Judith Warner lit the fuse, but Nicholas Beaudrot started it:
Ezra Klein: "How Could Clinton Win? Nobody I Know Voted For Her.": Via DeLong and Franke-Ruta (that's just the order their posts popped up in my RSS reader), the NYT's Judith Warner wonders if maybe, just maybe, the hyper-educated urban cosmopolitan upper-middle class journalists have a Pauline Kael problem [sic] when it comes to assessing the public's impressions of Hillary Clinton. The Village has inculcated the right-wing myth that Real America out there in the heartland (even though there are more World of Warcraft players than farmers) hates Clinton and will never vote for her, backed up by her weak performance in the 2000 Senate election. But this just doesn't pass the smell test.... I will say that... I didn't expect she would be able to improve her favorable figures this much this quickly; I thought she would have to do more than just show up on midday talk show circuit to improve her favorables, and that the Democratic primary electorate would not be particularly eager to nominate a candidate whose record and rhetoric has all the hallmarks of a centrist. But hey, I'm part of the hyper-educated urban cosmopolitan upper-middle class...
And Paul Krugman carried it forward:
The real America - Paul Krugman - Op-Ed Columnist - New York Times Blog: The real America I once wrote a piece about George W. Bush’s claim that he goes to Crawford to be with “real Americans.” As I asked at the time,
And what are those of us who live in New Jersey — chopped liver?
But here’s a statistic, via Nicholas Beaudrot, that really puts it in perspective: In today’s America, there are more World of Warcraft players than farmers.
Which carries us via Making Light and BoingBoing to Kung Fu Monkey:
Kung Fu Monkey: Farm Fetish: [T]his CNN piece (from over at Atrios) is the sort of thing that... gives me a headache. They send a reporter to literally Middle America, and surprise, discover that they don't much care for them Hollywood movies. Suuuurrr-prise! But one chunk of this report, to me, is symptomatic of a larger issue that grinds my molars.
ANDERSON: We stopped by the Lebanon [Kansas -- ed.] hotspot, Ladow's Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to a farming way of life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've never been back in here to know what it's like to actually have to make a living doing this.
You know what, Unidentified Male? You're right. I don't know what it's like to have to make a living farming. NOBODY DOES. For chrissake, only 17% of Americans live in rural settings anymore. Only 2 million of those people work on farms or ranches (USDA figures). Hell, only ten percent of the average farm family's income even comes from farming.... [W]hy in the name of John Deere's Blood-Soaked Wood-Chipper Gears, every time I hear a news report on what "real Americans" think do I wind up watching some farmer in their fifties and sixties bitch as they survey the blasted plains landscape behind them, and not only that, somehow their cultural observations are assumed to have more relevance than anyone else's?... [H]ow did we get to a point where this report may as well have started: "Hi there, Carol, we're about to talk to people twenty years older than the average American living a lifestyle less than one in five average Americans live ... to find out what the average American thinks" and somehow nobody blinks an eye?
There are four times as many Americans living in urban than rural areas. There are four times as many people sucking back coffee in New York city alone than make a living farming. According to the Burea of Labor, there are just as many people employed in Architecture and Engineering as farming, hell, 3 million people working in Computer and Mathematical jobs. But when one of these "What does America think about culture" pieces comes on, do I ever see a mid-30's software engineer onscreen.... Four million people in the US play World of Warcraft. And yet, do I ever hear:
ANDERSON: We stopped by the gates of Ogrimmar in Durotar, on the east coast of Kalimdor, where one local told us Hollywood just can't relate to the level-grinding life.
UNIDENTIFIED ORC: They've never been back here, questing Razormane or Drygulch Ravine, y'know ... or farming for Peacebloom and Silverleaf. They're out of touch.
No. No I do not.... The rural life, specifically, the agricultural industry, is a massive, important part of our nation's economic well-being.... For some people the rural life is an incredibly rewarding way of life. They should be very proud of the fact they have held on to this great tradition of commerce and, one might argue service....
But that life is not holy, it does not bless one with special insight into the intent of the Framers of the goddam Consitution or what America "should" be like.... Pardon me for enjoying my goddam latte.... I am just, I guess, well and truly tired of being told what "Middle America" wants, when Middle America is my age and lives in a goddam city, just like I have for my entire life.