Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bitter Americans

Yes Barack, some of us are bitter. But not why you think

My how things have changed in my idyllic little hometown of Tombstone, Arizona. Why, back when I was just a tyke, we were a gun free utopia populated exclusively by enlightened atheists. When illegal aliens wandered into town from across the Mexican border, we’d put our arm around their shoulders, walk them down to the nearest gay bar and buy ‘em a drink. Actually, all we had in those days were gay bars. And if you wanted to start a fight, all you had to say was that you were in favor of higher tariffs.

“What, you barbarian,” we would shout. “Have you never heard of Smoot-Hawley? Put up your dukes!”

San Francisco’s billionaire sophisticates had no one to look down their noses at during their Camembert and canapĂ© parties back in those days as we were just as snooty and elitist as they were.

But then, the mine closed and the town sank into a deep bitter gloom. And when nobody from the federal government came by with a welfare check, well that was the last straw. Just like that, the town was transformed into a seething caldron of snarling, bible-thumping, gun-toting xenophobes who would never dream of buying anything that did not have a “made in U.S.A.” sticker on it.

Well, I might have Tuzlaized that story just a little bit. In fact, there were guns and churches in town before the mine closed. And any alien who showed up in Tombstone was probably just passing through on his way to someplace else with better opportunities. In fact, after the mine closed, lots of people moved on for the same reason.

There are other reasons why people own guns and worship God other than an insufficiently paternalistic nanny state. But in the cocoonish world where the anointed cloister themselves to ponder how best to supervise the rest of us, caricatures serve to stroke the vanity of the elite rather than to inform their thinking.

This is not the first time that Barack Obama betrayed a total misunderstanding of those whom he certainly considers mere commoners. In December, he attempted to show just how much he shared the pain that Iowans feel by complaining about the high price of arugula at Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a very upscale grocer specializing in natural and organic foods that caters to the sophisticated tastes of people like the Obama family and San Francisco snobs. There is not a single Whole Foods store in the entire state of Iowa.

The awkward silence and puzzled looks on the faces of his audience after his attempt to harmonize with the little people indicated that they know as little about arugula as I do (Note: It’s a leaf that rich people put on their salads because lettuce is just too common). And, if they have every heard of Whole Foods, they probably would never fill a grocery basket there, as they would prefer to save money at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

But Obama may have gotten one thing right. Many Americans are bitter. But they are bitter because there is too much government in their lives, not too little.

Every trip to the filling station or the grocery store embitters Americans. They are bitter because gas prices are high and their government obstructs exploiting known domestic reserves or exploring for new ones. They are bitter because their food prices are soaring (not just arugula) because their government encourages and subsidizes a disastrous corn ethanol program that accomplishes nothing positive.

And Americans do not “cling” to their guns so much as they defend their Constitutional rights.

Here on the Palouse, environmentalists have sued to have an earthworm declared an endangered species. If they succeed, farming as we know it will become illegal. Are farmers “clinging” to dirt or are they defending their Fifth Amendment rights to own private property?

Americans are also bitter because they have to walk on eggshells lest a word slip their lips that offends a member of a fashionable victim group whose plight is in vogue with the San Francisco crowd. But WSU faculty can call the president of the WSU College Republicans a "white shitbag" without tangible consequences.

Yes there is bitterness out there. But it’s not because we don’t have enough of Obama and his friends in our lives. It’s because we have too much of them already.

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