Guns, gays, whatever.

(When you've seen one "wedge issue," you've seen 'em all!)

For three days in a row now, Barack Obama's remarks about bitter churchgoing gun-clingers have been on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Today's story is headlined "Obama says he 'mangled' Pa. remark," and there's an accompanying exclusive video interview with Inquirer reporters which ought to supply a fix to even the most strung-out, hard-core political junkies.

No matter what you think, don't miss it.

In the interview, Obama explains how he "mangled" two separate points that got "conflated." (Hmmm....)

Despite watching it repeatedly, I was unable to discern any clear explanation of what he meant by the the clinging to guns part. Instead, he now substitutes anti-gay and anti-immmigrant "sentiments."

What's that about? Is bigotry now supposed to be interchangeable with guns?

The more I think about this, the more I think he's only made it worse.

First of all, he's not giving people credit for thinking what they think -- something Mickey Kaus touched on yesterday:

Superiority of this sort--not crediting the authenticity and standing of your subject's views--is a violation of social equality, which is a more important value for Americans than money equality. Liiberals tend to lose elections when they forget that.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

According to Obama, firearms ownership thus becomes not an individual choice, but something other people have planted in the minds of the "gun-clingers." Their clinging to guns becomes not an individual act, but something demagogic leaders drive people to as part of their exploitation of wedge issues. ("Condescending" is almost too kind a word to use for this ruling class-style denial of the fact that gun owners -- and I am one of them -- actually think what they think.)

And today, the guns have disappeared. They have been magically replaced by other "wedge issues."


While a transcript of the remarks has been posted, I noticed that they're "cleaned up" a bit, and don't accurately reflect the "uhs" and the pauses.

With the goal of full and complete textual accuracy in my mind, I listened to the interview repeatedly, and transcribed every word as accurately as I possibly could. Here's what I heard Obama say:

But I actually feel pretty good about, uh, the fact that I've tried to make it a hallmark of the campaign to say what I think, to say what I believe. Uh, the problem actually with this most recent episode is not that I was saying, uh, that that I was saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else in public. The truth is actually that I've made these same comments uh, in a similar way, on the Charlie Rose Show, uh, back in 2004 or 2005, uh, I have said it in town hall meetings, in small towns. Um, the problem was that I just, mangled it. You know which happens sometimes.

The point that I was making was actually, two separate points that got conflated. Number one, that uh, people who have felt abandoned by, uh, Washington, and political leaders when it comes to an economy that's fallen apart. Uh, they find stability uh, in those things that they can count on. Their faith, the traditions, uh that have been passed down from generation to generation and in many rural communities that includes hunting. Uh, their family, their community - those are positive things. They also are vulnerable to, uh, you know uh, explanations for why the world is changing. Uh, and politicians seek to divide. And sometimes politicians over the last decade have used, uh, uh, anti gay sentiment, sometimes they've used anti immigrant sentiment, uh, and there've been, there's a long history of quote unquote wedge issues that I think distract from these very difficult issues that we have to deal with.

And so, my syntax was poor uh, but, uh as uh, as uh, as a wise, uh, older woman, uh, who was talking to me the other day said, uh, "You misspoke but you didn't lie."

What happened to the people clinging to their guns?

Were they "mangled" by insertion? Or have they now been mangled out of existence, now to be discarded? Why is there not a word about them?

(Sorry, but "hunting" is not the same. Don't call me a "hunter," because I don't hunt.)

Has the Second Amendment become a secondary wedge issue now that Obama has thought it over? Or has gun-clinging behavior been subsumed into anti-gay, and anti-immigrant "sentiments" which people don't really feel honestly, but only imagine they do because of exploitative prodding by their leaders?

The disturbing implication, of course, is that under the right, uh, leadership, uh, the negative thinking (all that gun-clinging, and all that bigotry) will be made to disappear.

I'm feeling plenty marginalized by this. It's bad enough to be told that as a gun owner I don't really think what I think, but I have been led into it by others.

But now I'm told that my guns are not the issue because they might as well be bigoted sentiments against gays and immigrants! But that if I harbor these sentiments (which I don't), they are no more mine than my gun-clinging behavior was.


I'm sorry, but this wedge issue substitution game is too much.

MORE: Speaking of vanishing issues, along with guns, "trade" also seems to have disappeared. Obviously, there's a whole lotta mangling that goes into Obama's conflation.

DISCLOSURE: I am a gun owner who lives in Villanova, Pennsylvania -- "a small town about 12 miles due west of Philadelphia." Although I do not adhere to any organized religion, I do believe in God. I do not like gun control, and while I sometimes have bitter thoughts about attempts to take away my guns, I don't appreciate Obama's apparent contention that my thoughts are not my own.

How would he feel if I told him his thoughts were not his?

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome everyone!

Comments welcome, agree or disagree.

I'm intrigued by Glenn's thought about the relationship between elitism and conflation.

I have a related post about the conflation of adults and children, which is by no means unique to Barack Obama.

(But is it elitist conflation or conflationary elitism?)

MORE: Here's the video of Obama's Inquirer interview:

(Via Real Clear Politics.)

posted by Eric on 04.15.08 at 09:35 AM


It's been said at least once before, that Obama has a high propensity to shoot himself in the foot when he speaks without prepared notes.

I'm beginning to feel that he's kind of like a talented minor-league hitter who can't handle everything that the major-league pitchers send his way...nor is he used to the speed and precision with which the major-league outfielders can field the ball and put him out at base.

He can still do some good stuff on the field, but he's not the wonder-boy that he was in the minor league.

And he hasn't realized it yet.

I came to this conclusion without respect to his opinions and ideas (which I think range from ill-founded yet well-meaning to abhorrent).

karrde   ·  April 15, 2008 9:47 AM

karrde - good analogy.

Eric, you hit on an important point. In Obama's world, very few people are seen as having control over their decisions. Only the special few are believed capable of sustained reflection - the rest are seen as more or less products of forces acting on them. We see this in discussion of "root causes" of various social ills.

The irony is that the shoe is on the other foot. Average citizens consistently resist wht they are told to think quite effectively. Their reasoning is often bad, but it is certainly more independent than your average journalist or Democratic political candidate. It is the elites who keep each other's views in line via social control. The others are a problem precisely because the do not fall in line.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  April 15, 2008 10:33 AM

Between the refrains of classism, sexism, racism, gayism, environmentalism this election cycle makes me feel like I'm stuck in an endless loop of The Rocky Horror Picture Show "Let's Do the Time Warp Again".

syn   ·  April 15, 2008 10:55 AM

Is it possible that either Obama or Hillary really think that the Second Amendment was put in the Constitution to protect the right of the American people to hunt ducks and deer? They are both talking that way. The Second Amendment wasn't written for the benefit of hunters.

chocolatier   ·  April 15, 2008 11:13 AM

Uh, they find stability uh, in those things that they can count on. Their faith, the traditions, uh that have been passed down from generation to generation and in many rural communities that includes hunting. Uh, their family, their community - those are positive things

But that's not what he said and not what he meant, it's transparent.

And so, my syntax was poor uh, but, uh as uh, as uh, as a wise, uh, older woman, uh, who was talking to me the other day said, uh, "You misspoke but you didn't lie."

No, that's the lie, right there.

And as a graduate of Villanova University who now lives in a town with a smaller population than the school, I can say Obama's litte slip ain't playing well in Peoria, or rural Indiana as it were.

Lost My Cookies   ·  April 15, 2008 4:28 PM

You're just bitter because the mill closed throwing you out of work and causing you to cling to this blog.

Warthog   ·  April 15, 2008 4:28 PM

Obama's antics remind me of Barry Goldwater's comments about Richard Nixon during Watergate.

"Well, first he shot himself in the foot, and then he shot himself in the other foot, and then he shot himself in the ass."

Given Obama's great propensity to shoot himself in various places, I can understand why he might not like guns.

But after all is said he done he probably has a placed secured in Saturday Night Live's Not Ready for Prime Time players.

Narniaman   ·  April 15, 2008 4:41 PM

Should we laugh or should we cry?
The sheer insanity of what should be a
sane world. It's a good thing Mr.Obama
doesn't go round armed, he might just
shoot himself in the ass first.
He's just like someone caught in the act
of theft, shouting "I'm innocent"!
And he is a stealer of the truth.

Maggie   ·  April 15, 2008 5:00 PM

It's fairly evident at this point that Obama's thoughts are not his own; they belong to his advisors and backers.
I look at him (Obama) and see a new age Chicago Machine politician. (What the hell's the matter with these people? They're supposed to vote the way they're told!)

ed in texas   ·  April 15, 2008 5:01 PM

If he studiously avoids any mention of "guns", everyone will forget - right?

The "uh's" are annoying, but it's the "got conflated" that really bugs me. Don't know why.

Here is what I really wonder. Is he trying for the "common touch" with this fumbling approach to explaining himself? Does he want me to believe he is having to think up an explanation on the spot, under pressure, and is having a difficult time?

Uh... sure thing Barack. I'll uh... give you the uh... benefit of the doubt uh... right after I uh... get back from the shooting range. And I uh... don't want that to uh... get conflated with anything else and uh... have you think less of me.

Teresa   ·  April 15, 2008 5:06 PM

Oh what a mangled web we weave! I have not seen too many photos of Obama below the knees, but he must have some mighty big feet to shoot at considering the ease with which he seems to do it. I'm thinking he wears clown shoes to house those puppies.

MagicalPat   ·  April 15, 2008 5:07 PM

As usual, what Obama doesn't say is far more interesting than what he does. The trick will be to find a way to stuff this issue into one of his trusty duffle bags: Hope and Change.

Jeffersonian   ·  April 15, 2008 5:19 PM

Conflated? Is that a by-product of the agita he's giving me?

"Pardon me, friends, but I get a little conflated every time I eat a breakfast burrito."

Mr. Bingley   ·  April 15, 2008 5:45 PM

Obama's comments in San Francisco are 100% pure Liberal dogma. He believes that the common man is so ignorant, so uninformed, so backward that he is incapable of making difficult personal decisions or taking care of his own self interests. Thus, it is the sacred duty of government to come to the rescue of these poor benighted families and individuals because those in government are of superior intelligence and entirely altruistic in their concern for those who are stupid enough to vote them into office. They know what's best for you even if you don't know what's best for you. It follows from this mentality, that the bigger government gets,and the more power it usurps, the better it is for Joe SixPak because he's too stupid to realize what's actually going on... he's perfectly content with his rifle and his church. Pure unadulerated liberalism with a capital "L". The more Obama drops his guard, the more you can detect the influence of Jeremiah Wright Jr. on his way of thinking and world-view. Beware, my fellow voters, beware. THis guy is not to be trusted. Unfortunately, neither are Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

A Rural Hayseed   ·  April 15, 2008 5:48 PM

'Nova!? Don't tell Obama: he may try to rescue from the Idiocy of Rural Life.
-John from Center City

John F.   ·  April 15, 2008 5:50 PM

I'm scared for ms. hillary. If Obama loses,
something tells me the chicago muslims that shot malcolm x are gonna be getting that same bitter desperation, govt. fails me syndrome. Turning to the religion of "we don't need no stinkin badges", the lack of civilization will rear its ugly head once again in the black community. Goons like these would welcome gun control.

jerry f   ·  April 15, 2008 6:01 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how the Democratic party can choose such...uh...uh...(persons lacking in...uh...uh...redeemable qualities) as contenders for the presidency. Must be the best that money can buy.

Bill Owen   ·  April 15, 2008 6:24 PM

I have been hearing exactly what Obama is talking about coming out of the left for the last 30 years. Of course it has gotten worse during the Bush presidency. Two Americas, blame America, Enron, Halliburton, etc. He only said what the left has been putting out. Bitterness is what unites them.

bigbooner   ·  April 15, 2008 6:38 PM

Gun violence is the numero uno cause of deaths in the so-called black "community". If it were not for these little annoyances living here, there would be no discussion of gun control. We are all going to have to give our guns basically, because, blacks are all shooting each other, and to this tennesee told al gore in 2000, take a hike, costing him the election. The same will happen to this joke.

jerry f   ·  April 15, 2008 6:47 PM

For me, it's a Niemoller kind of thing.

I find myself in church about twice a year, I own a rifle that was last fired about ten years ago, and I live in a suburb of that fever swamp where Barry O dropped trou on his real opinions.

But I'm sure that given the chance there's lots of my opinions and things that I 'cling' to in my suburban, intentionally hydrocarbon-intensive lifestyle that Mr Obama and his statist, global-warming-fetishist fellow travelers would find objectionable, and I'm not of a mind to put them in a position where they can do anything about it.

JEM   ·  April 15, 2008 7:14 PM

First, to warthog.

"You're just bitter because the mill closed throwing you out of work and causing you to cling to this blog."

Dude, that made me laugh out loud! Props for that.

Now, regarding O-baloney. Despite his continued trips to Foot-in-Mouth-Land, despite his ever more evident Marxism (the big giveaway was in his "World's Greatest Race Speech" when he said "it's not about race, it's about class"), despite whatever he does, I fear that the electorate at large is so burnt from eight years of the Bush bashing media that they will vote for anyone without an R next to his (or her) name.

Just this weekend I was speaking to a few people about this. Two were college kids going to a super Commie school, who can be forgiven. But one was a woman who has been a Republican voter since Reagan. She's voting for Obama (or Hillary). Anybody but a Republican. I tried to reason with her, but she just doesn't want to listen.

I think the informed folks on this Blog and elsewhere in Blogland are of a different stripe than the average voter that gets beaten over the head day and night by NBCABCCBSCNN, by the Times, AP, Reuters, Time, Newsweek, by Stewart and that other jerk, by Bill Maher, by Oprah, on and on and on. Bush-fatigue is palpable. Really, if the MSM and Hollywood are your only source of data, then you've been living in "1984" for the past eight years. Everything you "know" has been filtered for you and laced with opinion posing as fact. There is no way McCain can overcome that, no matter how often O-baloney drops the ball (or bowls a 30-something, like a six year old) (maybe McCain should start a "Nancy-boy" meme).

It's really frightening that the most overtly Marxist candidate since Gus Hall has a real shot at the Presidency. I guess we should expect to see Hugo Chavez at the inauguration.

After that, the deluge.

peterike   ·  April 15, 2008 9:40 PM

Some of us are proud of our bitterness!

Bitter Americans

Trey   ·  April 15, 2008 9:52 PM

We do have to cut folks some slack on the "uhs" in their extempore speaking. It's a placeholder while thinking, very common even in intelligent people. A verbatim transcript of anyone's speaking makes them sound stupid.

Bill Buckley may have been an exception to that.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  April 16, 2008 12:11 PM

So now it's called "syntax"-I always thought it was called "weasal-wording".

Avril   ·  April 16, 2008 7:28 PM

So now it's called "syntax"-I always thought it was called "weasel-wording".

Avril   ·  April 16, 2008 7:28 PM

So now it's called "syntax"-I always thought it was called "weasel-wording".

Avril   ·  April 16, 2008 7:29 PM

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