Friday, October 24, 2008

The "Real" America

What is the Real America? Governor Palin recently told a crowd that they were the best of America. This angered Keith Olbermann enough to do a special report on divisive politics. He quotes Palin:

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.," you told a fund-raiser in North Carolina last Thursday, to kick off this orgy of condescending elitism.

"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, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Olbermann goes on:

Governor, your prejudice is overwhelming. It is not just "pockets" of this country that are "pro-America" Governor. America is "pro-America. "And the "Real America" of yours, Governor, is where people at your rallies shout threats of violence, against other Americans, and you say  nothing about them or to them.

He also quotes McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer:

"I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," she said. "But the rest of the state, 'real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."
Again, a toxic message. The parts of the country that agree with Nancy Pfotenhauer are real; the others, not. Ms. Pfotenhauer, why not go the distance on this one? It was Sen. McCain's own  brother who called that part of Virginia nearest Washington "communist country."

Once again, Olbermann is practicing selective outrage.

First, Olbermann's threats of violence didn't happen. According to the Secret Service, no one shouted "kill Obama" at a Palin rally. Olbermann is repeating a lie, or possibly obfuscating it since he is referring to it in general terms instead of the specifics he used in a previous special report.

But, more to the point, we are becoming a very divided nation and the two halves don't think much of each other. A map of the 2004 election breaking down votes by precinct showed islands of populous blue cities surrounded by a sea of red. The people in those cities, especially the coastal ones look down on the rest of the country. They use derogatory terms like "flyover country". And that's the polite ones.

John Murtha recently called his district in western Pennsylvania racist. Barack Obama referred to them as bitter and clinging. And of course, Olbermann thinks that they are a violent mob. There is no question that the residents of the DC metro area have different political beliefs than the rest of the state.

The terms "inside the beltway" and "outside the beltway" have been part of the political lexicon for years. They refer to how people who live within the beltway surrounding Washington DC seem to be disconnected from everyday reality. Why should it be so offensive for a McCain official to use those terms?

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