Obama's Mistake

There is an episode of “The West Wing,” I think from season 3, where there’s an exchange something like this: “Why is this such a big deal?” “Because it’s the classic Washington mistake: he accidentally told the truth.”

No, I am certainly no supporter of Obama. But I think the WSWS analysis that I linked to on the sidebar is spot on–he’s in trouble because a little piece of truth accidentally slipped out. This does nothing to raise my opinion of him, but the flap created by it is certainly another confirmation of what we all knew about US politics.

There are probably more conclusions one could draw from this. Call this thread an invitation for anyone who feels like drawing conclusions.

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0 thoughts on “Obama's Mistake”

  1. Wow, thanks for the link. I hadn’t actually read what he said before.

    Ouch. Doesn’t he know he’s meant to be vague and noncommittal about everything?

    Do you agree with his statement?

    Just curious. Having lived in a small town in Pennsylvania growing up 20 years ago or so… I was there when things started falling apart.

    Having driven back through there recently after those 20 years being absent… it was frightening to me to see that many of the once flourishing areas are now basically slums. White, lower class or lower middle class slums.

    I’ve always wondered if a large portion of that class of Americans even realise that they’re just above poverty level and basically living in slums.

  2. I pretty much agree with what he said; I certainly do not think he has the least intention of doing anything about it, with the exception of exploiting it to win an election if he can do so without alienating Wall Street.

  3. Yes. Exactly the same thing as with his straight talk about race. For all the polling claiming the electorate values integrity, the majority rebels viciously against being told the truth.

    The decision for the aware, responsible citizen is whose bullshit will do the least harm. Advocating revolution is all very well, but until and unless it comes, we have to live in the world we have whilst building the world we want.

  4. I actually agree with him about parts of his statement. Other parts, not so much.

    Obama did what all politicians do, they make blanket assumptions about a group of people and why they think the way they do. Poverty alone does not define one’s philosophy/political viewpoint.

    However, even with his clarification statement, he still seemingly fails to realize that even poor unemployed people might have valid, well thought out reasons why they might oppose his views on immigration and trade policies.

    Part of governing people is understanding that people in different circumstances have differing realities on what constitutes good policy. Obama is in danger of going down the same elitist “people who don’t agree with me are thinking wrong” road that sunk John Kerry.

    He’s failing Diversity 101 currently by making such assumptions about a group of people.

  5. Mark @ 3: “the majority rebels viciously against being told the truth.” That seems like quite a leap to make. It’s clear that the media are jumping all over this, it is much less clear that “the majority” has any problem with it.

  6. I think this is highlighting a different, but equally important (if more subtle) issue; the growing inability of the “masses” to hear plain speech, or at least the growing unwillingness of the media and our leaders to use it.

    Problems are hard to fix when they can’t be clearly described or discussed.

  7. Some of this might come down to the fact that there are too many different definitions of “truth”.
    It is very hard to take your own needs/desires etc. out of the equation when evaluating what is real. Both parties can look at a situation, and see totally different scenarios. It is not possible in this party system that we have now to get a leader that doesn’t have his own axe to grind, because to get there, you have too pull in to much help.
    I don’t believe that most of the country is REALLY for any of the 3 losers that we ultimately have to choose from. It’s just that we aren’t really given a choice.
    Then there’s all the conspiracy stuff out there that renders our ability to comprehend the truth nigh impossible.
    To quote the Joker, “Who do you trust?”

  8. I think that his comments are interesting and somewhat refreshing. To hear a candidate for a political office state his views so clearly (whether or not I agree with them) is a positive sign in the political arena.

  9. Despite what everyone says what the average person wants is pretty much for tomorrow to be just like today. People will claim they want change but what they really want and need is stability.

    The whole reason communites and governments are set up is to insure stability. We don’t want change we want things changed BACK ie back to when we were at peace and relatively prosperous.

  10. Why some people might become upset is that oftentimes a certain type of people want to label anyone who has a belief in god, or believes that it is important for the people to retain the right to bear arms, or who feels that abortion is wrong is some sort of uneducated backwoods illiterate hick. Are there some people who think these things merely because they were raised that way? Sure. Are there some people who like to throw out labels like “reactionary” and “bourgeois” every chance they get because they feel that it enhances their pseudo-intellectual socialist pontificating? Absolutely. Until a revolution comes, we are most often left with which candidate will do the least harm. And I’m in no hurry for the purges, so I will cheerfully vote for Obama. He has to at least pay lip service to helping working class people.

  11. The WSWS’s take on this is kind of refreshingly funny. Hellooooo….

    Alienation is a pretty nearly universal reality. “Locke supplanted Habbakuk” so completely that we don’t even know it. Rulings ideas of any age, and so forth.

    While it’s so much more comfortable to be alienated when one needn’t worry even the least smidgen about providing for one’s continued existence (rent, food), the essential condition is unchanged. We are our own jailers, with no organic intellectuals in sight.

    As to what Obama has said — not just about class but also race/class — it would appear to owe more to Saul Alinsky and self-reflection than to any ideology per se. And that, I argue, is a good thing.

    The system is so out of whack now that an enlightened and fully self-interested master of capital would be a damn sight better than a bumbling fool of any ideology. At the present stage of politics, one can only hope one gets a shot at choosing someone who turns out to be the former.

  12. It is nice to see someone telling the truth for once.

    A week or so ago, one of the Dems (I think Clinton, but I am not sure) prepared a commercial advocating doing something to protect people having their mortgages foreclosed. Immediately McCain made a commercial saying that she (or he) was planning to do this with your taxes. I would have immediately responded by admitting that was true—if you were earning more than $200,000, but not if you were ordinary middle (not to mention lower class). I would further make an attack campaign on McCain, asking if you were better off then you were 8 years ago. And if not, why would you support a candidate whose main compaign promises were more of the same: endless war (to be paid for by mortgaging our children and grandchildren), make the tax cuts for the rich permanent, and balance the budget (which has to imply ending all social programs).

    Oh where is Harry S, now that we really need him?

  13. It’s worth remembering that Obama was an Alinsky trained community organizer … class is not an alien concept to him. I’m not saying he’s lining up to bring socialist salvation but I find that interesting and potentially more promising than the usual candidate. The more I follow his campaign – and since I have the opportunity to speak with them at times – the more I am impressed at the potential of the movement he’s chosen to use as his campaign model.

    For the folks who made comments about the “people” not being able to hear truth – quite the contrary. Obama’s numbers in PA rose after this was leaked and his national numbers climbed as well.

    Perhaps – and since I’ve been disillusioned ever since LBJ reneged on his promise to “bring the boys home” I hesitate to even say this – but perhaps the “people” are quite ready to hear and speak truth … and in Obama we may have a candidate who will say a few sentences of same.

    Not enough – not even close to enough – but a whisper of hope.

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