City Mice


CITY MICE….Ezra Klein points to a small panel of Detroit voters who commented on Sarah Palin’s speech last night and notes that, of all the groups, it was the independents who were least impressed. Here’s a sampling:

It appears that once she makes up her mind, that is the end of it….She was a Republican novelty act with a sophomoric script….I still don’t know anymore about this young lady tonight than I did last night….Her speech contained few statements about policy or the party platform….I found her barrage of snide remarks and distortions to be a major turn off….I thought she would appear more professional, more stateswomanly. She’s no match for Joe Biden.

Obviously this is a tiny group of people and may or may not represent anything larger. We’ll have to wait for next week’s polls to find out more on that score. But it does suggest that the snide mockery and withering sarcasm that both Palin and Rudy Giuliani delivered last night might be more of a turnoff to apolitical voters than the GOP thinks. (And, conversely, that just as audiences liked Bill Clinton’s policy-heavy laundry lists better than the jaded DC press did, it may be that voters prefer a little more substance and gravitas in settings like this too.)

And me? Well, on a purely personal note, the most grating part of Palin’s speech (and Giuliani’s) was their reliance — yet again — on the trope that the only true Americans are those from small towns in the heartland. As a native Californian, that stuff just drives me up the wall. This smoldering esthetic resentment, eagerly stoked by the GOP every fours years since at least Nixon, relies on the myth that us coastal urbanites spend all our time looking down our patrician noses at anyone who lives outside the city limits, and it’s dangerous, divisive, and annoying as hell. What’s more, as near as I can tell, it’s completely backwards. Far from criticizing small town life, America celebrates it. Liberals celebrate it. Politicians celebrate it. Everyone celebrates it. I can hardly turn on the TV without hearing that, compared with the hardworking everymen and women who populate the prairies and put food on our tables, anyone who lives where I do is degenerate, suspiciously cosmopolitan, and one step away from turning the country over to the UN.

Feh. I know this is hardly new or uniquely American. And it’s designed for specifically political reasons. And it works and it wins elections and that’s all conservatives care about. And this is exactly the reaction they’re trying to sucker me into. But it still annoys me, and for some reason everyone feels like they have to continue playing this game forever. It’s time to stop it.

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