On old-timey J-fave Counterpunch, defense attorney Tiphaine Dickson talks about the anti-semitic, red-baiting, racist, absolutist author who came up with a passage Palin has been quoting repeatedly, about how "we grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity," came from one Westbrook Pelger, who doesn't seem to have been a very nice or good person. (Bigotry was, according to him, a duty of Americans, and political correctness shouldn't keep Americans from loudly and proudly being bigots, despite the wrong-headed New York pinheads who associated it with Nazism.) He originally wrote the quoted passage about Truman -- a bit of time after he apparently said of the same man: "This Truman is thin-lipped, a hater, and not above offering you his hand to yank you off balance, and work you over with a chair leg, a pool cue, or something out of his pocket." (Flip flop? Nuance? Changing your mind with new information?)
The significance, of course, is that, as Dickson points out, campaign speeches are meticulously planned and (usually?) well-researched. The McCain camp has tried to re-habilitate Pelger in order to use his quote endorsing good, small-town folks. Maybe it doesn't mean anything in the larger scheme, but it certainly seems impolitic to use such a hateful person's words to try and proclaim the goodness and wisdom of small-town US; one could go back farther to Will Rogers perhaps -- except he ended up a Democrat and Roosevelt supporter; one could appropriate the words of seemingly gentle humorist, womanizer, creepy-ish old guy and oddly polarizing (and at times oddly vitriolic) radio personality Garrison Keillor, except for -- well, except for all that stuff I just wrote about him, AND the fact that he's a Democrat; one could go for Jim Hightower or the late and dearly lamented Molly Ivins, but daggum it, doesn't it just figure -- they are/were Democrats as well.
Of course, it'd be silly to maintain small-town people are all Democrats, or that folksy wisdom is a Democratic monopoly -- sort of like how it'd be silly to maintain that Republicans are all cigar-smoking, wine and brandy drinking, rich self-centered people who pretended to be folksy in order to convince people that, despite Ivy League educations or great wealth, they're all down-homey, too. No, that's just all the leaders of their party. (One good stereotype deserves another).
Anyway, Counterpunch is an online magazine more like Newsweek than Slate or a scholarly journal, where things tend to be better sourced, so I always approach their articles with a sort of eagerness with a thin slice of dubiousness on top -- so go check it out for yourself.
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