April 15, 2008
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.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
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