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Some Thoughts On Senator Obama’s “Bitter” Comments

Senator Barack Obama has recently made comments that have proved controversial.

Below are the comments in question ( I’ve added two paragraphs from Senator Obama’s remarks for some context. The paragraph in the middle is what we have been hearing about–But there was more. Click here for the full remarks) —

“But — so the questions you’re most likely to get about me, ‘Well, what is this guy going to do for me? What is the concrete thing?’ What they wanna hear is so we’ll give you talking points about what we’re proposing — to close tax loopholes, uh you know uh roll back the tax cuts for the top 1%, Obama’s gonna give tax breaks to uh middle-class folks and we’re gonna provide health care for every American.

But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of 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 to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you’ll find is, is that people of every background — there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you’ll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I’d be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you’re doing what you’re doing.”

Here are my thoughts on these comments—  

1. Everyone has a crutch in life. We all turn to some type of distraction. Most are harmless. At times, when personal discipline and self-respect fail, some turn to making light of others. It is a mistake to say this is done only by people having what we call “hard times.” Life is hard for most people.  

2. The comments sting for being painfully true. We’ve all encountered people who often seem bitter. One could ask why remind folks of the obvious? Though these were comments not intended for a mass-audience.  

3. The comments miss the mark because they are generalizations. Americans have liked guns since day one. Many are religious because they simply believe–Not for any other reason. Whenever you generalize about many people, you are inevitably wrong. 

4. Can anyone deny that some working class whites over the last 40 years have voted for George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the Bushes out of racial and economic bitterness?  Maybe what some are bitter about today is having voted for George W. Bush over John Kerry and seeing what a mistake that was.

5. Who can blame many people in this society, or anywhere in the world, for being bitter? Life often sucks. Martin Luther King used to say that in a sick society it is the well-adjusted people who have a problem. Maybe the candidates should get on the case of seemingly well-adjusted people and ask what is wrong with them.   

6. Senator Obama seems in many respects a work in progress–As is the case for many thoughtful people of all ages.

This report from National Public Radio talks about Mr. Obama’s adult religious conversion. 

I feel Senator Obama is a decent person who still has some work to do on seeing himself as the equal of others and maybe not just a bit better than others. I wonder sometimes if Mr. Obama feels, to steal a term a co-worker of mine enjoys using, “too cool for school.”

7. We can’t forget that the real elitist is John McCain. Senator McCain says he now supports the Bush tax cuts for the rich, a flip-flop from his original position, and had to be politically forced to call for aid to struggling homeowners. Mr. McCain is the one out of touch with the needs and lives of the American people.     

8. Even if Senator Obama’s comments seem blunt, none of the three remaining candidates are telling Americans the full hard truths about Iraq, climate change, or the impact of the global economy on our future standards of living.

I feel Senator Obama offers the best chance for meaningful discussion as a first step, and meaningful action as the second step, towards solutions to our most pressing problems. 

Mr. Obama is the remaining candidate most likely to tell Americans the truth about the problems ahead. He is the one most likely to offer the right mix of ideology, willingness to listen to different types of people, and intellectual flexibility to help find answers to these problems.

Please click here for Senator Obama’s campaign web page.

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Pictures From Houston’s New Discovery Green Park


Today the wife and I visited the new Discovery Green Park in Downtown Houston.

You can go to this park by yourself if you don’t have a significant other.

Or maybe you just like time alone.

Above you see a picture of the pond in the park.

The city plans to stock the pond with alligators.

Discovery Green is an excellent park.

At the opening day events today, there were many people of all ages and colors.

The more inclusive something is, the better it is.  

Unless it is a flu epidemic we are discussing.

Below you see a picture of gardens in the park.

It is nice to look at a pond and it is nice to walk around gardens.

The garden is in both sun and shade because of the tilt of the Earth and our orbit around the sun.

We can’t forget the big picture. 

Learn more about this park by clicking here.

Or go see for yourself if you live in Houston or near Houston or are visiting Houston.   

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , | 2 Comments