Patterico's Pontifications


Joe Klein’s Myopic View Of America Is Not The America I Know

Posted by WLS:

Joe Klein has a truly breathtaking column out today which calls into question the authenticity of Sarah Palin’s life story by claiming that the “small town” America that Palin claims to represent doesn’t exist anymore, and that it’s really nothing more than a political construct of the Republican Party that appeals to nostalgia in order to win elections.

The Palins win elections and snowmobile races in a state that represents the last, lingering hint of that most basic Huckleberry Finn fantasy — lighting out for the territories. She quoted Westbrook Pegler, the F.D.R.-era conservative columnist, in her acceptance speech: “We grow good people in our small towns…” And then added, “I grew up with those people. They’re the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food and run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.”

Except that’s not really true. We haven’t been a nation of small towns for nearly a century. It is the suburbanites and city dwellers who do the fighting and hourly-wage work now, and the corporations who grow our food. But Palin’s embrace of small-town values is where her hold on the national imagination begins. She embodies the most basic American myth — Jefferson’s yeoman farmer, the fantasia of rural righteousness — updated in a crucial way: now Mom works too.

My life is a perfect expression of why Klein’s view is an east coast, urban-centric, myopic view of the country that he apparently doesn’t know all that well:

I was born in a city of about 300,000 people. I grew up within 15 miles of the urban core of that city. By the time I left for college the metro area — the city itself and its surrounding bedroom communities — had a population of close to 500,000. Today the population is close to 700,000.

Yet, I grew up on a farm. It wasn’t a big farm or a commercial farm, as my father was a cop and my mother was a secretary. But we had 5 acres, with a barn, a couple horses, some cattle, and we grew our own vegetables. Most of what we produced was for our consumption or the consumption of friends and family. There were 5 acre farms on both sides of us, and across the street that fronted our house. There were smaller farms in the area, and much, much larger farms as well. There were “ranches” consisting of thousands of acres not very far away — but about the same distance the other direction was a university with 15,000 students.

I always felt then — and I feel now — that I grew up on a farm. I don’t see how the life’s lessons I learned in my youth were any different than a kid growing up in rural Nebraska, South Dakota, or Georgia.

And the primary industry that fueled commerce in and around the metro area of half-a-million people was agriculture — both corporate agriculture and family farmers.

Then I left and went to college in the second largest urban area in the US — and I lived right in the middle of it. I then went law school in the 5th or 6th largest urban area in the US.

Does all of that make me any less the product of a small town environment — notwithstanding the fact that my “small town” actually had 500,000 residents? Is my background a “myth” as Klein calls it?

Now I live about 15 miles from one of the largest 15 cities in the US. Yet the community where my house is prides itself on maintaining its small town character that goes along with having only 20,000 residents. The town has a “Neighborhood Board”, and the residential neighborhood I live in has its “Homeowner’s Association.” Both are attended by appointees and volunteers who concern themselves with issues that are unique to the town in one instance, and the neighborhood in the other. The focus of their attention reflects quintessential “small town” concerns. I coach Little League and sit on the sidelines and root for my 7-year-old’s soccer team. I see the same parents and volunteers at both — just like I probably would if I lived in a small town like central Pennsylvania with 20,000 residents. Yet 15 miles away from my front door is an quintessentially urban city of close to 750,00 people.

But 5 miles away from my front door the other direction are farmers — both family farms and corporate farms.

Next Klein decides to insult the tens of millions of Americans who live below the Mason-Dixon line with the following observation, likely made from the vantage point of somewhere near the intersection of West 81st Street and Central Park West:

Nearly 50 years ago, in The Burden of Southern History, the historian C. Vann Woodward argued that the South was profoundly different from the rest of America because it was the only part of the country that had lost a war: “Southern history, unlike American…includes not only an overwhelming military defeat but long decades of defeat in the provinces of economic, social and political life.” Woodward believed that this heritage led Southerners to be more obsessed with the past than other Americans were — at its worst, in popular works like Gone With the Wind, there was a gagging nostalgia for a courtly antebellum South that never really existed.

During the past 50 years, the rest of the country has caught up to the South in the nostalgia department. We lost a war in Vietnam; Iraq hasn’t gone so well either. And there are two other developments that have cut into the sense of American perfection. The middle class has begun to lose altitude — there isn’t the certainty anymore that our children will live better than we do. More important, the patina of cultural homogeneity that camouflaged 1950s suburbia has vanished. We have become more obviously multiracial…. the feminist and gay-rights revolutions, the breakdown of the two-parent family…. They intruded upon the most traditional families in the smallest towns. The political impact was a conservative reaction of enormous vehemence.

You see, small town American is angry that urban America has become all these things that urban America didn’t used to be when it was only populated by people who moved from small town America.

And, as Klein conveniently points out for those of us who think Obama’s policy prescriptions would be particularly bad for the economic and social welfare of the country, we’re all racists — and its Reagan’s fault:

The blinding whiteness and fervent religiosity of the party [Reagan] created are an enduring testament to the power of the myth of an America that existed before we had all these problems. The power of Sarah Palin is that she is the latest, freshest iteration of that myth… The Republican Party’s subliminal message seems stronger than ever this year because of the nature of the Democratic nominee for President. Barack Obama could not exist in the small-town America that Reagan fantasized. He’s the product of what used to be called miscegenation, a scenario that may still be more terrifying than a teen daughter’s pregnancy in many American households.

And, for the 60+ million people that are going to go to the polls and vote for John McCain — maybe more or maybe less than the number that vote for Barack Obama — well, Klein knows an roomful of idiots when he sees the way they vote:

The Democrats have no myth to counter this powerful Republican fantasy…. Democrats do have the facts in their favor. Polls show that Americans agree with them on the issues…. But Americans like stories more than issues….

So Obama faces an uphill struggle between now and Nov. 4. He has no personal anecdotes to match Palin’s mooseburgers. His story of a boy whose father came from Kenya and mother from Kansas takes place in an America not yet mythologized, a country that is struggling to be born — a multiracial country whose greatest cultural and economic strength is its diversity… a country with a much greater potential for justice and creativity — and perhaps even prosperity — than the sepia-tinted version of Main Street America. But that vision is not sellable right now to a critical mass of Americans. They live in a place, not unlike C. Vann Woodward’s South, where myths are more potent than the hope of getting past the dour realities they face each day.

Thanks, Joe. My lack of self-awareness for the inherent evil of my existence has me feeling guilty beyond your ability to know. With your enlightened help, I now understand that I’m such a horrible person being the product an American that doesn’t exist anymore, I’m going to go out and kill myself so as to put you out of your obvious misery at having to inhabit the same planet as me.

53 Responses to “Joe Klein’s Myopic View Of America Is Not The America I Know”

  1. I think it would be best to avoid putting “sepia-tinted” in the same paragraph with Obama.

    dchamil (44dca7)

  2. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like New York City. I hope he keeps writing this drivel because it is going to help lose the election for Obama, a truly dangerous man who doesn’t understand his own limitations. If he did, he would have offered the VP to Hillary and we wouldn’t be where we are.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  3. Geez, Joe didn’t even learn that it’s snow machine, not snow mobile. He’s just not listening close enough.

    Klein says: “So Obama faces an uphill struggle between now and Nov. 4. He has no personal anecdotes to match Palin’s mooseburgers.”

    Well I would think Obama might have some great tales of Hawaiiana while attending the very, very expensive Punahau School. Ride The Wild Surf stories are always engaging…while flashing the thumb and pinky, shaka sign, brah.

    PC14 (ec0516)

  4. WLS – I would suggest a change:

    You see, small town American is angry that urban America has become all these things that urban America didn’t used to be when it was only populated by people who moved from small town America.

    change to:

    You see, URBAN American is angry that urban America has become all these things that urban America didn’t used to be when it was only populated by people who moved from small town America.

    It is the theoretically cosmopolitan, educated, enlightened, tolerant, elite that are generating the hatred and venom in this election as opposed to those in the small towns, IMHO.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  5. Well, technically speaking, her home town is a suburb of Anchorage, but Pasadena is a suburb of LA, and a long way apart.

    Rachel Cohen (dae381)

  6. This story has to be seen to be believed – one of The Messiah’s chief political patrons here just threw his backside under the bus:

    Governor Blago is well – known for playing an integral part in Obama’s rise to the Senate. This quote will be in the McCain ads within 48 hours, I would think.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  7. …a multiracial country whose greatest cultural and economic strength is its diversity…

    America’s greatest strength is diversity?
    Ha Ha. It not even in the top 10.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  8. Today Confederate Yankee has a short
    post up about this Klein article.

    Thank you, Joe Klein
    If it wasn’t for you, I would not have realized that the easily-fooled, knuckle-dragging rubes that I call my neighbors are delusional morons, that the small towns I’ve lived in and around for most of my life are nothing more than bland and unimportant suburbs, and that the farmers I know are just corporate shills. Further, I would not know that all of us are part of a mythical America that is subservient and somewhat less important that the magnificence of that metropolis you call home, and of far less importance than the power and majesty of The One.


    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  9. Dmac – Ouch. That one will leave a mark. I don’t think there are any doubts that Blago is going to be indicted or make a deal, the only problem I see is that it will probably be after the election.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  10. The Messiah is definitely losing his apostles, Daley – one by one they’re getting picked off. Of course, this reeks of pure political opportunism by Blago, maybe he wants to play both sides in case McCain wins and Fitz wants some input regarding his sentencing after trial.

    And don’t forget about Rezko’s sentencing in late October, and that a plea deal’s definitely in the works. That story will come out before the election, no matter how hard Daley and Jones wish it away.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  11. Rezko could do a lot of singing about Blago, for sure. I think he’d be safer singing about him than the Daley’s. The Daley boys and their friends play a lot rougher.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  12. So, let me get this straight. The following states do not exist in Joe Klein’s America:


    Or, looking at the county-by-county election results for 2004 and 2000, I guess his “America” is composed of the bluish speckles.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  13. Joe Klein is a fellow traveler of the Left who wrote the book, “Primary Colors”, about a politician from a small town who would have gotten every seventeen year old girl in Arkansas pregnant given half the chance. Klein wrote under the pseudonym, “anonymous”. “Klein”, thy real name is “Sleim”. (spit!)

    C. Norris (afc6de)

  14. WLS–

    You are being unfair when you say it’s an east-coast view, BTW. I’m sure Klein would include Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  15. Everybody lives in a small town, it’s just that some of us don’t have far to go to reach the next small town.

    Alan Kellogg (2722db)

  16. WLS –

    Maybe I can say it before Patterico:

    JOE –


    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  17. Thank you, Joe. Useful idiot, defined.

    JD (6a8c0a)

  18. Grrrr! I am sick to death hearing from the likes of Klein. My experience and that of my relatives in Los Angeles ceases to exist in Gross Klein-land. The defining lives are those lead by a handfull of Westsiders in LA and parts (only parts) of New York City. Polite nods are made to “diversity” – that charming man who trims the hedges, my pals the busboys at my favorite Thai restaurant. These “natives” are great – provided they shut up and represent their simple peasant values and not complicate things by thinking for themselves or deviate from what is thought best in Gross Klein-land.

    Californio (47b678)

  19. I grew up in a small town of about 30,000. It was a town where everybody knew everybody who was anybody. It was a town where on Patriotic Holidays there were parades where everyone turned out and a presidential motorcade was reason to cancel school so everyone could go and line the road. There was a large (3 blocks) Farmer’s Market that not only provided us with fresh produce, but you could find a new puppy, or let your kids ride a pony, and it was a meeting place every Saturday. The churhes were full on Sunday. That was several decades ago and when I was back there last year, I noted few changes. Life seemed just about the way I’d left it. The big difference that I could see was that the residents were very well informed the same as we are, through their satelittle TV and their internet connections, and everyone carried a cell or a Blackberry.

    Sara (3337ed)

  20. The past two weeks have been amazing.

    With one fell swoop, the selection of Sarah Palin has opened the floodgates of superiority, hypocrisy, Christophobia, bias, elitism, and utter hatred that those of us who graduated to right-of-center knew was within the left, but wasn’t quite sure to what extent. The definition of “projection” has never been more vividly displayed. Even the expression “One finger pointed at me, three pointing back at you” is too tame to apply to this event; these finger-pointers are mutants with six or seven fingers on each hand.

    Talk about “the kitchen sink strategy” — to stop Palin’s momentum, the left has been catapulting plumbing supply warehouses at her, to no avail (as yet). It reminds me of what a feared hockey “goon” once said of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: Wayne was not tall, he was not particularly muscular, but nonetheless when the tough guys would try to get rough with him on the ice, it was described as “like hitting a pillow.”

    Speaking of pillows, if Palin did well in her Gibson interview, there will be a LOT of tears of sadness and rage into pillows in blue states. My heart bleeds…NOT!

    L.N. Smithee (a0b21b)

  21. Clearly, the evil Karl Rove’s double super secret plan for the dasterdly destruction of Obama’s heroic efforts to change the world, inflate automobile tires to the proper pressure, and restore hope to the masses in Amerika is on-track.

    Klein is nutty as a fruitcake, and getting worse. He’s so blind with anger, he can’t see straight. He’s reduced himself to the level of a barking dog. I wonder if he can remember how to spell “irrelevant.”

    Ropelight (921f6e)

  22. How interesting reading that I don’t exist anymore. It’s quite surreal, really, wondering if the city (pop. 5,000) council meeting I’m going to go to tonight is just a figment of my imagination. Ah, but wait. I live in Kansas, the state that was blown away nearly 100 years ago with Dorothy and Toto. So I must not be here after all.

    dianne (96bc05)

  23. Klein’s cheap shots at Sarah Palin, rural America in general and the South in particular illustrate the depths to which the main stream media have become irrelevant. The newspapers are dying. The major networks are entertainment, their news bureaus propaganda outlets for the left. Fox and the Wall Street Journal are the only rational outlets. Hopefully, they will all soon be working for Rupert Murdoch.

    arch (b22bff)

  24. I hope Dems find some dirt on Sarah Palin soon, I really do. Otherwise, it won’t be long before we’ll be paying for some sort of adult day-care program to make sure they take their meds, don’t eat with their fingers, and make it to the restroom in time.

    These people are in serious need of counseling, fashionable restraint clothing, and prescription drug treatment. Perhaps some flashing lights and pretty colors might help to focus their attention on non-destructive activities until bingo night.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Dems, unhinged or not. I just don’t like ‘um all that much.

    Ropelight (921f6e)

  25. Klein has the same attitude as was depicted in New Yorker cover from 36 years ago.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  26. Klein isn’t saying that people do not live in small town. He doesn’t say that living in a small town is a bad thing either. He’s talking about the Leave it to Beaver/Ozzie and Harriet nostalgia that the Republicans are trying in invoke. We think of the South in terms of Gone With the Wind, the only problem being it really wasn’t like that. We have the 1950s/Americana/Main Street view, despite the fact that it really wasn’t like that either. The Republicans are trying to hearken back to an era that never existed.

    mj (c39ebb)

  27. I like them too; after all, I married one. And all save one friend is an avowed leftist – vive la difference!

    Dmac (e639cc)

  28. MJ, that’s a very creative attempt at spinning at will – but if you’ve read Klein at all over the past few years, you know full well what his content and context really represent. His version of the fly – over states as basically Hee – Haw Land is well documented.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  29. Vnjagvet, I immediately thought of that cover as well, along with the alleged comment by their longtime film critic (Pauline Kael), who exclaimed after Nixon won, “how did Nixon win? I didn’t know anyone who voted for him.”

    Dmac (e639cc)

  30. What Klein fails to realize is that many of us with Ivy League educations who have worked professionally for decades in jobs that required us to travel throughout the country and all over the world desire to come back to smaller towns when we wind down to retirement.

    That is because it is just more pleasant to live with people who are not driven over the top like Klein is when “normal” people take leadership positions in our society.

    The common wisdom of ordinary American People was profoundly appreciated by leaders as “diverse” as Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelts 1 and 2, Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan, among others.

    Come to think of it, all of those leaders but the Roosevelts came from pretty common origins themselves.

    vnjagvet (d3d48a)

  31. Did anyone see Klein on Chrissie Mattews’s show last weekend? Klein was being so partisan, so “in the tank” for Obama that he actually stunned Matthews!

    And I agree with the others; Klein should keep on spewing this elitist echo of Obama’s San Francisco speech. The more people that hear it, the better.

    Icy Truth (b28aae)

  32. I grew up in a small town (Mt Sterling, Kentucky), population 5,300, and I couldn’t wait to grow up and get out of podunksville. From ages 18 to 50 I lived in sizable cities (Lexington, KY; Hampton, VA and outside Wilmington, DE) before I realized just how good I had it in a small town. Within two weeks of moving to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, I knew more of my neighbors than I met in two years in Delaware.

    Of course, there are some disadvantages: no Japanese restaurant in town is a big one! But if I forget to lock my front door at night, it’s no big deal. Heck, there have been a couple of times the front door was left open overnight, and it was no big deal!

    The Dana with the beard (556f76)

  33. Mr Murphy: Our friends on the left call that “flyover country.”

    The older Dana (556f76)

  34. Dana — where I grew up we left the keys in the cars in the driveway overnight so you didn’t have to scramble looking for keys in the morning.

    More than once my Dad awoke to find that I had taken his beloved Corvette to school.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  35. #3 Dana with the beard- I trust you are male, but I had lady Mennonite in-laws with fu manchus. You do have the Asa Packer mansion. I’d forgotten how the whole Jim Thorpe/Mauch Chunk name thing ended up. I was born and did high school in not so far away Pottsville. Few people are aware that the city had an NFL championship that the commish took away in the late 20s. Twenty years ago I visited your fair city and considered relocating from Philly suburbs.

    Interesting how some of us have seen some of the country. As a child I had three years in Vegas before it boomed from 50k population and they were still doing above ground nuclear tests from ninety miles off Jackass Flats…now Yucca Flats, I think. From there to Lawton, Ok. and later New Haven/Stratford, Ct. Have to say my present digs in Fla. are very appreciated in winters- figure 80 degrees just about any day is possible.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  36. More than once my Dad awoke to find that I had taken his beloved Corvette to school.

    That gives me another reason to like you.

    Old Coot (2f3a50)

  37. I live in a very small beach town, everyday population in under 3000, but holiday weekends it jumps to double that, and a little bit more. I enjoy the 4th of July parade, and the fireworks, but it is difficult to find a parking place, so I get around in the golf cart. Works great, and pretty young girls aren’t afraid to wave and say hello. They think I’m a nice guy.

    5 minuets away is the big city, with about 10,000 residents, but it jumps to 2 1/2 times that on special occasions. There’s a Japaneese restaurant, several Mexican joints, and most everything else. The fresh fish places are good, and the local oysters will knock your socks off.

    I’ve lived in the big city, NY, LA, and SF, little cities, Norfolk, Reno, and Santa Barbara, and small towns, Pungo, Morro Bay, and Cayucos. I’ll take samall town life each and every time, and never look back.

    Ropelight (921f6e)

  38. Back before 9/11 I spent some time in Manhattan in the Battery Park area. I was surprised to discover that come evening, after all the commuters left, it was a small town near New York (the emptied out downtown acting as a buffer). People living there knew each other, were generally quite friendly, in short quite unlike I expected. You never know where you might stumble on small town America!

    Robert in San Diego (db0b30)

  39. “Klein isn’t saying that people do not live in small town. He doesn’t say that living in a small town is a bad thing either. He’s talking about the Leave it to Beaver/Ozzie and Harriet nostalgia that the Republicans are trying in invoke. “

    This is self-refuting. The Republicans are not touting any ‘myth’, they are getting behind a REAL PERSON, Sarah Palin, who has had a REAL LIFE, and is a REAL GOVERNOR. That she is a Mom, a hunter, her husband is a union member and commercial fisherman, that her son joined the army, that she was in the PTA and her parents were teachers – all real. What horrifies the liberal elites is that millions of hockey/soccer Moms, gun owning hunters, small business owners, evangelicals, and just plain moms and Dads, have someone running that they can identify with. How dare they!

    She’s a real person and The ‘small-town’ stereotyping has consistently come from the left, from Obama with his “clinging to God, guns and xenophobia” and coming from Joe Klein and other liberal elitists who seem to think there is something execrable about living in small towns. Yes, Joe Klein does say living in small town America is bad – “They live in a place, not unlike C. Vann Woodward’s South, where myths are more potent than the hope of getting past the dour realities they face each day.” … What DOUR REALITIES is Klein talking about? The lack of Chinese takeout? Too many churchgoers and not enough fellow liberals to commiserate with?

    The nostalgia creators are the Kleins. They want to recreate a mythical America where small-town America stays ignorant enough to let the elites run things unmolested. They are horrified that real America wants a real American, like Sarah Palin, to have power, instead of the Annointed Liberal Elitist.

    Travis Monitor (cfa2f1)

  40. Both sides of the small town discussion might be wrong on this. Wasilla is an Alaskan Exurb next to Alaska’s ‘big city’ Anchorage where one third of Wasillians work. Small town? Seems like Palin’s in the thick of things there….she as mayor brought in a huge hockey rink for such a small suburb which is growing as fast as some suburbs of Nevada did in the early part of this decade.

    datadave (eb12a5)

  41. Wow, I am surprised to find that I don’t exist. I swear I can remember growing up in a small town (pop. ~11,000) in northern Georgia, where the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church held competitive pot-luckoffs, and the local Boy Scout troop was responsible for organizing at least one of the town fairs.

    Joe Klein can go fornicate himself with an iron stake.

    Techie (e437b8)

  42. Techie, #42

    I grew up in a small village. The 4500 block of Manitou Way in San Diego. 🙂

    Alan Kellogg (0b4d3a)

  43. Of course, I then went to Atlanta and Boston for schooling.

    City Boy!!!111!!

    Techie (e437b8)

  44. He has obviously never seen Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

    Amphipolis (e6b868)

  45. Well, I guess I don’t exist either. Perhaps I did exist, when I lived in LA (well, the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys, so maybe I didn’t after all!). After being born and living in the big city, and being a 20 year cop, my husband and I decided that the insanity of living in southern California was no longer worth the effort, so we moved to southeastern Idaho, near Pocatello. We live in a town of about 500 and have 75 acres that we grow hay and cattle on. In three short years, we have become active members of the community and know almost all our neighbors and many in the town. Agriculture is big here, and most of it is not corporate, but small family farms. The people do live the life that Klein so smugly claims never even existed. They are church going, honest people who work harder and are more self sufficient than any I have ever known. But if someone needs help, neighbors and friends are a phone call away. Recently, one of my horses got colic (life threatening in a horse). I called one of my friends for some medication while waiting for the vet…she was there in ten minutes with the meds, in her pjs, and had called another friend who is a horse expert, who came by five minutes later. Another neighbor saw us in the snow with the horse and stopped by to help. The horse recovered, and I realized for the first time what the term “neighbor” really meant. And this was for a horse! Yes, drug use here is a problem, as are all the other problems in the big city, but its less per capita than in more densly populated areas, and there are more helping hands here than I ever found in LA. Maybe Klein should leave his wonderful life in NY and try it here or in any of the other thousands of small towns in the country and see how the rubes really live…he might learn something. On the other hand, I do notice that any time a varmint becomes a problem, the first response is to shoot it, so maybe he better not come after all.

    415woman (654ef8)

  46. datadave — you’ve got the same problem as Klein. You assume that simply because someone grows up near a city they are infected by a self-centric urban attitude.

    I grew up in, and currenly live close to, cities much bigger than Anchorage. But my entire life has been an experience of small town American that Klein claims doesn’t exist — and hasn’t existed for more than century.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  47. I live in a small town the same size as Palin’s (about 7000 pop) and within 20 miles there is a the largest city of the state (even smaller than Alaska’s popl)…but our budget for school, govt, everything is less than half what her earmark supplied budget was and we sure don’t have a indoor stadium hockey rink either. As hers, people here drive the bigger city to work. That’s a suburb by definition.

    Small towns in ‘flyover country’ are totally different. Real small towns like the one in Southern Idaho (like Driggs where I lived briefly once) Sarah’s right in the fastest growing centre and mildest climate Anchorage metro area which has the mildest clime outside of Juneau…(which is admittedly too far south to be considered Alaska). So I suspect her ‘small townishness is like that of longtime neighbors in Brooklyn or in her state such as the larger military complex of Fairbanks (where it actually does get cold..)

    Klein isn’t too persuasive…but he’s trying to point out that She’s Not different than the Rest of Us isn’t it. We all like our cars, freedom and things and big houses and SUVs like she has. Painting herself as an Exceptional American is what he is trying to debunk and on that score he’s right. She incited the Culture War argument that she’s for those unique small towners in rust belt battle ground states but she intentionally fails to point out that Alaska is quite unique even though she’s in the most “normal” place of an unusual American state……which Klein fails to get either in his misunderstanding Palin’s Alaska.

    datadave (eb12a5)

  48. The first place that I remember living was Wolf Point, Montana; it’s grown since I left. The next was … never mind. Joe Klein is confusing the map he knows for the real world. There are days, though, when I think that we should separate the USA into two countries, one of the cities larger than 25,000 and the other of the rest of the country.

    htom (412a17)

  49. #22 by dianne

    I grew up in Hoyt, Kansas as well. Pop. 500 (if everyone was home). Interesting thing about that small town is that at my 25th reunion, all but 6 of us out of 56 were still living within 50 miles. Most had married someone from within that same distance. Most had never been more than 100 miles from Hoyt. Farms range in size from a few acres to a few sections in size. Most farmers have a day job as well as taking care of their family and farm. The kids still learn what it is like to till the fields and assist a cow in birthing a breech calf, the satisfaction of having done a hard day’s work, the disappointment of hard times when the crops fail or a pet dies. They still know the feeling of community where everyone knows everyone else and who is doing what with whom. The county fair is still one of the most anticipated events of the summer, a high school football game draws more people than any politician ever could. They have two churches in this small town, both of which are very well attended. Fact is most people there attend church at least once a week. The majority tithe, donate to charity and also always make sure that the less fortunate in their midst do not go hungry.

    Hoyt is just one of dozens of small towns in that part of the state where the capitol only has about 100,000 people. Seems to me that people like these are really the majority in just about the entire nation, excepting only the large cities on the coasts and a few large cities spotted here and there. One thing these politicians should know. Even towns like this have cable and internet access. And contrary to the elitist point of view, these people are not stupid. They follow the news, the conversations, the off the cuff, pointed jabs at “people like them” and they continue to make decisions based on their values, their sense of community, their patriotism and their belief in God. Even though most of them have never strayed far from home, let alone “seen Europe”, they are far from the rubes the elite Dems believe them to be.

    So, Mr. Klein, continue with your rants, your elitist views and your casual dismissal of small town America. You will just be helping to offend a very significant part of the population. Myself included. You see, even though I now live in San Diego, I am and will always be a small town kid at heart.

    Jay Curtis (8f6541)

  50. This seems to be the meme of the day in the liberal elite establishment. Chopra wrote an article about how selfish small town America is. Funny, we change each other’s tires and know each other’s kids. At a time when Obama is trying to endorse “community organizers” his fans have a curious way of denigrating community and what it stands for.

    Carolynp (a200f6)

  51. When we got transferred to Indiana, we bought a home in a small town about 17 miles outside Indianapolis. Small as in one 4-way stop and a barbershop, bar/steakhouse, lumber yard, and pharmacy on the corners. We’d been there about 2 mo. when I noticed my hair was getting an orange tint to it, so I found a local beauty shop to see if I could find out what was going on and fix it. The beauty shop consisted of 4 stations in the back of a home, the orange was from iron in the well water.

    The minute I walked in they asked where I came from, since they knew I was new in town. And the gal working on my hair laughed and said, “You’ve come to the right place, we’ll tell you whose checks are good and whose husbands aren’t.”

    That’s small town life.

    Sara (3337ed)

  52. The constant divisiveness in this country has got to stop! We should celebrate our differences and not use them to drive wedges. I understand what Klein was referring to. I grew up in both places and I can say one thing about small towns. Everyone thinks the same and the prejudice runs rampant for anyone who is different especially the color of skin. The same prejudice prevails in most places, but the difference is in urban areas it is out in the open a little more. Differences are celebrated more, not viewed as being inferior. I understand the neighbors taking care of neighbors thinking and I think it a great ideal of our country, but the part of the equation that allows “small town justice” just doesn’t help the view of urban areas toward small towns. I have seen bigotry, misogyny and corporal abuse run prevalent. Community is different than small town. Community means working together regardless of differences, without judgement, to the betterment of all. Too bad people don’t get it.

    Deni (12bebc)

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