When you live in Texas for a while, you come to know a lot of different people. Of course, there is the vast array of ethnic and cultural diversity, but what’s interesting to me are the broader divisions and character types. Of course, you have your various optimists and entrepreneurs who are living the dream of going west and building something entirely new for themselves. They frequently come into contact with the “good ol’boys”, who are unsophisticated and rowdy, or, usually, just act like it, but with essentially good hearts. There are the rednecks, who are mostly blue collar and unpolished, but who are trying to do better for themselves. And you have your standard assortment of working class people, some of whom are content with their lot in life, and others who are trying to at least get their kids ahead. And then you have white trash.
Defining white trash is never easy to do, but, like John Paul Stevens, we know it when we see it. It’s the sense of robbed birthright, combined with a pride in cultural illiteracy and a belief in the virtue of their lack of education. It’s the meanness of spirit that leads to them refusing to call blacks anything but n*****s or, if they’re being generous, “coloured”. All Hispanics and Latinos, are, of course, “Mexicans”, and all are named Pedro. It’s the venality of their crimes: walking out on tabs at restaurants and bars, shoplifting from convenience and discount stores, the numerous acts of adultery and infidelity, the spending on conspicuous consumption rather than bettering themselves, etc. All of this is usually combined with belonging to some obscure sect of Protestantism that tells them that it doesn’t matter if they do all these things, because they are the elect of God.
Why do I bring this up? Because I can’t think of a better way to describe Sarah Palin. That woman is pure white trash. When the story about the RNC buying her clothes first broke, I was initially sympathetic. The sheer costs of being a woman in public are higher in ways that most men will never understand, even if we marry, have sisters, or female friends, and, unlike most politicians, coming from a working class background, Palin and her family just didn’t have closets full of Armani, Anne Klein II, etc. This, however, completely changed my mind:
NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin’s shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
A Palin aide said: “Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin.”
McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.
To anyone who’s ever had to deal with white trash, this isn’t surprising. It takes someone with a deep sense of entitlement and no respect for anyone or anything outside her whims to bully campaign staffers in their early twenties into buying expensive clothes on their own personal credit cards. The sheer meanness of not only overspending what the RNC was willing to give her, but, then coming up with creative ways to keep it from the man who was supposed to her boss is astounding. And, of course, given the fact that white trash is all that’s left of the GOP, I don’t think that it’s surprising that they identified so strongly with Sarah Palin.