Time's Klein Slams 'White-Bread Fantasy' of Reagan's 'Morning in America'

July 7th, 2009 12:36 PM

Republicans, particularly those who are the biggest fans of Gov. Sarah Palin, are stuck in the vestiges of the 1984 "white-bread fantasy" of Reagan's "Morning in America," huffs Time magazine's Joe Klein in a July 6 Swampland blog post on "Sarah Palin's America":

All this talk about Sarah Palin's constituency being "real Americans" raises the question, yet again, of who the unreal Americans are. Last September, when the Governor burst upon the scene like a head-on collision, I wrote that Palin's America--white folks, small towns, traditional values--was a Republican fantasy, a vestige of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America" hornswoggle in the 1980s. (This fantasy was reinforced by John McCain's fetishizing of Joe the Unlicensed Plumber.)

Real America is much different from, and more interesting than, that white-bread fantasy, a problem the Republican Party--the party of immigrant bashing--will be wrestling with for the immediate future.

Klein conveniently omitted that 2008 presidential nominee Sen. John McCain was hardly an immigrant basher, heavily criticized by conservatives in the GOP for his push for amnesty for illegal immigrants. What's more, it was President Reagan who signed the last amnesty bill in 1986, another inconvenient fact that cuts against Klein suggesting Reagan was a quasi-racist xenophobe.

As if to bolster his own cosmopolitan credentials with which to better slam Gov. Palin as provincial, Klein casually dropped a reference to a party he recently attended in the Islamic Republic of Iran:

[I]t brings to mind a conversation I overheard, and can't get out of my mind, between two educated Iranians at a North Tehran party last month. Both had attended university in the U.S. One had recently returned from the States, the other hadn't been back here in 15 years. "You wouldn't recognize the place," the recent returnee said. "They don't have any Americans left."

He was joking, of course. But the fact is, America--Barack Obama's America--is a different, more exhilarating, sophisticated and diverse place from the Reagan fantasy. Sarah Palin's political future will be crippled by her inability to speak to that America, as will the Republican Party's, so long as it scorns diversity and "cosmopolitan" sensibilities--as Rudy Guiliani, of all people, did at the GOP Convention last summer. The attempts to plaster over this glaring deficiency by putting people like Michael Steele and Bobby Jindal front and center are, to coin a phrase, like putting lipstick on a pig.

So let's get this straight. After assailing the GOP as a party that "scorns diversity" Klein had the chutzpah to, well, scorn as tokens the African-American chairman of the national GOP and the Indian-American governor of the state of Louisiana.

Doesn't that sound like an altogether condescending and racist allegation coming from someone praising President Obama's America of 2009 as "exhilirating, sophisticated, and diverse"?