might cling to religion and guns. I hope they don't cling to stupidity.
After eight long years of constant, flagrant deceptions from Beltway politicos like Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the Bush administration -- after giving up their sons and daughters to America's sham war in Iraq, and seeing the value of their hard-earned wages sink with the dollar's decline, after losing their homes to the abuses of unrestrained mortgage companies -- is this choice really that difficult?
One thing I've learned about working-class people in general is this: they do eventually figure things out.
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