Saturday, September 23, 2006

No Not the Defense of New England The Defense of the United States

Regionalism is a septic sore that spreads over this country at the most opportune times. Opportune for conservatives. At such times it’s been my practice to issue a challenge.

This time it is David Broder who threatens infection with a bit of columnage about Gore and Kerry being snobs who rubbed his fellow heart-landers the wrong way. “ Bush was elected twice, over Democrats Al Gore and John Kerry, whose know-it-all arrogance rankled Midwesterners such as myself.” First note that this is a question of Kerry and Gore being too pompous for David Broder. For that unlikely feat both should be memorialized in some form of too, too precious metal. In ascending order, more royalist than the King, more Catholic than the Pope, too pompous for Broder. When Broder uses a cliche like that it’s time for it to be sent to a sealed landfill or a botox facility for processing.

Passing over Broder’s actual home for most of the last fifty years, Virginia, the electoral vote in his home state of Illinois and several of its bordering states went for both Gore and Kerry. Maybe this is just Broders way of saying that in his heart he knows he’s a Hoosier. With his demonstrated research skills, if Broder wants to get into a fight with Illinois, Michigan Minnesota and Wisconsin about their “heartland” status it might be a more productive use of the nation’s time than his thoughts on national politics.

I’m tempted to defend Gore here but it is the other target who serves my purpose. Based on a liftime experience of this kind of thing I suppose the Kerry bit was because he’s from New England. We certainly heard enough about his typical New England arrogance during the last campaign. It’s always so interesting how New Englanders morph from being the salt of the earth in February of election years to being effete New England Blue Stockings the rest of the time. Talking about chestnuts of the punditocracy gone bad in the jar. Those stuck-up, smarty pants New Englanders always looking down on every one else. Well, as to my fellow New Englanders being parochial, regional snobs here comes the challenge.

Maine’s last governor was Angus King from Alexandria Virginia. While he was governor the Majority Leader in our legislature was a great Democrat, Libby Mitchell who came from South Carolina and who sounds wonderfully like it. I won’t go into the not unfounded rumor that while holding one of our senate seats William Cohen actually lived in Florida most of the time.

Our neighboring state, New Hampshire, for most of the seventies and into the eighties had a governor, the far less than wonderful Meldrim Thomson, who though born in Pennsylvania was very clearly reared in the South and sounded like he could have given lessons in speaking Southern to the late Howell Heflin.

And Massachusetts, that epicenter of alleged hatred of all things Southern and scorner of all things non-New England and not only Massachusetts but the Democratic Party of Massachusetts, the party of Kennedy, Dukakis* and Barney Frank**, ran John Silber, very much from Texas, as its candidate for governor. And he might have won if he hadn’t gone completely nuts and savaged Natalie the local anchorwoman so ballistically right before the election. He’s not you’re A-list candidate for Mr. Wonderful either.

Add to this the fact that New England gave Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton their big jump starts from relative obscurity in their presidential campaigns. And New England has quite consistently voted for Southerners for President.*** I’ll bet that New England has a much better record of support for Southern presidential candidates than many Southern states do these days. We have a good record of support for candidates from Broder’s fabled heartland too.

The challenge is to find states in the South and “Red” Mid-West which have a better record of electing and supporting obvious New Englanders for such important offices. New Englanders who don’t actively pretend to be anything else.

You know what? If you can meet or exceed the challenge I will be thrilled. I hate regionalism. I hate the cheap Republican political game of division on the basis of manufactured regional resentment. I hate it so much that I’d love to find evidence in the South or any other region of the country that can prove it’s another destructive political lie of Republican media.

My experience with New Englanders, and the record would tend to prove it, is that we generally aren’t regionalist snobs, certainly no more than others. There is a problem with New Englanders being favored by the first in the nation primary but that’s true of any place in the country and is in the process of being fixed. There are bigoted idiots everywhere and there are great public servants everywhere too. This isn’t an exercise in regional self-congratulation but to kill the myth. Maybe that can be sent to the toxic waste dump with the rest of Broder’s foetid crock of exercised at a distance, more common in the punditocracy than in the People, pseudo- heartland, self-satisfaction.

* The one Loretta Lynn wouldn’t consider voting for because she thought his Greek name was too weird.

** There is no more solid example of a Massachusetts politician, from New Jersey if I remember correctly.

*** Wilson, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, Gore, and arguably Truman are Southerners who the Democratic Party has nominated as President within the past century.

Other than Lincoln I’m hard pressed to remember a real Southerner who has gotten the Republican nomination for President. George I and II are the Republican Party’s idea of Southerners to give their Presidential nomination. These products of New England Yankeedom always seemed to me rather more in the tradition of carpetbaggers than genuine Southerners. I’ll tell you, they tend to lose their Southern accents when they’re here in Maine. If Southerners want to overlook their provenance that’s their business, but why the exception for the Bush clan?

Since Southerners are the primary target audience of this Republican regionalist garbage they might also wonder why the Southern contenders for the Republican nomination in 2008 are so completely ignored by the media in favor of McCain and Romney. That’s Governor Romney from Massachusetts. Now that he’s decided to not be from Utah where he was also considering running. Maybe the media is quite atypically just going on history to decide who has a chance in which party. Mark Warner of Virginia and Edwards of North Carolina are certainly getting a lot of attention for the Democratic nomination as is Al Gore.

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