The Corner

Bill Clinton’s Bounce on Those ‘Bitter Clingers’

On the campaign trail in 2008, then-Senator Obama infamously explained his difficulty winning over voters in small-town Pennsylvania, where economic conditions had deteriorated, he said, through the Clinton and Bush administrations. “It’s not surprising, then,” he mused, “that 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.” 

In private remarks to a group of the Democratic party’s top donors, Bill Clinton urged Democrats not to write off those with pro-gun sentiments, who, he said, “live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things.”

Clinton’s advice is prescient, and Obama illustrated the tendency of some Democrats to condescend to political foes they perceive as less sophisticated and intelligent. Yet, in the spirit of mutual understanding, Clinton offered this: “A lot of these people . . . all they’ve got is their hunting and their fishing,” he said. “Or they’re living in a place where they don’t have much police presence. Or they’ve been listening to this stuff for so long that they believe it all.” You know, they’re rubes.

That’s particularly rich given that Clinton began his speech instructing his audience neither to “patronize” those who oppose stricter gun-control measures nor to “look down your nose at them.” Hey, you’re pretty for a fat girl! 

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