Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bitter? You Bet

It's sad to watch how people get dumped on these days for telling the truth. It seems that we prefer to remain in our state of comfortable denial, rather to recognize the truth in sometimes harsh words about ourselves. Cases in point, clearly, are the absurd uproar around the words of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and, now, Barack Obama's use of the word "bitterness" in describing the attitude of certain middle and working class Americans about the state of the nation.

"Bitter" is right. I spoke to a bitter man only yesterday, right here in Southern California. He was bitter about "government"; about the intervention of local government in his affairs and those of his friends when it comes to decisions about their homes; about the federal government and those politicians who fail, in his particular view, to adequately step forward for the protection of the state of Israel; about his fellow Americans who fail to elect those people who would properly emasculate government and keep it out of his life.

And who could blame the recently dis-employed for being bitter about their loss of jobs? Who could blame the poor for being bitter about their neglect? The millions of Americans who can't afford the premiums demanded by insurance companies to protect their health, or who refuse them insurance on the basis of pre-existing conditions, or who simply refuse to pay up when the time comes?

Bitterness, it seems to me, is a not inappropriate response for institutional and systemic failures that have gone unaddressed for years. Bitterness may lack nobility, but it's very human when cries for help go unheard for so long. And to deny the bitterness rampant in this country is to close one's ears to much of what's being said on talk radio, for example, or on the streets. Indignant, outraged denial is no adequate answer to the simple truth. But, to quote myself, immodestly, from yesterday's entry, "denial is still rife here in these United States." As Frank Rich noted in his New York Sunday Times column with morning, with reference to the Iraq war, "It's not just torture we want to avoid"--that would be terrible enough, in itself. "Most Americans don't want to hear, see or feel anything about Iraq, whether they support the war or oppose it. They want to look away, period, and have been doing so for some time."

Unfortunately, however, denial may work to the advantage of unscrupulous politicians when it comes to getting votes--or slandering the opponent.

5 comments:

thailandchani said...

I just heard about this on the morning news. I'm sorry he feels the need to backpedal for speaking the truth. Fox News had a big debate on whether or not he should apologize.

He should not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what he said.

John Torcello said...

Remains to be seen if the seeming overwhelming populist support (his real base in this election) will continue to 'stick' to Obama after the media works this story to death...

In fact, unless people speak out in support for the 'truthfulness' in his words here and point out where the actual 'elitism' lies among the candidates; I think it might call into question the strength and longevity of that populist support once, if he's elected, he faces even more difficult times trying to pass the various programs he has discussed in the campaign through Congress.

It's so easy to get caught up in all of the noise...

I think it's important to take in the actual comments and judge for yourself...then, stick to it in spite of the noise and influencers around you...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

He was telling the truth and that is such a rare occurrence in American politics that nobody can deal with it.

Except Clinton, who is capitalizing on it while her ever-greedy hands clutch desperately for the presidency.

If we can't handle the truth, nothing will ever change in this country. Instead of asking if Obama is good enough for us, maybe the question should be if we are good enough for him.

Mark said...

I agree entirely. My question is this: Should my bitterness motivate me to stay here and try to fix it, or should I leave this country the first chance I get? I don't see much hope for people who aren't already established in their wealth in the future of America. It really worries me. I want to get out, but I feel like that would be a bit of an escapist attitude. When should we get off what feels like a sinking ship?

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Bitterness is a real feeling among many.

Denial of feelings, history, and reality seems to be prominent in the media these days. I suspect that it goes along with the “blame the victim” attitude of our present administration in the White House.

Or, perhaps it is that, as one of my favorite gurus, Hunter S. Thompson, wrote: “Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.”