Saturday, November 27, 2004

From Atrios, Red State, Blue State

Our friends at Atrios do a little debunking of the red-state blue-state nonsense.

The red state-blue state divide ... is nothing more than a rebranding of David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise argument that there are two competing and incompatible cultures in America today. But when a reporter tried to verify the facts underlying Brooks’ thesis they didn’t check out [Philly Magazine]. The post-2004 election version of the "Bobo" theory is on just as flimsy grounds.

The modern conservative movement sells itself as “a revolt of the little people against a high and mighty liberal elite.”. It feeds on a feeling of victimization and resentment that many "red staters" feel right now. And the ability of the right to play into that feeling of victimization rests on the premise of a divided america: us versus them, red versus blue. There is no reason we have to adopt their framework.

The choicest bit from the Philly Magazine article:

As I made my journey, it became increasingly hard to believe that Brooks ever left his home. "On my journeys to Franklin County, I set a goal: I was going to spend $20 on a restaurant meal. But although I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu -- steak au jus, 'slippery beef pot pie,' or whatever -- I always failed. I began asking people to direct me to the most-expensive places in town. They would send me to Red Lobster or Applebee's," he wrote. "I'd scan the menu and realize that I'd been beaten once again. I went through great vats of chipped beef and 'seafood delight' trying to drop $20. I waded through enough surf-and-turfs and enough creamed corn to last a lifetime. I could not do it."

Taking Brooks's cue, I lunched at the Chambersburg Red Lobster and quickly realized that he could not have waded through much surf-and-turf at all. The "Steak and Lobster" combination with grilled center-cut New York strip is the most expensive thing on the menu. It costs $28.75. "Most of our checks are over $20," said Becka, my waitress. "There are a lot of ways to spend over $20."

So Brooks is busted on two sets of grounds: busted by the visit to Red Lobster, and busted by the fact that we weren't born yesterday, we know that it's easy to spend $20 for dinner at Red Lobster. Who actually reads these books?


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