13 April 2008

The Bitter Bus

It looks like bitter is the new angry. In 2004, Howard Dean wasn't allowed to get hot under the collar. Now, Barack Obama isn't allowed to say that working-class Americans are bitter.

I know that there's more to this media echo-chamber non-story than that, but it's what struck me most immediately upon reading both Obama's comments (and for Pete's sake, Huffington Post - I'm all for citizen journalism, but would you ever see anyone from the right posting stories about John McCain saying poorly phrased things?) and the inevitable, holier-than-thou Clinton response, was that Pollyanna culture is live and well and living in Scranton. Does Hillary Clinton think that laid-off auto-workers are sanguine and satisfied with their lack of jobs, benefits, infrastructure, or prospects? That strikes me as considerably more insulting to the indomitable American spirit than any talk of guns and God.

And speaking of which: surely the key word in Obama's point on that score is "cling." It's clear that Obama doesn't hate people who like God and think God is on their side (didn't we go through that whole "crazed pastor" thing two weeks ago? Wasn't Jeremiah Wright the epitome of bitter? Are black people supposed/allowed/expected to be bitter, but white people under no circumstances can/should be?) It's all about the dangers of making a fetish of one problem or idea or belief at the expense of another - like race, or religion, or the right to leave your revolver around the house. It's about what it's now unfashionable to call a false consciousness.

Deluded? All of us. But never bitter!

GREAT-MINDS-THINK-ALIKE UPDATE: I'm on to something - Bill Kristol is fulminating about Marx in the NYT! Check out his equation of bourgeois America with small-town America - looks like there's no class conflict in the U.S. of A. unless a Republican says so, and gets to radically twist words like "bourgeoisie" out of all recognition!

1 comment:

Matthew said...

An intriguing summary of responses to Kristol's comments can be found at Salon.com