It often seems to be the attitude of the MSM to marginalize Republicans as some sort of square alien creatures who are not really hip like the rest of us...meaning Democrats. Such was the assumption of Miami Herald columnist, Beth Reinhard, when she began "My search for cool among Republicans." Her search was inspired by a Sunglass Hut billboard in South Florida that suggests that even Republicans could look hip with the right shades:
The good-looking hipster with the slicked back, slightly mussed hair looks out from his dark shades.
''He's a Republican,'' reads the billboard spotted around South Florida in recent weeks. ``But you don't see that.''
A Sunglass Hut official denied that the ad is a political statement, but its message is clear: Being a Republican isn't cool (unless you have fabulous hair and expensive sunglasses). Is that you, Karl Rove, behind those Foster Grants?
Reinhard then states that the image many of us have of young Republicans is that portrayed by Michael J. Fox on Family Ties:
The ad's undertone harkens back to Michael J. Fox's buttoned-up role as a teenaged conservative on the 1980s sitcom Family Ties. His character, Alex P. Keaton, was cute, but he was a square in a suit -- and that's when Ronald Reagan was a popular president.
This sets Reinhard off on a search for a cool Republican...if one exists. Unfortunately Reinhard seems to have difficulties finding such a "rare" creature:
Thus began a Miami Herald quest for Republican cool. First up: Todd Goberville, 32, chairman of the Florida Young Republicans.
He was about to go scuba diving in the Keys, which seemed promising. Goberville is a director of sales for a construction company. A little corporate, but it might work.
Then came the buzzkill: ''My favorite place to shop is Men's Wearhouse,'' he said.
Here's a tip: Any clothing store that conjures a vast, dusty repository -- i.e. Dress Barn, for women -- is more about selection than soul.
Goberville was undeterred.
''I own an iPod,'' he said. ``I have some stuff on there that my 13-year-old step-daughter listens to -- like Fergie.''
An inquiry was made about his home address. Miami Beach? Design District? Downtown Fort Lauderdale?
''Parkland,'' he said, referring to the western Broward suburb whose claim to fame is its single traffic light. ``My kids like it. That's what's important.''
Apparently, this Young Republican isn't young enough.
Since Goberville apparently didn't meet Reinhard's hip test because of his unfortunate devotion to his family which disqualified him, she continues her search:
Next: Erin VanSickle, 28, press secretary for the Republican Party of Florida.
VanSickle wouldn't reveal much, like any good press secretary, but she did point to the state party's newly redesigned website at www.rpof.org as full of podcasts and videos, with blogs forthcoming.
''We are really making an effort to reach out to the new media generation,'' she said.
Temperature dropping slightly, but still not totally cool.
Sorry Ms. VanSickle but you are just not up to Beth Reinhard's high standards in the coolness department. The Herald columnist's search for Republican coolness finally concludes with one last look:
Last try: Steven Muñoz, 18, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Florida Teenage Republicans.
He listens to indie rock. Has a MySpace page. Drives a Jeep Wrangler.
Sounds pretty cool to me.
Asked about the Sunglass Hut ad, Muñoz said the GOP needs to do more to convince kids that it is not just a party for ``rich guys.''
'It bothers me that Democrats get associated with popular culture, like MTV, just because you don't see [Republican presidential candidate] Mitt Romney on stage with P. Diddy saying `Vote or Die,' '' Muñoz said. ``That's part of being a conservative, I guess, being a little more pulled back.''
Apparently Steven Muñoz falls short in the coolness department according to Reinhard because she leaves him with this bit of fashion advice:
My advice to Muñoz, who is heading off to college this week: Get the shades.
The underlying message implied in Reinhard's column is that Republicans are almost hopelessly unhip unlike the rest of us who are cool Democrats tuned in to popular culture.