Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Subtext of the Bread Sacks

Well, the good news is she didn't talk about castration.

The bad news: now we Iowans have to hear bread sack jokes for the forseeable future.

Joni Ernst's shoe protector story was of course familiar to her constituents. But it was new to the national audience. And it was trotted out again, in a speech that we all know was very carefully vetted, for a reason.

"Breadbags on my Shoes"?? Was that a Dolly Parton hit from the 70s? Should it have been? Wow, she made Bobby Jindal look like Pericles Cultural elitist Maher was mocking, but he was accidentally right.  The story of the bread bags is the story of the rural white working class, that frustrating rabble that debunks Marx by voting culture above economics.

Look back at that Senate race.  Can you think of a better way to describe it than a culture war?  Bruce Braley tried in vain to make it a culture war about issues, actual pocketbook issues.  But Ernst and her handlers successfully sidestepped that cowpie and made it a culture war about image.  They asked Iowa to look in a mirror and vote for what they saw, and more people saw Farm Gal than Trial Lawyer.

The bread bags are cultural signifiers to the increasingly Appalachian voter base of the GOP.  So's the high school Hardees job  They're a way of saying white rural poverty and values are somehow "better" values than "urban" (and we know what that means) poverty.  I heard your dog whistle there.

And what was Ernst's ticket out?  The only jobs and education program rural white America sees as truly valid: the military.

We'll be hearing a lot of these stories the next couple years.  Republicans have to grow their Appalachia vote to have a shot at winning Ohio and Pennsylvania and with them the presidency.

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