Guns and God: A Bitter Brew

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Last week, at a private fund raiser in San Francisco, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) made this remark:

You go into 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.

Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John McCain (R-AZ) couldn't have asked for better fodder. Obama is out of touch with most of America, they said. It was great grist for pundits, bloggers, and editorialists, too. "Senator Obama has had a mostly charmed Presidential run," The Wall Street Journal read, "But the truth is there's much that Americans still don't know about him or what he believes."

What have we learned from what Obama said? For one, there is no privacy on the campaign trail. A private fund raiser, closed to the press? Fuhgeddaboudit. His comments raised some questions. Is he right? Should he have said what he said? How long will it take for him to recover?

In the first hour, we want to hear from the voters Obama described. If you're gun-totin' and God-fearing, are you bitter? How did you react to what he said?

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I understood what Senator Obama meant, I am 59 years old, struggling to survive on a 30 hour per week, $8.00 an hour job. At one time, my annual income exceeded $40,000. My faith in the Lord is seeing me through this troubled time. Senator Obama's speech on this and the racial divide in this country have solidified my choice for promoting him as our next president.

Sent by Jan Hawkins | 2:09 PM | 4-14-2008

I am an Obama supporter. What he said is a FACT: Many politicians know there are the homeless, and then there are the people who make six figures a year (or more). Apparently many politicians think there's no in-between! The recent economic down-turn isn't the start of the problem, many of us have been struggling for YEARS. And yes, people are bitter, and yes, a lot of those people lash out at whatever they can. We feel like we have been totally ignored by our own government! The only way we even register as a statistic is if we???re collecting unemployment! The "working poor" have absolutely no voice.. until Obama.

Sent by Kelly L Creighton | 2:12 PM | 4-14-2008

Seems to me that this falls under the heading of an unpleasant truth that's not exactly PC in nature. Out here in the real world we all talk like this and we all know that what Obama said is true. People are deeply concerned and, to my mind, if they're not concerned then they aren't paying attention.

Sent by Mike Little | 2:12 PM | 4-14-2008

Hi. I live in a smaller town north east indiana town surrounded by very rural communities. I see that some people are bitter, yet some of the activities described by Obama are cultural, normal activities that are not driven by bitterness. I have a blue collar brother in law who has been out of work for close to a year and is losing his home. He is bitter about the govt in general who is fed up with politicians in general.

Sent by Ali | 2:13 PM | 4-14-2008

I grew up in a Democratic, blue-collar family in the Midwest and find quite realistic Barak Obama's comment that such voters are "bitter" because they have been overlooked economically.

If John McCain had said such a thing, his remarks would be called "straight talk."

Sent by Carol Holzgrafe | 2:15 PM | 4-14-2008

What exactly is the definition of "Working Class" anyway?

Sent by Steve Polignano | 2:19 PM | 4-14-2008

I come from a small town that is much like what Obama was describing. I left to find a better life and, with the help of a college education, I did. I have family who stayed behind, all go to church and all own guns. Only some of them, however, would I describe as clinging to guns and religion. I don't think it would be fair if Obama said that everyone who does those things does so because they're bitter, but I do think that some people -- those who continue to vote against their own best interest because they're choosing candidates based on their opinion of the book of Genisis -- can be fairly described as irrationally clinging to something. I swear some of them think the most important issue facing the nation is what language they overhear being spoken at a garage sale. It saddens me.

Sent by Diane | 2:21 PM | 4-14-2008

One of Obama's problems on this score is his need to use 'polite' language that doesn't accurately reflect how angry, frustrated and 'pissed off' we actually are. We 'cling'(hold on for dear life) to those things we still have since we have no trust that 'the powers that be' won't destroy them too. Yes, we are bitter; yes, we are angry. We don't like having to give up our home towns, our lifestyles and our extended families for the chance to play in a 'rigged game'. If Obama is committed to un-fix the game, he has my vote!
(He isn't waging class warfare; he just reporting the score!)

Sent by Terry Peck | 2:22 PM | 4-14-2008

I've lived in a small town my whole life. I've worked in manufacturing my whole adult life. The liberals want to help the poor, the republicans want to help the corporations. In the end, I vote republican because what's good for business is good for me. Hillary and Obama want only to take from me. They want my 2nd amendment. They want me to pay for poor peoples health care. They want me to pay for other peoples retirement, all under the guise of "taxing the rich." Because I own my own house, and pay my bills on time, I fall into their category of rich.

Sent by John | 2:23 PM | 4-14-2008

This reminds me of the Bush/Gore 2000 election when we were shockingly asked in a poll "Who would you rather have a beer with?" My feeling is that the president should be smarter and better connected than I am, and if that involves a bit of elitism, then so be it.

Sent by Tom Johnson | 2:23 PM | 4-14-2008

It is a mischaracterization of Obama's remarks to say that they are about working class voters. They are in fact about politicians and the failed politics of the last 20 years or more. The reference to voters is just a way of illustrating the results of our failing political system.

Sent by dave | 2:24 PM | 4-14-2008

Obama is absolutely right. As a victim of this administration's mis-management of the economy I am both bitter and angry. Obama is NOT out of touch, it's those who don't recognize just how bitter and angry average American is about the current state of the economy who are out of touch.

Sent by James D Ballotti | 2:25 PM | 4-14-2008

I agree with the gist of Obama's comments, but he should not have said them if he wants to be elected. If you allow this stereotype you must allow most of the others about race and status.

This is a country where the stereotype is a no go. It is a foolish mode of thought, because stereotypes are used all the time in other areas without hiccups. What matters about a stereotype is how you use it and what you do with the information, not that they exist.

Sent by Scott Millar | 2:25 PM | 4-14-2008

Obama is absolutely right. As a victim of this administration's mis-management of the economy I am both bitter and angry. Obama is NOT out of touch, it's those who don't recognize just how bitter and angry average American is about the current state of the economy who are out of touch.

Sent by James D Ballotti | 2:25 PM | 4-14-2008

I live in the middle of "Small Town America" and Senator Obama is right on the mark. Many people are highly religious, gun loving, racist, suspicious of anyone different; with little trust in the government or interest in the political process - and yes sometimes bitter.

Sent by susjua | 2:26 PM | 4-14-2008

Obama is absolutely right. As a victim of this administration's mis-management of the economy I am both bitter and angry. Obama is NOT out of touch, it's those who don't recognize just how bitter and angry average American is about the current state of the economy who are out of touch.

Sent by James D Ballotti | 2:26 PM | 4-14-2008

I suggest that poor and middle class people who vote against their economic interests are, ironically,also voting against their core values. Surely, "the family" that all of us want to support is better off with good jobs, good benefits, and good pay. All other values that are important to that family are easier to support if you have a steady, good-paying job.

Sent by Steve Sullivan | 2:28 PM | 4-14-2008

I'm a blue collar worker although I have to admit that at 54 years old I have one of the old style blue collar union jobs that pays well and has good benefits. I'm happy. I wouldn't say that I'm bitter but I am angry. I'm angry at a war that goes on and on with no end in sight. I want an end to the war. I'm angry about the woeful state of education in our country and I want to see the Federal government fix the problem. I'm angry about he health care situation for people not as fortunate as me. I personally think Obama is the best person to fix these problems. You asked about issues and the aforementioned issues are what are important to this blue collar worker. BTW, I am literally a blue collar worker in sky blue shirt and navy blue pants as my uniform.

Sent by Keith Hood | 2:29 PM | 4-14-2008

Obama's comments hurt many of the working class, because it was made in front of an elitist crowd rather than the working class themselves. It seems like he was talking behind their backs. No matter how good his intentions were the delivery was very suspect.

Sent by Anu | 2:33 PM | 4-14-2008

Obama's correct. Middle class voters have been looking for someone who understands their problems since Reagan his Reaganomics. I grew up in the midwest graduating from high school in 1975. As an outsider was expressing what he has seen and heard to a group of people who are completely out of touch with the middle class. He's our messenger.

Sent by Steve B | 2:37 PM | 4-14-2008

Hello, I am a 23 year old social worker in New Hampshire. I just wanted to say that not only were Senator Obama's comments a correct and honest assessment, but that he did not go far enough. To those people wearing "I'm not bitter" tags I would say what are you thinking? Have you ever even watched a congressional hearing? If you are not bitter or at least frustrated with our government and its lack of progress and efficiency than you are either really dumb, have had the wool pulled over your eyes, or are one of the lucky few who are actually profiting from all the bumbling idiocy you find in Washington DC. It is time we open our eyes and try to understand that honesty and integrity are much more important than a long history of votes (and a long history of lies).

I also would like to add that I support religious freedom and gun rights, and the right of any person to think these are more important issues than the economy. I was not however offended by the senator's comments.
One last point I would like to give is that every time I speak to an older person than myself they almost always seem cynical and to believe that our government and its politicians will never really help them. While my generation almost always seems hopeful or at least willing to imagine a politician who would NOT lie to them and who would try to fight for a better America. As the votes have shown these hopeful youth are voting for Obama, and the skeptical elders are voting for Clinton. Perhaps Obama should have just said he is the candidate for those who have hope, and if you have no hope for our government then vote for Clinton.

Obviously I leave out McCain who I actually think is the second best choice because he at least is not a liar. He is going to screw things up like Bush did, but he is very upfront about that plan.

Sent by Dan Westervelt | 2:38 PM | 4-14-2008

I think that the discussions leave out the fact that Obama said that small town communities are made up of bigots: "they get bitter, they cling to... antipathy to people who aren't like them...." I want to know if that is what he really thinks and, if not, why he said it.

Sent by Susan | 2:42 PM | 4-14-2008

I don't think it's the "bitter" remark that's the problem. The problem is that Obama seemed to say that people cling to religion and guns out of bitterness at their circumstances. That demeans religion and gun owners (I'm neither). It's at odds with his efforts to bring people together, and seemed to reflect his true feelings, as opposed to his "public" rhetoric.

Sent by Ann Broadwell | 2:45 PM | 4-14-2008

My God, so Obama told the truth. Lots of us are bitter, and we do turn to those traditions we grow up with. Compared to a President who can't even put a full sentence together with proper english, or without starting a war, I'd gladly accept a president who might actually be smarter than me. It's not about talking down or arrogance and if we continue to nit- pick, what we end up with and deserve is just more " Rose garden strategies" where we can't see or hear honest discourse. He never said "uneducated or stupid", but some people due to their ridiculous comments might actually feel that way

Sent by Paul Mandell | 2:46 PM | 4-14-2008

I live in metropolitan St Louis. I recently learned that my job of 30 years at Western Union is being outsourced. I am bitter.

Sent by Carol | 2:46 PM | 4-14-2008

Quite honestly, I think that all this talk of how Blue Collar/Working Class people are voting "against their economic interests" is in itself a rather elitest, leftist assumption. For one thing, we can have a serious debate over what would be best for them economically. But secondly, the economy is not the only issue in this election, nor in politics in general. Many people who are so quickly considered Working Class also have profound concerns about the "values" issues. Are Democrats suggesting that if these voters were really "smart," then they would suspend all of those concerns (abortion, gay marriage, etc.) to cross over and vote solely on the basis of their pocketbooks? This assumption is just as demeaning and condescending as the remarks by Obama.

Sent by Walter L. Taylor | 2:53 PM | 4-14-2008

I find it interesting that Barack Obama criticizes those who would vote against their economic interest. It's my understanding that his supporters tend to be more affluent, like my family. We have definitely benefited from the current tax "cuts," although since we are both self-employed, our taxes are still sky-high. Mr. Obama has made it quite clear that he intends to eliminate current cuts and raise taxes on wealthier Americans.

At this point, I plan to vote for Mr. Obama. However, I harbor no illusions that it will be in my economic interest. I feel confident that, should he win and the Democrats retain control of Congress, my taxes will increase significantly. I'm trying to make sure that I vote in what I see as the COUNTRY's best interest. It will be painful.

It doesn't help that "my" candidate feels that voting against your self interest is silly.

Sent by Julie Wood | 2:54 PM | 4-14-2008

What is in a gaffe if it is the truth? Doe we fail to recognize our weakness in retribution for feeling offended, when the offense is out of place?

I do recognize as a working family in the poverty middle class knowing what B.O. has stated as being the truth/

Why do we continue the feel above the fray and feel offended when some-one as an intellectual presidential candidate who exactly understands what is going on as a former community organizer. Would we perhaps prefer an Archie Bunker to become president to understand the poverty class; we must rise above this and rise to the occasion in changing what has gone wrong for decades in politics and the loss of middle America, where the government has failed to spring the leak when "old" jobs were in the process of leaving overseas, by not replacing them with "new" jobs to fill the blank that exists now... Green jobs would be a great substitute with schools realigning their curriculum right now to redirect the knowledge towards wind, solar, air and everything that exist there and reserve the harmful brain washing politics of oil that have led us in the situation we are right now.
Amen for B.O. to facing the truth.

Thank you for facing courage and adversity in the face. His education program is one tool to reverse the ill-will of ignorance and phobias.

Sent by JanWN | 2:57 PM | 4-14-2008

I'm from a small town in PA. I don't think Obama could've been more right. People are unemployed and struggling. That's just the way it goes.

Sent by Jeremy Dale Heisey | 2:57 PM | 4-14-2008

Sometimes saying something has been taken out of context is the refuge of politicians who are trying to run away from what they have genuinely said. However in this case (i.e. Obama's supposedly 'elitist' statements about the 'working class') it is clear to anyone - who bothers to hear the complete context for the comments - that it was anything but elitist and was in fact saying something everyone knows is largely true. The false 'frenzy' built up around it by the Clinton camp (with the help of the media, who love controversy of any kind) is just desperation to try to blacken his stature in any way possible. Nowadays, many people are unwilling to talk about issues, such as those raised by Obama, in case they will be hit with charges of political incorrectness or see their words and intent eagerly distorted by opponents and ultimately sensationalised with not effort at accuracy by corporate controlled media coverage. One Talk of the Nation caller said he doesn't like the way the working class (whoever that may be these days) are referred to as 'they'. Just how censored does our public language have to become to be acceptable? And why couldn't 'liberals' be equally upset about the way they have been ridiculed and deliberately and constantly misrepresented as 'they' by the Republican right wing for over two decades? We know the outcome of that mud starting to stick - eight years of George W Bush, a war without end, and a near bankrupt economy and the deferral once more of universal health care and a host of other fundamentally vital American reforms.

Sent by Tom Dixon | 3:09 PM | 4-14-2008

How is Obama a voice for the working poor when he spends $10,000 a year to send his 2 girls to dance classes??? That is about what the average working family might spend a year to pay rent or a mortgage!!!

Y'all have all stated that you are Obama supporters for various reasons. We submit that the 3 of them have no idea what its like to be poor as they havent been poor or struggling for years!!!

This is a question of who is going to do the less harm after all the harm that Bush has caused for the past 7 plus years.

We have a college degree but we too have done blue collar work all our life. The work is going to illegals and we do work that cant be outsourced as the laws are not enforced so that citizens and legal residents have the work first. This is the type of work that all of us did to supplement our income or add some extras. It was acceptable with Clinton as the economy was great but under Bush; its no longer acceptable that average working families who have the legal right to be here can no longer afford to be here. These illegals not only take work that we can easily do in construction; landscaping; etc that pay well (some with benefits) but also use our schools to educate their kids (who under an arcane law are citizens if they were born here); and also our healthcare systems so that those of us who need it; cant get it without running up a huge bill that we cant pay.

Lets add in the massive amounts of debts we are leaving for future generations and this country isnt affordable to anyone except the rich; the same rich who can afford to run for office. Obama is a fad. Who knows if he will help the average person as he has no tract record of doing so. Clinton has a tract record of helping the average person. McCain well; he is out of touch with reality on his stand on the economy and the war. Our main problem with all 3 of them is thier plans to help all the illegals become citizens or at least a pathway to citizenship as if a green card was a candy bar given to anyone who asks for one. This is going to add more trillions to the national debt and hurt SS and medicare for the people who need it.

We need to have a none of the above for President and we bet you $10 that it would win by a landslide!!! Too bad its not legal to have it on the ballot. We heard on NPR that people were eating their ballots in Italy as a protest. Wonder how our ballots would taste like???

Sent by jm fay | 3:12 PM | 4-14-2008

How ironic many of the comments are in agreement with the stereotypes made by Mr. Obama, including mine. Yet if these criticisms were about another minority group and they were perceived valid, they would probably not be discussed on air and you would most likely edit them from the post. Just last week I posted criticisms about some of Mr. Dunn's statements which must have been denied posting as they don't appear. What a messy hypocritical form of discourse we engage in! How will anything ever change when we can't even discuss basic errors in thinking - even on NPR.

Perhaps ideas in my posts are invalid, how will I even find out if I am being subjective and ignorant, if no one can read them and possibly respond?

Sent by Scott Millar | 3:13 PM | 4-14-2008

Sometimes saying something has been taken out of context is the refuge of politicians who are trying to run away from what they have genuinely said. However in this case (i.e. Obama's supposedly 'elitist' and 'bitter'statements about the blue collar workers & the 'working class') it is clear to anyone - who bothers to hear the complete context for the comments - that it was anything but elitist and was in fact saying something everyone knows is largely true. The false 'frenzy' built up around it by the Clinton camp (with the help of the media, who love controversy of any kind) is just desperation to try to blacken his stature in any way possible. Nowadays, many people are unwilling to talk about issues, such as those raised by Obama, in case they will be hit with charges of political incorrectness or see their words and intent eagerly distorted by opponents and ultimately sensationalized - with no effort at accuracy - by corporate controlled media coverage. One Talk of the Nation caller said he doesn't like the way the working class (whoever that may be these days) are referred to as 'they'. Just how censored does our public language have to become to be acceptable? And why couldn't 'liberals' be equally upset about the way they have been ridiculed and deliberately and constantly misrepresented as 'they' by the Republican right wing for over two decades? We know the outcomes of that mud sticking (without challenge) - eight years of George W Bush, a war without end, and a near bankrupt economy and the deferral once more of universal health care and a host of other fundamentally vital American reforms.

Sent by Tom Dixon | 3:19 PM | 4-14-2008

It was nice of the Obama campaign to provide you with a couple apologists in Texeira and Salam to tell us what Obama "meant" to say and why we shouldn't take the great orator's words at face value when they don't work to his favor. All anyone talks about is the "guns and God" quote. The bigger issue to me was Obama's suggestion that people suffering economic distress tend to become xenophobic and racist. Huh?!! Oh and for whichever one of your condescending guests it was that pronounced us "undeserving" of Obama, screw you. Frankly, it's Obama's job to earn my vote, and thusfar he's done little to "deserve" it. Another sickeningly fawning performance by Media for Obama.

Sent by Jim Jordan | 3:26 PM | 4-14-2008

In (ab)using B.O.'s comment on bitterness feelings is acting like a carpetbagger (from Arkansas) who moved to New York to pretend they (she/he) are in touch with the folks in PA. What a misgiving... the attempt of using the concept to deceive the people in PA is not conducive to bridging the gap between people that have been pitted against each other ever since we've had a President who stated: "If you are not with us, you are against us." Frankly it does not bear well for Senator Clinton to once again show another face of herself (one of many) to attempt to derail someone who is on message to save America from itself. The Clintons are proving once more that such politics are no longer desirable, needed or wanted.

Poverty stricken America is facing hard times and if we do not recognize it in ourselves, how can we save ourselves from it? Please recognize the truth and let's all face up to it to reverse the damage that have been done from decades of dependency of oil and all those that have invested our future into it. We reaalllly need change, and B.O. is our best chance yet.

Sent by JanWN | 3:26 PM | 4-14-2008

To Dan:
We too were 23 once with lots of hope for the future. Now we know the reality of trying to fix anything when enough people do not have the best interests of the country in mind to do so.

How many of our lawmakers think about who elects them ; who contributes to their campaigns; who they need on their side to get re elected when they do anything in Congress??? Do you really think if Obama gets in; he has any hope of fixing anything?

We live in CO where we had a change 4 years ago from the GOP who controlled our legislature and the Governor to a Democractic legislature with a Governor who changed to Dem in 2006. That is when we first saw things done for the people of CO and not for the special intersts. That is what we need in Congress but we wont get it until enough of them start making hard choices; paying the national debt off; enforcing existing laws and in general making things better for the majority over the interests of the very few. That is the reality of the election this year and we do agree its an important one but doubt anyone who gets in is really going to make a difference until the system is reformed (and how likely is that???)

Sent by jm fay | 3:33 PM | 4-14-2008

Hi, Neal.

What a good discussion you had this mornin. However, I have to wonder why this particular comment on Obama's part is receiving so much attention.

Don't politicians and pundits routinely talk about groups in general terms--the "black vote," the "women's vote," the "Latino vote," the "youth vote," as if we all fit into some perfectly defined category with predictable, immutable characteristics?

I also wonder whether male politicians and pundits ever think about how we single mothers felt when we were being blamed for the bad economy during the first Bush, and then the early Clinton, administrations?

And has anyone wondered how we "older women" feel when we're being pop-analyzed for our presumed reactions to Hillary's "emotion" in New Hampshire, and then for being Hillary voters because WE are "bitter"?

As a 59-year-old single mom, I'm neither bitter nor a Hillary supporter. And, darn it, I wasn't, and still am not, responsible for the ills of the economy.

Thanks for listening.

Sent by Barbara Jensen | 3:34 PM | 4-14-2008

Please see that the Clinton crowd gets these entries. Everyone I know is "bitter" and frustrated with the government and politics in general. Obama said nothing disparaging, only the truth. And whether one turns to religion or guns has nothing to do with it. People deal with it the best way they can, whatever helps...hopefully not guns.

Sent by Mary McGowen | 3:44 PM | 4-14-2008

Wow! I have read most of the comments and it evident that Obama has touched many people of all race, age, economic status, etc. We are all Americans (mutts) with individual needs and concerns; we will be united by a mutt (Obama) who wants to destroy the power of lobbyists and huge cooperations and return the power to the American people. Fight the power.
Hillary Clinton and John McCain will "cling" to the past because that is where their power lies...
Obama all the way!

Sent by Kristopher W. Gilles | 4:18 PM | 4-14-2008

Well, NPR seems your acronym should stand for National Public Relations (for Obama.) How many comments did you sift through (including mine) to arrive at the glorifying Obamamessiah ones above? Shame on you for being so obviously bias. You and the rest of the media have been a misogynistic disgrace during this campaign.

Sent by Leigh Bradley | 3:25 PM | 4-15-2008

Yes - it's true. People are angry and bitter! And yes, in that mood, yes, we want to cling to hate or religious superiority or alcohol or lots of other unhelpful things. But the Senator recognizes that as well as the better parts of ourselves and and the better options we can have for ourselves. Every better part of me affirms that Senator Obama has the integrity and thoughtfulness that I believe we need and want and deserve in the next President of the United States! I just hope enough people in PA and elsewhere will take their faith in Obama to the ballot box.

Sent by Elizabeth Talian | 7:04 PM | 4-15-2008

First, Senitor Obama may have descended from common roots, but don't forget, he owns a million dollar home in Chicago, went to college and law school at an elite institution that only a small segment of the population are allowed, and is a senator. Maybe just a little out of touch with the common man.
The religion comment: As a Christian who considers himself a man of faith, the statement was a slap in the face and showed me that he knows little about the reality of faith. My faith, and I hope that of the majority, is an integral part of my life and being. Faith is a deep relationship with God and no way just related to bitterness. People with faith can be bitter, sweet, rich, poor, yellow, brown, black,white and maybe even green. Faith helps you with all decisions as you traverse the hills and valleys of life and is not just connected to bitterness.
Guns: The vast majority of guns in rural areas of this country are owned by good, law abiding citizens for sport and recreation. How dare anyone say that hunting and sport shooting are tied to bitterness from jobs going over seas. After all, wasn't the North American Free Trade Agreement a product of the Clinton administration. I am a Steel Worker and the only one I remember helping us fight dumping was the current administration back about 6 or 7 years ago.
Immigrants, or as the senator termed it "antipathy to people who aren't like them".: To preface my comment I want to say I had grand parents from Sweden and Germany and have a daughter-in-law who is a naturalized US citizen born in Peru. I am in no way against legal immigrants, only those here illegally. I think the press and politicians have done a great disservice to our countries people by fitting all immigrants into one box. Now if you say anything about illegal immigrants, you are automatically dubbed 'against immigration'. The immigration issue, as far as I can see is a rule-of-law issue. Both democratic candidates are Lawyers. Shouldn't they, of all people, put obeying the law in high regard. Again, rule-of-law not bitterness.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sent by Dave Blomberg | 7:21 PM | 4-16-2008

For several days we've been inundated by commentaries bemoaning the missteps of Barack and the supposed elitism of he and his wife, Michelle.

One point I've gathered from the pundits' is their dislike (amazement?) that he has the temerity to actually try to understand the pov of so-called Reagan Democrats and the guts to explain his understanding to them. He said they were bitter because of chronic under- and un-employment, foreclosures, runaway skilled blue collar jobs. He said that rather than them turning to active politics to retake control of their lives, they grip tight their guns and their God.

What an unpardonable sin...He saw something and didn't keep it to himself. He wanted to talk about it. And he's not apologizing.

Oh my.

Maybe he was serious about engaging America in a dialogue about class, race and generational change. It can be argued that this is a mental pursuit engaged by the Eastern Elite for mental masturbation purposes. However, I recall Sen. Patrick Monyhan doing the same thing in describing the so-called generational pathologies of the Black underclass. Indeed, his descriptions resulted in very real legislation that impacts the criminal justice system and social welfare safety nets to this day (recall the "permanent underclass").

Obama has had a life-time of living with, studying, analyzing working class folks. His matriculation and graduation from Harvard is the ultimate working class "pull himself up by his bootstraps" exemplar.

In sum, he has credibility to speak to these issues as a scholar and a product of a single-parent home who made good

Sent by Betty Meshack | 8:41 PM | 4-16-2008

Is Education really the solution to our nation's economic problems?

Over the past decade the news media and our politicians have been peddling the notion that education is the solution to our nation's economic problems, and people have been gobbling it up as it became an opiate of the masses.

How do the advocates of education as the solution to our economic problems address the reality of college graduates who cannot find jobs in their fields? For example, our nation is already producing far more Ph.D. scientists than the job market can absorb and many end up working low-paid, gypsy scientist positions called postdoctorates.

What the politicians and media pundits who mouth education as though it were mantra fail to answer is whether a doubling of the number of people with degrees in a certain field will magically increase the number of jobs in that field at currently prevailing wages. At a time when engineering and computer programming jobs are being shipped out to India and China, it seems like the the end result of producing more college graduates will simply be more unemployed and underemployed, angry college graduates who need to pay off expensive student loans.

To hear many of these commentators tell it, there's no such thing as a college-educated person who is unemployed or underemployed-involuntarily-out-of-field struggling to pay off student loans. They've never heard of the unemployed or underemployed MBA or lawyer who obtained a degree in a field where the advanced degrees are a penny-a-dozen.

Expensive education is not the magical solution to our nation's economic problems, rather, we need sound economic and social policies that addresses issues such as global labor arbitrage (look it up in the Wikipedia), mass immigration, and population explosion.

Sent by Frank the Underemployed Professional | 8:57 PM | 4-18-2008

I live in the very area Obama describes. And it is true. Certainly not every one, but many cling to religion and guns as though they were the only thing worth striving for. The attitude is 'this is all I've got until they give me more' instead of working towards something more, something better on their own.

Some of these folks aren't going to bother themselves with trying. They just sit around moping and hoping. Time to get off your duff and do something. These are the people Obama referred to, not everyone.

Sent by Reader | 10:16 PM | 4-20-2008

In times of economic stress, if I am going to "cling" to something, I am glad they are covered (protected) under the Bill of Rights.

If guns and religion are being dismissed by the senator as security blankets, I wonder what his intentions actually ARE towards guns and religion.

Sent by Bart | 4:02 PM | 4-23-2008