- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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.”

Mrs. Grimes has already raised $2.5 million for her campaign chest. And among her 60 instant A-List contributors: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Nicolas Cage, Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Danny DeVito, Barbra Streisand, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Jon Hamm and Chris Rock.

CRUZ, THE GOP MAN oF THE FUTURE

Some remain unconvinced about the aforementioned Gov. Chris Christie, and in no uncertain terms.

Christie is a useful idiot for the Democrats — a needy, politically correct, ruling-class Republican who is trending liberal on everything from climate change to gay marriage to size-of-government issues. Christie loves the liberal limelight, a trait that will only intensify over time.The Democrats know a Trojan Horse when they see one,” says George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator.

He lauds Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas instead.

“The future of the GOP is not Christie but Cruz. Have the Republicans learned nothing from Romney’s loss, McCain’s loss, Dole’s loss? The lesson is simple: do not run moderates. That just hands victory to the Dems from the start,” Mr. Neumayr says.

HEY, PROLIFERS: STRIKE BACK

What’s to learn from Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II’s close defeat in the state’s gubernatorial election? Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, points out that Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe spent $5 million on “misleading attack ads” and the fictitious Republican “war on women,” along with some 5,600 broadcast spots on abortion alone. Such attacks essentially went unanswered, and the negative message stuck, she says.

“This election shows that it is imperative for pro-lifers to be on offense in 2014 against the distortions and extremism of the left,” Mrs. Dannenfelser says. “The Democrat strategy for 2014 is set: demonize pro-life candidates and spend big on ‘war on women’ advertising.”

She advises Republicans to counter by aggressively framing Democratic abortion policies as extreme. And don’t distance candidates in the final hours.

“The results make clear that more support from outside groups in the final weeks could have changed the outcome. Shame on the Republican establishment for abandoning this race,” Mrs. Dannenfelser says.

POLL DU JOUR

• 67 percent of Americans say there is evidence of “global warming”; 46 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of tea party supporters and 84 percent of Democrats agree.

• 26 percent overall say there is no evidence of global warming; 46 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of tea partyers and 11 percent of Democrats agree.

• 44 percent overall say global warming is caused by human activity; 23 percent of Republicans, 9 percent of tea partyers and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 18 percent overall say that global warming is due to “natural patterns”; 19 percent of Republicans, 14 percent of tea partyers and 17 percent of Democrats agree.

• 13 percent overall say global warming is “just not happening”; 25 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of tea partyers and 4 percent of Democrats agree.

• 12 percent overall say we “don’t know enough yet” to judge the cause; 20 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of tea partyers and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research center poll of 1,504 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 9 to 13 and released Monday.

Fancy talk, indignant squawks to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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