The Obama campaign this week accused Hillary Clinton of “peddling fake outrage” about their man’s comments about small-town Pennsylvanians being bitter. But I wonder whose outrage is fake. After all, the charge of elitism is hardly a new one to Obama; it was one of the main narratives of his lopsided loss to Rep. Bobby Rush in 2000.
“Rush painted the largely unknown freshman lawmaker as an out-of-touch elitist,” Todd Spivak recalls.
“As even one of his admirers put it, ‘He was a stiff.’ You think John Kerry looked wooden and condescending on the campaign trail? You should have seen this kid Obama. He was the elitist Ivy League Democrat to top them all,” Edward McClelland wrote recently in Salon.
“Campaigns are always, ‘What’s the narrative of the race?’ ” said Eric Adelstein, a media consultant in Chicago who worked on the Rush campaign,” the New York Times recounted. “In a sense, it was ‘the Black Panther against the professor.’ That’s not a knock on Obama; but to run from Hyde Park, this little bastion of academia, this white community in the black South Side – it just seemed odd that he would make that choice as a kind of stepping out.”
The Times noted that Mr. Obama’s Ivy League education and his white liberal-establishment connections also became an issue. Mr. Rush told The Chicago Reader, “He went to Harvard and became an educated fool. We’re not impressed with these folks with these Eastern elite degrees . . .
“Mr. Rush and his supporters faulted him for having missed experiences that more directly defined the previous generation of black people. ‘Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it,’ Mr. Rush told The Reader.
“Mr. Obama was seen as an intellectual, ‘not from us, not from the ’hood,’ said Jerry Morrison, a consultant on the Rush campaign . . . ‘It was much more a function of class, not race,’ Mr. Adelstein said. ‘Nobody said he’s “not black enough.” They said he’s a professor, a Harvard elite who lives in Hyde Park.
Finally, take it from Abner Mikva:
“Mr. Mikva recalls telling him about advice once given to John F. Kennedy by Cardinal Richard Cushing: ‘The cardinal said to him, Jack, you have to learn to speak more Irish and less Harvard. I think I recounted that anecdote to Barack. Clearly, he learned how to speak more Chicago and less Harvard in subsequent campaigning.”