As I noted in Brunch Links, Patrick McIlheran, the token GOP party hack for the Journal-Sentinel, is apparently jumping with joy at the discovery (by a GOP opposition researcher, no doubt) of a blog that a current Democratic Assembly candidate wrote four years ago. Unfortunately, in writing the hit-piece, he misquoted a post I wrote about Dana Schultz's candidacy several months ago. This is what Paddy Mac writes:
Their hope is Dana Schultz. In her mid-20s and a daughter of rural Athens back from a master's degree in Milwaukee, Schultz is getting buzz as a shining hope against what Democrats see as a vulnerable Republican, Rep. Mary Williams of Medford. Schultz was touted, for instance, as "the shot in the leg the party needs" in Isthmus, the respectable Madison weekly.
Thank you Mr. Mac. Neither my employer or I would ever shy away from the term "respectable." However, you mischaracterized my respectable writing. This is how I put it:
Democrats see Williams as a weak candidate who is far too conservative for the traditionally Democratic district, and strategists I have talked to see Schultz as the shot in the leg the party needs to win.
Isthmus did not tout her as such. People who talked to an Isthmus writer did.
Mistakes aside, McIlheran's entire column was misleading, most likely intentionally. While it did correctly quote Schultz's description of her home land as "the huntin, fishin, snowmobilin, country music beltin, beer drinkin, working class, gossipin, people who attend christian church every sunday and are racist, sexist, and homophobic, but more just ignorant because of lack of exposure," it conveniently left out the concluding sentence of her post:
My future does not necessarily involve moving back home, but I do find an incredible amount of honor in re-spreading populism in rural America one potluck and discussion over beers at a time.
Seems like a pretty important point to miss. But so goes mainstream media opinion writing. Rather than employ an ideologically diverse group of intellectuals, papers resort to hiring columnists whose primary interest is in advancing the fortunes of a political party, even if the job entails putting out misleading accusations.
Much of what Schultz wrote could just as easily have been a part of a local political speech praising rural tradition and value. If you replaced "snowmobiling" with "snow machines" and "beer drinkin" with Joe Sixpack you'd have the foundation of a Sarah Palin stump speech.
The part that could get Schultz is trouble is the following characterization: "people who attend christian church every sunday and are racist, sexist, and homophobic, but more just ignorant because of lack of exposure." In all fairness, if you follow the logic of the sentence, you have to realize that she meant to write "aren't racist, sexist and homophobic." It was a typo.
People are never happy to be called ignorant, however. There will likely be political fallout for Schultz from that.
McIlheran's noble defense of the rural working class is indicative of a wider trend of conservatives attacking those who discuss problems in rural America as "elitists." Often, these same writers casually ridicule inner-city or minority cultures, but as everybody should know, those instances merely represent a courageous stand against the confines of political correctness.