Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coulter on Tester

Wandering through The Western Word, I found this link to an Ann Coulter column. Sifting out the crap in an Ann Coulter column is like cleaning the Augean stables (the best example here: "It is beyond outrageous for liberals to complain about the practice of linking Democrats to the national party when their calculated strategy in race after race in the red states has been to run Democratic candidates who appear to be Americans. They're not Americans. They're liberals! I don't care how much hay is sticking out of their straw hats.")

It's impossible to respond adequately to that level of mendacity. If she were smart enough to understand why that is bad punditry, she would be smart enough not to write such garbage. But underlying the nonsense is a common mindset about rural America that I find infinitely more offensive than Barack Obama's throwaway line about clinging to guns and religion.

The mindset blares through what Coulter says about Jon Tester:

One of the Democrats' paragons of regular guy-ness that year was Jon Tester of Montana, who wore cowboy boots and had a buzz cut. The crew cut absolutely transfixed liberals in places like Manhattan. Search "Jon Tester and crew cut" on Google, and you'll get more than 200,000 hits. Even this tonsorial affectation was a liberal fake-out, inasmuch as Tester has no military service.

After campaigning throughout Montana in a pickup truck, Tester got to Washington and compiled a voting record more liberal than Chuck Schumer's, according to the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (Tester: 95 percent; Schumer: 90 percent). Tester also has a 100 percent rating from the pro-abortion group NARAL. There's your truck driving, gun-totin' Democrat.

Look at the range of unexamined assumptions:
1. Liberals can't be "regular guys."
2. Tester was popular only in East Coast liberal havens (I'm guessing she didn't mean Manhattan, Montana).
3. Only soldiers wear crew cuts.
4. "Truck driving, gun-toting" Westerners are all conservatives.
5. Either that, or they are faking it (as if nobody here knew Tester favored abortion rights).

One reason I like living in small towns and in places like Billings (and, for similar reasons, conservative strongholds like Bryan and Palestine, Texas) is that life there forces you to confront people on their own terms. City folk are all but obligated to lump people together in handy categories or they risk being overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of it all.

But people in conservative-leaning towns lack the luxury of willful ignorance. That's why it no longer surprises me to play pool against a Texan in cowboy boots and checkered shirt and learn that he is an artist and a college professor. Or to find a cowboy poet rancher who worries about global warming. Or to find scholars who get together to play fiddle, guitar and harmonica on weekends. Or to find a truck-driving, gun-toting air conditioner repairman who harbors socialist leanings and a weakness for Dostoevsky. Or a buttoned-down, libertarian copy editor who once dressed as a nun and played in an anarchist band that wrote songs celebrating the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Wake up, Ann. It's a much more interesting world out there than you have ever suspected.


Eric said...

I don't know if you've noticed David, but Ann Coulter really doesn't like liberals.

BTW - I'm back - the lights are on at WRIM - stop in once-in-a-while.

Anonymous said...

Jon Tester has a crew cut for the same reason Ann Coulter keeps her penis taped to her leg; so it doesn't fly away in the wind.

Montana Headlines said...

Coulter has a predilection for engaging in infelicitous rhetoric.

A simpler and less inflammatory way to make the same point is this: had Sen. Tester told Montana voters that he was going to have a voting record that would be to the left of New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer -- would he have been elected?

The symbols and rhetoric of the Tester campaign promised something quite a bit more moderate. But this is nothing new. Having Montana Democrats dress themselves up as being more moderate to conservative than they really are is something we should all be used to. It seems to work.

David said...

The real question is simpler: What votes has he cast that his constituents disagree with?

More to the point: I don't think a case can be made that Tester is dressing himself up as anything other than he is. He's an old-line Democrat, dresses the part, acts the part, and has never claimed to be anything else.