Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Amongst The Fields And Forests, The Real America

It all makes sense now.

Two years ago this month, Sarah Palin said at a North Carolina fundraiser:

We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe" -- here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers -- "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.

At the time, most of us who are not Real Americans thought this was awfully bad. And, looking back at it, it's still pretty sleazy.

At least, though, Palin seems to like some Americans, if only those whom she imagines have the values she does.

Interviewed in May 2008 by Glenn Beck, actor William Shatner attributed environmental degradation to "overpopulation. Not the main. The cause of the world's destruction is there are too many people." To which Glenn Beck, ever the "populist" and the people's choice, responded

No, I think there are too many stupid people.

Shatner tried to talk him down, clarifying "there are too many stupid and intelligent people. They're so close together you can't tell them apart." A moment later, Shatner would state "Everybody defecates into the ocean. You defecate here, it goes into the ocean," to which Beck would remark

Oh, well, that's New York.

But it's not only Beck, who has particular disdain for fire victims. Last Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh commented

Michael Shear, New York Times, writes: "The president’s comments are reported in an in-depth assessment of Mr. Obama’s first two years in office that appears in the Times Magazine this Sunday. In the article, which is based on interviews with nearly two dozen of the president’s advisers in addition to the president himself, Mr. Baker offers a series of inside details about Mr. Obama’s time in the White House, including: According to his wife, Michelle Obama, Mr. Obama is not particularly fond of the presidential retreat at Camp David. Mrs. Obama reports that her husband, a longtime resident of Chicago, is more at ease in an urban setting." Let's see. Let's start tallying this up. The president doesn't like the Chamber of Commerce; he doesn't like Mother Nature 'cause that's where Camp David is; he doesn't like balanced budgets; he doesn't like low taxes; he doesn't like the American private sector; he doesn't like the oil industry; he doesn't like the drug industry; he doesn't like Big Tobacco; he doesn't like Big Auto; he doesn't like much that is considered traditionally American. He says he's the green president and yet he can't stand to be out there among natural beauty at Camp David. He's the green president, but don't get him anywhere near the actual chlorophyll, don't get him near the leaves.

How does a man grow up in Hawaii and prefer an urban setting?

True to his M.O., Rush ended the segment by lying: "All I know is he doesn't like much of what's American, that's admitted to in the Times magazine article." (This would be more scandalous than Watergate: President Barack Obama says "I don't like much of what's American!") And we already knew that Rush Limbaugh believes the oil industry, the drug industry, the tobacco industry, and America's foremost advocate of jobs for Indians, Chinese, and Bahrains, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, truly represent what's best about the nation, most of whose people Limbaugh has no use for.

But the thrust of these extraordinarily (though, for any objective observer of the Rush record, unsurprising) remarks is this: Barack Obama prefers the City of Chicago to the far more rural enclave of Camp David and therefore "doesn't like much of what is American."

Palin finds "kindness," "goodness," and "courage" only in small towns. Beck wants us to know that New Yorkers defecate into the ocean. And Limbaugh believes that no real American possibly could "be more at ease in an urban setting," in the phraseology of The Times' reporter.

The easy (and accurate) conclusion is that these titans of the Republican right dislike Americans who live in cities. (When Beck claims he distrusts Republicans as much as he does Democrats, he is as sincere as the legendary Nigerian on the Internet who will make you rich if you'll just make a little deposit into a certain bank account.)

But it goes beyond that. Barack Obama, as Limbaugh bemoans, prefers "an urban setting" to the "natural beauty at Camp David." And so he does- choosing to spend his down time not in the wooded and pristine setting of rural/suburban Maryland but in Chicago. Amongst people, poor and rich and those in between- among Americans. Perhaps that, more than anything else, is a thorn in the side, a burr under the saddle, of some of today's conservative Republicans.

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