Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rooting for the Home Team

Hello folks,
When I started this blog I wondered what I'd blog about on top of all my other ramblings as host of All Things Southern. I've since found a few good reasons to blog, (Hello Emerson), and yet another one has just occurred to me.

A week or so ago I ran across a certain article while indulging myself in one of my Internet newspaper binges. The theme of the column made my blood boil. So much so that I dashed off a letter to the editor and asked him to print it as a fair rebuttal. He didn't. Fine. I choose to. Here is the article. My response follows.

By DONALD KAUL, Minuteman Media
©Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. 2008

You've probably seen that tragic, hilarious football story out of Alabama. It tells us a lot about the recent presidential election we all miss so much. Let me refresh your memory on the details:

After the University of Alabama beat Louisiana State University at football a week or so ago, an LSU fan named Smith in southern Alabama called his pal Williams, an Alabama fan, to vent his rage. An argument ensued. Heated words were exchanged. An agitated Smith decided to go to Williams' house and settle the argument in person. He took his wife with him. Also a gun. Williams was waiting for him. With a shotgun. (I have no idea whether these yokels were members of the NRA but I wouldn't be surprised.)

One thing led to another and before you knew it Williams had shot Smith dead. Also Smith's wife. The lesson being that southerners take their football very seriously.

But football isn't the only thing southerners take seriously. There's also Nutball Republican politics, the intellectual home of Republicans known as "the base."

John McCain didn't carry many states but, with the exception of the relatively unpopulated mountain-west states and Alaska, they were all in the South. Basically, he was elected president of the Confederate States of America. (Congratulations, John!)

Not coincidentally, at this writing, the five top college football teams all come from the former Confederacy, as do 15 of the top 25.

Here is my point:

You don't have to be dumb to think of football as a life-and-death matter, but it helps. So too with reactionary conservatism.

The Republican Party has become the party of dumb. Oh, you can deny it, you Republicans out there but for years now, your candidates have played the dumb card. No matter what the question - George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, global warming, Freedom Fries, stem cell research, Dan Quayle, evolution, Star Wars - you've always come down on the dumb side of the answer.

With the result that there's been a gradual dumbing down of the party until the only places that really bought what John McCain was selling were places where people kill people over football games.

You've heard of liberal bias? (If you watch Fox News, you've heard of little else.) Conservatives argue that the public was bamboozled into voting for Obama by a biased liberal media.

Not so. (Do you really think America is sitting on the edge of its chair, waiting to get its marching orders from Tom Brokaw?)

Journalists may have a barely discernible liberal outlook - no more that a slight tilt - but their real bias is toward smart. They almost always favor the candidate whom they perceive to be smarter than the other guy. And it's seldom the Republican.

On the other hand, there are media outlets whose bias is toward dumb. Fox News leaps to mind of course, but there is also the New York Post, The Washington Times, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, William Kristol of The New York Times of all places and AM radio. Republican supporters all.

Any of these entities, given the choice, will take dumb over smart every time. Indeed, Rush Limbaugh (a famous football fan, by the way) defended his title as the Prince of Dumb the other day by claiming that Barack Obama had caused the current economic mess.

"The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen," he said on his radio show. That's dumber than even William Kristol would go.

I suppose the GOP could start lurching back to smart in an effort to win back voters but it seems to be going the other way. They're already talking up Sarah for president in 2012. Many smart conservatives - George Will, Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley, Chuck Hagel - are jumping ship.

I think, maybe, Republicans will have to be content to win football games rather than elections from now on. And not shoot each other. They can't afford to lose any more true believers.

My Response:

Mr. Kaul, it was very thoughtful of you to pause midway through your recent analysis of the election returns to spell out your point for those of us you consider intellectually inferior, but really, we got it: Democrat smart, Republican dumb. Blame it on my south of the Mason Dixon line location or my “reactionary conservatism”, but I feel compelled to respond to your assumptions. But, where do I begin? The pickings here are as abundant as our Thanksgiving tables will be next Thursday.

I might suggest you take a second look at the final electoral map and state count totals before you repeat your ridiculous conclusion that McCain didn’t win very many states. I realize recount is a cuss word where you come from, but that number in McCain’s column was twenty-two. The number might represent inconsequential states in your opinion, but we consider ourselves fortunate to live here in flyover country. And as for your anointing Mr. McCain president of the Confederate States of America, I hope you’ll understand if that remark isn’t met with confetti and streamers. The last time we tried to create such an entity, well, it didn’t turn out so well. Were you speaking for yourself or have y’all reconsidered?

It stretches my imagination to understand how anyone could have come out of this election cycle still believing that there is only the slightest tilt in the mainstream media, but I’m going to save my breath on that one. You can’t tell someone what they don’t want to know. Did the bias determine the outcome? I would argue that yes, it played a part, but by far the larger reason can be laid at the feet of the Republican party itself. Those Republican folks you painted dumb with one big brush were smart enough to know that the people they voted into office didn’t uphold the promises they made that got them there.

Not that I didn’t find some things in your letter to agree with—far from it. I’ll be happy to reach across the aisle and thank you for noticing that we rule college football. Having said that, I hope by now you’ve had enough time to regret using a tragic shooting death to make your point. You really should be ashamed of yourself for calling the Alabama/LSU incident hilarious. I hope and pray those that mourn their deaths won’t wander across your mean-spirited analogy. You may lose that moral high ground you’re perched on.

For the record, sir, I didn’t vote for President Elect Obama, but I’ll be rooting for him, as strongly as I root for my home football team. That’s what we do here, Mr. Kaul. Would you have done the same?

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson


  1. Wow. I'm amazed to find out that I live in a part of the country where the people can use big words accurately, yet choose to revel in the beautiful simplicities of life -- and are ridiculed for it.

    While we Southerners may enjoy our football to the extreme, it would seem that the states north of the Mason-Dixon prefer murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault and the like. (Sixteen of the most violent crime-ridden cities are in the North.) How brilliant is that?

    Yes, we have our eccentricities. Every state and city does. But I have to say I love living in a place where I know my neighbors well enough to get a call when their chimney is on fire, trusting that I will call for help for them while they work to put it out. I love not having to worry about my doors being locked. I love not worrying about my car being stolen from my driveway. I love knowing the police in our little town. Apparently, a lot of folks agree, they keep visiting and even moving here.

    So, Mr. Kaul, your sad and despicable opinions only show your ignorance of those whom you intend to defame. However ridiculous I might think your assertions, I will stand in defense of your right to say or write them. Come on down, we'll have a cup of coffee and talk awhile.

    Well spoken, Shellie -- some of those who move here (East Tennessee) come in thinking that the people here are ignorant. What they don't think about is that all the amazing places they see were carved out of granite and limestone by people who didn't have a jackhammer. When asked, there are so very few of them who know what tree they stand under, much less if the nuts from it can be eaten. That's where I come in, challenging their definitions and prejudices. Some of the smartest people I know don't use English like a Harvard professor, and I love to introduce them to the ones who don't understand.

    So much more I could say, but I believe that Mr. Kaul couldn't understand.

    By the way, this Southern woman is not afraid to stay alone even in this semi-wilderness -- and isn't afraid to walk the streets in the city either. She legally packs a .45 and knows how to use it. :-)

  2. Good job on the reply to Donald Kaul. Way to go I agree with you 100%. I must say though I live in the southeast corner of Arkansas and sometimes pull for LSU but when AR plays them well I gotta go with the Hogs although LSU did give the game away with all the penalties.

    I also wondered if you are a Gran, Granny, Gram, Memaw, Meme or something else? My wife is a Gran

  3. You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts... national statistics support that the South has the highest crime rates (both violent and non-violent).

    In addition, the South has the highest abortion rates, divorce rates, illiteracy rates, poverty rates, the list goes on.

  4. Also I think the south has the most white girls dating black men.

    What if someone dug up one of the old Plantation owners and took his DNA ran it through a data base and found the old guy had fathered several kids from black girls. I am just wondering that if true would, they be entitled to a childs portion of his estate? Now if they are entitled to share in the wealth it would go a long way in reducing poverty.