flames.jpgThe clichéd 15 minutes of fame seemed to have been 1,500 pages of infamy instead. A huge number of right-wing media, including blogs, jumped on Elizabeth Warren, Left Ahead and me following last Friday’s show and podcast. A search for “elizabeth warren” “hick” will turn up tens of thousands of fresh (in every sense) hits.

For anyone who hasn’t yet heard the very widely disseminated clips of her and me, it starts near the beginning of the 40-minute show. Click the player below to start it.

She and I share a few traits unusual and remarkable in these parts. We were both born in Oklahoma (I also spent much of my youth in West Virginia where my mother’s family was) and since moving to the Boston area (32 years ago for me and 17 for her), we’ve heard repeatedly that we were hicks for our backgrounds. I have also heard assertions that everyone in WV is a hick, hillbilly, toothless, dumb and likely the product of incest. Way to stay classy, Boston. On her part, I have been reading and hearing the no-win vise — she’s “not one of us” because she’s not a lifelong resident as well as from a hick state, and on the other hand, she and her husband have taught at Harvard for 17 years, so they are elitist snobs.

I opened the conversation with that dichotomy. She responded jovially, noting that she was aware of that Catch-22 game. She said that she must be a new category, “an elite hick.” Shortly after, she said to one of my comments about my background, “I’m going for the hick vote here. I just want you to know. Maybe we could start wearing stickers that say ‘HICKS FOR ELIZABETH’. Could we do that?”

After the absurd MA GOP and conservative responses, I might order up some of those shirt and bumper stickers. Feel free to beat me to doing that.

Surely no one is surprised that FOXnews and the like tried to hurt Warren with this. They are, after all, the same sources that excused Sen. Scott Brown’s denigration of her and even his daughters publicly as just humor. They don’t understand the fundamental difference between mild self-depreciation and knocking someone else down to appear clever.

Some of us were surprised though by the MA GOP’s effort to blow this into a big deal. Chair Jennifer Nassour is leaving. The release on it came from Communications Manager Tim Buckley, who had the unenviable task of playing the jerk in the release they emailed (not on the site yet). His paragraph before a link to a Politico piece on the podcast quotes himself as:

“Professor Warren’s insulting use of the word ‘hick’ offers a revealing prism into her elitist and arrogant worldview. Massachusetts voters deserve an explanation about just who Professor Warren was referring to when she spoke of winning the ‘hick vote.’”

Disclaimer: I have invited MA GOP head Jennifer Nassour on our show by email, voice mail, and twice face to face. Both times we chatted in person over the past year and one half, she pressed her card on me, took mine, said she’d love to do the show and to contact her office to arrange it. She or a handler seemed to have decided that was not a good idea, even knowing we’d had John Walsh, her Dem counterpart, on a couple of times. Now she’s announced she’s stepping down. I tried.

Elizabeth WarrenSensible folk are ridiculing the winger/MassGOP efforts, as in Mediaite calling them humor-challenged and NECN’s Jim Braude saying their bluster was pathetic.

Lynne, Ryan and I have been kicking around the spasm of coverage. We each figure the craziness only helps her. I see a lot of traffic going to the show both on BlogTalkRadio and here. Anyone who listens knows quickly that she was cool about the hick talk, reflecting on her and me only. Moreover with the many, many extra listens, people who otherwise were not aware of the show or her strong set of problem ID/solutions are now. As Lynne said, it looks like the MA GOP wants to help Warren as much a possible.

Being an anal-retentive, research-oriented type, I also went through even the right-wing news-like sites and blogs for comments. There, many said they’d never vote for her, but nothing lost. They typically indicated they hated Dems, progressives and liberals, and some even had harsh comments relating to women, lesbians and some coarse lingo for female body parts. Plus, quite a few made the point they were not from Massachusetts (with the thank God implied).

This appears to be a bungled effort from the right to smear Warren and likely do balancing damage control for Brown’s numerous public errors. Net, I figure they failed. A couple thousand extra MA voters and possible contributors here and elsewhere know Warren’s priorities. They can contrast an incumbent who says he doesn’t know the solutions to joblessness and such, with one providing solid proposals.

I still expect her presence in the Dem primary process and, should she advance the 2012 Senate race, will put ideas and solutions on the table and elevate the dialog. People here will get a choice.

~Mike

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