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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Ultimate Smackdown

It’s been said a lot lately that Tina Fey was born to do impressions of Sarah Palin. I don’t know about that, but I do know that The New Republic’s Michelle Cottle was born to write the ultimate, definitive smackdown of all the incessant conservative whining about Sarah Palin’s critics being a horde of godless, tofu-eating, Ivy-educated elitists who hate Real Americans.
Cottle’s target was a particularly annoying rant by Ralph Peters about the righteous rage Real Americans (like him, of course) should all feel at any and all criticism of “Our Sister Sarah” by “the leftwing elite.”
Take it away, Michelle!

Oh blah blah blah. In this tiresome piece we see a near perfect distillation of the cheap, shameless culture warfare that conservatives are so fond of employing: An attack on Sarah Palin is an attack on all hard-working, god-fearing, authentic Americans! When Dems and “mediacrats” criticize Palin, they are mocking every red-blooded red-stater in this great nation.
Now I appreciate the effectiveness of insulting stereotyping as much as the next pundit, but I’m getting exceedingly tired of hearing about how much I scorn Sarah Palin because she is a hick chick from a hick state who didn’t go to Harvard. Please. I grew up in freaking Southeast Tennessee, in a smallish suburb of Chattanooga known as Hixson. (That’s right, pronounced hick-son.) I have spent more time at mudbogs, tractor pulls, county fairs, pig-roasts, dirt-bike races, and Wal-Marts than most of the anti-elite conservative whiners flapping their gums and wringing their hands over poor disrespected Sarah. I attended public high school, and the bulk of my classmates had Appalachian accents so thick they make Palin sound like a network anchor. The boys were hunters. The girls–myself included–had absolutely enormous hair. If any of my friends wasn’t a Christian, she had the good sense not to mention it to the rest of us, lest we try to save her soul at the countless revivals, church camps, and youth retreats we all attended….
Just like Ralph Peters, I KNOW Sarah Palin. Hell, in my younger days, I WAS Sarah Palin. (Well, minus being a crack shot.) The difference is I don’t fetishize my regular-gal roots and assume they make me special–much less qualified to run the country. And while I have indeed witnessed my fair share of cultural snobbery from some of my better-credentialed, coastal colleagues over the years, I’m not so defensive about where I come from that I feel the need to champion a wildly unqualified fellow hick whose politics I disagree with as a way to get back at everyone I know who has ever made a sniffy comment about big hair or small towns.
Memo to Ralph & Co.: Get over yourselves and stop lumping everyone who grew up in non-elite circles into some persecuted ball of burning, self-righteous resentment…. Some of us, in fact, don’t give a rat’s ass where [Palin] comes from. We’re too busy worrying about where she and McCain want to take us all next.

As it happens, my own background is pretty similar to Cottle’s. So I am particularly delighted that she spoke so eloquently on behalf of the rest of us birthright rednecks who are extremely tired of the unmitigated gall of people like Ralph Peters, who presumes to speak for us, and then, if we happen to think he’s full of crap, tells us we must have gone to Yale and hate Jesus.

One comment on “The Ultimate Smackdown

  1. TomS on

    Thank you for the excellent article. I would have enjoyed seeing how the “elitists” described by Ralph Peters is John McCain. “Trust fund babies”, “vacation homes” and other examples fit John McCain, not Barack Obama. As Democrats, we know we are not “elitist” and we know the Republicans are. We don’t need to defend ourselves, we need to point out that the elitists are Republicans. Thanks!


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