Being from a post-steel western Pennsylvania city, I'd say Obama nailed it. It's not the most savory of portrayals, but that doesn't make it inaccurate.
Mr. Obama made the remarks at a closed-door fund-raiser in San Francisco last Sunday — before a very different crowd from those he has been courting in Pennsylvania and Indiana — after he was asked why he was not doing better in Pennsylvania. Polls there show him narrowing the gap with Mrs. Clinton but still lagging behind.
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Mr. Obama responded, according to a transcript of the fund-raiser published on Friday on The Huffington Post Web site.
“And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not,” Mr. Obama went on. “And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
By Saturday morning, Mr. Obama was trying to contain the political damage after a series of late-night and early-morning strategy calls in which advisers decided he had to acknowledge that he made a mistake.
The fun part is now that the pretense of protection for the old industry and old economic models have gone away, those areas are reinventing themselves in the service economy. They're doing a great job, and many businesses which could go to the east coast megalopolis are moving to western Pennsylvania specifically because the operating costs are low while the quality of the labor pool is very good.