THEM RED STATE BLUES: Were so sick of all that red state blubbering (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/04) that it affects us now when we read the newspapers! Example: In this mornings Washington Post, David Brown reports an annual study which ranks the relative health of individual states. Which states are the healthiest? You can probably guess where this is going:
BROWN (11/8/04): The three healthiest states are Minnesota, New Hampshire and Vermont. Among other things, their high rankings reflect low rates of poverty and premature death, safer-than-average drivers and generous spending on public health. Minnesota has ranked No. 1 for nine of the past 15 years and has never been out of the top two.All three healthy states are blue. And who is bringing up the rear? Those boo-hooing red states, as always:
BROWN (11/8/04): At the other end of the list are Tennessee, Mississippi and, as in 14 of the past 15 years, Louisiana in last place.As a matter of fact, eleven of the top 15 states are blue—and all 15 at the bottom are red! And the criteria used in this study actually seem to favor red states. After all, if snake bites during religious services had been one of the studys criteria, the rankings would probably be less red-friendly than they already are.
Uh-oh! Blubbering red-staters will keen and wail about the slur against their religion! But maybe if they spent more time building healthy societies, theyd find themselves with less time on their hands to collect and nurture treasured grievances against those contemptuous blue-state elitists. You know—against the troubling blue state elites which help pay red-staters way through life? We cant remember where we saw it, but we recently saw the figures which show the way the federal government transfers money from the industrious blue states to the blubbering red. Can someone remind us where we saw these data? They appeared in some mainstream publication last week, and we think they deserve some mention when boo-hooing people like Altermans e-mailer complain of those harsh, cruel elites.
On the other hand, maybe red-staters would have more time to build healthy societies for their children if they werent so busy divorcing each other. Despite the impressive moral values they love to vote on, red states lead the nation in divorce—and elite Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate! Yes indeed, there they are—drinkin, divorcin and boo-hoo-hooing about their lack of respect from the values-free blue! Not that this keeps these troubled red-staters from holding their hands out every year for their annual federal pay-out—money from their more industrious blue state neighbors, the ones whose elitism they love to attack.
For ourselves, we dont believe in all this red state and blue state hooey, as weve discussed in detail before. But were tired of all the silly crying about the way northeastern elites just wont respect their red state cousins. So heres an idea for the boo-hooing redmen: Why dont you stop taking all that free money from blue-state elites before you cry about their rude insults? And before you lecture us all about individual initiative, why dont you get yourselves off your *sses and build healthy societies for your born/unborn children? And oh yeah! Why dont you quit divorcin your spouses before you wail-and-moan about civil unions—the civil unions which President Bush said he supported last week?
THE FAILING FIFTEEN: Here are the fifteen least healthy states. We rank them from 36th most healthy down to number 50. Alas! All fifteen of the states are red. But then, so is number 35—Texas:
36. MissouriBy the way, just think how bad the situation would be if these states werent getting their annual hand-outs from the elitists in the blue states! Red-staters cant seem to give up their smokes—nor do they seem inclined to give up their hand-outs from their contemptuous cousins.
38. New Mexico
41. North Carolina
44. West Virginia
47. South Carolina
FOR THOSE WHO READ: Since everyone is suddenly yakking so hard about the difference between red and blue culture, we recommend an intriguing book on the subject—Made in Texas, by Michael Lind. The book is a history of Southern and Texas political culture; when it was released last year, we thought it provided the most intriguing framework wed seen for understanding George Bushs politics. And yes, the book is packed with pleasure for blue state readers. Lind, a third-generation Texan, paints a picture of his states political culture that such readers may find quite unflattering:
LIND (page 47): Although they may look like members of the old-stock Protestant business class of the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast, the oligarchs of Texas do not think like them. The mentality of the traditional Texas businessman is that of the premodern seigneurial elite which, according to [historian Raimondo] Luraghi, included not only the Southern slaveowners but also the British Nabobs of the West Indies, the Mexican hacendados, and the Brazilian plantation owners. It is not an industrialist mind-set at all, but the mentality of the Spanish conquistador, who dreamed of quickly acquiring fabulous wealth by plundering precious metals rather than by patient effort.The book is dry-as-dust, but short—and for us, it really pays off. For many blue-staters, we think Linds bumper-sticker would be this: Texas political culture isnt like yours, and its heirs dont think the way you do. Bush-detractors will be rewarded by piquant passages like this:
LIND (page 31-32): As a symbol of Texas, the free-spirited cowboy was far from apt. Individuals willing to stand up to public opinion might be found in New England or on the West Coast, but not in the Southern-settled parts of Texas. The Anglo-Celtic Southerner, in Texas as elsewhere, was not a freedom-loving individualist but a freedom-fearing conformist, who combined physical bravery with intellectual and political cowardice. Outside of the anomalous Hill Country/Central Texas region, where ethnic diversity created a pocket of cultural and intellectual pluralism, toleration of deviance in politics, religion, morals, and even dress were all but non-existent, and non-conformists could expect ostracism if not violent assault.Were strongly reminded of a passage from Twain, which well helpfully type up tomorrow. By the way, Lind notes another interesting part of the Southern/Texas political tradition—its love of All Things Martial:
LIND (page 142): White Southerners are not isolationists or pacifists. On the contrary, from the eighteenth century to the present, they have been more eager than white Northerners to support American wars abroad. According to the historian David Hackett Fischer, From the quasi-war with France [in 1789] to the Vietnam War, the two southern cultures strongly supported every American war no matter what it was about or who it was against. Southern ideas of honor and the warrior ethic combined to create regional war fevers of great intensity in 1798, 1812, 1846, 1861, 1898, 1917, 1941, 1950 and 1965.Of course, as we learned in this last election, when blue-state elitists try to stop red-staters from killing themselves in these wars, they earn themselves a lifetime of enmity; theyre repaid through baldly dishonest presentations which the mainstream press corps will happily accommodate. Incomparably, well offer fuller thoughts on this topic in an article for FAIR next week.
For ourselves, we think its generally more constructive to emphasize similarities rather than differences. We believe in Alabama and in Vermont; and we think red-staters, like blue-staters, get to cast their votes in presidential elections on whatever basis they please. But here at THE HOWLER, were sick of hearing red-state types blubber about imagined slights, even as they hold out their hands to elitist brethren for the latest hand-out. Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo! Linds intriguing book might help blue-staters place this wailing in a larger perspective. We do, of course, offer this key caution: Most red-staters are in fact just like you. Red, blue and purple? All good.
IF IT FEELS GOOD, VOTE IT: What explains the past election? As weve noted, its hard to explain a complex event in which 120 million different people cast votes. But in this mornings New York Times, Bob Herbert notes an intriguing aspect of last weeks vote. Last week's election was extremely close and a modest shift in any number of factors might have changed the outcome, he writes. But then, he gets to one troubling factor—the electorates innocence of basic facts:
HERBERT (11/8/04): I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the elections outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes [PIPA] at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with ''clear evidence'' that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd, Herbert says. Then he quotes one of the studys conclusions: It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions than those who oppose him, PIPA said.
This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.
We suggest you approach the PIPA study with caution; almost surely, there are factual questions on which Bush voters would have scored higher than Kerry voters. But tomorrow, well present an anecdote offered by Newsweeks Melinda Henneberger at a post-election panel last week. What did Bush-voters think about WMD? Hennebergers tale is intriguing. Maybe we blue-staters should install some sort of exit poll tax! Why not? Before we give boo-hooing red-staters their annual hand-out, we should make their voters pass a few simple tests about key events of the day.