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Two hundred-millionaires attack Obama for being “out of touch”

By Griffin · April 12th, 2008 · 35 Comments


Without a doubt, this was a poorly-worded statement on the part of Barack Obama:

You go into 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.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to 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.

As a former resident of Pennsylvania (though not a small town), it’s true that there is bitterness there.  And it’s true that much of that bitterness is due to economics– the massive closing of steel plants in Pittsburgh, for example.  But it’s not true that that economic bitterness completely explains people’s faith or their feelings on the second amendment (though it does largely cover the anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiments).  It was a poorly-worded statement, as Obama has acknowledged, but to call it offensive is a reach.

The irony about all the “outrage” that’s being manufactured over this statement is that it’s coming exclusively from out-of-touch rich people who are making the assumption that this is something small-town Pennsylvanians should be offended by. I have yet to see a single quote from an actual small-town Pennsylvanian who has taken offense to Obama’s statement.

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton called the comments “elitist” and “out of touch,” and claimed that Pennsylvanians who face hard times aren’t bitter (which in itself is a wildly out of touch sentiment).  John McCain’s campaign said Obama’s statement “shows an elitism and condescension towards hardworking Americans that is nothing short of breathtaking.”

But let’s take a step back here for a moment.

Hillary Clinton’s tax returns show that she and Bill have amassed $109 million in the last eight years– mostly from speaking fees, book royalties, and overseas investments.  But long before that, at the age of 31, she moved into the Arkansas governor’s mansion with Bill, and has lived there or in the White House or in their million-dollar Chappaqua estate ever since.

John McCain is married to the heiress of a $100+ million fortune, a woman whose family trust fund has helped finance his congressional and senate campaigns for decades.  He owns $4 million in real estate and $25 million in various trust funds.

Five years ago, before his speech at the 2004 national convention and his subsequent bestselling book, Barack Obama was a state senator and constitutional law lecturer earning $92,000 a year.  He and his wife Michelle were raising two young daughters and still paying off their student loan debt.

A quick glance at the estimated net worth of each candidate pretty much tells you all you need to know about who is closest to the average American. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain have driven a vehicle for themselves, folded their own laundry, or gone into a grocery store and purchased a carton of milk in decades.

Yet over the next week or so, and certainly again in the fall, we can expect to hear many lectures from two super-rich, Washington lifers about what they think small-town America should take offense to.

UPDATE: Surprisingly, CNN gets it.  People in small-town PA are bitter over job loss, and they have every right to be.  To suggest that they’re not is ridiculous. It’s rose-colored, revisionist, political spin. It’s like saying Americans were optimistic but not angry after 9/11.

Tags: Barack Obama · Democrats · Hillary Clinton · John McCain · Republicans


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35 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cora // Apr 12, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Damned fine piece of writing. Very much to the point and very much erases the vilification of Senator Obama perpetrated by those who live in houses with no walls. ^5

  • 2 Anonymous // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Down with Bush! Impeach!

  • 3 politikly.com | politics and world news // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:23 am

    Two hundred-millionaires attack Obama for being out of touch | politikly.com

    \r\nThe irony about all the outrage? thats being manufactured over Barack Obama\’s small-town Pennsy

  • 4 Alex // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I am from small-town Pennsylvania (Pennsyltucky, as it is sometimes called). I am offended. Please correct that portion of your entry.

    Obama may correctly identify the political stance of my area, but to imply that a few new manufacturing jobs would cause us to become athiests, turn in our guns, and turn a blind eye to law breaking (a.k.a. illegal) immigration is, in fact, outrageous.

  • 5 JT // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Very well written article. I’d say that supporting torturing and killing people for oil money is elitist myself. Interesting to hear Senator McCain talking about caring about the “lower class”, when his entire campaign platform is based on bombing and machine-gunning them.

  • 6 Not Bitter, But Very Concerned // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I think the only word that was out of place was “cling”. Otherwise he’s right on the money. When you feel powerless to change the big issues you turn to other side issues to decide your vote like those including views on faith, gun control, immigration, etc. All good things to keep in mind but also keeps the focus away from the real problems like our various economic crises, health care spiraling out of control, the ballooning deficit, jobs leaving this country left and right, the THINGS THAT REALLY EFFECT YOUR LIFE DIRECTLY. I could care less if gay people have unions so they can have the same rights with their partners as traditional men/women partnerships. It’s these type of hot button, non-issues that are the distraction to the real problems.

    So pay no attention to the spin machine. Obama is the only candidate who is paying attention to the death of the middle class and doesn’t have the hands of Big Business in his pockets. Don’t be fooled into voting against yourselves yet again.

  • 7 Djenah // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:42 am

    Nobody gives a shit about what Obama says, he could say anything and people would still cheer themself crazy. It’s like people are too afraid to say or write anything that could hurt Obama, because he is black and nobody wants to be put out as a racist.

    So f*ck you Obama you worthless piece of sh*t and the rest of the cowards.

  • 8 Acronyms // Apr 13, 2008 at 4:45 am

    They just don’t get the fact that people always assess the words based on the source. Surely the source can be right, but only when it doesn’t pretend to be someone else.

  • 9 Matt // Apr 13, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Djenah, perhaps you could be a little more constructive with your criticism? If you call someone a worthless piece of shit, back up it up with a reason.

  • 10 trans // Apr 13, 2008 at 5:51 am

    If you are offended, either you are politicizing or you just can’t handle the truth. Obama has only stated what has always been true. When the chips are down, people do tend to “cling” to their religions and pass blame to most obvious symptoms, e.g. immigration. Their is nothing unordinary about that. But what we need, and what Obama has been asking from all of us, is to look into the deeper issues, ie. what is causing the immigration? And then do something about it over and above just praying.

  • 11 Paul // Apr 13, 2008 at 5:55 am

    This is to ALEX up above:

    Obama didn’t state AT ALL that new jobs would make people turn in their guns and become athiests. He just stated that the LOSSES made people cling EVEN MORE to it. It doesn’t mean they are just going to “un-cling” when things get better. Its not a vice versa kind of situation where the opposite would have an adverse reaction…thats just stupid and Obama would definitely know that. lol

  • 12 ekle // Apr 13, 2008 at 6:10 am

    水平有限,看不懂!

  • 13 iguana // Apr 13, 2008 at 6:18 am

    If you’re not bitter that your job has gone overseas, that there is no economic force or recovery in your area, that your government does not seem to care, or that you have to drive 150 miles round trip to work each day because that’s the only job you could get, then you’re numb.

    If you do nothing about it, it is either from being powerless and underrepresented or numb from the drubbing that the situation has given you.

    It’s too bad that Hillary hasn’t done more to align herself with someone from her own party. Maybe that’s how the Bonesmen told her to play it: destroy her party so that their candidate can win.

    What a loser she is!!!!

  • 14 Hoov3r // Apr 13, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Hilary is losing, It’s extremely evident… the general public is pro Obama, everyone I know is rooting for the guy. Yet all the media and news is acting like the bitch still has a chance!? She doesn’t, and they are fucking doing this shit on purpose because they fear a black president. So They are trying to give this false impression that she still has this fucking momentum. They give statistics that give this notion that shes not far behind, when in reality she is

  • 15 Eric Neuberger // Apr 13, 2008 at 6:49 am

    OMG, is this going to backfire for Clinton and McCain?

  • 16 Raiyan // Apr 13, 2008 at 6:56 am

    Hilary clinton and John mcCain are very petty. They are just teaming up against him like in a wrestling match. But hes gonna end up choke slamming them both.

  • 17 Matt // Apr 13, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Obama should have known not to include the thing about guns and religion, especially with the aptitude for language he has shown during this campaign. He’s right on, but he should avoid saying things that he knows the media and his opponents will use against him.

  • 18 Two hundred-millionaires attack Obama for being out of touch « // Apr 13, 2008 at 9:18 am

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  • 19 Chris // Apr 13, 2008 at 9:30 am

    What is going on and no one seems to realize is that he said that people cling to those issues to determine who they will vote for. This has nothing to do with what they choose on a personal level but what issues they decide are important.

    “Well we know that the candidate isn’t going to accomplish what they say about the economy so what does he believe about ‘religion, guns’ and abortion’. ” – Average Voter

    This is what he was talking about.

  • 20 Spyder Z // Apr 13, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I don’t know, I think he needs to vocalize a few of the things that could be “Used against him”. Sure, he could have stated it better (As he admits in the link above), but to not speak out at all is “More of the Same”, and we really don’t need that. Also, as a side note: Lawl Alex for Taking it to the Extreme, and on the note of Djenah, Thanks but this bridge needs no Toll. Please move on. ;P

  • 21 badfrog // Apr 13, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Poor Barak! He was only makeing $92,000.00 a year? How could he keep up his payments on his Mercedes with that paltry sum? Oh right, he got his friend Rezko to buy his front yard for him.

    But only 92 K. How did he send his kids to day care? He must have scrimped and saved, maybe coupons from the newspaper, and waited for twofers from Tiffany’s.

    Oh yeah, this guy’s in touch. In touch with his bazillionaire friends.

    Fortunately, we’ll have a Marine in the white house next January.

  • 22 Anonymous // Apr 13, 2008 at 11:16 am

    The Senator’s comments were per se offensive. Whether such statements are deemed “elitist” or simply “ill-worded,” questioning someone’s personal belief system based on the lack of economic development in his or her locale would suggest that there is a direct correlation between income and belief. Bitterness? What the Senator was suggesting was that those in rural areas do not have, due to their poverty, the educational foundation to render an appropriate opinion. This is what is offensive.

    The Senator was right to say that his statement was not worded properly. But I believe the idea he was expressing was ill-conceived in any event.

  • 23 Bob Berry // Apr 13, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I left Pa in the 1050′s for a job in Upstate NY.
    sounds like a rerun of a really bad movie.
    I came from a small coal mining town its still small and the jobs are still not there. Sad.
    We have a 5 year war wasting money on it left and right. Large amounds of foreclolsures, inflaation shooting through the roof, tainted drinking water, a military-industrial complex that is out ofcontrol, poor Ike would roll over in his grave, Schools underfunded and in a mess. Unemployment through the roof if you count the folks that are no longer considered part of the work force any longer, BIG tax brakes for the upper class, tax breaks for the corporations, bailouts for corporations that step in cow plops, a medical system in the toilet.
    and you think they are bitter in PA. Well I’m bitter here in upstate NY and that is an understatement. Lets send a few more lobiest to Washington. That is the Clinton way.

  • 24 Rob // Apr 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    @Badfrog:

    $92k/year isn’t out of reach for anyone willing to work for it. In fact, it’s still considered middle class (granted, upper-middle-class).

    I earn more than that a year, and I came from parents who barely broke $80k/year combined (in Southern California).

    I want the person who made their own success in the White House, and not the ones who have been piggybacking on the success of their spouse. I want the person who’s been speaking the truth throughout the campaign. I want the person who realized that the U.S. IS damaged goods and needs to be fixed. I want the best candidate for the job. That is Obama.

    @djenah

    Please, explain your statement, otherwise it appears that you’re nothing more than a closet racist.

  • 25 Brad M (Ohio) // Apr 13, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Growing up in a blue collar town that owes a great deal of its past prosperity to the dwindling domestic automotive industry I’d like to believe that I have witnessed first hand at least some of the same situations that impact our neighbor’s in Pennsylvania.

    In my opinion what Senator Obama said is very accurate. The loss of jobs and subsequent lack of economic recovery does tend to modify both the behavior and attitudes of any group of people who find their way of life threatened and future’s uncertain.

    If I had a family to feed, no money and their way a raise in crime, what would I do? Well, assuming I didn’t have the will or means to move, I think it is completely reasonable to think that I would pray for help, my lively-hood to be restored and do anything within reason to protect my family, property and make sure I could provide.

    So is the concept that religion (for community support and hope) and gun ownership (for protection or even for hunting) would become a greater part of one’s life than it was when I felt more certain about my future and ability to provide?

    If not right away, what about after 2 years, 5 years, a generation???

    I don’t really think this unreasonable or even uncharacteristic of the situation at all.

    And regarding immigration … so under these same circumstances of economic depression, the idea that I might be resentful to a group of people the media tends to cast as one of the key reasons for my hardships by converting jobs that should be supporting my family into slave wage opportunities for people who aren’t even citizens.

    Well, I believe that attitude of resentment, while not universal, is certainly not unreasonable either.

    The only thing about the senator’s words tat should be of concern to anyone is that no one else has bothered to engage you into facing the reality of your situation before now.

    The fact that administration after administration they win your votes with lies and empty promises.

    I don’t think the senator has all the answers, I don’t think he needs to. Having the answers is not the quality that a great leader needs.

    I do believe that Senator Obama will however raise the real issues that have been destroying not just the middle class, but our very democracy for decades.

    And by bring these issues front and center, he will force the nation to think critically about the real issues and deal with them.

    The very exchange on this web page is proof of that. Imagine if this debate was happening on CNN or any of the major networks, instead of on an obscure political web site.

    Democracy is not clean easy or free.

    There is room for differing ideas, beliefs and even truths. What is true for me may not be true for you … that’s ok.

    What’s important is that we can have different truths and all have our needs met, instead of our society being hedged to support someone else’s truth.

    The involuntary support of an unjust war, the tax incentives that actually make it more profitable for businesses to send jobs overseas than to hire US workers, the vilification of our neighboring countries, how are living in hardships many of us cannot even imagine.

    The truth is hard, and sometime even unbelievable when you’ve been lied to so long.

    But if you are offended by it, then ask yourself if you are offended more by the words that you disliked, or by the fact that they might just be true.

  • 26 Pedro // Apr 14, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Sickening that all the MSM is talking about Obama and Hillary all f*cking day. They don’t even mention McBush or his temper. They don’t mention anything about the jerk.

    There are much, much, much more serious issues going on in the world and are being ignored.

    And I hear no mention of the “F Word.” Fascism. Man o man are we screwed.

  • 27 Chris T. // Apr 14, 2008 at 8:43 am

    @Rob
    Parents that made 80k a year? You make over 92k a year? Please. My parents made a combined of maybe 50k at best, I myself only make around 28k, and to suggest that my parents, who worked a total of 4 jobs between the 2 of them (my mom worked 3, my father was a truck driver who was never able to be home) and that I don’t work hard is ridiculous. It shows that you are the one out of touch here.

    Not everyone is able to make it through college for various reasons and if you don’t make it through college, you are basically fucked. I would love to be able to go back to school and move out west were all the jobs are, but how in the world could I possible afford that?

    The answer is there is no way.

  • 28 Rob // Apr 14, 2008 at 9:13 am

    @Chris T
    The amount varies by location… what my parents made would likely have made them wealthy in some areas, but in Los Angeles that was barely enough to get by.

    I went to college because I busted my ass through school and was able to get a scholarship. What the scholarship didn’t cover, I took loans out for, which I’m still paying today (and much like Obama, I pay more in student loan payments than I do for my mortgage monthly).

    The only person who can decide whether or not you succeed and what is success is you, no one else. If you think that you’re successful with your $28k/year, then you are.

  • 29 warner // Apr 14, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    What is most disturbing to me is that *the discussion on economic fairness* is continually ignored or sidetracked whenever someone brings it up.

    Folks need to wake up in this country and stop being led around by their emotions, either that or they will continue to get screwed into the grave.

    The sad part is that there is *no* class warfare in this country, or rather only one side is fighting, and it is not the working class.

    If folks don’t stop being suckered into parroting these intentionally distracting and dividing diversions they can write off their future and their children’s shot at the American Dream.

    Keep your eye on the ball America, it’s all about the money. All this show and spin and deception is about the money.

    If anyone is willing to stand up and talk honestly about the economic foundation of America and the shell games being perpetrated against *you and your family*, listen closely and don’t let others change the subject to continue the status quo.

    “follow the money.”

  • 30 warner // Apr 15, 2008 at 6:31 am

    case in point…

    “‘This is a Class War’ — Auto Workers Fight 50 Percent Pay Cut Demand

    American Axle stands out in the U.S. auto industry because it has stayed profitable since spinning off from General Motors. Staying in the black hasn’t stopped the company’s CEO, Dick Dauch — who himself averaged $14.5 million in annual compensation between 2003 and 2006 — from demanding two-tier wage concessions.

    In 2004, American Axle workers were told by the company and the UAW International that they had to accept two-tier wages. Although the AAM contract was voted down in the Detroit flagship plant, it passed nationally over job security fears.

    In 2007, two-tier wages were expanded to the Big 3. Now AAM wants the same wage scale found at those companies, a scale that nearly halves starting wages from $27 to $14 an hour.”

    http://www.alternet.org/workplace/82319/

  • 31 george // Apr 17, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for exposing the truth behind the attacks on Mr. Obama. The American people WILL see through the lies and tricks.

    It’s time to move on to the nomination. PENNSYLVANIA will save the country from the continuing operation of the old way of doing business.

    Thank You,

    George

  • 32 Political Quiz // May 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Good going hillary as if these M’s will effect anything great brainwash you got going on there

  • 33 President Obama // Aug 29, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    djenah is boasting the strength of education, the moral level and great philosophical points of view… you should be ashamed, what do you think the late great Dr. king would say to comments. These are historic time just like then, I could not imagine living in his time (Dr. king) and put up with the malfeasants and oppression. Do you think you’re worthy of these luxuries you live for today. you should be shamed djenah

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