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Froma Harrop
Froma Harrop
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GOP Back On The Polarization Trail

Comment

"We grow good people all across America, with honesty, sincerity and dignity." No, Sarah Palin didn't say that. She said, "We grow good people in our small towns" and listed the above virtues.

Her speechwriter's strategy is clear — to revive the "us" versus "them" storyline for the conservative base. "Us" is good rural, small-town folk and "them" is the dissipated urban elites, mostly domiciled on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

You'd never know from the recent Republican convention that America was about to remember the terrorist attack on New York, when 411 city firefighters, police and medical personnel died trying to save people they had never met.

Instead it was like old times on the George W. Bush polarization trail, where he would play one group of Americans off another. It was region against region, rural against urban.

Shortly after his first inauguration, Bush embarked on a "Home to the Heartland" tour. He'd visit small towns and tell their residents that they were better Americans than other Americans. "The strength of this country is in the heartland," he'd say, posing like a pioneer on the Crawford, Texas, ranch that he had bought 24 months earlier.

Thank heavens for schoolchildren. Bush visited the Griegos Elementary School, in Albuquerque, N.M., and asked the second-graders whether they knew where he was from.

"Washington, D.C.!" the children responded with accuracy but not in the spirit of the "Home to the Heartland" tour.

"I grew up in Texas," insisted Bush, a Connecticut-born graduate of Yale, Harvard and before that, Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

Bush encouraged interregional resentment throughout his administration. An example: Last fall he went to Jamestown, Va., to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of its founding as America's first permanent English settlement.

It was Thanksgiving, and in his mind, the perfect time to pit Chesapeake Bay against Plymouth Bay.

"The good folks here say that the founders of Berkeley held their celebration before the Pilgrims had even left port," he said. (Berkeley was an early James River plantation.) "As you can imagine, this version of events is not very popular up north."

What a thoughtful remark.

We now have the Republican vice presidential candidate ripping up all that bipartisan, let's-work-together talk that John McCain had been weaving for months. Small-town people, Palin said, "are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars."

They do, and except for the food, so do city folk.

Thus, one was only mildly surprised to learn that former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who campaigned for Bush in 2004, has just endorsed Democrat Barack Obama. Ben Smith of Politico asked Koch why, and the answer was Palin. "She's scary," he said.

Koch is an interesting bellwether, because he is a conservative Democrat, who as New York mayor had challenged entrenched liberal interest groups. He cited Palin's views on progressive taxation, national health insurance and other domestic issues in dire need of addressing — but most of all her penchant for cultural strife. He took special exception to stories that she had harassed a librarian over the books on her shelves.

"Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency," Koch wrote in a press release with his usual candor. Without Palin, McCain would have been an easier choice for Koch than Bush was.

Hey, America grows good people from sea to shining sea, from the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream waters. Four more years of playing Jamestown off of Plymouth? The polarization ploy is not good for the country, and never was.

To find out more about Froma Harrop, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
Froma Harrop has seen Palin for what she is. She's a woman, yet she is the antithesis of what the majority of women want in a candidate.
Harrop may be very sorry when MCain-Palin gains the Whitehouse. And Harrop will share the blame. Harrop has been a huge Hillary supporter -- throwing her share of scare bombs about Obama.
EXAMPLE: Sophisticated commentary now notes the growing creepiness of the Obama campaign: Its aversion to substantive policy discussions. The sermonizing — “In the face of despair, we believe there can be hope.” And the messianic bit — “At this moment in the election there is something happening in America.” (That would be he.) - Froma Harrop - Vaporous Obama obscurity irks centrists - Feb 2008.
There is much more of that. Froma did her share to tear the Democratic party candidate down.
Too bad Harrop couldn't separate out the fact that while Hillary and Obama do not share two X-chromosomes, they do share almost the exact same policies.
Froma, you reap what you sow. Sorry you didn't come on board earlier to support the Democratic party principals when it could have done some good.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ann B
Sat Sep 13, 2008 6:38 AM
Interesting column today. I did not see any reference to Senator Obama's characterization of small town America.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/14/barackobama.uselections2008?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

I suppose his comments are not divisive if you consider they were made to an audience in San Francisco that wants to believe Obama's characterization of a large segment of America. I note that he continued to defend the remarks after being questioned about them

Gov. Palin's comments were divisive because they were made on national television as opposed to at a San Francisco fundraiser? Gov. Palin's comments were divisive because they were positive comments about small towns and not derogatory remarks about people who are presumably not like Senator Obama?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chuck B
Sun Sep 14, 2008 6:35 AM
So, we hicks, rednecks, and yahoos are being divisive? Just exactly how are pundits and the MSM behaving when it uses such pejoratives freely in reference to rural and small-town folks?
The 2000 census tells us that 17 percent of the US population lives in "nonmetropolitan" areas. Exactly where the line is drawn between "metropolitan" and "non-metropolitan" areas isn't clear. Nor does this demographic describe the millions of us from rural and small-town roots who live in metropolitan areas by necessity, but long to return to our non-metropolitan roots. Indeed, the 2000 census indicates a net out-migration from metropolitan to non-metropolitan regions over time.
We hicks are drawn away from big-city life largely for spirtual fulfillment and authenticity. We prefer to grow our own vegetables and raise or hunt our own meat for personal fulfillment. We don't face ridicule if we drive a pickup truck in order to haul lumber, rather than drive a Prius to demonstrate our conformity to "green" correctness. And small-town women don't need silicone implants to validate themselves.
And we're damned tired of being ridiculed by urban pundits who suffer from perpetual hypoxia by carrying their noses so high into the stratosphere.
Colorado Hick
Comment: #3
Posted by: Colorado Hick
Sun Sep 14, 2008 12:43 PM
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