Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,
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.
–Barack Obama

Dear 44,

It’s true, there’s a group in this country who are completely out of touch with reality. They keep bouncing their “ideas” off of other “people like themselves” and never stop to wonder why new memes rarely penetrate their bubble. In this world, words are more important than reality, emotion trumps policy, and any thought that takes more than 10 seconds to express is treated as esoteric and dangerous.

I’m speaking, of course, about America’s political elites.

Only in this Shangri-la of six-to-eight figure salaries would it be a worse sin to notice that people are bitter than to ignore it. Like a crew of wussy rappers, they circle waiting for the next “dis.” It’s not just that pundits have turned politics into a shallow fetid puddle of personality minutiae. It’s that they’ve taken the fun out of it. Big races now are like watching Olympic figure skating. Sure, you can stare in wonderment at the power and the skill and those triple axles you’d never be able to land even if you were given immortality and a psychotic coach. But the score is mostly based on who falls down the most times.

No sooner were these words out of Obama’s mouth before some were calling this his macaca moment. It’s not, and here’s why. S.R. Siddarth is not really a monkey from West Africa. But guess what? Everyone’s bitter. Even if you’re a starting quarterback/professional beer taster/Rhodes Scholar who has to keep your changing your phone number so supermodels stop pestering you, there is something or someone out there who can make you collapse into a puddle of seething jealousy, resentment and angst.

Now imagine you’re none of these things and are instead get to stay home in your singlewide on a permanent vacation with your rising cholesterol and falling life expectancy and your retirement account that looks like Paris Hilton’s SAT score because someone living in another country was kind enough to fill in for you at your job for the next few decades. Sure, this is a stereotype, but just like when they said I was the world’s greatest lover, it gets that status because there’s a silo of truth behind it.

And talk about clinging to guns and God, the punditiots conveniently ignored most of the sentence. Maybe it’s because macaca moments rarely involve trade policy; they always focus on topics that a crowd of middle-schoolers watching a playground fight could understand. When serious presidential contenders spend their time talking about duck hunting, I find myself wanting to shoot the television instead.

It’s telling that the biggest sin other Democrats can hang around Obama’s neck—well, besides that “too much charisma” albatross he’s saddled with, poor guy—is that he’s an intellectual lightweight. This has little to do with the policy proposals laid out on his website, which are pretty similar to the ones laid out by Clinton and the ones John Edwards had before he dropped out.

It’s all about the fact that he doesn’t speak to voters in 27-syllable triplicate. Sure, in ’04 John Kerry was up against a candidate with a huge vocabulary. It just happened to be a vocabulary filled with words that don’t existimize. But rather than meet Dubya’s rancid word salad with a more appropriate response (such as “Yah, what’s up, Doc?”), Kerry seemed to think he was in an elocution contest with Bill Buckley (may his quiescence be in quietude).

So keep in mind that this whole spiel about Obama being all style and no substance is coming from babbling noggins who make Joan Rivers look like Nietzsche. Just because they’re not comfortable talking honestly about how crappy things have gotten for so many Americans, they’ll try to punish anyone who does. And if you want to see how well toeing this line has worked for Democrats, just look at their success since 1980. If you’re a Dem, bitter is a core value—or it ought to be.

Obama is the candidate that Democrats say they’ve wanted for years: a handsome hunk of born Teflon who talks like Barry White channeling JFK. But Dems seem to keep following the lead of the last good thing to come their way, Bill Clinton. We keep going back to Hillary, but meantime our hearts sure do wander.

Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: