Reading the Republican Landscape

Sometimes, from the outside, it’s hard to understand if you’re misunderstanding what’s going on in the Republican party, and I have been in the middle of my own panic, so I may have missed this.  But doesn’t it seem like we’re witnessing something very, very important just below the surface?

I start by saying two things that I have observed about Southerners–one, a lot of them are Southern Baptist, which means, when they don’t like how something’s going, they have no compunction about breaking off and doing something different while still considering themselves to be the true carriers of the proper torch and two, they don’t like to be played for fools.

So, whenever it was that I had CNN, I noticed that it seemed to be primarily the Southern Republicans who were on my screen hollering about the bailout and how they were insulted by it (props to Bob Corker, btw).  And now McCain seems to think nothing of suggesting cancelling the first debate, which, of course, is in Mississippi.

From McCain’s end, I can see it.  The benefits to him outweight the costs, because just like Democrats have grown complacent with the Black vote, the Republicans have come to expect that they will always have the white Southern vote (see, for instance, Bill Hobbs’s gleeful plans for Republican victory in Tennessee for election day).  So, McCain can show his ass to Mississippi and cancel a debate they were expecting to host because what are they going to do about it?  Right?

But I feel like I saw an inkling on CNN of what Southern Republicans are going to do about it and I’m just curious if I’m reading the landscape right.  I think Southern Republicans are positioning themselves as the “true” Republicans, who stand in opposition both to the Democrats and to national Republicans who are out of touch with “regular” folks.

———-

And because you know I can’t let this Palin stuff go, I also wonder how she’s playing with the majority of Southern Republican women, the longer she’s out there in public.  Because I have observed that Southern women in general have been taught to play dumb very well, but that they have litte patience for actual dumb women.  I think Palin looked very attractive to Southern women when it seemed as if she was just playing dumb in that way Southern women do, but the more it seems as if she may actually be out of her league?  I’m just saying, at some point, the conventional wisdom among white Southern women is going to go from “Oh, Sarah Palin’s kind of like us but Alaskan” to “Oh, Sarah Palin, bless her heart.”

And I think we all know the Republican ticket is in trouble when it attracts a significant Bless Your Heart quotient.

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16 thoughts on “Reading the Republican Landscape

  1. So, McCain can show his ass to Mississippi and cancel a debate they were expecting to host because what are they going to do about it? Right?

    Well, first of all, the governor is Haley Barbour, FORMER leader of the Republican National Committee. If you don’t think the man has some weight to still throw around within the Republican party, you underestimate him.

    Also, Ole Miss/Oxford has put $5 million into preparations for this debate. While most of the country might think it’s a little hick town in Mississippi with a university, think again — there is a lot of political money flowing through Ole Miss… Trent Lott, Dickie Scruggs (in jail now for bribing a federal judge, but still an example), John Grisham, The Manning family — the list goes on… you don’t think they’re going to take this lightly do you?

    Because I have observed that Southern women in general have been taught to play dumb very well, but that they have little patience for actual dumb women.

    I’m going to suspend my offense at that statement with this explanation: southern women know WHEN to play dumb — that is, when it suits them to get their way.

  2. I figured I might have to dodge some eggs for that comment. I’ll have my heart blessed half to death, I’m sure!

    But, yeah, no, my point is exactly that–that I think it’s an amazingly risky move on McCain’s part to cancel a debate in a state that is such a Republican stronghold.

  3. It’s a Republican stronghold in national politics only when it comes to the Republican party.

    I’m from MS, as you know, 5th generation and I can tell you exactly why people vote there the way they do. And this will be hard to swallow and it will cause a sh*t-storm, but I’m going to lay it out to you straight.

    Most of the whites in MS vote Republican in national elections. BUT they vote Democrat in state elections.

    WHY? To keep the welfare state at bay.

    There are a lot of people that the southern whites view as derelicts. The southern whites vote for the person who will keep their money in their pocketbook. Most whites that run for state office have to run as Democrats to keep the white AND black vote, because the Democrat label gives them some of the black vote they need to get elected. These are Republicans in Democrat clothing.

    As for the monied people who fund politics in MS, it’s NOT really a Republican stronghold. If you look at recent history of the last few Governors, you’ll see that just a few short years ago, prior to Barbour, Mississippi had Kirk Fordice (and his own special brand of crazy) in office — Why was he special? He was the FIRST REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR SINCE RECONSTRUCTION.

    Anyway, I won’t bless your heart — you don’t really need or deserve it — as I know it’s in the right place ;-)

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  5. Well, ya know, I see one way McCain comes out of this smelling like a rose: See, Congress is already fixing up a lot of the problems with the bailout package that are sending Republicans in particular into a tizzy (not putting up all the $ at once, having Congressional oversight, setting up highly remote but potential profitabiity for the Treasury/taxpayers, etc.), so that Republicans ought to be more comfortable with the results, except that it has been the Democrats doing all the negotiating (signaling their readiness to be an active participant in governing under the next president) and the Republicans don’t want to be tag-alongs here, so while having either McCain or Obama jumping into negotiations at this late point is totally inappropriate (it would look like a power-grab by the potential executive, and derail Congressional momentum), for McCain to be seen to persuade the Republican leadership in Congress to agree to the deal (putting country before politics in a time of national crisis) makes him the party leader in a way he hasn’t been, especially in the south, and allows him to show that he is bipartisan the way he claims and isn’t just having a panic attack in reaction to the latest polls, either, all in time to say “and look! we’re done with the agreement in principle and it’s still Thursday night so there’s still time to get to LA on Friday” and not look like a forfeiter for not showing up.

    That may be the longest paragraph-in-a-sentence I’ve ever written; I’m soooo proud of myself and I think it hangs together gramatically.

  6. Oh, well, except that the Republican Congressional leadership thinks McCain is just posturing: the NYT reports: “I appreciate very much my Republican colleagues who participated in the meeting and added tremendously,” [Robert Bennett, R-Utah] said. “We focused on solving the problem, rather than posturing politically and it was one of the most productive sessions in that regard that I have participated in since I have been in the Senate.”

  7. I just learned about the “bless her heart” thing. Last weekend I saw my uncle — a native Tennesseean — who explained that one of the great things about being Southern is that you can say anything bad about anybody as long as you preface it with “bless her heart.” “Bless her heart, she’s as dumb as a sack of hammers.”

    Somehow, it doesn’t work without the accent.

  8. re: dean dad: someone actually gave you the CORRECT meaning of ” bless your heart” — glad you got the real deal.

    “. . . bless her heart, she’s as ugly as a mud fence”

    ;-)

  9. And then there’s “bless his little thumpin’ gizzard,” which I can recall having heard numerous times as a kid. I like that one, but it’s almost too goofy-sounding to pull off the implied condescension/nastiness. “Bless her little hearrrt” works better for that.

  10. That was classic.

    “I’m just saying, at some point, the conventional wisdom among white Southern women is going to go from “Oh, Sarah Palin’s kind of like us but Alaskan” to “Oh, Sarah Palin, bless her heart.”

    And I think we all know the Republican ticket is in trouble when it attracts a significant Bless Your Heart quotient.

    And there are grades to these things. There’s a “bless her heart” for the gal who loses her car keys all the time. And then there’s ” ..bless her heart” for the woman who loses the whole frigging car or can’t remember how to drive.

    If Palin can make a diehead RW columnist like Kathleen Parker throw in the towel, you know she’s awful..

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