Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes says President Obama doesn’t understand “Bitter America” like Florida Rep. Allen West and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — and he aims to set the record straight in his book “Dispatches from Bitter America: A Gun toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist’s Culture War Stories.”
The book’s title is a play on then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 remarks to a Democratic fundraiser in San Francisco.
“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,” Obama said then, during his presidential primary battle with Hillary Clinton.
“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. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
As a self confessed product of that “Bitter America,” Starnes said the soon-to-be president’s remarks didn’t sit well with him.
“I was offended as an American,” Starnes told The Daily Caller.
“When he delivered those remarks, I remember thinking, ‘Wait a second. Most of my family carries a gun and goes to church, sometimes all at once, and we don’t seem to be all that bitter.’ The truth is that I believe President Obama holds ‘Bitter Americans’ — people like me — in contempt. And yet, truth be told, we’re not bitter. We’re blessed.”
Starnes says what may be surprising to some reading his book is that “Bitter America” is not some neat geographical area. It can be found all over the country.
“I discovered that there are ‘Bitter Americans’ from coast to coast,” he said.
“I even found some living among the liberals in my Brooklyn neighborhood. These are people who love America, who love the traditions and values that make this country great. If you believe the Mainstream Media, the folks who live in ‘fly over’ country are the anomalies. But in reality, it’s the folks who live in the big cities who are the anomaly. Most of the United States shares the same values: God, family, country. These are the values that make us strong.”
But though Starnes argues that “Bitter Americans” lack enthusiasm for the president, he says they aren’t too excited about Mitt Romney either.
“People are sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans,” said Starnes.
“They have trust issues. There is a sense among conservatives that the Republican Party only wants their votes, not their values. It’s this idea of ‘shut up and do what you’re told.’ There’s a reason why folks like Sarah Palin and Allen West are resonating with conservatives. It’s because they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Voters respect that.”
Read TheDC’s full interview with Starnes about his book, what “Bitter America” thinks of Mitt Romney and much more below.
Why did you write the book?
I grew up reading the works of Lewis Grizzard and Erma Bombeck. I was an odd duck of a kid: 14 years-old and reading “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?” Let’s just say that I learned how to run real fast. But I appreciated how Grizzard and Bombeck used humor to discuss serious issues. That’s what I wanted to do with “Dispatches From Bitter America.” I wanted to tell stories about what is happening in our country — but I wanted to make sure folks were alternately horrified and amused.
Mark Levin told me I was able to convey the gravity of the situation without wanting to jump off a roof. In 2008 I was assigned to cover the Obama campaign. I traveled from coast to coast and met so many people who were — and still are –concerned about the direction of our nation. I realized that contrary to the Mainstream Media, folks in New Hampshire and Mississippi have quite a bit in common: patriotism, family, God. I wanted to tell those stories.
Your title is a spoof of President Obama’s comments in 2008 at a Democratic fundraiser. Did his words offend you as a “gun toting, chicken eating son of a Baptist?”
I was offended as an American. When he delivered those remarks, I remember thinking, “Wait a second. Most of my family carries a gun and goes to church, sometimes all at once, and we don’t seem to be all that bitter.” The truth is that I believe President Obama holds “Bitter Americans” — people like me — in contempt. And yet, truth be told, we’re not bitter. We’re blessed.
Is Bitter America a geographic region? Where can we find it?
That’s the surprising part of my book. I discovered that there are “Bitter Americans” from coast to coast. I even found some living among the liberals in my Brooklyn neighborhood. These are people who love America, who love the traditions and values that make this country great. If you believe the Mainstream Media, the folks who live in “fly over” country are the anomalies. But in reality, it’s the folks who live in the big cities who are the anomaly. Most of the United States shares the same values: God, family, country. These are the values that make us strong.
What issues most inflame Bitter America politically?
Religious liberty. I believe that is the hottest of hot-button issues. I tell a story in the book about how President Obama considered removing the nativity scene from the East Room during his first Christmas in the White House. That told me everything I needed to know about this president: he was not going to be a friend of the faithful. Sadly, that turned out to be true. People just don’t understand why President Obama consistently allowed his administration to attack Christians. And my book is filled with plenty of evidence to back that up.
The other issue that really bothers Bitter America is President Obama’s propensity to apologize. Right or wrong, my country. That’s how patriots view the United States. And it’s so unsettling to see our Commander in Chief apologizing for us on foreign soil, bowing to other world leaders and telling people that we are no longer just a Christian nation. That’s not very presidential in my book.
What does Bitter America think of Mitt Romney?
[They’re] confused. People are sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans. They have trust issues. There is a sense among conservatives that the Republican Party only wants their votes, not their values. It’s this idea of “shut up and do what you’re told.” There’s a reason why folks like Sarah Palin and Allen West are resonating with conservatives. It’s because they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. Voters respect that. They want someone to tell it like it is. I remember a quote from a Romney surrogate in New Hampshire. He said that electability trumps principle and belief. That’s why people have trust issues with politicians.
You write that the “antithesis of Bitter Americans” is those “who’ve been educated in Ivy League schools, who listen to highbrow music, and who dine on arugula and fermented soy.” What do you have against arugula and fermented soy? And what’s so bad about America’s most elite academic institutions?
Have you ever tasted fermented soy? It smells like something that came out of a cat. I find it difficult to take anyone who doesn’t eat meat seriously. After a particularly long day on the campaign trail, a flight attendant on board then-Sen. Obama’s jetliner offered me a plate of sushi. She could tell I looked perplexed and asked me if I needed something. I replied, “Yes. I need some peanut oil, some flour and a deep fryer because somebody forgot to cook the fish.”
As for what’s so bad about America’s most elite academic institutions? Our last two presidents went to Ivy League schools. How’s that economy working out for us? At this point, I think it’s time to give someone with a community college education a try — or maybe a trucking institute.
Bitter America may have different values than Hollywood, but they seem to love what Hollywood produces. Why is that?
You can only play so much Uno. Seriously, though. I believe Americans are turning to other venues to be entertained. For example, there are some great family-friendly shows on cable — like “Duck Dynasty.” I love that show. And it has a great spiritual message that resonates with Christians. I do think it’s sad that Hollywood hates people who love God. They’ve gone from entertaining America to indoctrinating America. And people take offense to that.
Can Bitter America and its antithesis coexist peacefully? Or is there trouble brewing?
I’m not sure the antithesis wants Bitter Americans to coexist. The left is not interested in debate. It’s their way — period. Take gay marriage, for example. If you don’t support same sex marriage, the left will label you a bigot [and] call you intolerant. They won’t allow room for honest and open discussion. As I write in the book, those who preach tolerance are in fact the least tolerant of all.
Who best exemplifies Bitter America? Who are its leaders?
Bitter Americans are your neighbors. They’re the folks we go to church with. Bitter Americans lead scout troops and do good deeds for the less fortunate. They serve honorably in the military. They embrace the Second Amendment. They get a little teary-eyed when someone sings “God Bless the USA.” But most importantly, Bitter Americans make our nation the most exceptional on the face of the earth.