DURING Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia, Barack Obama once more tried to explain what he meant when he suggested earlier this month that small-town people of modest means “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” out of frustration with their place in a changing American economy. Mr. Obama acknowledged that his wording offended some voters, but he also reiterated his impression that “wedge issues take prominence” when voters are frustrated by “difficult times.”
Last week in Terre Haute, Ind., Mr. Obama explained that the people he had in mind “don’t vote on economic issues, because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them.” He added: “So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington.”. . . Mr. Obama should do as well or better among these voters if he is the Democratic candidate in November. If he doesn’t, it won’t be because he has offended the tender sensitivities of small-town Americans. It will be because he has embraced a misleading stereotype of who they are and what they care about.
link to article (first posted April 17, 2008)