Dean Barnett writes, “Several commentators have suggested that Obama’s moment of sloppy candor repeats the thesis of What’s the Matter With Kansas, and thus the book has a new lease on relevance”:
In truth, as execrable as it was, Frank’s book offered a much more tightly argued position than the one offered by the supposedly brilliant senator who has deigned to lead the American people.
Frank, a native Kansan, insisted that many poor Kansans vote against their economic interests because they’re unreasonably preoccupied with social issues. The key additional ingredient to his argument was that conservative
politicians only use social issues to cynically manipulate churchgoing rubes, and really have no interest in achieving any results on matters like abortion. Frank particularly stretched to make the latter point, at one point even stating (without any evidence of course) that Sam Brownback was once pro-choice.
Although hardly identical, Obama’s and Frank’s sentiments do share critical commonalities. Both evidence an unbecoming condescension to the American people. And both share modern liberalism’s assumption that Americans are a bunch of dullards. Perhaps no other trait has so thoroughly harmed the left at theballot box.
Anyone who has ever walked by Harvard Yard has heard the kind of condescending comments that Obama offered in San Francisco. Heck, anyone who has listened to a Michelle Obama speech has heard the same kind of contempt for the American people expressed in unequivocal terms.
If you want to find this kind of smug superiority on the left, you don’t have to look very hard. If you’re of a mind to do some field research, I recommend you tune into Bill Maher’s show on HBO next Friday night. I predict you won’t have to wait more than ten minutes before Maher and his panel of Hollywood philosophes agree on what a stupid and ignorant place America is.
Read the whole thing; elsewhere, Bill Bradley explores “The secret story of how Obama’s gaffe made its way to the Huffington Post, of all places, and how it might affect campaign coverage from now on.”
Update: Mickey Kaus makes a great point, via a comment submitted by one of his readers:
Alert emailer M wonders why Obama is applying a Tom Frank analysis–of working class voters who vote Republican–to Pennsylvania, since unlike Kansas, Pennsylvania is a blue state that “hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988.” And the most economically distressed parts of the state are the most Democratic, despite all the clinging to guns and God that’s going on. In short, Obama’s explaining something that doesn’t happen. … I suppose one answer is that Obama wasn’t explaining why Pennsylvanians wouldn’t vote for a Democrat but why they might not vote for him–a black, liberal Democrat. But Obama says he’s explaining why small-town Rustbelt voters don’t buy the idea that government can help them, which sounds an awful lot like not buying Democratic ideology generally.
It’s a false consciousness!