Todd: 'Anthropological' Obama Didn't Mean To Demean With Bitter-Clinger Line

August 20th, 2010 2:04 PM
"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."  -- candidate Barack Obama, remarks at fundraiser, April, 2008
Discussing with Andrea Mitchell today the kerfuffle over Pres. Obama's Christianity, Chuck Todd hearkened back to PBO's infamous bitter-clinger line. Obama offered his pronouncement at a private, hoity-toity fundraiser in San Francisco—and Todd claimed Obama didn't mean to demean by it.  

According to Todd [quoting Paul Begala], Obama is his mother's son, and like the anthropologist she was, he was simply offering an anthropological analysis of the plight of those poor rural Pennsylvanians.
CHUCK TODD: I would say the real danger for the president on issues like this, is less about this, and more about--Paul Begala one time said this to me--he said, you know, the guy really is his mother's son sometimes when it comes to studying society.  He's anthropoligcal about it.  Remember that time when he was studying people in Pennsylvania, and he said to that fundraiser in Pennsylvania, you know they cling to their guns.  He wasn't meaning it as demeaning in his mind, but it came across that way.

ANDREA MITCHELL: It's intellectualized.

TODD: He's the son of an anthropologist, and I think sometimes he goes about religion that way, almost in this, as I said because he's very well studied on, not just Christianity but on a lot of religions, but in that, frankly, anthropological way, and that can come across as distant.
Todd speaks of the bitter-clinger line as the fruit of Obama's "studying" people in Pennsylvania.  Is there evidence Obama undertook a study of rural Pennsylvania, or was this simply what it sounded like: cocktail chatter for the oh-so-smart set?  Question for Chuck: how do you know that "in his mind" Obama wasn't meaning it as demeaning?

I can't top HotAir's analysis of just how demeaning Obama's statement was, so let me simply quote it:

What’s most offensive? The condescension displayed here by the intelligentsia’s candidate of choice? The sheer breadth of the stereotype, which would send Team Obama screaming from the rooftops if a white politician drew a similarly sweeping caricature of blacks? The crude quasi-Marxist reductionism of his analysis, which he first introduced in his speech on race vis-a-vis the root causes of whites’ “resentment” — namely, exploitation by the bourgeoisie in the form of corporations and D.C. lobbyists? Or is it the shocking inclusion of religion, of all things, in the litany of sins he recites? What on earth is that doing there, given His Holiness’s repeated invocations of the virtues of faith on the trail? Note the choice of verb, too. Why not just go the whole nine yards and call it the opiate of the masses?