Larry Elder

"Bitter," says Sen. Barack Obama, the man of hope and change, about those who live Pennsylvania, small towns and the Midwest.

"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania," Barack Obama said two Sundays ago to the Brie-and-chardonnay crowd at a fundraiser in San Francisco, "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."

I spent nearly 20 years living in the Midwest. I attended law school in Michigan, and moved to and lived in Ohio for another 15 years. I married a woman from Menominee, a small town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Her strong, values-oriented, working-class parents produced a doctor and two computer engineers.

Yet people living on the East Coast and West Coast, and those with "superior education and breeding," often dismiss those living in the Midwestern and other states, especially small towns, as existing in "flyover country."

Where to begin with Obama's statement about bitterness?

"Cling" to guns? Never mind that many people in this country hunt, grow up in a "gun culture," and believe strongly that guns provide self-defense. This belief holds in both good times and bad -- not a result of some new phenomenon over "bitterness."

"Cling" to religion? Obama here insults all religious Americans, 80 to 90 percent by some polls. Obama apparently believes one embraces religion out of bitterness, not due to spirituality, values, belief in or the acceptance of and submission to a higher power. Perhaps this explains why Obama clung to the Trinity Church of Christ for 20 years, with its anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-American, conspiracy-believing pastor, Jeremiah Wright. If Obama attended the church out of "bitterness," surely, his reasoning goes, others do so as well.

"Anti-immigrant sentiment"? Obama here makes no distinction between the legitimate resentment over illegal aliens versus legal immigrants. Obama ignores the cost to society and the damage to America's values as a result of our porous borders and our failure to reach a consensus on what to do about the presence of illegal aliens. A newly released study by Manhattan Institute adjunct fellow Edwin S. Rubenstein analyzed immigrants' fiscal impact on 15 federal agencies. Rubenstein, a noted economist, found that each immigrant costs taxpayers more than $9,000, or $36,000 for an immigrant household of four.

"Anti-trade sentiment"? Didn't Obama, too, criticize NAFTA for shipping jobs overseas? (Of course, Mexico, the United States and Canada are contiguous, with no "sea" between them. But never mind.) Obama says the "bitter" blame trade, but didn't Obama -- apparently insincerely -- promise to renegotiate NAFTA as a result of its alleged negative economic impact? He implicitly acknowledges the statement by a Canadian official, who said that an Obama campaign aide contacted him and labeled Obama's anti-trade remarks as "campaign rhetoric."

So, Obama considers small-town Pennsylvanians and Midwesterners stupid, irrational gun-toters, religious zealots, hicks lacking the sophistication, knowledge and worldliness possessed by him and his Harvard-trained wife, Michelle, who only recently became "really proud" of her country.

Obama, by the way, made his "bitter" analysis on a Sunday, but not until Friday did this become a major media story. Why so long? No doubt, the anti-Second Amendment, secular media -- to say nothing of those in attendance -- agreed with Obama's analysis of the unsophisticated little people. Obama is, therefore, "in touch."

But remember the recent Bush press conference, when Bush responded with skepticism about a reporter's prediction of impending $4-a-gallon gas? The next day, page A-1 in the Los Angeles Times: "$4-a-Gallon Gas? It's News To Bush; President's Surprise at the Idea Fuels a Sense That He's Out of Touch." But as to the newsworthiness of Obama's insult to Midwesterners -- it made pages A-13 and A-17, in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, respectively.

Here's the line. Obama insults the Midwest in particular and people of religion in general. Yet he remains in touch. President George W. Bush, because of skepticism of $4-a-gallon gas, becomes the poster boy of the inability to relate to the little guy.

So who's "bitterly" out of touch?


Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com.