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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Good Ol' Boys

Daily Howler has a nice in-depth debunking of Bill Frist. In an age where mock authenticity trumps the genuine article in spades, Frist is a real piece of work. He's got old-money, blue-blood, patrician roots that make John Kerry look like an inbred Deliverance hick. Yet he hits the NASCAR rallies and bullshits the rubes that he grew up loving the "sport" -- to the extent that "go fast, turn left, repeat 1500 times" can be called a sport.

Of course, the point really isn't about Frist at all, but about how people's psychological projections of their assumptions, as well as how they see themselves and their role in the world around them. Like the hardcore Bushies or the Dobgobblers, they're ready to fight and die for a man who has nothing at all in common with any of them, and in fact frequently works at cross purposes to their interests.

But, like Bush, Frist shows up and aw-shuckses his way through things, and they lap it up like the good ol' proles they are. What a crock. What, y'think Frist drives the fuckin' General Lee to work or something, carpooling with Goober and Gomer?

I have no great love for Kerry, but at least he is who he is. I found the cheap class-warfare campaign tactics last year repulsive and hypocritical. Much was made of Kerry's hobbies of skiing and windsurfing, which are "expensive" sports. Well, bullshit. Every sport has equipment all along the price spectrum. George W. Bush rides a $3000 mountain bike. So what? I expect someone with the kind of money Kerry and Bush have to buy the best equipment available to get the maximum enjoyment out their chosen avocation.

But no, these idjits got all worked up at the very notion of a rich guy with expensive hobbies running things -- then they turned around and voted for that very same thing. All those ranch coats and calfskin gloves and Phony Lama shitkickers -- they cost a lot of money. You can't afford them, NASCAR dads. Neither can I. So quit fooling yourselves that you voted for one o' y'all. You didn't. You just got someone that drawled a better game than his more competent, intelligent, and idealistic counterpart did.

Kinda pathetic when you think about it. Better have another Pabst Blue Ribbon. Yeeee-hawww!

All that said, this is actually where the Democrats will have to compete. I believe that the main reason the heartland went for Bush so strongly is that the guy actually campaigned out there, even though he clearly didn't need to. He showed up, while the Kerry campaign punted on first down. Hell, no wonder they didn't bother with him, if he wasn't going to bother with them.

So there's that, but the main thing is that we have to get off this goofy "man of the people" trip we're on. I do not care whether or not I could have a beer with my president or my senator. Of course, on some visceral level we'd all like to believe that we could, and thus magically find ourselves mano-a-mano on the policy-making level. But it's a silly pipe dream, and certainly not a viable metric.

In fact, in a world in which technological and political trends are exponentially more complex and intertwined than ever, you really don't want Cooter from the feed store running this railroad. Cooter belongs on a tractor; this train runs hard and fast, and has a lot of momentum -- which means that if he decides to pick his nose when he should be preparing for that sharp curve right up ahead, a lot of damage gets done. This is not a simple job.

So let's stop the pretense, that barbecuing with the people who occupy these manifestly important roles is some sort of useful criterion for electing people. Because more and more of them are turning out to be incompetent ideologues that only have the faintest grasp of the ginormous levers they're yanking.

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