Why Bother?

17 Apr

The only sin worse than generalizing is not having another generalization handy. Or, not obliterating the chance of conducting with enough respondents, to predict the 2008 presidential election—which is just a poorly constructed poll with and an ever decreasing number of respondents.

. We’re no longer supposed to climb into each others’ shoes:

What Obama is trying to do is knit together a national conversation by having several discrete national conversations — with black Americans, with working class whites, with coastal liberals, and even with conservatives. He uses slightly different language in every case, the better to project his empathy and understanding. This is why all of those young Reaganites who worked with Obama on the Harvard Law Review admire him so — he listened then, and he listens now. The trouble is, knitting together these conversations is a tough trick to pull off. When he reaches out to Republicans, partisan Democrats raise an eyebrow. When he reaches out to economic populists, conservatives do the same. And when he reaches out to liberal San Franciscans, well … all hell breaks loose.

Fortunately, he climbs out of the ooze, and becomes a hard pundit one paragraph later.

And there remains an open question about what Obama really thinks. At the end of the day, which ground does he stand on – black or white, leftist or centrist, elitist or populist? This ambiguity is at the heart of Obama’s appeal. Ambiguity is the way we reconcile many conflicts. We agree to disagree and at some point we decide it’s rude to ask too many questions. But this isn’t how the news cycle works in a campaign year. We want clarity, not vague generalities or even empathy. Polarization is the inevitable result.

(Whistling noise) I can still whistle! I was worried for a moment. A world without talking points is an unbearable nightmare extended far too long for mental health. Just . And, thank the Most Abused Name, for !

Obama’s foes–in the Clinton camp and the John McCain camp–have accused him of saying people "cling" to guns and faith only because they are bitter. That’s not exactly what Obama said. He noted that people in hard-pressed areas become bitter because they see the system failing them and they cling to their belief in gun rights and/or God (as well as other beliefs, such as opposition to immigrants or gay rights). Obama obviously knows that these beliefs–the good and the bad–were already deeply held before the mill jobs disappeared. Such beliefs, though, are presumably further embraced in difficult times. And given that some of these beliefs (gun rights, opposition to abortion and gay rights) tend to cut against candidates perceived as liberals, it can make things tougher for certain Democrats. This ain’t in much dispute.

No doubt, Obama was trying to express what passes for a sophisticated point in our culture of debate-by-soundbites, yet he did so in a clunky manner that offered his opponents the chance to assert that he believes that faith and a love of guns come only out of frustration. There may be an argument for such a proposition. But I doubt Obama would accept it. As a former community organizer and longtime churchgoer (we all know that he goes to church), he hardly fits the bill as a secularist elitist. Yet the Clinton campaign pounced on these words to claim that the man whom they have already decried as not able to protect America as commander in chief is out of touch with real Americans. What a "mild" attack.

Obsidian Wings‘ publius has two sterling posts: about ; and, .

But wait, ari reveals Clinton really has.

(Oh, and !). Can you now decide for yourself?

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