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Friday, December 3, 2010

Return of The Beverly Hillbillies

All the infighting that's been going on in the GOP recently reminds me a lot of "The Beverly Hillbillies." You remember - Jed Clampett and his hillbilly clan found some "black gold - Texas tea" and moved to Beverly - Hills, that is. Swimming pools. Movie stars. The contrast between the Clampetts and the staid white rich folks provided plenty of comedic fodder. Both groups had to find a way to get along, though, because the Clampetts had a ton of money, and thus they suddenly also had influence.

Nearly fifty years later, the tea party movement finds itself playing the part of the Clampetts. Teabaggers have invaded the turf of the rich, white, country club Republicans who, despite their obvious differences with the tea party, feel compelled to find a way to get along with them - seeing as how they represent a potentially significant GOP voting bloc and all.

This is the dynamic that goes a long way to explaining how Sarah Palin (you know, she does kinda remind me of Elly May) feels compelled to call Barbara Bush a "blue blood" and disses Ronald Reagan as being merely "an actor." It's a cultural clash within the party that has many wondering if the two factions can really work together or if they're headed for a nasty divorce.

There are plenty of warning calls being heard these days. County club Republicans like Joe Scarborough are warning that the party had better "man up" and do something to stop Palin and the anti-intellectualism that she represents from taking the reins of power away from them. In a savage op-ed he slams the former half-term governor as "a reality star who cannot be elected." Other country club types, like Karl Rove, have joined in the chorus of naysayers who appear to be alarmed at Palin's influence within the party.

All of this, of course, just makes Sister Sarah's hillbilly army all that more enamored of her. Anyone who dares to point out that the empress has no clothes is labeled an "elite" and summarily dismissed. Palin could tweet that the world is ending tomorrow and her adoring worshippers would ask her what they should wear.

Democrats, meanwhile, can just sit back and enjoy the show. They're praying that she will run in 2012 - betting that when she inevitably loses in the primaries, her followers will be so devastated and angry that they'll stay home on election day. Personally, I think that there's a better than even chance that she'll do a Perot and run independently - which of course would be a sure-fire recipe to ensure Obama's re-election.

But who knows, I could be wrong. Maybe the country club types will find a way to embrace their tea party brethren and they'll all sing Kumbaya around the ce-ment pond together. But if I were Mr. Drysdale, I wouldn't bet the bank on it.

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