"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
— Barack Obama, at a recent fundraising event in
So I returned to my roots in small-town Pennsylvania with an e-mail to
friends and family there, sent them Obama's statement without comment,
asked for their opinions. Here are some quick responses.
Cousin Patty: "I am sooooo sick of the word 'bitter'... I would not have
said bitter — maybe concerned or frustrated. The rest of his statement
is entirely out of line."
Friends Anne and Jerry: "Yes we want our guns, this is hunting country
... We do not dislike immigrants, just ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, are really
ticked because our Government refuses to enforce the laws they
themselves made. Trade is great if it is on even ground for all. ..."
Adds Anne: "We also ruined it for ourselves when our unions got too big
for their britches. Jerry said 30 years ago the unions were going to
ruin our economy ... Wanting more money and not considering the extra
benefits in their hospitalization, vacation etc." She noted that this
applies also to "Washington. They have great health care. Long vacations
and lots of them."
Jerry agrees with Obama that people are upset with recent
administrations: "This is true, the jobs are gone and now we can only
get foreign-made products. Bush has chosen to cater to big Corporations
who go overseas for low wages, gives them tax breaks for doing so. True,
communities haven't regenerated ... all because of our non-responsive
Government to the needs of their constituents. ... I wouldn't mind
having their Pensions, Salaries, health care etc."
As for Obama's "understanding" his feelings, Jerry says, "Bull crap."
Gee Barack, does all that sound bitter to you? Sounds angry to me.
Jerry ends with, "I changed from Democrat to Republican when Clinton had
his affair with Monica. I changed from Republican to Independent during
the present Bush's term. ... really, what is the use. They have beaten
me down and my vote will never change the status quo in Washington."
OK, maybe that sounds a tad bitter. But get a clue, Obama, about the
cause: The unions who created their own job losses; the government,
responding to Big Business but not to us. Jerry is retired
middle-management and a good carpenter; his anger comes not from his own
situation, but from concern for his country and grandchildren.
But let's move on from small-town Pennsylvania to California, where
Obama was speaking.
Columnist Stephen Moore in the March 24 Weekly Standard writes "As
California taxpayers wake up to the enormous future tax increases they
and their children face to pay the expansive promises to city, county,
and state workers, they're wondering, 'How did they get these sweet
deals?'" He notes that "some of the highest paid state workers are
walking away with lifetime annual pensions and health benefits of
$300,000 a year. ... Nationally, public employees now receive (on
average) $39.50 an hour in wages and benefits, according to 2007 Bureau
of Labor Statistics..."
So listen up, Obama-Phenoma, while I speak for myself and, I think, many
other Americans who are wondering, frustrated, ticked, outraged even.
Despite what you and your moonbat friends think, it has nothing to do
with being either religious or a gun owner, or the things you equate
with these — bigotry, anti-immigrant or anti-trade. We are angry about
the privileged political and union classes, about ILLEGAL immigration,
about UNFAIR trade agreements.
Uncle Dan, always a thinking man, brushed off Obama's insults: "I hope I
never get to the point where I'd get mad at the whole world because of
some one issue. ... he sounds just like a two-bit lawyer." But Dan
points out that the changes in Pennsylvania aren't all bad: "Your little
hometown expanded into a small city ... and I do believe it to be for
the better. ... Not just small towns, but large ones also: look at
Pittsburgh, what a mess it was right after WW2; today, with the steel
mills gone, and a few other things, it's become a nice-looking city."
Now there's your "typical white man," Obama — old enough now to see
change in context, moving beyond anger and certainly not bitter; yet
able to spot a two-bit lawyer when he hears one.
I'm not beyond anger yet, myself. I left small-town Pennsylvania long
ago, do not cling to religion or guns, but share my friends' feelings on
illegal immigration and unfair trade. I admit to antipathy toward people
who are not like me — not people of different race, creed or country,
Obama, just smug, superior liberals like you and your San Francisco
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.