The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

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.

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