The White Trash Zoo

How bizarre that the Duck Dynasty characters and Pajama Boy reverberated the same week. I have never watched Duck Dynasty, and have only glanced at the expanding genre of white working class reality dramas, from tree cutters and gold miners to ice truckers and boat captains: Cussin’ good ol’ boys, who lose their temper when failing to start the generator, have big arms and bigger guts, and are to remind us (within limits) that once upon a time we all used to be more like them than Ezra Klein and Jay Carney.

Who watches these shows? Perhaps the majority of viewers are those who still admire muscular strength and the earthy ability to make a living from nature (and not work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the local Department of Motor Vehicles), and a smaller percentage who find these aborigines odd, but also oddly compelling in their reminder that the people like themselves who run our country could not sharpen a chain saw, change the oil in their car, or unplug their own sewer line. This latter group is curious about the uncouth people who can do these things.

The A&E controversy grew even stranger in that pet white aborigines from the rural south are supposed to shock us by their blunt talk and religious hocus pocus, but only if they stay inside the bars of their zoo cage and thus only ham it up within the parameters of politically correct hillbilly-ese. The Pajama Boy mob at A&E must know that the Ducks, should they speak like those in Silicon Valley or act in accordance with Upper West Side protocols, would have zero audience. Is the logic of Duck Dynasty that the few left in America of the 1940s can spout off in a neat way to us — but only without putting their paws and snouts too far through the bars of their cage?

Obama as Pajama Boy

Pajama Boy is the bookend to vero possumus, the faux-Greek columns, the Obama rainbow logo, cooling the planet and lowering the seas, hope and change, Forward!, “Yes, we can!”, the Nate Silver infatuation, Barbara Walters’ “messiah,” David Brooks’ crease, Chris Matthews’ tingle, and the army of Silicon techies who can mobilize for Obama but not for Obamacare. These are the elites without identities who feed on the latest fad. They are the upper-crust versions of those who once mobbed stores to buy the last Cabbage Patch Kids doll, or had to have a pet rock on their dresser. Obama, after all, was the lava lamp and Chia Pet of the young urban progressive.

If I were to focus on just two of the many characteristics of Pajama Boy nation in the Age of Obama, one would be that the consequences of one’s ideology apply always to someone else. Obama obsesses on inequality, but cannot even go through the populist motions of avoiding Martha’s Vineyard, or not dressing like a nerd for golf at the latest tony course.

He is an arugula-eating man of the people who tries to bowl only during election season. Michelle rags on the 1%, but still hits Costa del Sol and Aspen. Obamacare for us; for congressional staffers and insiders something quite different. A Nobel Prize and a half a billion dollars for guru Al Gore; and dumping Current TV on a fossil-fuelled, anti-Semitic authoritarian Middle Eastern regime to fund more good work of our green Elmer Gantry.  Amnesty for illegal aliens, but private academies for liberal kids far from the ensuing chaos of the public schools.  Pajama Boys are fiercely liberal so that they can fiercely avoid the people they so champion and are so afraid to live among.

Second, the architects of Pajama Boy nation always expect others to go on despite rather than because of them. The frackers must frack so that Obama can brag about their productivity, while he bites his lip and looks pained to billionaire coastal benefactors about pumping liquid into the bowels of their Mother Earth.

On Friday, Barack Obama was back out to again brag about his three supposed accomplishments: One, the deficit is shrinking; two, the gas and oil picture is brightening; and three, we are not witnessing anymore shut-downs of government over the debt ceiling. He should have added — “We do best when no one listens to me.”

Savings accrued from the sequester that was forced upon Obama by those Tea Party nuts in the House. Gas prices are dropping despite the efforts of Obama to stop fracking and horizontal drilling on federal lands.  Senator Obama himself voted to shut down the government under George W. Bush, rather than to raise the debt ceiling — having once passionately adopted the very stance that he now demonizes others for.