The title is a play on Bobo's mind-bend conservatism in claiming, "The Republican Party is the party of the white working class." (my emphasis) Bobo is playing one of his favorite little tricks there. Maybe one of these days I'll spend some effort to unpack this particular Boboism, which relies on a particular definition of "working class" and a head-fake around the fact that the Republican base relies so heavily on Southern whites with more than a residual admiration for racial segregation.
But what Bobo means by "white working class" here is the same thing Sarah Palin means by Real Americans: good Christian white folks who vote Republican. What's bothering these Real Americans? Bobo puts on his anthropology hat and explains. "They sense that the nation has gone astray: marriage is in crisis; the work ethic is eroding; living standards are in danger; the elites have failed; the news media sends out messages that make it harder to raise decent kids."
No jobs? No money? No unemployment insurance? No, what the Real Americans are worried about is the erosion of the work ethic among, uh, you know, those people.
But, Bobo says, sometimes "a candidate will emerge who taps into a working-class vibe — Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin." Their supporters are the Real Americans, in other words.
And now, Bobo has discovered just before the Iowa caucuses that Rick Santorum is resonating with the Real Americans!
This is Bobo's schtick, making even the wackiest ideas from leading Republicans sound sensible and reassuring. Sure enough, he gets around to saying that Rick "don't-look-at-my-dog-that-way" Santorum, "represents sensibility and a viewpoint that is being suppressed by the political system. Perhaps, in less rigid and ideological form, this working-class experience will someday find a champion."
Although I'm not sure he serves that purpose by including this story, which I never heard before:
Santorum does not have a secular worldview. This is not just a matter of going to church and home-schooling his children. When his baby Gabriel died at childbirth, he and his wife, a neonatal nurse, spent the night in a hospital bed with the body and then took it home — praying over it and welcoming it, with their other kids, into the family. This story tends to be deeply creepy to many secular people but inspiring to many of the more devout.I can't say I've ever heard of this custom ...
But if Bobo tells us it speaks to Real Americans, he must be right. Because he ventures out to an Applebee's every couple of years and does current research on them.
Tags: david brooks, santorum