Friday, May 23, 2008

The Kentucky Primary: Eastern Kentucky's Unintentional Self-Parody

Are you sure this isn't one of those Onion news reports?

The highlights:

Time 0:32 - Re: not voting for Obama: "I just don't want to vote for a... I'm not racist or anything like that ... but I just don't want someone in there like that."

Time 1:12 - An auction for second-hand household supplies: "Got a Manwich for a dollar ten."

(Incidentally, freedom isn't free. No, there's a hefty fucking fee. It's about $1.05. Apparently, a can of manwich is more valuable than freedom in Eastern Kentucky)

Time: 2:15 - Oakley Delong, sitting in the recliner in his doublewide. His end table? Two empty 30 packs of Milwaukee's Best.


And then there's this:

Last month, I saw John McCain speak in a tiny town, nestled among the
Appalachian coal hills of eastern Kentucky, called Inez. He was in the middle of
his Time for Action Tour of America’s “forgotten places” (including Selma,
Alabama; Youngstown, Ohio; and the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans).

* * * *

Inez is the place where Lyndon Johnson came to declare war on poverty, in 1964. He sat on the porch of a ramshackle, tin-roof house, which still stands (just barely) on a hillside above Route 3, looking a little like a museum of rural poverty in a county that has recently prospered because of coal.

* * * *

John Preston, who is the county’s circuit-court judge and also its
amateur historian, Harvard-educated, with a flag pin on his lapel, said, “Obama
is considered an √©litist.” He added, “There’s a racial component, obviously, to
it. Thousands of people won’t publicly say it, but they won’t vote for a black
man—on both sides, Democrat and Republican. It won’t show up in the polls,
because they won’t admit it. The elephant’s in the room, but nobody will say it.
Sad to say it, but it’s true.” Later, I spoke with half a dozen men eating lunch
at the Pigeon Roost Dairy Bar outside town, and none of them had any trouble
saying it. They announced their refusal to vote for a black man, without
hesitation or apology. “He’s a Muslim, isn’t he?” an aging mine electrician
asked. “I won’t vote for a colored man. He’ll put too many coloreds in jobs.
Colored are O.K.—they’ve done well, good for them, look where they came from.
But radical coloreds, no—like that Farrakhan, or that senator from New York,
Rangel. There’d be riots in the streets, like the sixties.” No speech, on race
or élitism or anything else, would move them. Here was one part of the white
working class—maybe not representative, but at least significant—and in an
Obama-McCain race they would never be the swing vote. It is a brutal fact, and
Obama probably shouldn’t even mention it.

Yeah, there's that.

Thank you eastern Kentucky, for embarassing us once again.