Mickey Kaus and many others are still trying to make sense of Barack Obama’s defense of the following remarks.
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.(Emphasis mine.)
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant [SIC] sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
It lumps together things Obama wants us to think he thinks are good (religion) with things he undoubtedly thinks are bad (racism, anti-immigrant sentiment). I suppose it's logically possible to say 'these Pennsylvania voters are so bitter and frustrated that they cling to both good things and bad things,." but the implication is that these are all things he thinks are unfortunate and need explaining (because, his context suggests, they prevent voters from doing the right thing and voting for ... him). Yesterday at the CNN "Compassion Forum" Obama said he wasn't disparaging religion because he meant people "cling" to it in a good way! Would that be the same way they "cling" to "antipathy to people who aren't like them"--the very next phrase Obama uttered? Is racism one of those "traditions that are passed on from generation to generation" that "sustains us"? Obama's unfortunate parallelism makes it hard for him to extricate him from the charge that he was dissing rural Pennsylvanians' excess religiosity.
If you think about it, the fact that Obama lumped the perceived religion of the white, rural Pennsylvanian with “antipathy toward those not like them”--that is, racism, bigotry and anti-immigration (sic)--makes perfect sense.* The latter is bad and so is the former—if one is observing from the perspective of Black Liberation Theology.
In Obama’s mind, the religion clung to by the “average poor white Pennsylvanian” is BLT’s demonic “white” Church. The "white" Church is the tool of oppression for all—including poor whites—and should be shaken off just like other social maladies. Just like anti-immigration (sic) and racism. One will note that, in the defense of the earlier remarks, Obama still does not say anything objectively positive about the religion adhered to by the average rural white Pennsylvanian. What he actually says is that government should answer their prayers.
But what is absolutely true is that people don’t feel like they are being listened to.Never forget where this guy is coming from.
And so they pray and they count on each other and they count on their families. You know this in your own lives, and what we need is a government that is actually paying attention [to their prayers!]. Government that is fighting for working people day in and day out making sure that we are trying to allow them to live out the American dream.
* Apologists for illegal immigration are becoming too confident in leaving out the all-important adjective 'illegal' when discussing the subject.
UPDATE: I'm not sure but I think that this my first Ace-lanche. Be gentle with me.
UPDATE: Please read Karl's primer on Black Liberation Theology at Protein Wisdom.