In defense of the east coast

IN DEFENSE OF THE EAST COAST…. A certain former half-term governor doesn’t seem to care for one U.S. region in particular.

With its tales of uplift and pluck, [Fox News’] “Real American Stories” trades in the kind of easy sentimentality that provokes eye rolls among those of us who work in media while quickening the pulse and patriotic ardor of almost everyone else. At the beginning of the show, Ms. Palin promised that it would “reaffirm our pioneering spirit and unmatched generosity, here and around the world.” […]

“It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to excite you guys on the East Coast, but everyone else is dying to hear stories like these,” said one of her representatives who was not authorized to speak on the record but was authorized to slam the East Coast.

Now, the notion that the public is clamoring for programming like “Real American Stories” is itself a dubious claim — the ratings were underwhelming.

Nevertheless, when conservatives slam the East Coast, they’re not really talking about the entire East Coast. Indeed, we know this with some certainty — during her inexplicable campaign for national office, Palin described parts of rural North Carolina as “the real America.” That the state borders the Atlantic Ocean was apparently not a disqualifying factor.

Instead, we can probably assume that those who thumb their nose at the “East Coast” are really referring to the tens of millions of people who live between Northern Virginia and Maine — not including central Pennsylvania, rural parts of upstate New York, and those odd folks who thought it’d be a good idea to make Scott Brown a United States senator.

Politically, this isn’t terribly surprising — conservatives routinely take a dismissive tone towards the region — it is an odd electoral strategy. Matt Yglesias noted, “It’s hard to imagine a political figure with national aspirations wanting to publicly trash any comparably sized region of the United States for no real reason.”

Quite right. We just never hear high-profile political figures embracing this kind of elitist attitude towards other parts of the country. Those who hope to maintain national popularity don’t just casually dismiss the Midwest, the Southeast, the Sun Belt, the Plains states, or the West Coast, just because he/she finds those areas unacceptable.

So, why do it? Because Palin knows this is just how right-wing voices are supposed to see the country. As Paul Krugman explained, “[T]hese days, insulting large blocs of Americans, implying that the rural and small-town and (ahem) white minority is the only genuine part of the country, seems to be cost-free.”