Bitter? Who, Me?

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: I like Barack Obama. A lot, actually. We don't necessarily agree on all policies all of the time, but I think he wants to serve. And as historic as electing a black president would be, I'm almost as excited about electing a Gen-X president. A little different perspective. A little youthful enthusiasm. A little optimism. And (I hope) a certain disregard for "the system" ...

That said, I'm upset with Obama's "bitter" gaffe. My disappointment, however, less because he characterized small-town folks like me as bitter than because he characterized religious folks and gun-owners as clinging.

Think about the implication there: That middle Americans are somehow so desperate in these dark days, so helpless in these hard times, that we cleave to our faith and our firearms. I agree that his words sounded elitist, as if the educational and economic opportunities afforded to the enlightened city-dwellers on the coasts free them of their need for such quaint notions and frontier relics.

Wasn't it an old episode of The Outer Limits that featured a man who figured out how to speed his own evolution? Seems like his brain expanded to enormous size, he gained a digit, and he began to pity his poor human companions. Just at the point he feels he must put end their miserable lives out of mercy, he "evolves past violence" and spares them ...

I am a church-going gun-owner and a reasonably well-educated voter. I am solidly middle-class, living in a small town that is quickly becoming a suburb. I know times are tight, but also that folks have it tougher than me almost everywhere in the world. I have guns to hunt. And I have faith for the spiritual gifts it brings.

I don't think that makes me the desperate, clingy sort. On the contrary, I think it's made me hopeful, helpful, and in some ways, resourceful.

I don't think Obama meant his words quite the way they sounded, and it's too bad that our political campaigns turn and turn again on one line, one word, one misstep. But it bothers me that this gaffe has been summarized as "the bitter quote." "Bitter" wasn't the half of it!

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