Wednesday, February 04, 2004
The Truth About MassachusettsFull story.
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
This is about more than John Kerry, who can defend himself. It's about how certain forms of cheap bigotry don't even get challenged. The right wing's attack on Massachusetts is a sign of intellectual laziness. It's easier to parody a people and a place than to defend a set of ideas.
Why not trash Ted Kennedy and Michael Dukakis when the alternative is to explain why, un-conservatively, a Republican administration has run up such a huge deficit? It's sure easier to natter on about the "Harvard boutique" than to defend that budget President Bush released yesterday. And why would they want to deal with the fact that Dukakis was a fiscal conservative who, back in the 1970s, bailed the state out of a budget mess left by a Republican governor? Dukakis took a lot of grief from liberals when he did that -- a bit of history that gets in the way of the election-year propaganda now being peddled.
Parodying Massachusetts is a way to keep old resentments alive without getting into any of the inconvenient details. It also allows a pro-business, Yale-educated president with an MBA from Harvard to cast himself as anti-elitist by implying (as his Yale-educated father did in 1988 with that line about the "Harvard boutique") that Massachusetts people are a bunch of snobs. The people selling this stuff should know that in my hometown, folks get punched out for being snobs.
My prediction: the North will Rise this year.