John McCain

The Killer Elite

Who speaks for the gun-toting, God-fearing proles?

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At this point in the news cycle, it is perhaps unnecessary to reprint Sen. Barack Obama's continuously reprinted comments about those bitter, clingy, armed, pious, and disaffected voters of Pennsylvania. But in case your interest in this never-ending race waned upon the exit of Mike Gravel, here is, once again, the Illinois Democrat explaining why the rural poor are supposedly swayed by conservative—rather than liberal—populism: "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 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."

Now, let's ignore that last bit of hypocrisy—if anyone has fanned the flames of anti-trade sentiment, it's Obama—and say that it's not too difficult to agree with The Economist's characterization of these comments as a bit "snooty." The claim that religious zeal (the Christian fundamentalism is implied) or gun ownership correlates to the number of shuttered Pennsylvania factories is pretty thin gruel. Recognizing this, both Obama's current opponents, Sens. Clinton (D-N.Y.) and McCain (R-Ariz.), pounced, calling the comments "elitist" and accusing their fellow senator of being hopelessly "out of touch" with the real America.

For its part, many in the media—excepting the conservative-leaning Fox News, of course—jumped into the breach to defend their beloved frontrunner. Consider the reaction of the pundits on CNN's The Situation Room, hosted by Wolf Blitzer, to the charge that Obama displayed a hidden contempt for the armed and religious. First, CNN's house windbag Jack Cafferty denied that Obama was trading in elitism. Rather, explained Cafferty, Obama was simply acknowledging that Pennsylvania is the Saudi Arabia of America. "What happens to [unemployed] folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps." Regardless of whether gun ownership and economic desperation are causative, Cafferty (who has his own problems with inflammatory comments) denounced previous American leaders—cough, Bill Clinton, cough—that "shipped the jobs overseas and signed phony trade deals like NAFTA."

U.S. News & World Report Contributing Editor Gloria Borger weighed in with wrist-slap for Obama's "inartful" terminology. "But," she continued, "I think he's expressing a sentiment of mad as hell voters not going to take it anymore that we've seen throughout this election." The McCain and Clinton campaigns, Borger said, were after the same thing, which is to "portray Obama as this sort of effete elitist who doesn't understand the real working class people or Independent voters."

And, finally, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin sputtered that the whole thing was taken out of context. It was, he proclaimed, a "fake issue. I think [Hillary Clinton] is completely distorting what Obama said. And I think it's just shocking, frankly… I think [Clinton's attack] ad is a disgrace." Toobin declared that by dint of his family background, Obama was incapable of elitism: "Well, I just think it's remarkable that Barack Obama, this guy who grew up in a single family household with no money, who lived in Indonesia, who, you know, was—came from very modest upbringings, somehow he's the elitist." (While certainly not rich, it's worth reminding that Obama, the son of two university-educated parents, attended an "exclusive and prestigious" private school in Hawaii, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School.)

So in The Situation Room, there was consensus. The story was silly season stuff; a prototypically Clintonian diversion from the substantive issues.

While CNN scoffed at the thought of Obama not understanding the rural, white working-class voter, a number of pro-Obama bloggers and pundits were turning on his accusers. At The Atlantic, Andrew Sullivan linked to a column by New Criterion editor Roger Kimball, and directed readers to "check out the photo" of Kimball wearing a bowtie and sporting turtle-shell glasses. What does this elitist buffon know from elitism?

Writing in The New Republic, Jonathan Chait railed at the "hypocrisy" of certain elite media figures, saving special ire for "George F. Will [who] decided to leap to the defense of the proletariat. Yes, that George F. Will."

In case you didn't immediately understand the source of Chait's sarcasm, he clarified that Will is "the fabulously wealthy, bowtie-wearing, pretentious reference-mongering, Anglophilic fop who grew up in a university town as a professor's son, earned two advanced degrees, has a designated table at a French restaurant in Georgetown, and, had he dwelt for any extended time among the working class, would be lucky to escape without his underwear being yanked up over his ears." Oh dear. Rumor has it that, in his Georgetown estate, Will has a shelf devoted to the novels of Evelyn Waugh, that poncy, ascot-wearing Brit (boo!) who wrote florid novels about fox hunting and buggery, which Will reportedly reads while consuming expensive French food!

So here we have a class-war version of the "chickenhawk" charge. Don't advocate for war unless you have served, don't speak for the peasants if you wear a bowtie and recommend Chesterton novels to your (probably foreign) friends. Members of the right-leaning bourgeoisie are incapable of spotting and deploring such condescension directed at those who typically vote for right-leaning candidates.

Chait writes that populist, fist-shaking pundits such as Chris Matthews and Bill O'Reilly, who bully guests and interviewers with references to their "real America," blue-collar credentials, "are multimillionaires who retain only the most remote connection to blue-collar life." This is true enough. But Obama's defenders use the very same line of argumentation in explaining away his "bitter" comments. So when critics such as Toobin tell Wolf Blitzer that Obama "grew up in a single family household with no money," it is perhaps worth mentioning that it should also be tough for Obama to retain his working-class connections—if he ever had any—when he earned $4.2 million in 2007.

Though it likely had little or no effect on yesterday's loss in Pennsylvania—potentially insulted voters were leaning largely toward Hillary Clinton anyway—it is not outrageous to think that Obama's extemporaneous bit of pop sociology was indicative of a generally condescending attitude towards the Other (that was the basic point of Will's column, which found precedent for such feelings in Adlai Stevenson's failed presidential runs in 1952 and 1956). That attitude will surely be revisited in the general election.

The inclusion of guns in Obama's complaint is, I think, especially revealing. A convincing argument can be made that xenophobia is more appealing to the dispossessed and downtrodden—They're taking our jobs! They're invading our country!—and a convincing case can be made that Obama has employed similar, though not explicitly xenophobic, language when railing against NAFTA stealing American jobs. But what does any of this have to do with guns, other than to signify that these are bitter country rubes that, to paraphrase What's the Matter with Kansas author Thomas Frank, foolishly vote against their own interests?

Nevertheless, Jeffrey Toobin told CNN viewers, what Obama said "was factually accurate." But is it? As Syracuse University professor Arthur Brooks wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "It turns out [gun owners] have the same level of formal education as nongun owners, on average. Furthermore, they earn 32% more per year than nonowners. Americans with guns are neither a small nor downtrodden group. Nor are they 'bitter.' In 2006, 36% of gun owners said they were 'very happy,' while 9% were 'not too happy.' Meanwhile, only 30% of people without guns were very happy, and 16% were not too happy."

So Obama's gun analysis was not only incoherent (how does one "explain their frustrations" by shooting skeet, anyway?), but based on lazy presumption and stereotype that's not that backed up by any data. And George Will might well be a fop, but his distillation of Obama's argument strikes me as reasonable: "Americans, especially working-class conservatives, are unable, because of their false consciousness, to deconstruct their social context and embrace the liberal program." In other words, Barack Obama thinks that, whether they know it or not, the gun-toting plebes of America are in desperate need of "change."

Michael Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.

NEXT: The Long and the Short of Prison Sentences

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  1. Sigh. If only our elites were actually better than us. We need an aristocracy, not this popocracy we appear to have. With honor and duels and stuff.

  2. CNN’s house windbag Jack Cafferty

    You have him confused with Lou Dobbs. I’ve been a fan of Cafferty since he got Blitzer with “So Anna Nicole, is she still dead, Wolf?”

    Cafferty is the best guy on CNN (seriously). And him and Gutfeld are the most honest people on cable news (even more seriously!)

  3. Pro,

    I’m not sure thats a great idea. Most people’s social life involves a lot of smack talking. There would be a massive die off within the first year. Might work better after the first year now that I think of it. Carry on.

  4. I think it’s interesting that most people seem to miss that from his full remarks, it’s clear Obama was saying they were bitterly clinging to those things because the government hasn’t helped them.

    Obama is from the government, and he’s here to help.

    Does that message sell these days? Is minarchism dead?

  5. And George Will might well be a fop, but his distillation of Obama’s argument strikes me as reasonable: “Americans, especially working-class conservatives, are unable, because of their false consciousness, to deconstruct their social context and embrace the liberal program.”

    But this wasn’t the whole of Will’s argument.

    Will also argues that Obama is suspect because, unlike progressives of the past, he no longer enshrines the “working man” on a pedestal as the height of cultural achievement in the world. Will asserted that Obama’s lack of affinity for working-class whites meant that Obama hated America.

    The reason Will’s foppery makes this an absurd argument for him to offer is because in just about every aspect of his being that we in the public can know about, Will too demonstrates an absolute lack of affinity for working-class white culture. If failure to appreciate the greatness of the blue collar white lifestyle means that you hate America, all of Will’s lifestyle choices tell us that he, too, hates America.

    But hating America is the last thing Will would admit. See how that works?

  6. Moynihan,
    Are you saying the “chickenhawk” charge has been discredited in some way?

    “Don’t advocate sending kids to die in distant questionable wars unless you yourself have proven to be willing to die for similar wars”…seems to be a pretty good standard.

    The similar idea of “don’t pretend to have intimate knowledge of the ‘middle class redneck man’ when you are and always have been a effeminate Georgetown snob” also seems like a pretty good thing.

  7. Barack Obama can never win white working class voters. The NASCAR Dads and Reagan Democrats are going for McCain.

  8. asks whether the high-hat elite has what it takes to save them

    I guess I missed the part where they needed saving.

    From what, exactly?

  9. Kolohe:
    I am inclined to agree, considering the rest of CNN it qualifies as faint praise.

  10. Careful, Gabe. Most public policy of any kind amounts to ordering other people to do things that you haven’t done yourself. For example:

    Don’t advocate higher taxes unless you yourself have paid into the government at the rate you advocate, for example.

    Don’t advocate for smaller carbon footprints while sasquatching around the planet your own self.

  11. This is a prime example of manufactured outrage. No one is really disputing that there are many bitter former factory workers in the rust belt. They’re bitter for good reason- they know that their former jobs will never come back,and no matter how much they retrain or where they move, most will never earn anything close to what they were making before.

    The reference to guns and religion was ill-phrased but alluded to another inconvenient truth: That these voters who should be holding politcians to account for the failed promises of “free trade” (more and better jobs), allow themselves to be distracted be the gun issue and social conservative agenda.

  12. Naga Sadow,

    Go read Dumas and come back to me. Swords, honor, busty wenches.

  13. But hating America is the last thing Will would admit. See how that works?

    Yes, exactly, it’s joe-logic. Because Obama said something which indicated his real position, and people appropriately pointed out an arrogant attitude of “Sit down, shut up, I know what’s better for you”, and someone rightfully objects, we need to find some shit out on them to balance things aout. Thank goodness, because they’re affluent, so Obama’s ok again. Got it, makes perfect sense to me, let’s all go do an Obama Adoration and three Hail Barack’s and be done with this silliness of actually analyzing what he says.

    The reference to guns and religion was ill-phrased but alluded to another inconvenient truth: That these voters who should be holding politcians to account for the failed promises of “free trade” (more and better jobs), allow themselves to be distracted be the gun issue and social conservative agenda.

    No. What he said implies that they vote on these things instead of the economy which they “should” be voting for. So, when you really think about it, he’s believing that he knows what’s “best” for people to use to decide what to vote on. I have a strong aversion to any politician who knows what’s “best” for me.

  14. Thanks for giving us the Marxist view of things “classwarrior”.

  15. I’M SICK A’ THE HIGH HAT!

    Youse fancy pants, all a youse.

  16. I don’t own a gun because I’m bitter. I own a gun because I live in a bad neighborhood.

  17. Other Matt accuses me of “joe logic”.

    He demonstrates this by failing to address the substance of my argument, which [for those of you who missed it the first time] was:

    1. Will says that Obama has demonstrated a lack of respect for the blue collar white American lifestyle, and this proves he hates America, because the blue collar white American life style and America are one and the same.

    2. We know that Will also does not admire the blue collar white American lifestyle, because he chooses to live a different lifestyle altogether.

    3. The terms of Will’s argument thus would mean that Will himself hates America.

    4. Will would no doubt deny that he hates America.

    Which element of this do you dispute? Because unless you can tell me which part you dispute, this isn’t “joe logic”, it’s “logic logic”.

  18. It’s not like George Will was presuming to understand the deeply hidden hopes and dreams of the working man. He was pointing out that they probably don’t like being called bigots and dupes. I didn’t realize you had to drink Budweiser and watch NASCAR to realize that.

  19. while i think that obama shoulnt have made a blanket statement like that its true there are many people who vote for pols who dont care about the poor because they say theyll protect their right to keep and bear arms. since whne is killing people a right? obama may have made a mistake in his wording but his idea was perfect. we need to get guns off the streets then maybe we can address poverty and the other issues facing people today.

  20. Youse fancy pants, all a youse.

    Beaten. This is what happens when I actually attend meetings.

    Fluffy, why do you hate George Will’s America?

  21. Fluffy,

    You’re right. Calling that logic “joe-logic” is an insult to joe.

    1. Will didn’t say Obama hates America. RTFA.

    2. You can have respect for a lifestyle without living it. Seriously, you’re smarter than this.

    3. Any disrespect Will has for working class lifestyle has remained hidden. Obama’s disrespect was vocalized, behind closed doors in front of a friendly, non-working-class audience.

  22. I’m surprised that when Obama uttered his now-famous gaffe about the guns and religion thing, no one asked “Is he talking about small-town Pennsylvania or Chicago?” I mean, Obama goes to church, doesn’t he? Is it because he’s bitter? And they do have guns in Chi-town, don’t they?

    Thomas Frank’s analysis, which Obama clearly followed, is sadly popular with people whom I have to refer to as “my fellow liberals.” It’s simply a way to hide from their failures: “We’ve been losing because we haven’t been liberal enough!” Instead of recognizing many liberal programs (pre-eminently welfare) were failures and that others (abortion, environmentalism, gay rights) irritate/enrage a lot of common folks, they want to believe that an old-fashioned New Deal program — lots of benefits! for everybody! — is just the ticket. Such is the perversity of human nature. Oy!

  23. It’s not like George Will was presuming to understand the deeply hidden hopes and dreams of the working man. He was pointing out that they probably don’t like being called bigots and dupes. I didn’t realize you had to drink Budweiser and watch NASCAR to realize that.

    But that’s not actually what Will said. Let’s go to the column itself, shall we?

    By so speaking, Obama does fulfill liberalism’s transformation since Franklin Roosevelt. What had been under FDR a celebration of America and the values of its working people has become a doctrine of condescension toward those people and the supposedly coarse and vulgar country that pleases them. Will also compares Obama to Adlai Stevenson, quoting Michael Barone who wrote: “Stevenson was the first leading Democratic politician to become a critic rather than a celebrator of middle-class American culture – the prototype of the liberal Democrat who would judge ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and find them wanting.”

    But it is obvious from Will’s entire persona that he, too, “judge[s] ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and finds them wanting”. And if rejection of the cultural values of working people means that you reject the “coarse and vulgar country that pleases them”, then what conclusion are we to draw from Will’s personal rejection of those same cultural values?

  24. And they do have guns in Chi-town, don’t they?

    No, they don’t, thanks to King Richard’s strict gun control regime. And as we all know, gun control laws make guns vanish, leaving only the lemon-fresh scent of peace and love.

  25. since whne is killing people a right?

    The funny thing is, there’s this law against committing murder. Maybe it’s new where you live. Obviously, logic isn’t your strong point, but even a small child, hell probably a fetus, understands that owning a gun is not murder, and criminals don’t give a shit about the law.

  26. I didn’t realize you had to drink Budweiser and watch NASCAR to realize that.

    I do both and realized it independantly of those activities.

  27. You’re right. Calling that logic “joe-logic” is an insult to joe.

    Which itself is always a good thing, racist fuckwit that he be.

    Which element of this do you dispute? Because unless you can tell me which part you dispute, this isn’t “joe logic”, it’s “logic logic”.

    I dispute your use of an attack on Will as a defense of Obama. Will has his problems, but that doesn’t excuse Obama’s statements, and that’s where the joe logic comes from. Ignore the substance of anything, and “Look over there, it’s George Will!”

  28. I have to disagree with kolohe and say that Jack Cafferty is an obnoxious twit. So is Lou Dobbs, though.

  29. But it is obvious from Will’s entire persona that he, too, “judge[s] ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and finds them wanting”.

    This makes no sense. So, unless you choose to live as a working class person does, you necessarily judge and find them wanting?

    I mean, I come from working class origins myself, and I’ve definitely chosen a different path in life from what my parents and most of my childhood friends did. Does that mean I necessarily disrespect working class culture?

  30. I’m not bitter because I own firearms; I’m bitter because I am not allowed to use them on those people who really deserve a bullet.

  31. Other Matt,
    While I usually disagree with joe and I see his logic as flawed, where did you get “racist fuckwit” to describe him?

  32. Will didn’t say Obama hates America. RTFA.

    I summarized.

    Will said that FDR celebrated America, and Obama doesn’t.

    Will said that because Obama demonstrated condescension to working-class America, it means that he rejects the entire country as coarse and vulgar.

    You can have respect for a lifestyle without living it. Seriously, you’re smarter than this.

    Oh please. I really doubt that Will drinks American beer, or watches Pride Fighting, or walks around Vegas in a T-shirt that says, “I’m Here About The Blowjob”, or yells “Show us your tits!” at random girls in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or eats pork rinds, or likes Nascar, or does any of a billion things that he might do if he shared the tastes and values of white working class voters. And I also doubt that he somehow respects all of these things – like he’s sitting back twirling the ends of his bow tie, saying, “I really respect blue collar culture, despite the fact that I don’t live it. It’s so noble and admirable.”

    Give me a break.

  33. The acrimony and debate over Bittergate reminds me of the Ron Paul newsletters. Which says to me that people are getting emotionally invested in Obama, just as they did with Paul.

    Now, I would expect this from Democrats such as joe, but the amount of it amongst supposed libertarians is surprising.

    The guy is a boilerplate empty suit politician whose tendency is toward very un-libertarian policies. Why all this support for him?

    McCain and Clinton receive almost universal denigration from libertarians, but somehow Obama gets substantial support–while being functionally equivalent to Clinton. Are that many libertarians that easily swayed by Obama’s empty speech?

  34. I dispute your use of an attack on Will as a defense of Obama. Will has his problems, but that doesn’t excuse Obama’s statements, and that’s where the joe logic comes from. Ignore the substance of anything, and “Look over there, it’s George Will!”

    My attack on Will is designed to accomplish a very specific thing: to attack the idea [which has been floated everywhere in the last couple of election cycles] that if you reject the really crappy, tawdry, kitsch-ridden mess that is American white lower class culture, you “hate America”.

    I am particularly angry at Will, because his lifestyle choices show that he rejects that culture personally, but any hint that a politician might also reject it leads him to play the “hate America” card.

    As far as I am concerned, I AM AMERICA. You Nascar fuckers can take a long walk off a short pier. I hate bowling, I hate Nascar, and I don’t drink Budweiser. But none of those things are America, and when even somebody like George Will starts pretending that they are for political effect, I am going to call him on it.

  35. I summarized.

    WTTW, it’s generally not a good idea to use inflammatory rhetoric like “hates America” in a summary of a piece that doesn’t contain any such rhetoric.

    Aside from that, it’s amazing how good the resolution on your beam into George Will’s soul is. Talk about judging and finding wanting.

  36. What leftist don’t get is that elitism is about a fundamental lack of respect for the decisions of other people.

    Leftism is all about the worship of the elite. Every leftist policy suggestion boils down to, “centralize decision making power in the hands of few technocrats working under our benevolent guidance and we will solve problem ‘X'” They want to do good for other people but they think only they know what the best policy is. That is why they resist plans such as school vouchers that give money AND decsion making authority to poor people. In a voucher system, there is no central role for the leftist to play. When it comes right down to it they believe that everyone except them is to stupid or evil to do the right thing.

    By contrast, even the most wealthy rightist bases their arguments on the idea that people can make their own decisions. Even social conservatives base their arguments on tradition and religion, sources of authority open to all. A poor man and a rich man are equally authoritative when arguing from tradition or religion. Even the social restriction they argue for are universal and viewed as restricting the common negative urges of all people. The amount of money a person has doesn’t matter.

    Leftist won’t ever escape the elitist label until they actually start advancing policies based on the idea that ordinary people make good decisions. Until then, they are elitist and should be labeled as such.

  37. Isn’t George Will a big baseball fan? That’s a pretty blue collar sport – seat prices are low relative to the other sports – and is as American as apple pie. Now, if he went ga-ga for polo or yachting..

  38. Are that many libertarians that easily swayed by Obama’s empty speech?

    Judging by the content of Reason for the past several weeks: Yes.

  39. Fluffy, why are you using quotes around “hate America” when Will did not write that? Do you not know what quotation marks are supposed to indicate?

  40. Episiarch,

    These scandals are good partisan detectors, that’s for sure.

  41. I don’t have respect for blue-collar white lifestyle. I tolerate it, but I don’t respect it.

    Any lifestyle that demands adherence to a limited set of hobbies and interests is certainly not American. Other issues I have with the stereotypical blue-collar lifestyle: reveling in ignorance, kneejerk hostility to anything new or different, and acquiescence to all perceived traditional forms of authority.

  42. And just in the nick of time, Shannon Love arrives to provide balance in the form of a deluded right-wing partisan. Thank God for ideological diversity.

  43. Fluffy,

    George Will isn’t pretending to have the same taste as a working class white person, he is just saying that he respect people enough that if they choose to watch Nascar, he doesn’t care. Will doesn’t insist that everybody have his taste and viewpoints.

    As far as I am concerned, I AM AMERICA.

    No your not. Nobody is. We are a vast aggregation of many cultures and beliefs. The great debate of our times is weather a philosophically homogenous group of articulate intellectuals will make decisions for us or whether we will all make our own.

  44. Chris Potter,

    And just in the nick of time, Shannon Love arrives to provide balance in the form of a deluded right-wing partisan.

    Okay, prove me wrong. How many major leftist policies recommendation, that don’t involve sex, place the legal authority to make decisions in the hands of private individuals?

    If you can provide a good list of leftist policies based on the idea that individuals should make decisions, then I am wrong,

  45. Shannon Love,

    By contrast, even the most wealthy rightist bases their arguments on the idea that people can make their own decisions.

    Yet somehow many elements of the right want to control some of the most intimate details of the lives of the citizenry.

    Even social conservatives base their arguments on tradition and religion, sources of authority open to all.

    Actually, tradition and religion are generally some of the most hierarchal and static forms of social organization. As such they only open to all in the sense that one must fit within a predetermined hierarchy. This is why monarchies and aristocracies have traditionally used both tradition and religion as a prop to resist change. It is also why religions create much of the time clear distinctions between the authority of the clergy and the authority of the layman.

    Even the social restriction they argue for are universal and viewed as restricting the common negative urges of all people.

    That is of course equally true of the sorts of restrictions which the left likes.

  46. The great debate of our times is weather a philosophically homogenous group of articulate intellectuals will make decisions for us or whether we will all make our own.

    You forgot about the third option: having a bunch of homogeneous Bible-thumping idiots making all our decisions for us.

  47. Fluffy is really unhinged today. Normally he/she is pretty level-headed. I’m wondering if someone is using Fluffy’s handle.

    Oh, and Chris, just because you have your head up Obama’s ass doesn’t mean everyone who doesn’t is a GOP partisan. Obama said something offensive, and tried to spin his way out of it. You buy the spin. Many people don’t.

    Episiarch seems to be detached enough to see things for what they are, regardless of whose ox is gored.

  48. So, unless you choose to live as a working class person does, you necessarily judge and find them wanting?

    I mean, I come from working class origins myself, and I’ve definitely chosen a different path in life from what my parents and most of my childhood friends did. Does that mean I necessarily disrespect working class culture?

    By the standard Will and others have applied to Obama, yes.

    Fluffy, why are you using quotes around “hate America” when Will did not write that? Do you not know what quotation marks are supposed to indicate?

    Do you know what “air quotes” are? I use italics for direct quotes. I sometimes use quotation marks for that purpose as well, but I will also often use quotation marks to indicate archness. This is a common internet usage so unless this is your first day online you can stop being obtuse any time now.

    No your not. Nobody is. We are a vast aggregation of many cultures and beliefs.

    Hey, that’s fine. We can all be America. That works for my point in this argument and not against it.

    Will’s column is one little part of a broad Republican attempt to paint any hint of divergence from a specific middle American lifestyle as anti-Americanism. But if nobody is America, then blue collar whites aren’t America, either, and Will’s characterization of a rejection of their values as a rejection of America as a whole is false.

  49. Shannon,

    That’s not the part of your quote I take issue with. It’s the assertion that right wingers are bastions of individual freedom.

    Also, it’s not for you to declare under what conditions you are wrong. That is for the reader to decide.

  50. I don’t have respect for blue-collar white lifestyle. I tolerate it, but I don’t respect it.

    I have zero interest in someone else’s lifestyle. However, I agree that if that lifestyle includes concepts such as “if you don’t support the PATRIOT ACT then you want terrorists to kill us”, you can go and cram it wherever your species traditionally crams things.

    And to expand on Fluffy’s “I AM AMERICA”, I agree with that. Shannon seems to think that it’s “WE’RE ALL AMERICA”, but frankly, I don’t see rednecks cheering on additional police powers or elitist leftists enacting universal health care as particularly American.

  51. Shannon Love,

    How many major leftist policies recommendation, that don’t involve sex, place the legal authority to make decisions in the hands of private individuals?

    Who is arguing that they do? Chris Potter? I think the argument is more over whether tradition, religion, etc. are some great prop to the common man. I really do not think that they are.

    Chris Potter,

    How about it? Is this what you are arguing?

  52. Not-Me,

    Huh? Have you been reading the thread? I’ve been defending Will here, and criticizing Obama when the story first broke.

    As for the partisanship, sorry, if anyone says that right wingers are champions of individual decision making, they’re either dupes or partisans or perhaps both. Given Shannon’s history here I’ll charitably choose the second option.

  53. The guy is a boilerplate empty suit politician whose tendency is toward very un-libertarian policies. Why all this support for him?

    I think a big part of the issue is the context in which these questions arise.

    If you want to do a series of posts about Obama’s big government positions, I will be happy to disagree with each of them in turn.

    But for quite a while now, the context in which Obama has been brought up boxes me in to defending him. We’ve had “Obama has friends who are left wing radicals!” Well, I have friends who are left wing radicals. And now we have the Neilesque, “Obama is a coastal elite sophisticate who can’t bowl, and who probably doesn’t hunt, and who thinks he’s too good for us trailer park folk!” And I think those are actually reasons to SUPPORT the man, so I get hung up in defending a liberal, which I don’t enjoy.

    And the fact that the other guy in the race will be that rat bastard McCain helps. Or hurts, depending on your perspective, I guess.

  54. @ Neil

    I am a white, working class voter. I own firearms and watch NASCAR. I am not voting for McCain nor for any other authoritarian war-mongering jackass Republican.

    Obama still seems to me to be the least suckass candidate who stands a chance. It’s sad but true; unless you want to be one of the

  55. BTW, folks should consider this notion: all religions seem to either die out or they become corportate bodies. In the latter case they are like any organization are thus subject to the iron rule of oligarchy.

  56. By the standard Will and others have applied to Obama, yes.

    Bull shit. I’ve never said anything remotely comparable to what Obama said.

    Also, when you’re paraphrasing what someone else says and you use quotation marks in the midst of such, it’s easily confused with the direct quote of a phrase. Forgive me for assuming that was your intent, given that you summarized Will’s position as “Obama hates America” previously.

  57. your partisan detector should be ringing like mad every time you see Michael Moynihan coming. He is the only regular Reason contributor that seems like an obvious shill for one party or the other.

    I really don’t understand why he is involved with a libertarian site.

  58. i>But it is obvious from Will’s entire persona that he, too, “judge[s] ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and finds them wanting”. And if rejection of the cultural values of working people means that you reject the “coarse and vulgar country that pleases them”, then what conclusion are we to draw from Will’s personal rejection of those same cultural values?

    He’s made it pretty well known that his first love is watching baseball. What’s more “working class” than that?

    That’s actually beside the point, however. George Will is not running for office so his (by your assessment) opinion of the working class has no relevancy.

  59. Pro,

    I’ve read most his works. I don’t recall the busty wenches but I’m splicing that image into my memory banks. I was thinking more of “A Tale of Two Cities” by Dickens. Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality my ass. This is why I feel that taxes on income greater than ten million aren’t about being progressive. Its about not finding yourself hanging from a lamp post.

  60. Crap! The above post should read:

    But it is obvious from Will’s entire persona that he, too, “judge[s] ordinary Americans by an abstract standard and finds them wanting”. And if rejection of the cultural values of working people means that you reject the “coarse and vulgar country that pleases them”, then what conclusion are we to draw from Will’s personal rejection of those same cultural values?

    He’s made it pretty well known that his first love is watching baseball. What’s more “working class” than that?

    That’s actually beside the point, however. George Will is not running for office so his (by your assessment) opinion of the working class has no relevancy.

  61. And now we have the Neilesque, “Obama is a coastal elite sophisticate who can’t bowl, and who probably doesn’t hunt, and who thinks he’s too good for us trailer park folk!”

    That’s not what the argument is. The argument is over what he said, and how and where he said it. The man talked up rural Pennsylvania while he was there and then dissed them at a closed-door fundraiser with sophisticated San Francisco liberals, including a diss of anti-trade positions he himself had been supportive of while he was still in PA.

  62. I am also a white, rural, working class, gun shooting man voting for Obama.

    he seems to have a little less of the nanny-state authoritarianism you find on the left, and a Lot less of the police-state, constitution-gutting authoritarianism you find on the right.

  63. Bull shit. I’ve never said anything remotely comparable to what Obama said.

    Well, there’s rejection and then there’s rejection.

    Obama offered some impromptu political anthropology about why a group of voters acts the way they do. I tend to think his analysis was wrong, but it was garden variety commentary of the kind you can hear all day every day on the cable news channels. “Soccer moms respond to X because of Y” and so on.

    This has been extrapolated to disdain for working-class people.

    But I think that if a blue collar person attains material or social success, and goes through a systematic jettisoning of most or all aspects of the blue collar material culture as soon as they have the money to do it, that to me also constitutes a rejection of working-class culture and values.

    But I tend to read most positive choices as implicit rejections of the options not chosen, which rubs many people the wrong way due to the mores of modern social pluralism.

  64. Individual decisions that DON’T involve sex?

    There are such? Under real threat?

    Well, there are drugs – and the GOP is equally deplorable there.

    Drugs and sex = 99% of the private lives of most Americans – be they trailer trash or New York Governors……

    Oh yeah – I forgot the Nazi Pope just inspired his legion of “patriots” here.

    All of those not yet buggered in the ass as Young Republicans anyway.

  65. That’s not what the argument is. The argument is over what he said, and how and where he said it. The man talked up rural Pennsylvania while he was there and then dissed them at a closed-door fundraiser with sophisticated San Francisco liberals, including a diss of anti-trade positions he himself had been supportive of while he was still in PA.

    That’s an argument, but it’s not Will’s argument, and it’s not the real content being conveyed by the Republican noise machine on this issue.

  66. “I really doubt that Will drinks American beer, or watches Pride Fighting, or walks around Vegas in a T-shirt that says, ‘I’m Here About The Blowjob’, or yells ‘Show us your tits!’ at random girls in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, or eats pork rinds, or likes Nascar, or does any of a billion things that he might do if he shared the tastes and values of white working class voters.”

    I certainly don’t deny that there are blue-collar people who do these things. And there are some who don’t. And there are – so I’ve heard – affluent college students and businessmen who act vulgarly whileon vacation. And let’s not forget culturally-elite folks who watch milk-related erotica.

    Perhaps, if we want to test the hypothesis that the things you’ve listed are peculiarly associated with the working class, we should commission some kind of sociological study. For instance, ask the guy in Los Vegas whether he’s employed, what his highest level of education is, etc. Or go into a Wall Street bar and ask, “how many of you have behaved vulgarly while on vacation?” “do you watch *Pride Fighting* or *Masterpiece Theater?* etc. Then go into a honky-tonk and ask the same questions. Compare and contrast, publish the results.

  67. BTW, folks should consider this notion: all religions seem to either die out or they become corportate bodies

    I disagree; the catholic church is pretty much the only one to follow this ‘corporatist’ pattern.

    The general rule to me seems to be that religion is like language; some die out, some mutate, some merge with others, some carry on pretty much unchanged, and most have some combination of the above.

  68. “Obama is a coastal elite sophisticate who can’t bowl, and who probably doesn’t hunt, and who thinks he’s too good for us trailer park folk!” And I think those are actually reasons to SUPPORT the man, so I get hung up in defending a liberal, which I don’t enjoy.

    I’m a coastal elite sophisticate from Connecticut who lived for seven years on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and had Lincoln Town Cars drive me to and from work.

    Obama’s still an asshole politician. There is no reason to support the man, just as there is no reason to support Senator McAngryPants or Mrs. Clinton.

    Just because others are attacking him doesn’t mean you need to defend him. I note you don’t extend the same courtesy to McCain.

  69. shrike: I think you should consider replacing the K and the E at the end of your name with two L’s

  70. George Will vs. Andrew Sullivan & Jonathan Chait. Tell me, what’s the definition of a no-brainer?

  71. I don’t watch Pride Fighting, but I never miss a single episode of Brideshead Revisited.

  72. That’s actually beside the point, however. George Will is not running for office so his (by your assessment) opinion of the working class has no relevancy.

    Did you actually click through and read Moynihan’s post?

    Moynihan’s post was only partially about the issue of Obama’s speech on its own merits. Another section of the post dealt with whether one could question Will’s sincerity in making certain arguments based on Will’s own personal lifestyle.

    I questioned Moynihan’s reasoning because I didn’t think he was fully characterizing Will’s argument.

    So since this thread is at least in part about the quality of Will’s argument and the relationship between his argument and his personal qualities, it damn well is relevant to talk about Will.

  73. Just because others are attacking him doesn’t mean you need to defend him. I note you don’t extend the same courtesy to McCain.

    That’s because I hate McCain so much that I am immune to the risk of falsely identifying with him.

    I don’t hate Obama that much yet, so when he’s criticized on a basis that sounds to me like a criticism of me, too, I get my back up.

  74. If you reject lower working class life style choices than what is it with the lower class vernacular that you have been consistently using in your post (i.e. ‘fuckers’)?

  75. I don’t hate Obama that much yet, so when he’s criticized on a basis that sounds to me like a criticism of me, too, I get my back up.

    Which means that you are personally identifying with him to a certain extent, which relates to my original point: what is it about Obama that many libertarians feel themselves identifying with him, even though it is only on the most superficial level, and when you look at policy you might as well be identifying with Hillary?

  76. I’m a coastal elite sophisticate from Connecticut who lived for seven years on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and had Lincoln Town Cars drive me to and from work.

    Also, let me ask you something. Given what you’ve written here, doesn’t the fact that the Republicans are essentially campaigning on the subtext that people like you are effete elitists who hate America and will spoil the precious bodily fluids of real Americans make you want to punch somebody in the mouth?

    Because let me tell you, I hated John Kerry, but when the Republican noise machine decided that they would campaign by claiming that Kerry shouldn’t be President because he wind surfed and spoke a foreign language, I wanted the ghost of Adlai Stevenson to rise from the grave and cave in Karl Rove’s head with a pipe.

  77. “he seems to have a little less of the nanny-state authoritarianism you find on the left, and a Lot less of the police-state, constitution-gutting authoritarianism you find on the right.” – Z

    Precisely!

    Sorry, Z. I have tainted you with my shrill-ness.

  78. “Thomas Frank’s analysis, which Obama clearly followed, is sadly popular with people whom I have to refer to as “my fellow liberals.””

    Bingo. Frank’s “What’s the matter with Kansas?” is the perfect example of the liberal arrogance and condescension exlempified by Obama’s remarks.

    It relates to the claim that these people are not voting in their own “economic self interest”. The arrogance is in the presumption that it has already been established that liberal economic and social welfare policies are, in fact, what is in those peoples “economic self interest”. The liberals making these statements have never proven any such thing to be the case.

  79. Chris Potter,

    It’s the assertion that right wingers are bastions of individual freedom.

    I didn’t say they were. Instead I argued that rich social conservatives do not view themselves as an elite uniquely qualified to make decisions for others. Instead, they believe tradition, usually in the form of religion, makes the decisions for everyone. A poor person believes that he should not cheat on his spouse and a rich man believes the same thing. Both believe that the choice is the responsibility of the individual.

    In that important sense, the rich social conservatives views himself the equal of poor, uneducated man.

  80. Deep down, we all know McCain, Clinton and Obama are a bunch of autocrats. More the point, they all want to jam things in our ass, the only differences are in the size, shape and texture of objects. The blue collar folks (and the faux populists) are unhappy because the proper courtesies were not extended. The “Red Staters” are willing to take it in the ass, but only for God and Country. C’mon, we’re not talking dinner and drinks and farm subsidies here… just some pillow talk about War on Terror or WMD.

  81. doesn’t the fact that the Republicans are essentially campaigning on the subtext that people like you are effete elitists who hate America and will spoil the precious bodily fluids of real Americans make you want to punch somebody in the mouth?

    I don’t really give a shit what the Republicans say, really. I understand your frustration that they are effectively saying “our president should be a NASCAR-watching Bud-drinking foreign culture eschewing redneck, otherwise, he might as well be French”, but I don’t care.

    First of all, McCain doesn’t fit that profile so they’re just sandbagging Obama. Secondly, I’m used to being outnumbered hugely–in Manhattan I was a gun-owning libertarian. So I don’t worry too much about the idiotic smears of the GOP or the Democrats.

    And thirdly, I am unaffected by anybody calling me an effete elitist who hates America, since I am neither effete nor elitist nor do I hate America.

  82. I fail to see a meaningful difference between the liberal who believes his values should be imposed on others because he is superior and the conservative who believes his values should be imposed on others because his god is superior.

  83. Also, fluffy, you seem obsessed with what Republicans think as if it really mattered. Democrats keep losing because they run poor candidates who, ironically, do not have the economic best interest of the American people in their programs, and not because Karl Rove is some super genius.

    People in affluent ‘burbs, and that is the majority of the American people, really do not want to hear any lame ass protectionist shit. That is why my brother votes GOP even though he cannot stand Bush I, Bush II, or McCain, and he hates the war;
    the Democrats are a threat to his long term economic interest to a greater extent than the Republicans.

  84. he seems to have a little less of the nanny-state authoritarianism you find on the left, and a Lot less of the police-state, constitution-gutting authoritarianism you find on the right.

    Umm…

    Has he actually given many details of what he will do if elected?

    All I have heard are a lot of generalities in his speaches.

  85. The self-appointed guardians of and mouthpieces for the Working Man need to get over themselves.

    You failed. More people think John McCain looks down on working class people than Barack Obama, after almost two solid weeks of Bittergate.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/106744/Only-26-Say-Obama-Looks-Down-Americans.aspx

    If you have a vacation home, an media gig, or a screen name, I’ve got a newsflash for you: you aren’t The Working Man, you don’t speak for The Working Man, and you don’t understand The Working Man very well.

  86. Oops, not “more.” “Just as many.”

    Clinton, of all people is higher than either of them.

  87. Anyone who capitalizes “Working Man” is not a working man either.

  88. Obama is a well spoken elitist ass. Clinton is a lyin’ sack ‘o crap. So why would ‘democrat leaning PA gunowners’ support either of these execrable examples of what passes for ‘leaders’ these days?

    Whomever takes residence in the white house (Mc included) will move rapidly to ban commonly owned personal arms and ammunition and make acquisition so difficult as to render the ‘right’ a grant of privilege accessible only to well connected insiders and their jack booted lackeys.

    Bill of Rights afficianados have no candidate, drop trou and salute your benefactors and overlords.

  89. Nor, Jose, do we claim to be.

    That’s the rather significant difference.

  90. That’s why we consult things like polling data to figure out what’s happening with political races, rather than consulting our guts, and just assuming that the Sainted Class agrees.

  91. Will too demonstrates an absolute lack of affinity for working-class white culture.

    What is working class? I want a definition, right now.

    I go to work, every day. I work in an office. I get two days a week off. One week a year off (if I’m lucky to be able to string all seven days together). If I stop working, my house payment doesn’t get made the next month. I have some savings (a 401k). I have a high-school education. I estimate that I’ve been able to scrabble a few earning percentage points higher than your average high-school only educated person, although I am “educated”. In my family I have an old 1988 beater with 200,000 miles, and a small 2004 SUV (first new car I ever owned– bought it when I was 38). I can’t afford exotic vacations, and sometimes have trouble making ends meet. But yet, when people talk ‘working class’ I get this funny feeling they’re not talking about me, because my job is ‘white collar’. Yet I know people, and have friends who, by inference are ‘working class’, belong to Unions and have salaries well in excess of six figures, are benefitted out the goddamned ass, have four late-model vehicles in their driveways, and take kick-ass vacations every year. So please, tell me, who the fuck is working class in this country?

  92. Translation of Obama’s mis-speech:
    If people would just relax and abandon silly notions like the exercise of their first and second amendment rights, then we’d all be able to focus on important things like income redistribution.

    So, he feels that people get tricked because they feel their religion, guns, and national integrity are threatened; why won’t the left just stop the threatening? The ideology of “transnational progressivism” won’t let them, that’s why. (google it; someone wrote a great bit of commentary about it a while ago)

  93. If you have a vacation home, an media gig, or a screen name, I’ve got a newsflash for you: you aren’t The Working Man, you don’t speak for The Working Man, and you don’t understand The Working Man very well.

    Well said, Joe.

  94. “Don’t advocate sending kids to die in distant questionable wars unless you yourself have proven to be willing to die for similar wars”…seems to be a pretty good standard.

    Only if you think a President McCain should get a free pass on military policy towards Iraq, no matter the actual outcome.

    So, he feels that people get tricked because they feel their religion, guns, and national integrity are threatened; why won’t the left just stop the threatening?

    They can’t, or more appropriately, THEY can’t.

    The radical social agenda is more important than income redistribution.

  95. Also, fluffy, you seem obsessed with what Republicans think as if it really mattered. Democrats keep losing because they run poor candidates who, ironically, do not have the economic best interest of the American people in their programs, and not because Karl Rove is some super genius.

    I think it is because the old 1960’s era leftists still dominate.

    Someone like Bill Richardson or Evan Bayh would walk away with the general election.

  96. The reference to guns and religion was ill-phrased but alluded to another inconvenient truth: That these voters who should be holding politcians to account for the failed promises of “free trade” (more and better jobs), allow themselves to be distracted be the gun issue and social conservative agenda.

    So why are politicians on the wrong side of the gun issue?

    As for free trade, there has only been one recession since the adoption of NAFTA.

  97. since whne is killing people a right?

    When someone presents a credible threat to life or limb.

    we need to get guns off the streets then maybe we can address poverty and the other issues facing people today.

    And who exactly is going to get guns off the street?

    The Lord Jesus Christ?

    Santa Claus?

  98. And they do have guns in Chi-town, don’t they?

    In order to legally possess handguns in Chicago, they must be registered.

    Registration forms are not available to the general public. they are only available to rich, white people with connections to the Daley junta.

    Chris Morton has more information on this

  99. 2. We know that Will also does not admire the blue collar white American lifestyle, because he chooses to live a different lifestyle altogether.

    Does this really mean that Will does not “like” that lifestyle? Your conclusion may very well be correct, but I don’t follow the logic that you’re using here, to get there.

  100. Concerned observer, owning guns = killing people? Crap… I don’t want to buy one now.

  101. “Will said that FDR celebrated America, and Obama doesn’t.”

    The demographics of America are far far different than in FDRs day. In the 1930s and 40s the vast majority of people did live in small towns.

    In 1992, when the Clintons were campaigning it was still about 50% of the population lived in small towns, 50% lived in urban areas of one million or more. Now it’s around two thirds who live in large urban areas, and those who live in small towns are in the minority.

    What is a typical or “real” American is now not someone living in the rust belt who is bitter because they will “never again make what they used to”. Neither will most models or child actors by the way. They really lucked out to be paid those wages to begin with.

  102. “Yet I know people, and have friends who, by inference are ‘working class’, belong to Unions and have salaries well in excess of six figures, are benefitted out the goddamned ass, have four late-model vehicles in their driveways, and take kick-ass vacations every year. So please, tell me, who the fuck is working class in this country?” – Paul

    Except when it’s too damn EXPENSIVE to keep paying those wages and bennies, especially if you have to COMPETE, then, when they’re laid off they become “bitter” because – they have to try to do a job like Paul’s which is probably not only more demanding, but pays LESS!

    But why should a guy like Paul have to spend MORE for an automobile, so some dumb ass can keep on makin’ his six figures and takin’ his vacations? Why don’t they charge Paul LESS for an automobile because HE’S a “fellow American”?

    Who has the right to be bitter here?

  103. With regards to Obama including guns in his list of bad things people turn to when they have no work, is it possible he was referring to inner-city gang members rather than central-PA hicks as everyone seems to think? Philadelphia certainly has a major problem with gun violence, which has increased a lot over the past few years.

    I’m not trying to start a fight here – this is more a question about the context of the quote.

  104. With regards to Obama including guns in his list of bad things people turn to when they have no work, is it possible he was referring to inner-city gang members rather than central-PA hicks as everyone seems to think? Philadelphia certainly has a major problem with gun violence, which has increased a lot over the past few years.

    Have you been paying attention? Obama doesn’t have a problem wooing those voters. He has a problem with “the hicks (not that there’s anything wrong with that).”

  105. Shannon Love,

    Instead I argued that rich social conservatives do not view themselves as an elite uniquely qualified to make decisions for others.

    Social conservatives (be they rich or not) throughout human history have as often as not viewed society through the prism of hierarchy and paternalism.

    Instead, they believe tradition, usually in the form of religion, makes the decisions for everyone.

    Which for many such conservatives puts humans into their various places in human society (see “The Great Chain Of Being”).

  106. Sigh. If only our elites were actually better than us.

    They never have been better than us, unless you mean “better fed” and “better dressed”.

  107. And, if you look at Paris Hilton, “better fed” is out, and unless you like looking like a ‘ho, “better dressed” is a mite bit iffy too.

  108. I should probably out myself

    i am elitist as fuck

    I went to a semi-ivy school, served ever-so-briefly in the military, and now work in investment banking analysis, and scorn anyone who isn’t a subscriber or a daily reader of the economist and the WSJ

    Fuck idiots, really, is how i feel

    im unrepentant

    My pappy and mommy both originally came from working class mill towns. Should I worship the people who *never* did themselves better?

    Fuck people who cant do better for themselves on their own

    America is a place where individuals can make themselves better

    INCLUDING immigrants

    anyone who bitches about making better, or about ‘honoring’ the self satisfied people who expect systems to improve their lives…?

    Fuck em

    really. fuck anyone who complains about “elites”. thats why we’re here, assholes. read Emerson. then shut the fuck up

  109. “It turns out [gun owners] have the same level of formal education as nongun owners, on average. Furthermore, they earn 32% more per year than nonowners. Americans with guns are neither a small nor downtrodden group. Nor are they ‘bitter.’ In 2006, 36% of gun owners said they were ‘very happy,’ while 9% were ‘not too happy.’ Meanwhile, only 30% of people without guns were very happy, and 16% were not too happy.”

    I am bitter and i don’t own a gun….screw you happy bastards I am getting a gun!!

    Oh wait…

  110. joe tells people off for treating a different class of people as mascots. Ironymatron breaks.

  111. “I fail to see a meaningful difference between the liberal who believes his values should be imposed on others because he is superior and the conservative who believes his values should be imposed on others because his god is superior.”

    I see a difference – a material difference in real world dollar impact on peoples lives. Liberal impositions are far more expensive than coservative ones.

    Conservatives may want to ban gay marriage and abortion (which has no impact on me anyway) but liberals are the ones who impose all the socialist wealth redistribution programs on everyone.

    Most people in the middle class and up could have a far higher standard of living while they are working and after they retire (which they could do a lot earlier) if they had been able to keep/spend/invest all those social security, medicare and income taxes they are paying to subsidize somebody else’s existence.

  112. Answer on working class question?

    Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaiting!!!!

  113. The reference to guns and religion was ill-phrased but alluded to another inconvenient truth: That these voters who should be holding politicians to account for the failed promises of “free trade” (more and better jobs), allow themselves to be distracted by the gun issue and social conservative agenda.

    Right. Gun rights advocates who have been fighting gun control since 1968 are simply “distracted” from free trade. Then why did they “vote freedom first” in 2000 and 2004, when the economy was doing just fine?

    This goes right along with Obama’s demonstrably false idea that concealed carry laws are bad because innocent persons might be shot.

    Somebody sell the man a gun-rights clue.

    Leftist won’t ever escape the elitist label until they actually start advancing policies based on the idea that ordinary people make good decisions. Until then, they are elitist and should be labeled as such.
    -and-
    By contrast, even the most wealthy rightist bases their arguments on the idea that people can make their own decisions. but Even the social restriction they argue for are universal and viewed as restricting the common negative urges of all people.

    Sorry, no. “Leftist” and “rightist” both believe that the government should enforce laws to keep individuals on the straight and narrow, the only difference being which lane of the road they want to herd us down.

    But if nobody is America, then blue collar whites aren’t America, either, and Will’s characterization of a rejection of their values as a rejection of America as a whole is false.

    But if everybody is America, then a rejection of any of our values is a rejection of America. Obama explicitly did that. Will nailed him for it, while he does the same thing. Both are wrong.

    he (Obama) seems to have a little less of the nanny-state authoritarianism you find on the left, and a Lot less of the police-state, constitution-gutting authoritarianism you find on the right.

    In forty years I have yet to find a viscerally anti-gun politician (Dem, Rep, or whatever) who isn’t heavy into both kinds of authoritarianism.

    Answer on working class question?
    Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaiting!!!!

    I don’t do stereotypical definitions. But personally “working” wouldn’t include folks who lost their job twenty five years ago and are still waiting for government to give it back.

  114. So Obama’s gun analysis was not only incoherent (how does one “explain their frustrations” by shooting skeet, anyway?), but based on lazy presumption and stereotype that’s not that backed up by any data.

    Now it MUST be the first time a politician makes statements based on lazy presumption and lack of data, right? RIGHT?

  115. Paul,
    What is working class? I want a definition, right now.

    The Working Class is that mythical class of people that, according to anti-freedom ideologues on the left or right, are the ones that build or make everything, have no voice, are dumb as flowers and need protection and comfort from politicians, whereas the rest of us seems to be free loaders that need to be taxed out of our existence on Earth. So, even if you work and bring back the bacon, if you are not doing something, are politically active, read, write and votes with rationality, then you cannot be part of the Working Class.

  116. Obama’s comments are hardly incoherent. He is likely causing himself problems in the eyes of many by speaking too frankly about something the rest of the world knows or certainly thinks to be the case. After all, few politicians would come out and say the war on drugs is a crock or does it really matter if gays marry or have civil unions (on the R side) when in reality 99% of them believe this to be the case (and quite likely indulge in related pursuits). People are gravitating to him because he speaks his mind more than the others.

    What is incoherent about drawing a correlation between unemployment and anti-social behaviour? Embracing firearms is surely a popular pursuit of those with an abundance of time on their hands, along with various forms of getting high (eg Bud), bashing out-of-towners (especially those with fop hair dos) and watching Fox news and buying more guns (which is really antisocial). He may well have done better to remove the link to jobs and concentrate on the observation that one of the biggest dangers to American society and security is the small town mentality (whether it exists in small towns or cities) and it’s propensity for extreme religion, firearm ownership, xenophobia and the like?.mostly born out of ignorance of matters outside ones immediate borough or state, and fear mongering by the media and govt. It is this that he is being vilified for as elitist. This is the truth that the rest of the planet knows to be true and politicians are either oblivious to (ie suffer from the same affliction) or dare not speak. The link to the economy is a way of couching it in politically acceptable terms – clearly not acceptable enough. The vast majority of the media are behind him because they know Clinton is toast and there is a minor groundswell of realization that America needs to sort itself out socially, economically and internationally. She’ll be history shortly?better to plump up the great ‘non-white’ hope for the inevitable battle with the R’s. After all, the main beneficiary of this tawdry drawn out bore-fest is the media. They want a strong contender for the next battle.

    America can become great again if it embraces the spirit of fox hunting, dickie back rides and the biscuit game.

  117. When does buying more guns make one more anti-social? What is the trade-off there? For each gun I speak to ten less friends? If I buy a larger gun or one that is more powerful, does that mean I have to drop 15 or 20 more? What if I like to shoot with friends at a range or in a field? If I take two guns, can I only bring five friends, as opposed to ten friends if I only brought one gun?

    I see a difference – a material difference in real world dollar impact on peoples lives. Liberal impositions are far more expensive than coservative ones.

    Conservatives may want to ban gay marriage and abortion (which has no impact on me anyway) but liberals are the ones who impose all the socialist wealth redistribution programs on everyone.

    Most people in the middle class and up could have a far higher standard of living while they are working and after they retire (which they could do a lot earlier) if they had been able to keep/spend/invest all those social security, medicare and income taxes they are paying to subsidize somebody else’s existence.

    I blame leftists for these social programs, but what have rightists done lately to amend them? Medicare Part D? Overwhelming support for a trillion dollar war? Even most rightist voters decried change in Social Security, especially opting out. Fucking old ass AARP Republicans.

    And for anyone who thinks “fuck” is a word used predominantly by the “lower class” please go fuck yourselves. My dad and his seven siblings come from the shitty streets of the inner city, and they rarely ever swear. I was raised more middle-class to upper-middle-class and I use every swear word under the sun.

  118. This was poorly written.

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