Monday, September 22, 2008

Crazy about Sarah: The Return of the Earth Mother – America’s Center is Red

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill at 9/21/08

The worst harbinger for Obama, which awakened this week and will grow exponentially now, is the idea that if he loses this race it will be because latent racism is so widespread among white voters. This is the ascending nihilist narrative and it can only originate from the feeling that he is starting to slip. It is a way of saying it is not our fault, it is their fault. I’ve read this on blogs all week and heard it from rural rednecks who for reasons unfathomable have a conditioned affection for Hillary. And it has come just as quickly to the airy imagination of light-as-air artists in the ivory towers of the East. It is everywhere now.

Hillary’s industrial strength morlocks have used this race-baiting strategy all along to promote her and will again in 2012 and again and again until the Clintons finally bring the Democratic Party to ruins. But with the eloi of the ivory tower who support Obama it is a different matter. They appear to be giving up.

The new racist theme is an insidious and immoral conditioning of the horde on the part of MSM. It is Mao Theater - a concerted cooperation of bad sociology and trash TV news and opera - and Obama should counter it. He would have won this in a walk had McCain chosen Joe Lieberman, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee to share his ticket. Obama knows that. He only chose Joe Biden because he was so high in the polls.

It was also a mistake to compare Obama to Lincoln, as Al Gore and others have done recently, but perhaps this Clinton-era group is so lost to language by now that it can no longer distinguish hyperbole from reality. It was an injustice to Lincoln, to blacks and to the country to implicitly compare the situation of black people in America today to the conditions of slavery in Lincoln’s time.

Comparison to the mid-1800s does however begin to approximate the contention which has now grown to outright contempt between red states and blue states. The sudden, unlikely agent and catalyst for this transition is Sarah Palin.

Dick Morris’s tally on the election map at Newsmax shows McCain way ahead of Obama in electoral votes, 290 to 172. Perhaps Dick is smitten by Palin. But the University of Illinois model put together by the computer department and some political science students also shows McCain ahead 247 to 235 in safe electoral votes.

From here to November there are two critical events which will determine the outcome of this race. The October 2 debate between Palin and Joe Biden is the second. Much more important will be Palin’s September 29 and 30 interviews with CBS’s Katie Couric. This will be Palin’s rite of entry into our full American condition. Here she meets with the Gatekeeper. This is the first moment in which she officially becomes not just an archetypal Earth Mother from the Alaska wilderness, but one of us and potentially our Earth Mother.

This will be an important moment in our time. It is a moment we have been heading toward for almost 50 years because it is a moment which could mark the alienation of the regions. Forget the Russians and the collapsing economy – it was bound to happen; it was built that way. Forget the failing dollar – it’s been failing since they changed the composition to the bloated, off-centered, deconstructivist dollar in the ‘90s. Forget the Chinese and the Four Tigers. A chain saw, a Glock 9, a four-wheel drive and a country boy can survive. What we are beginning to see is the materialization of an organic division between red and blue America.

The honest call for bipartisanship and post partisanship we have been hearing from Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, is another symptom of the alienation of the regions. People only call for bipartisanship when consensus is breaking irretrievably or already broken.

The original plea came from George Washington in his famous farewell address, in which Washington warned against “the poison of partisanship.” The regions had already divided psychologically you could say, when Washington teamed up with Adams and the Northerners in opposition to Jefferson and the Virginians at Jay’s Treaty. But the contention was only conceptual; it was a cultural division between the industrial North and the pastoral South which lived largely in the minds of the Eastern aristocrats both North and South represented by Adams and Jefferson. The actual “irrepressible conflict” only began to materialize when Tennessee representative Andrew Jackson heard Washington’s farewell address.

Jackson was unimpressed. He disliked the whole idea of a State of the Union speech which aped, he felt, the English king’s speeches to Parliament. He also disliked Congress’s toadying and fawning response to the President. Congress’s response simply ratified the practice.

“In my mind, this address of Congress to the President was a servile imitation of that custom,” Jackson wrote. “My vote was not against the address as such, but against the custom, or the servile imitation of a kingly custom that it grew out of.”

Jackson’s dissent had an impact. As President, Jefferson declined to give such an address and the practice disappeared until Woodrow Wilson revived it.

Jackson was the first citizen of the west and had the South won or found parity in the Civil War, the conflict and its attending culture might have been conceived differently there. It might have been called the War between East and West or the War against the Gulf States as the region was referred to in post-war Southern literature. The Alamo would supplant the Boston Massacre as the Creation Myth of this region and Houston would be the capital. Virginia would be the distant frontier on the edge of the Jersey Turnpike which now seems to extend all the way to Richmond.

This came to mind over the weekend when I was looking at Dick’s electoral map of red states and blue states. Up top and around is New York and its extended colonies; Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Boston regions, most all on the edges; still hooked on Europe and untouched by the indigenous spirits of the heartland. Europe’s edge creeps in on the Atlantic side and soon to be perhaps, China’s edge will creep in on the Pacific side. The rest is red. There’s a lot of red on that map. It is almost all red. America has found its center and the center is red.

Easterners of the upper caste North and South, Adams and Jefferson alike, hated Jackson. And both were terrified of the republican vigor of the Tennesseans who had little interest in the fine points of Constitutional law and considered instead a woman or man’s character. These were Indian fighters and free and independent spirits; tough and capable frontier settlers with a stronger nature and constitution than the earlier colonial settlers who were pushed back to the seaboard by the Indians.

“I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President,” Jefferson said to Daniel Webster, an Adams man. “He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has very little respect for law or constitutions . . . . He is a dangerous man.”

The same contempt, fear and even terror of the end of things is felt again today in the ivory towers of the East, its agents now on the ledges, watching Sarah and Todd – a whole big family of them with extended kin - coming right at them out of the frigid heartland permafrost on snow machines.

But this time there is one important difference. In the earlier day the great speeches and writing of the Bostonians, Emerson, Garrison and Theodore Parker, could eulogize purpose and perspective in bringing opposition to the South and the west as contention rose during the age of Jackson. The issue would be slavery if war came. And they could count of the common class in the North to fight on their own initiatives. Letters home from Vermont soldiers show that few common soldiers had any interest in slavery and virtually all fought to prevent the South from seceding. But they would fight.

This time the common class in the north country of New England where I live – the same mechanics and farm hands who brought Jackson to prominence – could not be counted on to do the same.

That is the fortuitous feature of the culture wars today. The scenario does not lead to such catastrophe because the common people – the people who do the work – are crazy about Sarah. The eloi would have to find someone else to do their fighting for them.

Palin faces in this debate ahead Joe Biden, the consummate Eastern striver from a northeastern Irish family much like my own who so wants to join the existing Eastern Establishment and prove himself to it, even decades after the Establishment’s founders and patrons; the Bordens, the Prescott Bushes, the Rockefellers and the other industrial and financial families of the north have abandoned the plantation to us ethnics and moved on to West Virginia, Texas and Arizona, fully disinterested in our efforts. What could present a more poignant picture of buildings falling?

This perhaps, coincidental in this season of departure: The closing of the gates to Yankee Stadium, the northern edifice, says baseball writer Ronal Blum, “ . . . built to symbolize American power, a place meant to hold the same place in New York’s imagination as the Coliseum does in Rome’s.”

It ain’t over till it’s over, the one true god king of New York at the peak of its arc of power, Yogi Berra, once said.

“I’m going to miss it all,” he said yesterday.


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