Losing the base

Posted by R. Neal

So yesterday I had to drive our old junker that we keep around for utility purposes. Unfortunately it doesn't have XM Radio, and somebody had left the radio on the local East Tennessee talk station. It's a swell station, too, with a great lineup of local conservative yahoos and creeps like Limbaugh, Boortz, O'Reilly, and Savage. You know, the usual suspects. (Which is why we have XM Radio in our everyday vehicle.)

The afternoon yahoo is some local guy called "Big Phil" or something. Imagine a cross between Rush Limbaugh and Larry the Cable Guy, except not as smart. Yesterday he was broadcasting from a local gun store. (In one of his spots hawking some kind of assault rifle he said "wouldn't you like to have one of these the next time some punk comes driving down your street with one of those loud thumpa-thumpa stereos?" No, seriously, he really said that.) It's a real redneck-o-rama. It's quite embarrassing, really.

Anyway, Big Phil was all worked up about, get this, a new anti-war song by Merle Haggard. Apparently Merle also posted some comments on his website saying the "problems aren't in Iraq" and that we need to "look inward" and reduce our dependence on foreign oil and start rebuilding our own highways and bridges. Yep, sounds like old Merle has gone off the reservation. Big Phil was giving that traitor Merle down the road and invited callers to agree.

The first guy said his son was over there in Iraq on his second tour of duty. He was understandably upset. He said the song is an insult, like sending a letter to his son with one of those "Muslim stamps" the Post Office sells. He said it's like a "bullet to the head" for our troops, and it don't do nothing but help "the Communists" over there. (No, seriously, he really said that.) He was a big fan of Merle Haggard before, but he ain't buying no more Merle Haggard records, nor any other records on that label, and he's taking his whole collection of Merle Haggard records out to the trash.

Big Phil concurred. But then it got interesting.

Next up was another guy who said his son was over there. He thinks Merle is right. He supports his son and the rest of the troops for doing their patriotic duty, but thinks that the war is unjustified and questions why we are there. He compared it to Vietnam.

Big Phil was flabbergasted.

Then, a truck driver called in. I believe he said he was former military. He, too, agreed with Merle. And he doesn't think we have any business in Iraq.

Big Phil can't believe it. He asked the guy, "So you're saying you think we should bring back our troops?"

The guy said "I'm saying they shouldn't have never been over there in the first place."

Big Phil is flummoxed. He started rambling on about "these people" but I couldn't take any more and had to turn it off.

I know it's a pretty small sample with a huge margin of error (and I'm sure the "real patriots" piled on later in the show), but by my count that was 2 to 1 against the war and for Merle. And these weren't some radical peace activists. These were your "pickup-truck-with-a-gun-rack-driving Confederate-flag-waving good ol' boys down South" that Howard Dean was talking about.

So, what does this mean? It could mean that Bush and the Neocon War Profiteers are losing the carefully cultivated core of their base that they have previously been so successful in manipulating. It could mean trouble for them and their agenda.

The Mrs. said her theory is that these guys have been watching TV reports from the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast and they've finally seen with their own eyes that the government doesn't really care about "regular people" and can't be trusted. If she's right and there is a sense of betrayal finally sinking in and causing folks to wake up and start asking questions, it could indeed mean trouble for the right-wing agenda.

OK, then.