Them fancy-pants Democrats
Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes an excellent op-ed piece on the Republican party’s curious long-standing tradition of portraying Democrats as provincial elitists who don’t give a shit about the little people.
What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.
Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.
Well, as the saying goes, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit. As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back, where Cokie Roberts chided Barack Obama for vacationing in Hawaii, apparently considered an exotic, foreign location for many people, Republicans like to portray Democrats as chai-swilling, French film-watching snobs who are hopelessly out of touch with “real Americans.” Harsh words coming from the party that’s the quickest to take bites out of government assistance programs such as welfare and Head Start, negatively affecting those little people that we Democrats apparently sneer at derisively when we’re on our way to an Ingmar Bergman festival.
Sarah Palin, the small town mayor with big city dreams, seems particularly intent on using the fabled Democrat snobbery as her trump card. The hard-working ordinary hockey mom is gonna take on the villainous Washington elite, you watch and see! A nice thought, but consider this: it costs upwards of $2,000 a year for a child to play hockey. It’s not an activity for downwardly mobile families, and as much as I hate to play into stereotypes, virtually every “hockey mom” I’ve personally encountered has fully lived up to the driving an SUV with a cell phone in one hand and a Starbucks cup in the other image, generally only socializing with other hockey moms. So guess what? They’re elitist snobs! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. People are allowed to befriend whoever they want. As individuals we have the right to exclude someone from our social circles if there’s something about them we find unacceptable. It’s not nice, but it’s not on an overall level wrong. And if you have the money for your kids to play hockey, godspeed, may they be the next Wayne Gretzky. Enroll them in hockey, soccer, badminton, violin lessons, judo, Gymboree, Baby Mozart, Baby Van Gogh, baby pole dancing, whatever the hell you want, just remember that there are a lot of parents out there who can barely afford to keep their kids fed. It’s a bit ludicrous for Sarah Palin to portray herself as some sort of scrappy underdog who has to fight to be heard.
As Krugman points out in his article, though it was really Nixon who started the whole “outsider fighting against the hoi-polloi” trend, particularly since George W. Bush was elected into office there seems to be this strange notion that it’s really the Republican party that’s made up of hardscrabble fighters who keep America honest, despite its inarguable roots in big business. Bush’s wholly unremarkable C-average at Yale was cleverly spun into a true American success story, someone who, like a lot of us ordinary folks, maybe couldn’t cut it too well with the fancy book-larnins, but he had brains where it counts, and with instinct and sheer force of will he managed to fight his way to the most important position in the country, if not the world itself. And people bought that horseshit, that it was tenacity that won him the presidency, rather than being firmly lodged in the pockets of several corporations and just plain cheating, not to mention that whole his father was president once thing. Now the same spin is being applied to John McCain’s wealth. After McCain’s now infamous failure to recall just how many homes he owns, John Hinderaker of Power Line Blog explains…
The truth is that McCain isn’t out of touch with “ordinary people” because he’s rich, he’s out of touch with his own domestic arrangements because he cares little about material things, and for many years has devoted his extraordinary energies not to enjoying his wife’s money, but to serving the American people. Given the number of nights he’s spent in hotels or on military bases over the last few years, it’s no wonder he hasn’t seen much of his wife’s condos.
Oh, I see, he’s been too busy being a war hero to keep track of his wealth, I get it. It’s not that he doesn’t know how many homes he owns, it’s that he doesn’t care. Well, golly, that makes it all right then! Except it kind of doesn’t. Not caring about how much money you have, or how much property you own means you have a fucking shitload of money. It doesn’t matter if it’s supposedly his wife’s money. The average American doesn’t have the luxury of not caring. The average American isn’t going to have a conversation with their spouse that starts with “Hey, honey, when did we get another house?” John McCain’s current lifestyle does not in any way resemble or represent the “average American,” and it’s insulting to suggest otherwise.
But you know what? Neither does Barack Obama’s. I expect politicians to be rich, it’s how they’re able to be politicians. I don’t expect a politician to be just like me, I just want them to have my interests and the interests of people like me at heart. They could have gold coins falling out of their asses for all I care. Wealth doesn’t impress me, it neither qualifies or disqualifies someone to be able to lead this country. All this “He owns seven houses!” “Well, he owns land in Hawaii!” “Yeah, well, he spends almost $300,000 a year on servants!” “Oh, really, well, I heard he owns a flock of magic unicorns!” crap only serves as a distraction from the fact that neither of them have revealed any concrete plans for the changes they both supposedly intend to make as President, only promises.