No doubt about it, Barack Obama made a mistake a few weeks back when said that voters in some small towns are "bitter" people who cling to guns and religion. In part, of course, he was wrong for exactly the reason that the critics stated, that it was a weak generalization and that many people go to church because of their affirmative love of God or own guns because of a rural passion for hunting.
But frankly, there's something else. He was also giving a few folks too much of a break in calling them "bitter" and trying to explain it away. Some American voters are not bitter -- but willfully and stubbornly ignorant. You want me to name names? OK, how about Leonard Simpson, a 67-year-old retired coalminer from Mingo County, West Va.:
Mr. Simpson may be a perfectly good human being in other regards, but when it comes to this presidential election, in an age where information is readly available, even in rural West Virginia, he is willfully ignorant. You hear the words "personal responsibility" used in connection with issues like crime or the breakup of families, and I agree -- but aren't voters personally responsible for knowing facts?
So, too, with this man:
Tomorow night, Hillary Clinton is going to win a crushing victory in West Virginia, possibly by a margin as large as 70-30 percent. All the cable networks will give it wall-to-wall coverage, and you'll hear more blather about Obama's inability to "connect" with white working class voters -- and to suggest that lack of connectivity is somehow all Obama's fault. But when Clinton's vote total is swelled by the likes of people like this, do you honestly think there's something that Obama could be saying or doing that would get their support?
Look, whoever the next president is, he or she is going to need to fight for blue-collar, working class people, for retired coal miners and ambulance drivers who wants better access to health care. decent wages or job opportunities. I believe a candidate can win and then try to accomplish those things in 2008 -- to be a president for all Americans without pandering to the lowest instincts of some of them.