Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Randolph, Utah: Fisking David Finkel

Washington Post reporter David Finkel has a good old time today, finding lots of laughs amongst the good folks in the remote town of Randolph, Utah as he tries to pull a liberal hatchet job on both them and President Bush. (Note: You may have to register to access this link.) The funniest thing in the article, though, is that these obviously Mormon yokels actually love George W. Bush. BIG TIME. And they persistently refuse to take the reporter's bait, in spite of his nonstop attempts to trick them into blasphemy.

What more evidence do you need that these people are probably descended from the Missing Link?
RANDOLPH, Utah -- To get to the place where they like George W. Bush more than any other place in America, you fly west for a long time from Washington, then you drive north for a long time from Salt Lake City, and then you pull into Gator's Drive Inn, where the customer at the front of the line is ordering a patty melt.
Yep. These people live nowhere near a major East Coast urban area. It's not even near Utah's Happy Valley itself. Therefore, they know nothing, and now the Post will lay it out.
Like most residents of Randolph, Utah, Pat Orton, owner of Gator's Drive Inn, is a loyal supporter of President Bush. The town gave the president 95.6 percent of the vote in 2004.
See, there's the proof. Dumber than posts. If you don't believe it, Finkel culls snippets from an involved discussion amongst the locals on the relative demerits of fancy-ass East Coast pretentions like Dijon mustard, which mostly comes from the American companies anyway:
"Dijon mustard," [teenager Ryan] Louderman says as the woman drives away. "I don't know what Dijon mustard is. Don't care to find out, either."
Well, that ends THAT conversation. Just to show you how out of touch these Utah folks are, Finkel reminds us that:
On Tuesday night, when President Bush delivers his State of the Union speech, he'll be speaking to a nation that no longer approves of the job he is doing. According to recent polls, including a Washington Post-ABC News poll released over the weekend, Bush's overall approval rating -- once as high as 92 percent just after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 -- is down to 42 percent, with the percentages even lower on specific issues, such as health care, the federal deficit and the war in Iraq.
Of course, Finkel refers to his own paper's poll which systematically oversamples Democrats. He doesn't bother to cite the most recent Rasmussen poll(whose work is demonstrably more accurate than the Post or other pollsters) that gets Bush back up to 50%, thus proving the success of the President's recent countrywide campaign to regain his admittedly faltering momentum. But the Posties always feel it's best go with their own poll which is always designed to support the left's point of view.

Finkel makes a token attempt to insert a little balance at this point, quoting a science guy:
"The mind-set of Utah" is how Frank Guliuzza III, chairman of the political science department at Weber State University in Ogden, explains the percentages. Not only is Utah the nation's most Republican state, "there's a sense of loyalty and patriotism that kind of overcomes the tendency toward cynicism that is evident in the rest of the country right now," he says.
Well put. But Finkel quickly moves to undercut this unfashionable observation by revisiting his Missing Link motif:
In Randolph, though—where Bush received 95.6 percent of the vote and support for him continues to be nearly unanimous—the mind-set is even more specific to a place that seems less a part of the modern United States than insulated from it. It isn't just mustard, but everything.
Randoph "seems" less a part of the modern U.S. than insulated from it? To whom? Maybe it's the other way around, sir. As Finkel meanders through the rest of this piece, he allows the local residents to hang themselves, he thinks, by showing just how banal and unsophisticated they are in comparison to highly sophisticated East (and West) Coast denizens like himself and all the rest of the Post Toasties. I recall a New York friend, in her 50s, who was absolutely astounded to learn that power was carried in suburban Northern Virginia via overhead wires. She had never seen them, therefore had no clue that they existed. The invincible ignorance of the bicoastal literati, when it comes to the lives of the average American in flyover country, is breathtaking in its shameless ability to generalize, and in its appalling tendency to sneer and condescend. Finkel uses a light touch here, but his snarky attitude is unmistakable. For all we know, this guy hails from Ames, Iowa. But if so, he was probably only too happy to escape from those corn-fed yahoos as well. And that damn yellow mustard.

Just to show you how out of touch the people of Randolph are, Finkel explains:
There have been no funerals here from Bush's war on terrorism. There are no unemployment lines, no homeless people sleeping in doorways, no sick people being turned away from a hospital because of a lack of insurance, no crime to
speak of, no security fence needed around the reservoir, no metal detectors at the schools.
The horror! The horror! Normalcy!! Now the agenda journalism surfaces. If one of Randoph's kids had died at the hand of Islamofascists who'd rather be blowing up Salt Lake City, well, then, these jingoistic idiots would stop supporting "Bush's war on terrorism" soon enough, wouldn't they, just like any other sentient being with the perspicacity to live in a blue state and vote Communist in every election? Gee, and there's no crime to speak of either in Randolph, nor any of the intimate comforts of urban homesteading like homeless people pissing on your front step and drug dealers accosting and maybe shooting your kids after school, or cleaning up used condoms from your back alley. These Utah people are not only deluded. They are deprived!

It gets worse:
Terrorist threats? That's anywhere but here. Iraq? That's somewhere over there. Hurricane Katrina? That was somewhere down there. Illegal immigrants? Not here, where everyone is fond of Ramon, who came long ago from Mexico and is married to the Catholic woman, who is the one non-Mormon everyone mentions when the conversation turns to religious diversity. As for racial diversity, everyone says there are three African Americans in the county, including the twins on the high school cheerleading squad, which also includes a Hispanic, according to the superintendent of schools, Dale Lamborn, which means "we've probably got the most diverse cheerleading squad in the state."
What a hoot! Are these people for real???

Gosh, just imagine! People who are so busy working and tending to their lives and their difficult survival in an impossibly remote area—these people actually don't have time to sit glued to CNN all day to find out how horrible they are??? Hel-looo? How out of touch are these clueless dudes and dudettes? And imagine, these morons actually think that, because a Hispanic guy and three African Americans live there, this is diversity? Maybe it's time for some Section 8 housing out there so we can dilute some of those smug, whitebread attitudes a bit. (More on the African Americans later.)
What else is here?

One main road that is 1.3 miles long from the county building on the north end to the fence on the south end with the faded yellow ribbon on it in honor of the only child of Randolph so far to have gone to Iraq.

One church, where everyone gathered to welcome the young man home from Iraq with ice cream.
There's that Iraq meme again. The implication, don't you just know it, is that the next time this young patriot returns to Randolph, it will be in a pine box. THEN THESE PEOPLE WILL WAKE UP. And presumably turn against "Bush's war on terrorism."

Short break. Let's find a Democrat.
One post office, with one full-time employee, Postmaster Gage Slusser Jr., who, as everyone knows, was one of the 17 to vote for John Kerry in 2004. "The village pseudo-intellectual," Slusser calls himself. "Don't get me wrong," he adds. "These are good people."
Slusser is at least honest enough to be self-deprecating, even though he didn't show much sense the last time he voted. Then again, we can safely observe that most govies are Democrats, which is why the bureaucracy always works 24/7 to undermine the policies of any Republican president. Of course, Slusser is probably not a real Democrat, since he isn't bristling with hatred for his misguided neighbors.
"Just good people," echoes Debra Ames, the county recorder, adding: " You try to feed your cows at 40 below zero." The courthouse where Ames works is near the one little market, which is near the one service station, the part-time hair cutter, and the one bank, where deposits are up and defaults are down and banker Adam Jensen says of Bush, "What's not to like about him?"
I.e., the implicit message from Randolph would seem to be, "Just TRY really earning a living sometime, young man instead of scribbling scurrilous stuff about hicks in the sticks." Finkel, with unintentional accuracy, lays out the attitudes of people who are not dumb but practical. They focus most of their attention on simply surviving in an environment where self-reliance, not government handouts, are the only way to get from here to there. They figure they hired George Bush and pay him good money to sit in Washington and handle that pesky international nonsense for them so they can lead their lives in peace, just as it should be for them and everyone else.

This down-to-earth practicality may not impress the snot-nosed kids and aging Boomers who populate the MSM right now, but it is, frankly, the way most people live. Even in the greatest country in the world, life is still largely day to day, and reporters are repeatedly astonished to find that nearly anyone outside of Manhattan or the Beltway cares not a whit for all the Democratic talking points when the President is keeping Al Qaeda out of the South 40 and saving women from the burqa. Makes one wonder just who is naive anyway? Who are the hicks, really?

But hey, this is getting too close to the noumenon. Let's get back to showing our readers, in case they hadn't noticed, just how primitive these witless people are, like when they chuckle at 1950s schoolyard cliches:
"I'm the boss, applesauce," [Orton's] mother used to say, and Orton can imagine Bush liking that sentence as much as she does.
Yep, Bush is an eejit, too, and most likely would find this uproariously funny and repeat it to his friends if he had any. But we already knew that, even if he actually did do better than that intellectual giant, John Kerry, in college.
"Don't be wise, bubble eyes, or I'll knock you down to peanut size."
Meaning to drive the point home, Finkel makes a minor Freudian slip, inadvertently inserting a cogent observation on the mental prowess exhibited lately on the international scene by Saint Jimmy Carter.

But let's get back to our fisking here and see if poor Finkel can't get someone to rat out W:
In[to the restaurant] comes Debra McKinnon, 53, who says she nearly dropped dead nine months ago from heart failure and is working for one reason only: health insurance. She takes 12 pills a day, for which she pays several hundred dollars a month, which, without insurance, would be four times that. Is that Bush's fault, though? "No," McKinnon says. "It's a problem from the drug companies to the lawyers to the doctors to Congress, and it's not because Bush isn't a caring man. I think he's a very caring man. I think he's a decent, God-fearing person, and I hope we are, too."
Damn, she missed her cue. Worse, though obviously of sub-normal intellect, she hits the nail on the head. She's made sure she has insurance, and the insurance companies are helping keep costs down. What a concept. Next...
In comes Blair Hurd, the high school shop teacher, who says: "This whole thing with domestic spying? I think there's a little bit of it that needs to go on. I do. And if he" -- meaning Bush -- "is listening to my calls? I'm not doing anything wrong. Why would I care? He'd be bored to death is what I think."
Say, these Randoph numskulls are proving to be annoyingly perspicatious. Blair Hurd's observations on the purposely misnamed "domestic spying" scandal are almost certainly the same rational response you could expect from about 75% of all Americans. They're well aware that you have to shave a few rules around the edges if a devious enemy is trying to exploit our democracy to destroy it. Say, could these sly dogs be watching Fox and tuning in to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity?
In comes Charlene McLean, who runs a flower business out of her garage and says that the problems in America are due to a "gimme, gimme, gimme" attitude that is the fault of the Democrats and is turning the country cockeyed. "We can't do this because it offends the gays. We can't do that because it offends the atheists," she says. "Well what about the average American? What about thecommon person?"
Well, well, lookee here, even more brilliance and common sense, and it obviously didn't take a Ph.D. to get here. Ms. McLean describes the Dems exactly right, wealthy, condescending boors who carefully conceal their own wealth while picking everyone else's pockets to buy votes and assume a studied stance of moral superiority. And she also understands that, while it protects the rights of all Americans, the Constitution is geared to support the will of the majority. She fully comprehends that something is very, very wrong when phony, allegedly aggreived Democrat minorities like the atheists and their Gramscian enablers in the ACLU crank up their phony rights-generation machine to obliterate the right of the majority to live their lives and run their communities as they see fit, including maybe even putting a creche in Randolph's public square at Christmas. (If they have a public square. Maybe as a compromise, they could call it a Holiday Creche.) You get the sense that Finkel is having a lot of fun with these country-fried soundbites, prefacing each anecdote with "In comes X," sort of like writing stage directions for the script of an old Andy Griffith sitcom. He seems not to recognize that each cited statement just bristles with common sense and easily verifiable folk wisdom.

Ah, but maybe he's found a complainer here:
In comes Lois McLean, Charlene's mother-in-law, who is 77 and works at Gator's part time because Social Security isn't quite enough to finance her modest life. "I think he's doing a good job," she says, her voice hoarse from having a tube pushed down her throat. That happened when she went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled and she suddenly stopped breathing, and then passed out. She woke up in the hospital emergency room, where, once she was stable, the dentist finished yanking out the tooth.
See, even though, mind, she's not complaining, she "has" to work since Social Security doesn't cover everything, which, of course, it was never meant to do. More and more retirees work these days, at least just a bit, to add a bit of money to the till and perhaps most importantly, to avoid terminal boredom, unlke rich Democratic parasailers from Massachusetts. But, say, wait a minute, Ms. McLean had a near-death experience here, and it must've been Bush's fault, right?
Adapt to your circumstances, she says. That's what the dentist did, that's what Bush has done, and that's what she tries to do, too. "I myself have to make my life better," she says.
Damn. Self reliance! And even more of that bloody-minded common sense. And she won't blame her misfortunes on Bush, who obviously was directly responsible for them.

Now Finkel is really getting exasperated with these cretins:
Bush's believers: One after another, in they come to say "It's not Bush's fault" and "He's trying to protect us," and on this goes until early evening, when what must be the entire population of Randolph gathers at the high school to cheer on the basketball teams.
But Finkel is saved by the bell, and gets another opportunity to shake these people out of their complacency:
Gator's, never that busy anyway in the winter, is especially quiet now. Ryan Louderman remains by the counter, lost in thought, and Orton is listening to a Paul Anka CD when the clang of the cowbell catches them by surprise.

"Hey, Aaron," Orton says, and in comes a young man who is 16, and who is considered one of Rich County's three African Americans even though he considers himself a mix of a white mother and black father.

He spells his last name: "C-H-E-N-E-Y."
Ah, delicious irony. (And Paul Anka, what a hoot!) Here's a kid, Aaron, who, like more and more Americans, is half white and, well, half something else, in this case, half black. BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW THAT HE'S BLACK!! He describes himself as a "mix," but doesn't understand the rule, namely that if you're half-black you're all black, and thus oppressed. If he lived in DC or New York, he'd find out he's black soon enough! But even worse, HE MUST BE RELATED TO HALLIBURTON!!!!
"Yeah," he says. "Distant relatives." His grandmother did the genealogy and explained the connection. He has no idea if it's true, he says -- but even if it is, the reason he likes Bush has less to do with that than with his mother's decision to come to Randolph when he was 8 years old.
But he's BLACK! How could he possibly like Bush?? If you are black, YOU CANNOT LIKE BUSH. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LIKE BUSH. Everyone knows this, right? Right?
"I enjoy pushing cows, chasing girls and shooting guns," he says of who he has become here.

Also: "I'm a Republican."
Ah, that explains it. He's another one of the Pod People. One of Rush Limbaugh's mind-numbed robots. Pushing cows, chasing girls, shooting guns. Sounds like a Republican bozo to me. Or maybe one of the subnormal creatures in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdrome." And heterosexual, too. How unfashionable.
And one more thing: "I love it here. I love the people here. It's a small town. Everybody knows everybody. I wave at everybody; everybody waves back."
Neighborliness, peace, and love. What a concept. Finkel can't imagine it. Republicans just don't do that. (Do they?)

Finkel tries another tack, and gets back to the hardworking (female) owner of Gator's:
She turns off the "open" sign and starts adding up the day's receipts. It isn't much. She netted $10,000 last year, if that. She has no savings. She has no retirement plan. She works seven days a week, 12 hours a day. . . . In small-town quiet, she finishes her work.
Another hapless American, impoverished by George W. Bush. And too stupid to know it. This is the stuff. Time for some angst-ridden prose poetry:
Somewhere out there are the sounds of chattering terrorists, and shivering homeless people, and helicopters ferrying soldiers, and a president rehearsing a vitally important speech. Here in 71.5 percent Utah, though, and 95.6 percent Randolph, and 100 percent Gator's, the only sound is of a believer explaining why, come Tuesday night, she doubts she will bother to listen.
Finkel's peroration here seems to plaintively recall another big windup and pitch, this time from the misty legends of baseball:

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,

But what about the evil of George Bush?
"I don't think there's anything he could say that would make me dislike him," she says.
To which we might append this slightly bowdlerized coda:
But there is no joy in Mudville --
Mighty Finkel has struck out.

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