COMMENTS: Cling Sounded Worse than Bitter

When small town Americans get bitter because of economic hard times, they "cling to their religion and to their guns." Thus Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama accounted for the abiding appeal of First Amendment and Second Amendment values in the heartland. He made the comment at a closed-door fundraiser last week in San Francisco but all three networks led from Pennsylvania where next week's primary election may hinge on Hillary Rodham Clinton's counterattack. "I do not think he really gets it," she argued, "that people are looking for a President that stands up for you and not looks down on you." The fallout from Obama's comment was Story of the Day on another Monday in April when ABC expended its newshole (24 min v CBS 18, NBC 19) by running limited commercials, courtesy of its lone sponsor, the pharmaceutical Caduet. CBS split its anchoring chores, with Harry Smith in New York and Katie Couric in London, where she interviewed Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

NBC's Andrea Mitchell gave a hat-tip to The Huffington Post for its scoop on Obama from San Francisco. All three networks focused on his characterization of the economic mood in Pennsylvania's small towns as "bitter" even though the usage of "cling" seems the less felicitous phrase.

CBS' Dean Reynolds reported that Obama "admitted" that his phrasing was "ill chosen" yet NBC's Mitchell noted that Obama did not retract the underlying sentiment: "He is only sorry for a poor choice of words." She quoted Obama almost four years ago talking on PBS' Charlie Rose: "What they do know is that they can go out with their friends and hunt and feel a sense of camaraderie." On ABC, Jake Tapper went along the Susquehanna River to check whether hard economic times were indeed a fact: Columbia Pa "is the kind of small town that factories left long ago, never to be replaced."

Not only did Rodham Clinton profess herself "disappointed" with Obama, she accused him of "snobbery and elitism," as ABC's David Wright paraphrased. "The reality is that Obama is in a political pickle," CBS' Reynolds asserted, as "in the hands of his rivals" his words have "morphed into a snobbish slap at average folks." Hence, he explained Rodham Clinton's assumption of her "Woman of the People pose, quaffing brews, downing shots and rhapsodizing about the joys of hunting." Obama's response was that his rival was "talking like she is Annie Oakley."

NBC's Mitchell presented Rodham Clinton's argument: "Obama is now vulnerable to the kind of attacks Republicans have perfected for decades, painting Democratic nominees since Michael Dukakis as 'out of touch' with red-state America…The Clinton campaign is not backing down, seizing the opportunity, they think, to persuade superdelegates that Obama could lose the culture wars to Republicans in the fall." Republican John McCain appears to agree with Rodham Clinton. Mitchell quoted him calling Obama's remarks "a defining moment."


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.