WHITE TRASH ALLURE TAKES OVER AMERICA
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.
The genre is evolving. “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 BooBoo 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 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.”
Why is that? Grass-roots folk have not forgotten Mr. Christie’s embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. 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.”
Mr. Tobin himself wonders whether Mr. Christie “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.