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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The "Bitter" Lie!

On Spinning Being “Bitter” and Elite?: What will they think of next????
Robert Newby
Central Michigan University

Friday evening there was a story that merited the status of “Breaking News” about Obama having stumbled by saying that people in small town America who are being squeezed economically as being “bitter” and linking that bitterness to God, guns, and tolerance. While there is validity to his comments, the mainstream spin doctors, seeking every possible distortion as a headline, jumped on this accusing Barack of labeling or stereotyping. This was a case of “misspeak,” though not in the class of dodging machine gun fire flying into Tuzla. The Huffington Post “reporter” who did the taping knew herself that this was little more than a case of “gotcha.” She debated whether or not to report this. Nonetheless she felt compelled to do so because of “professionalism.” Unfortunately, much of the media is little more than gotcha. It is the nature of the profession.

This “misspeak” is at the core of the current media attack on Barack. They have determined that the central issue of the race will be Obama, himself not the issues. Barack Obama, this African American, is to be made the campaign issue by the use of white nationalism. Regardless of the intent of his message of unity and the blurring of divisions, the conventional wisdoms of the constructed realities of the past two and a half decades has been to justify a status quo that has been divisive and mean-spirited. It is this conventional wisdom that is comfortable with a Hillary or a John McClain. It is this same conventional wisdom that had accepted the inevitability of the Clinton candidacy and is now befuddled by Barack’s success. These pundits remain tenacious as they struggle to maintain their credibility and legitimacy of the world they construct. They see this “bitter” event as Obama’s downfall.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Lou Dobbs program on Friday (4/11/08) centered on Obama’s “bitter” comment with possibility of dooming Barack’s campaign. Bill Schneider argued that Obama was going to have to “explain himself.” By this time the report had been reduced to labeling, not an expression of how people feel when they are being assaulted by the nation’s economic policies, including globalization. The problem is that these shapers of our knowledge are in a time warp. The American body politic has moved beyond them. This just another case showing a desperation in their declining ability to define our realities for us.

While it’s only a small indicator, that Lou Dobbs show including Bill Schneider, did not convince many viewers. The viewers’ question for that date was:

“Do you believe that Senator Barack Obama's comments reveal his elitist attitude toward every hardworking American?”

The response of the poll was a resounding “No” at 54%. Note that this was a Lou Dobbs poll. The people know they are hurting. The people know what he was trying to say. Rowland Martin on that Lou Dobbs show has been the most honest and clear about what Obama was saying by combating the “corporate” spin. Robert Shrum, a Democratic strategist, on “Meet the Press,” like Martin, cautioned about making this “slip” into some ideological statement. The validity of Obama’s overall message about how “rank and file” Americans feel about the hand they have been dealt by the far right policies of the Bush administration and the “Reagan Revolution” is being revealed for the distortion that it really is, and that includes “middle Americans” who have been the among the biggest victims of conservatism.

One of these pundits queried whether or not this was Obama’s his “Macaka moment.” Is it possible that an observation of reality can be turned into a racist slur? Barack has proved them wrong time after time. He will prove them wrong on this. He is connecting with the American people. He knows that many people are bitter as they should be about a government that is more dedicated to sowing racial division than solving America’s problems. Surely, the so-called Reagan Democrats have learned their lesson will no longer be duped that civil rights is their enemy. It has been the “Reagan Revolution” that has undermined the power of their unions.

They tried Jeremiah Wright. That didn’t work. The Pew Research Center shows that the “Jeremiah Wright Controversy” so to speak is a thing of the past. (See: “The Wright Thermometer” on blog left column) Fox News, in particular, followed closely by Lou Dobbs and Anderson Cooper, tried to make Jeremiah Wright the candidate for president, not Barack Obama. While this attack will be exploited more viciously by the Lee Atwater, Karl Rove Republican party in the general election, the people know the difference between distractions and the possibility for change that is embodied in candidacy Barack Obama for President of the United States. Even America’s Black Patriot numero uno, Colin Powell, has spoken of Jeremiah Wright with respect.

Barack Obama the Elitist? Give me a break!!! Barack Obama an elitist!! What kind of spin is that? This is an African American who was a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. An elitist? What they really mean is “uppity.” It is likely that the income for last year of his opponent, the Clintons, was more than Barack and Michele have made in their lifetime. What these pundits are saying is that Obama does not know his place. How dare he? How dare he, of all people, have the audacity to say that America is not perfect, and that all Americans are not cheerleaders for this right-wing hegemony? Who is he to say that some Americans are bitter and that the Republicans have exploited their bitterness using the divisive issues of God, guns, and intolerance? Obama’s message is that we must get beyond these divisions. This is a case of the white nationalists having had their tactics exposed. It was supposed to be a secret. Ironically, this is a case of the pot calling the skillet black.

In the same way that the people have seen past the exploitation of white nationalism by Fox News and their supplicants on the Reverend Jeremiah Wright issue, people now see that Obama is the real deal. These “bitter” and “elitist” tags will have no staying power. Hillary brings a lot baggage. The Clintons’ “wars” of the first administration will find those same warriors waiting in the wings. Which Richard Mellon-Scaife will show up? The one who funded the Paula Jones “vast right-wing conspiracy” case? Or the one to whom Hillary so ingratiated herself as she sought his endorsement in his right-wing Pittsburgh Tribune-Review? She sold her dignity. The Republicans want to run against her. It’s not just Rush Limbaugh who wants her as the Democratic candidate. Except for the consideration of which party will control the next Supreme Court appointments, a nomination of Clinton would be no more than a return to the politics of old and a continuation of the recent two-family rule of the last two decades. What is needed is a change from that politics. What is needed is a new politics. The Obama movement represents a new politics.

The nation is seeking an alternative to an illegal and ill-moral war for which there is no end in sight. The nation is seeking an alternative to what is likely to go down in history as one of the worst administrations in history and certainly the worse by far in my lifetime and that includes Richard Nixon. The nation is seeking an alternative to the divisive politics of the white nationalism of the Reagan Revolution. As Barack has stated, now is the time for another transformation. It is Barack Obama who represents this opportunity for transformation. Obama is about change. Obama represents a hope for a new America.
An Obama presidency will change the face of America. An Obama presidency will change how Americans view America and how the world views America. It will be a new America. The mission of the Justice department will change, as will the missions of every other federal agency. It won’t be utopia but it will be different. As opposed to what John Dean has referred to as an “authoritarian conservative regime,” democracy will be restored and a voice of the people will be in the White House.

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