Clinging to the bitter end

Obama's remarks about bitter Pennsylvanians clinging to God and guns made the front page of today's Inquirer.

Curiously, even though it's a Pennsylvania story, they ran a NY Times piece which does not appear at the Inquirer's web site. I figured it would be easy enough to find the piece (after all, I only wanted to quote a few words), so I Googled part of the first sentence -- "The Democratic nominating fight took a sudden turn..." All the links point to this piece by Katharine Q. Seelye and Jeff Zeleny, but I've been opening it up repeatedly, and the "sudden turn" language seems to have dissappeared. What gives? Did some reporter goof? Are they now trying to throw Obama a lifeline? I just want to know why the Times called the Obama remarks a "sudden turn" in the first paragraph and now they don't.

I thought that maybe I should analyze the now missing language. The entire first paragraph that stares at me from the Inquirer is now missing, but some dutiful Freeper (perhaps bitter about being called bitter) supplied it:

The New York Times ^ | April 13, 2008 | KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JEFF ZELENY
The Democratic nominating fight took a sudden turn with Senator Barack Obama's comments about small-town Pennsylvania voters providing an opening for the Clinton campaign to raise anew questions about Mr. Obama's ability to lure working-class voters.

You know things are getting really bad when you have to go to the Free Republic to find the text of what's on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer!

The "sudden turn" language still appears in links to a few news aggregators like this and this but even that is disappearing, and I had to resort to the Google cache.

Thinking maybe the first paragraph had been dropped, I Googled the language from the fourth paragraph -- "the furor represented something of a last minute gift." Once again, the links pointed to the same Times piece, but the words were nowhere to be found.


I had to go into full-blown, teeth-pulling mode, but I finally found the text which was nearly identical to that in the Inquirer at a site called the Ebolowa blog. Normally, I do not lift entire stories, but in this case, I had to work so hard to find it that I thought I should place it below so that interested readers can click to read it.

I'm curious about the mechanism here. Perhaps someone can explain to me how so much language could be first reported, then summarily dropped. Is the Times now acting like the BBC and changing stories when activists complain? Or are these stories put out through the news wire, allowing subscribing news outlets to run them in the print editions only, with the Times then changing them later?

I notice that the story below has a few very minor differences in wording from the Inquirer version, and closes with "Julie Bosman contributed reporting." The Inquirer version closes with "Inquirer senior writer Larry Eichel contributed to this article." As to Julie Bosman, she writes for the Times, and used to be the Washington assistant to Maureen Dowd, so I suspect that the story below is the original Times piece, as fed out over the wires. Larry Eichel is a longtime Inquirer reporter, widely respected as a straight shooter, and he made very few changes.

OK, while this example of "now you see it, now you don't," might not be the biggest deal in the world, let's assume subscribing newspapers are allowed to use these stories. Why would they not be allowed to place them online? Does the Times retain the right to control its Only Official Story, and make changes whenever it sees fit?

Maybe they do. Certainly, they can do whatever they want with their own words, as the First Amendment gives them the right to revise, alter, or delete whatever and whenever they want.

I have no problem with editing, and I do it all the time. But what happened here was more than editing. By taking out entire paragraphs containing language like "took a sudden turn" and "last-minute gift to the Clinton campaign" the entire tone and theme of the story is altered.

Any blogger who did this would not retain much credibility.

Anyway, I only wanted to comment on a couple of things. First, while the campaign did indeed take a sudden turn, the most sudden turn of all has been Hillary's very opportunistic claim to be a Second Amendment supporter. Just before the uproar over the Obama remarks broke, she was campaigning with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter -- shortly after his dramatic signing of illegal gun control laws. While ducking the issue of whether she supported the laws, she renewed a call for the assault weapon ban:

Nutter often cites what he calls Clinton's ability to understand how to deal with the problems facing big cities as a reason he supports her. The New York senator's crime-fighting plan includes an anti-gun-trafficking initiative that would be based on partnerships between the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and local law enforcement to improve tracking of gun crimes and to prosecute traffickers. It would renew the Assault Weapons Ban and repeal the Tiahrt amendment, which limits the ATF's ability to share federal gun-trace data with local law enforcement.

Nutter signed five new gun-control laws yesterday that would limit handgun purchases in the city to one a month and require that lost or stolen firearms be reported to police within 24 hours, among other measures. The new laws are controversial because gun regulation is under the state's purview, not the city's. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the National Rifle Association plans to sue.

Gun control as an issue has not come up very frequently with Clinton on the campaign trail, but it could be important here in Pennsylvania, a state with a lot of gun owners. In the lead-up to the Wisconsin primary, she made a point of talking about learning to shoot a gun and her experience hunting. She often says she supports the 2nd Amendment and she believes her cities and states have a role to play in confronting the challenges presented by firearms. But it was not clear whether she would support the Nutter measures specifically or these kinds of measures generally. When asked during an interview with local radio this morning about what she would do as president to address the issue of cities and gun regulation, she gave her standard answer before going on talk up the proposals in her anti-crime agenda.

"I would start looking for a balance and find some common ground and end the polarization that has gone on," she said. "Obviously, I take the issue of gun crime and gun violence very seriously, and I'm also committed to protecting people's constitutional rights under the 2nd Amendment to own and bear arms and I don't see why we can't do both."

This woman has been a gun grabber from day one, and anyone who believes her lukewarm platitudes of support for the Second Amendment, well, they're in for a very bitter disappointment.

Yes, bitter. I did say that, and I won't retract it.

I think gun owners often find themselves bitter. Not because of bad economic times, but because of the endless attempts to screw around with them. Similarly, religious people face situations like the one I blogged about earlier, when busybody bureaucrats treat religious views as outside the scope of normal First Amendment protections.

So I have to agree with the last part of Obama's statement that "it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion."

I find it very telling that he would use the word "cling."

Clinging is a very normal human reaction that we all have when people are trying to take away what is ours. Liberals (Obama and Hillary being only two notable examples) have a long record of trying to take away guns.

What gun owner would not cling to his guns, perhaps even with feelings grounded in bitterness?

While I can only speak for myself, liberal gun grabbers like Obama, Hillary and Michael Nutter often make me feel like clinging to my guns -- to the bitter end. (Isn't that reflected in the phrase "from my cold dead hands"?) And what Philadelphia gun owner wouldn't feel embittered by the lawless and reckless attempt by Hillary's supporter Mayor Nutter to take away their guns?

OTOH, considering the time I've spent clinging to the New York Times story to the bitter end, I might be clingier than average.

(But things could be worse! At least I didn't say that they could have the story back when they pull it from my cold dead hands.)

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

Anyone who can explain the mechanism of how this spin control works, I'm all ears.

Entire text of unaccountably altered New York Times story (cache here):

Clinton Seizes on Obama Remarks to Question His Appeal to Working Class


The Democratic nominating fight took a sudden turn with Senator Barack Obama's comments about small-town Pennsylvania voters providing an opening for the Clinton campaign to raise anew questions about Mr. Obama's ability to lure working-class voters.

With the Pennsylvania primary just 10 days away, Mr. Obama was forced to deal with a torrent of criticism on Saturday over his remarks to donors in San Francisco that such voters "cling" to their guns and religion because they are bitter about their economic circumstances.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has criticized the remarks with zeal, saying Mr. Obama is trying to divide the country between "those who are enlightened and those who are not."

The furor represented something of a last-minute gift to the Clinton campaign as it has fought calls for Mrs. Clinton to pull out of the race because of Mr. Obama's stubborn lead in delegates. Seizing Saturday on Mr. Obama's comments, aides and allies of Mrs. Clinton were telling superdelegates that the comments should serve as a warning that Mr. Obama would be a weak candidate in the fall. Republicans also seized on the comments to portray Mr. Obama as an elitist who does not understand middle-class Americans, a sign of how they will define him if he becomes the nominee.

On the trail, the Clinton campaign is also deploying several public officials in Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina and elsewhere to keep up the drumbeat. The state's primary, on April 22, has become a do-or-die test for Mrs. Clinton, with two critical events this week: a forum on religion Sunday night and a debate on Wednesday.

Mr. Obama's remarks at a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday -- before a very different crowd than the ones he has been courting recently in Pennsylvania and Indiana -- came when he was asked why he was not doing better in Pennsylvania. Polls there show him narrowing the gap with Mrs. Clinton but still lagging behind.

"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," Mr. Obama responded, according to a transcript of the fund-raiser published on Friday on The Huffington Post.

"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," Mr. Obama went on. "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."

By Saturday morning, however, Mr. Obama was trying to contain the political damage. He told audiences that what he said about people's economic circumstances was true, if inartfully expressed, but that he was not trying to play down the importance to people of religion or gun rights.

"Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare-up because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois, who are bitter," Mr. Obama said.

"So I said, well, you know when you're bitter, you turn to what you can count on," he added. "So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community."

He said this was "a natural response" for people to have but "I didn't say it as well as I should have, because you know the truth is is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, those are important."

It may be too early to tell how deeply the remarks will resonate with voters and whether they will prompt any Obama supporters to jump ship. But the small-town, white, blue-collar lower-income people of whom Mr. Obama seemed to be speaking are among the swing voters in Pennsylvania that both candidates have been courting.

Mr. Obama made a weeklong bus trip across the state last week to try to reach them, and he was introduced along the way by Senator Bob Casey, his most prominent backer in the state. Mr. Casey could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Mrs. Clinton raised the matter at several stops in Indiana on Saturday. She said Mr. Obama's comments were "not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans," adding that "Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it's a constitutional right; Americans who believe in God believe it's a matter of personal faith."

Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, campaigning with Mrs. Clinton, told reporters that Mr. Obama's remarks should serve as a warning to superdelegates that Mr. Obama would be a weak general election candidate. Mr. Bayh and other Clinton supporters suggested that Republicans would use these remarks to help define Mr. Obama as a cultural elitist and hostile to rural voters, much the way Republicans portrayed Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004.

"They're going to say that we're weak on national security, that we're a bunch of high taxers and spenders, and out here in the middle of the country we don't understand people's values," Mr. Bayh said. "The question is, have we given them some hook they can hang their hat on to make that argument?"

Gov. Edward G. Rendell, Mrs. Clinton's most prominent supporter in Pennsylvania, said Mr. Obama should not have implied that rural voters were clinging to their guns as a way of dealing with their frustrations.

"People in rural Pennsylvania don't turn to guns and religion as an escape," Mr. Rendell said. "Hunting and sportsmanship are long-established traditions here, and people of faith founded the commonwealth and continue to live here. What the senator has done is essentially misread what is actually happening in Pennsylvania."

But J. Richard Gray, the mayor of Lancaster and an Obama supporter, said that this is not what Mr. Obama meant. In his view, Mr. Obama was trying to say that Republicans take emotional matters like guns and religion and try to use them to divide people.

"I don't think he's demeaning religion or guns," Mr. Gray said. "He's saying the use of those issues as wedge issues plays on the bitterness that people have and diverts attention from the real economic issues, like the disparity between the wage earner and the rich."

Mr. Gray also said Mr. Obama was right that voters are bitter, although he said he would have used the word angry. He pointed to a recent poll that found 81 percent of voters believe the country is on the wrong track. He said that Mrs. Clinton sounded like "a Pollyanna" in saying that workers were optimistic. "I don't know who she's been talking to," Mr. Gray said.

Ed Mitchell, a Democratic consultant in Wilkes-Barre who supports Mr. Obama, said that while he did not agree with the comments, he still supported Mr. Obama because of his vision.

"I'm a Pennsylvanian and an Obama supporter, but I don't share those sentiments," Mr. Mitchell said. "I think he's right that voters are frustrated, but I don't think they seek refuge in anything so much as they want leadership and change. That's why I support him. I think he offers that best."

Justin Taylor, 30, the mayor of Carbondale, Pa., has not declared a preference for president. But he said he was leaning toward Mr. Obama and his remarks about small-town voters would not dissuade him. "People are bitter and at the end of their rope," he said. Referring to Mr. Obama's comments, he said, "I don't believe it is a problem."

Julie Bosman contributed reporting.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: The Inquirer headline reads, "Rivals rip Obama's 'bitter' Pa. depiction".

posted by Eric on 04.13.08 at 10:12 AM


M. Simon   ·  April 13, 2008 10:51 AM

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has criticized the remarks with zeal, saying Mr. Obama is trying to divide the country between "those who are enlightened and those who are not."

"those who are enlightened and those who are not."


I'm dying to know where the "enlightened" people live.......

Sandy P   ·  April 13, 2008 11:43 AM

Free Republic. Just seeing those words here and at Instapundit is going to make some people blanche.

rogue yam   ·  April 13, 2008 11:45 AM

When I am searching for something, and I want a Conservative view, rather than going through thousands of liberal stories posted on google, I turn to Free Republic's search feature.

I have not found a better site to accomplish this.

Dermott   ·  April 13, 2008 12:12 PM

Oh, is this story fun! I was traveling all day yesterday and only got a chance to update this morning after seeing the story break Friday.

I gave a little of my background in an earlier comment. My ancestors in Georgia migrated from Cumberland County, Pa in the 1760's so I feel a cousin kinship to some of these Pennsylvanians, their guns and religion. (BTW, I think there must be a gene that steers my political orientation). The far left will not find it difficult to insult many people just by their abandonment of the principles embodied in the constitution.

They may be portrayed as 'clinging' by 'elitists' but the things being clung to represent essential elements of our cultural heritage as Americans.

Bob Thompson   ·  April 13, 2008 12:29 PM

I just want to make sure I've got this right.

Obama is promising jobs for rural folk in Pennsylvania. All they have to do is give up their guns, their church, and embrace people who aren't like them.

Work will set you free of your petty preoccupations.

almsfor   ·  April 13, 2008 1:15 PM

This issue will soon be forgotten and should be. There undoubtedly are a lot of bitter people in Rust Belt states who feel that the Federal government has let them down. Besides, Hillary and McCain often use a word that they later regret. Remember when McCain confused Purim with Halloween during his recent trip to Israel? Move on to another issue. This is silly.

chocolatier   ·  April 13, 2008 1:21 PM

First bell that Sen. Obama should have had that what he was about to say could be treated as stupid."the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them"
Have you ever seen anyone stay unemployed for that long, unless they were so unable or unwilling to find work in an economy with less than 6% unemployment? Wasn't there an economist in the 70's who said that it was not possible to fall below 6% in unemployment.

Another Stupid Anon User

Another Stupid Anon User   ·  April 13, 2008 1:28 PM

"This issue will soon be forgotten and should be."

Gee, I don't know. Something tells me those "hateful racist rednecks who cling to guns and God" aren't sophisticated enough to overcome their ignorance before November.

Perhaps Micheal Moore can enlighten us with another op-ed on why Al Queda should attack flyover country instead of NYC. And another on how us rubes in Jesusland enable hate-crimes like the murder of Mathew Sheppard. We still remember those.

Fen   ·  April 13, 2008 1:43 PM

Remember when McCain confused Purim with Halloween

I'm Jewish and that does not offend me. Halloween is a costume holiday and so is Purim. Why should any one not Jewish be expected to remember other details? At least he got the costume bit right.

M. Simon   ·  April 13, 2008 4:54 PM

I don't think I made my point well. Obama made a very stupid statement, but the stupid part was about clinging to guns or religion, not that people in parts of Pennsylvania are "bitter." A lot of people in Rust Belt cities are bitter, and with reason. Their factories are closed, their jobs have moved to China, their houses are worth less than the mortgage, their towns are drying up, and they don't know who to blame.

chocolatier   ·  April 13, 2008 5:53 PM

Let me see if I get the point, chocolatier. The people in Rust Belt cities are bitter about these things and don't know who to blame. They 'feel' the Federal government let them down.

How about they put on their 'thinking' cap for a change and stop relying on their 'feelings' to find someone to blame for every misfortune that comes their way. The Federal government does not have a responsibility for every marketplace event that has an effect on someone's life. The individuals who have these 'feelings' (and I am skeptical regarding the numbers) need to take personal responsibility and action to change their circumstances. With a national unemployment rate below 6%, this should not be difficult.

One thing is certain, if we establish a Department of Poverty, we will have plenty of it from now own.

Bob Thompson   ·  April 13, 2008 6:28 PM

That's cold. Things are getting bad when you have to go to FR? LOL

We learned early, that some candidates skills for scrubbing and reporters' for covering have surpassed even the Clinton era... makes you wonder where the money comes from...

Welcome to FR anytime. Your site is amazing (as always), and your work shines through.

Take it from me, when you see it, capture it.
Time consuming, but worth it.

Biggie   ·  April 13, 2008 6:34 PM


Tell me all is forgiven and can I get my account back?

M. Simon   ·  April 13, 2008 6:39 PM

Obama's problem is not so much that he insulted all the "small town" folks as much as that he just does not seem to understand that folks can have a different idealogical stand and not be "bitter."

He will continue to dig this hole deeper and deeper,and still not figure out that folks can disagree with him,and not be wrong.

The "smarter" members of the MSM will keep trying to hid his cluelessness,but most of them will not see it until it is out in the public either, because they see it that way also.

flicka47   ·  April 13, 2008 7:29 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits