Has America become hopelessly tacky thanks to reality TV, celebrity gossip, baby daddies, tattoos and trailer parks? Someone has at last sounded a tasteful alarm about a trend that has permeated just about everything, including politics.
“When Did White Trash Become the New Normal?” asks a new book by Charlotte Hays, director of cultural programs for the conservative Independent Women’s Forum and a political commentator for The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard, among many other news organizations.
The genre is evolving from the days of, say, a rusted out Ford Fairlane on the front lawn. “Old white trash” meant having a shotgun wedding, Ms. Hays says. “New white trash” means wearing a designer bridal gown that doesn’t hide the baby bump. She is methodical in her book — from Regnery Publishing, incidentally — examining white trash cuisine, raucous manners and other indicators that the nation is in some sort of inelegant decline.
Ms. Hays points out that Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour.” Centuries later, it was reality TV tot Honey Boo Boo who declared, “I wish I had an extra finger. Then I could grab more cheese balls.”
Is the author concerned for America?
“I am very worried but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Ms. Hays tells Inside the Beltway. “At the end of the book I quote something I heard all my life. It was from my grandfather’s beloved schoolmaster, who said, ‘You can’t all be scholars but you can all be gentlemen.’ The only way we will slay the beast of White Trash as normal is to recover the sense that character, including manners — being a lady or gentleman — is just as important as anything we can achieve. And here’s the really good news. That’s something anybody can do.”
TEA PARTYERS LOOK ASKANCE AT CHRIS CHRISTIE
They love him in Trenton, not so much in the heartland. Tea partyers have yet to warm to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie despite his political prominence and Tuesday’s substantial re-election victory.
Why is that? Grass-roots folk have not forgotten Mr. Christie’s embrace of President Obama after Superstorm Sandy. And wait until they find out that the president called the governor Wednesday to congratulate him on his win. Tea party members also wonder whether Mr. Christie is really a social conservative, or if he compromised values to win votes.
“Some on the right just don’t like the can-do credo he espouses about making government work even if it means working with Democrats. In this season of government shutdowns, which he rightly opposed, some see this as evidence of a lack of principle, not pragmatism,” points out Jonathan Tobin, a columnist for Commentary magazine. “What they forget is that Christie’s vaunted bipartisanship operated from a position of strength in which he forced Democrats to operate within his frame of reference of reform, not a weak refusal to upset the applecart.”
Mr. Tobin himself wonders whether Mr. Christie’s “irascible tough-guy personality” will play on a national stage. “If we’re looking for reasons why tea partyers cannot abide Christie, we have to come to grips with the fact that most of this is more about atmospherics than actual disagreements,” he observes.
“This unique politician may be a chance for Republicans to reverse the liberal tide that Obama has been riding the last several years. As of the moment, that is just speculation. But one suspects that as we get closer to 2016, more conservatives will come to the conclusion that they much prefer dealing with his faults than contemplating eight years of a Hillary Clinton presidency,” he adds.
HOLLYWOOD VS. MCCONNELL
The liberal prowess of Tinseltown should never be underestimated. DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg now says his “top priority” is to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, this according to Tina Daunt, who follows political trends for the Hollywood Reporter.
Mr. Katzenburg has sent out the call to silver screen chums to contribute to Alison Lundergan Grimes, age 34 and a Democrat who is challenging the Kentucky Republican. She also happens to be Kentucky’s secretary of state and refers to her rival as “Senator Gridlock.”