Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Class, Regional Warfare

Not content to play simple class warfare, Republicans may be adding regional warfare to the mix.

We all remember Governor Sarah Palin enthusiastically exclaiming at a campaign rally last October in North Carolina:

We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe--- We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.

Mrs. Palin never specified which cities and suburbs she believed are not part of the "real America" and why their inhabitants are such malingerers while "everyday Americans" are "running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us."

Fortunately, the McCain-Palin ticket was soundly defeated the following month, due apparently to divine intervention. But the sentiment continues, and thrives in some quarters of the GOP stable.

President Obama on Tuesday signed an executive order establishing a task force "to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight." Nowhere in his statement, in the Presidential Memorandum announcing the initiative, nor in the statements of the First Lady (who will be heading the effort) was there any reference to regional disparities.

That didn't stop Rush Limbaugh, who that same day, shuffling about to find some reason to criticize the initiative, bellowed

Do you know what else they put out about this childhood obesity thing? There it is right there! First Lady unveils campaign to fight childhood obesity. Guess where, what region of the country do you think, ladies and gentlemen, the largest number of obedience children happen to be? Ticktock, ticktock, ticky-tock. That's right, the South. The South is where there are more fat kids than anywhere in the country. That's what they say. I saw it reported in the news today. The South is where there are more fat kids than any other place. I wonder why. Cornbread? Road kill? Who knows what they're eating in the back of their pickup trucks down there. You people in the South you understand I'm your friend. I'm just telling you what these elitists think. So childhood obesity is apparently now a regional problem, particularly in the South.

Sure, Rush is their friend. That’s why without any prompting from, or inference by, the First Lady or the President, Limbaugh is reminding them “The South is where there are more fat kids than anywhere in the country”- but shielding himself from criticism by contending “That’s what they say. I saw it reported in the news today.” Yet, it is “these elitists”- unnamed Democrats- who are demeaning Southerners.

Of course, this regional warfare is not unrelated to GOP class warfare, but an integral part. And it’s only fitting that Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin would be in the vanguard of stirring up hostility in the country they claim to love. Not only are they both on the far right, fact-challenged, and masters of ad hominem, but Rush relentlessly promotes her on his program. They may deserve each other- but this country deserves neither.

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