Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obama Accused Pennsylvanians of Liking Guns

At this stage I'm sure I don't have to rehash the infamous Obama-says-Pennsylvanians-like-guns comment, which occurred at a San Francisco wine-and-cheese fundraising event. If you've read my other entries you know I'm patriotic about that city, which happens to be my chosen home, and I get a little tired of the media beating to death the cliche that anyone who lives, or consumes wine and/or cheese in, San Francisco, is an out-of-touch Harvard and Hollywood snob, since as Pat Buchanan said, Obama was speaking "behind closed doors to the Chablis-and-brie set of San Francisco". You can tell the people at the Chronicle are a little tired of the out-of-touch-snob cliche too.

I'm in a bit of a unique position considering I'm a conservative who has chosen San Francisco as my home, but I was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania (which I will always say was a fantastic place to grow up). And guess what? A lot of Pennsylvanians really do like guns and religion! And last I checked, they were proud of it! My uncle said: "As you can imagine me being from Pa. and a hunter, church council member, asst. scout master . . . GOD, GUTS AND GUNS MADE THIS COUNTRY GREAT."

The media is really running with this one, so let's be clear: the only person who called my native Pennsylvania a "benighted and barbarous land" is Pat Buchanan. In reality, what's becoming benighted and barbarous is the discourse level of American politics, thanks to media mavens like Buchanan dumbing it down, and more than a little disingenously. As it turns out, Pat Buchanan is a multimillionaire (at least $5,200,000 back in 1996 was the best figure I could find). I bet old Pat has been to more than a few of those wine-and-cheese functions. A real man of the people!

Although my fellow friendly-rival blogger Murphy Klasing loves all this, I get crazy-angry at how the media (which of course is looking for a profit like anyone else) dumbs down the political discourse running up to an election. I understand that soundbite politics gets short-term results, but it worries me that American grown-ups think this is a good way to pick a president. There are much better reasons not to put Barack Obama in the White House. His healthcare plan is a disaster - his Iraq plan is an abomination - but he said that Pennsylvanians like guns and religion! Let's get him!

Politicians love this kind of grade school regionalism because it helps them "divide and conquer" for votes, and the media loves it because it generates controversy, increases viewership, and sells advertising. At the same time, regional stereotypes exist for a reason, and we can't be too sensitive. I wouldn't worry so much about the San Francisco stereotype if it wasn't such a cheap fallback that played into the way the national media distorts American politics. At the same time, some charlatans within minority communities have risen to prominence based mostly on their own hypersensitivity, rather than any value they can produce. But there's a middle road. Silly as it may seem, I encourage Pennsylvanians to say, "Yes, we like guns. Why is that bad?" and San Franciscans to say "Yes, we like wine and cheese. Why is that bad?" In fact, conservative reader, I bet you yourself have even been to a wine and cheese tasting. (Don't worry, I won't tell anyone). If you haven't, you should try it - it's pretty good.

In the end, it's silly to worry about how much cheese was consumed at a fundraiser. It's not silly at all to worry about how media-created categories of Americans hurts our political process. Because once we stop buying into those categories, we can decide who the best candidate is in November, not based on feel-good stories or regional stereotypes, but on facts and achievements and policies and positions. That's how grown-ups decide. And in that light it will clearly be John McCain.


Mike said...

I do like Cabernet & Smoked Gouda.

Unfortunately my experience at wine & cheese events is white wine & brie.

Too gay for this former Illinois farm boy.

JoePa Uber Alles said...

I've got a hot button issue with McCain, and it comes down to the vote on telecom immunity. I know my profession keeps me ultra-aware of constitutional rights, but really? We should grant immunity to the telecoms that just handed over all this information instead of insisting the federal government go to their Star Chamber and get a rubber stamped secret subpoena?

For the sake of fairness, I am a self-described liberal libertarian (less government is good, but I'm ok with some of the governmental intervention for the individual, as opposed to for the corporation), and currently an Obama supporter. I actually considered voting for McCain over Clinton (and voted for him in the 2000 Republican primary - before he cozied up to Falwell and his ilk for this election cycle) until the telecom vote.

Also, I like cheese. A lot. The beverage is irrelevant.

The Craw

Squid said...

I think it was James Carville who said PA is "Philly in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in the middle." It's a funny joke, and it's a little more accurate than I'd like to admit, but you'd think these guys would learn not to say such things in the middle of a heated campaign.

As for wine and cheese parties, I really thought that was something that all of us bigwigs were supposed to do. It's just that at our parties, we talk about keeping the little guy down, whereas at their parties, they talk about keeping the little guy dependent.

Thomas Paine Jr. said...

Squid - I know that "keeping the little guy dependent" wasn't your main point, but as with most conspiracy theories, my disbelief comes from the continued observation that people's desire to control others is usually eclipsed by their laziness and stupidity. Of course I agree that welfare policies do have the effect
of creating a dependent class, but again, do you really think legislators are smart enough to do it deliberately?

Today the vending machine at my office broke when I was trying to get a soda. I promptly announced that this had made me bitter, and I would now turn to guns and religion.