No Oscar commentary from me, but all this talk of Hollywood did bring me back to a quote from a couple of weeks ago.
Like hungry jackals at a carcass, factions have already begun fighting over how best to spend the $800 billion stimulus. One of the tastier goodies will be an allotment for high-speed rail connections in various parts of the country. Republican Senator Jim DeMint seemed particularly upset at the prospect of a Los Angeles to Las Vegas connection:
The President has a point that taxpayer money should not be used to pay for Wall Street fat cats to fly to Las Vegas but why is it okay for taxpayer money to be used to help pay for Hollywood elites to get there on a fancy gambling train? And why are we subsidizing leisure in a stimulus bill rather than encouraging work and greater productivity?
A few points here. Does anyone really think a genuine Hollywood elite would take the train? Also, can’t we imagine that down-home productive plebeians would find plenty of uses for a rail connection between two major population centers? (As a side note, does anyone even pretend that “Hollywood elites” isn’t dog-whistle for “Jews”?)
Finally, why is it that politicians believe they can get so much mileage out of demonizing certain parts of the country? The examples in recent (or semi-recent) politics are numerous:
- The 2004 ad that stated, “Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading . . .” says the husband. His apple-cheeked wife interrupts to say, “. . . body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, Left-wing freak show back to Vermont [Dr Dean's home state] where it belongs.”
- The 1988 attempts to saddle Michael Dukakis with the label of “Taxachusetts” based on the policies of his home state.
- More recent efforts to lambaste Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for her “San Francisco values.” (No mystery about the dog-whistle target there.)
In any case, Matthew Yglesias asks a similar question:
For whatever reason, conservatives are constantly allowed to get away with this business of summarily dismissing vast regions of the country as unworthy and never get called on it. But this sort of thing is leading the movement on a direct (albeit, non-rail) route to a Dixie-only ghetto.
This idea put reader BPM in the mind of the Federalist Party in the 1810s, which was more or less a New England-only ghetto. Historians have argued endlessly about the degree to which nineteenth-century political parties were regionally based. And it remains to be seen whether the Republican party will wind up being confined to the South and the Plains/Mountain West. Regardless, this sort of rhetoric does appear to be self-defeating. Shouldn’t each party claim to be the better representative of all America? Why single out some locations as more American than others? (I mean, I think I know why, but it’s worth asking the rhetorical question.)