My take on Obama’s “bitter” comments is essentially the same as that of Matt Zeitlin: they were all true, and indeed they were the kind of thing I’d write on here, but I’d never advise a presidential candidate to utter them. Part of the appeal of Obama to me is that he’s closer to my intellectual temperament than any other major politician, but sometimes, as here, that doesn’t help him any. Moreover, the comments tacitly acknowledge that he’s more anti-protectionist than he wants to let on in advance of primaries in three states (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana) that use globalization as a scapegoat for their economic decline, which doesn’t help.
That said, the media promotion of this story is at least as, if not more, condescending than Obama’s comments themselves. The American people are smarter than we give them credit for; they know that Obama’s purpose was to sympathize with their economic status, and they’re not arrogant enough to think themselves impervious to sociological analysis. This strikes me as the kind of thing, like John Kerry’s Swiss cheesesteak, that media elites think teh common folk will be horrified about but which doesn’t end up doing a whole lot of damage. The press’ fetish with “authenticity” and the “who’d you’d like to have a bear wit” quality is truly an insult to voters, who deserve to be treated like people with substantive concerns, on the basis of which they vote, rather than fickle masses who decide who they want as president on the basis of nonsense like this.
One last thing: not only does Isaac Chotiner’s faux-outrage over the speech fit the media condescension described above to a t, it includes this gem of a Freudian slip:
Only a cynic, in other words, could doubt that Barack Obama is going to racially change Washington.
I’m going to be charitable and think that he meant “radically”. And I really, really hope that said charity is warranted.