After condescending comments he made about regular Americans were made public on Friday, Sen. Barack Obama endured one of his most difficult and trying weekends since the start of his presidential campaign more than a year ago. He survived the ordeal, aides and close friends say, by turning for solace to the sense of elitism and general superiority over others that has sustained him for much of his life.
For the past two days Obama has taken a beating by the Clinton campaign for remarks he made in San Francisco, in which he said many Americans who have lost jobs have "gotten bitter and 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."
"It's been a very difficult time for him," said a friend from Harvard Law School who said he and Obama used to enjoy riding the Boston subway while wearing their Harvard sweatshirts just to make the other passengers feel inferior. "I called him up and reminded him that he went to the most prestigious law school in the world, has written two best-sellers, is richer than 99 percent of Americans, and has a vocabulary that most Ivy League literature professors would envy, and that made him feel a lot better."
Aides say Obama spent Saturday night with supporter Sen. John Kerry over a meal of duck a l'orange and a fine pinot noir.
"I understand what it is like to have one's elitism so painfully exposed before the Plebian hordes," Sen. Kerry said in an interview. "Senator Obama and I share this unfortunate distinction, in addition to our natural eloquence, sonorous voices, tall, slender physiques, Ivy League educations, and taste for outspoken, domineering women who dress us in pretty clothes and make us go shopping with them. I assured him that this ordeal would pass, and I recommended that he take the night off and watch something on the Sundance Channel. Enjoying a pretentious art film that most Americans find offensive and inaccessible always makes me forget my troubles."
Aides tried to buck up the senator by buying him an expensive and entirely useless trinket from The Sharper Image, but the senator had already beaten them to it, having ordered himself a Sharper Image Orbital Lounger and a Sonic Breeze Ionic Air Filter.
"The senator enjoys surrounding himself with consumer items that distinguish him instantly from the type of person who would cling to guns and nativism to get through hard times," an aide explained.
Obama also turned inward, quietly reminding himself that he must win the nomination and the election so he can enact government policies that protect people from their own uninformed or simply stupid decisions.
"That was a real comfort to him," an aide said. "When you're down on yourself, there's nothing like remembering why you're a progressive in the first place and reminding yourself that the masses need an intelligent, compassionate parental figure like yourself to take care of them."
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