Just A Boogie Woogie Country Man

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In the latest New York Review of Books, Elizabeth Drew takes a long look at Virginia Senator, Vietnam vet, and rumored Obama running mate Jim Webb. It's a flattering profile, though I'm not sure if this bit will win over the Review's genteel readership:

Webb's fierce pride in his own people tells us a great deal about him. Though he grew up in different parts of the country, he identifies most closely with the people who live in the mountains and hollows of southwest Virginia, among whom he has countless relatives. His father came from there and he has a brother living there. Webb proudly describes his brother as "a real mountain man." The Scots-Irish, he wrote, produced the nation's warriors and its country music, and "the building blocks of America's working classes." Yet, he said, "no other group has been so denigrated, attacked, and even feared by America's ever more interconnected ruling elites."

Then there's this:

In his writings, as well as in his new book, Webb has argued that a combination of blacks and the Scots-Irish working class could form an electoral majority. He argues that they have similar grievances: lack of adequate education and health care, job training and job opportunities; and that both have been put upon or neglected by the elites. To him, the basic issue is more one of class than of race.

Webb's got a point here. I distinctly remember the rapper Ice T arguing sometime in the early 1990s that rap and country music were really very similar. Both were about hard living, good times, local pride, and so forth. The blues, of course, shares a number of common ancestors with country music.

So in the spirit of racial harmony and urban-hillbilly unity, I submit Brooklyn's country heroes Uncle Leon and the Alibis performing Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back."

NEXT: The Death Ship

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  1. One can only hope that Obama doesn’t pick Webb, whose redneck radical shtick is str8 outta George Wallace.

  2. I see your “Baby Got Back” and raise you “Sweet Home Alabama.”

  3. AT what point does the media stop caring about VP nominees? The days of picking a local boy to get that state passed about 40 years ago. Did picking Lloyd Benson help Dukakus in Texas? Did picking Al Gore make any difference in the South or Dick Cheney any difference in the West? No and No. Maybe there was some time in the past where people voted based on the bottom of the ticket, but they never have in my lifetime. As long the VP is reasonably qualified and doesn’t outright damage the ticket, the VP choice is a non-issue.

  4. It’s not terribly difficult for a Scots-Irish American to escape the whole hillbilly milieu.
    I’m Scots-Irish and, aside from a temporary marriage to an Appalachian girl, I managed to escape any supposed inevitabilities.

    How? well Grampa went off to work for the railroad and, uh, that was it. He ended up in California and now we Keltys are coastal elites.

    I think a lot of black people found it a bit tougher to rise above their circumstances than that.

  5. There’s nothing like The Gourds performing Snoop Dog’s Gin and Juice:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_d8_iXw9Bg&feature=related

  6. I don’t like too many Democrats, but I like Webb — inspite of his dimestore socialism.

  7. the VP choice is a non-issue

    So Darth Cheney was just a bad dream?

  8. “So Darth Cheney was just a bad dream?”

    Unless you wear a tinfoil hat, pretty much. His presence made no difference in either election.

  9. Oh please. I’m Scots-Irish (worse I hail from Hatfield stock straight outta WVA). All we rednecks need is to stay in school, not have babies at very young ages and out of wedlock, learn proper English and we can “pass”.

    (Of course I wish my eldest sister, and her daughter had taken that same advice and I would not be a great-uncle at such a young age . . . )

  10. I find the blending of Scottish and Cuban culture to be more threatening.

  11. And lose that accent, FLP.

  12. Unless you wear a tinfoil hat, pretty much. His presence made no difference in either election.

    But his presence sure had an effect *afterward*. Sometimes it is important to pick a guy for what job he might do if he gets there!

  13. A lot of Dems want Webb because they think he can help Obama win Virginia, but McCain is going to win Virginia whether he picks Webb or not.

    Almost everyone currently or formerly in the military that I know loves McCain a lot more than Webb.

  14. First Little Pig:

    That’s good advice for any race or class. Webb is addressing the folks who stay in Appalachia. Anybody who doesn’t get out immediately when given the opportunity is probably going to fit the redneck stereotype.

  15. I distinctly remember the rapper Ice T arguing sometime in the early 1990s that rap and country music were really very similar.

    Indeed. Are you telling me this couldn’t pass for gangsta rap?:

    Early one mornin’ while makin’ the rounds
    I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down
    I went right home and I went to bed
    I stuck that lovin’ .44 beneath my head

    The judge he smiled as he picked up his pen
    99 years in the Folsom pen
    99 years underneath that ground
    I can’t forget the day I shot that bad bitch down

  16. Webb’s fierce pride in his own people tells us a great deal about him.

    That he’s a tribalist nitwit? I can’t imagine why anyone would be discomfited by the phrase “his own people”.

  17. But his [Cheney’s] presence sure had an effect afterward. Sometimes it is important to pick a guy for what job he might do if he gets there!

    Precisely my point. With horrifying talk of Hillary in the #2 role it’s more important than ever to carefully consider the VP candidate. The previously nearly irrelevant position has effectively usurped powers never dreamed of or intended in the Constitution (remember that old-fashioned piece of parchment?). Can any serious person claim that Cheney did not wield enormous behind-the-scenes power in the current administration?

  18. This is a redneck racialist schtick?:

    Webb has argued that a combination of blacks and the Scots-Irish working class could form an electoral majority. He argues that they have similar grievances: lack of adequate education and health care, job training and job opportunities; and that both have been put upon or neglected by the elites. To him, the basic issue is more one of class than of race.

    Sounds more authentically and concretely post-racial than anything else in this campaign.

    All we rednecks need is to stay in school, not have babies at very young ages and out of wedlock, learn proper English and we can “pass”.

    The substantial growth in the black middle class shows this works across racial lines.

  19. To him, the basic issue is more one of class than of race.

    Great. Instead of racialist shtick, we get Marxist shtick. That’ll wow ’em in flyover country.

  20. Better yet is Ben Folds’ version of “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”

  21. All we rednecks need is to stay in school, not have babies at very young ages and out of wedlock, learn proper English and we can “pass”.

    Actually, pretty much anyone of any racial group whatsoever will do all right if they do the above.

    The “all” part is the tricky bit.

  22. On March 26, 2007, a senatorial aide of Webb, Phillip Thompson, was arrested for carrying Webb’s loaded pistol as he entered the Russell Senate Office Building and for carrying unregistered ammunition. The weapon was discovered when Thompson went through an X-Ray machine with a loaded pistol and two additional loaded magazines in a briefcase.. Charges against the aide were later dismissed, with prosecutors concluding it could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Thompson was aware that the gun and ammunition were in the briefcase.
    The incident, which some saw as embarrassing to the freshman senator, nonetheless reinforced Webb’s image as a non-traditional Democrat who strays from party orthodoxy on the issue of gun control. The senator responded to his aide’s charge by reiterating his support of gun-owners’ rights:
    “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment; I have had a permit to carry a weapon in Virginia for a long time; I believe that it’s important; it’s important to me personally and to a lot of people in the situation that I’m in to be able to defend myself and my family,” Webb said.

    Webb’s not there to win Virginia. He’ll woo the NRA. Eighty million gunowners.

  23. Oh please. I’m Scots-Irish (worse I hail from Hatfield stock straight outta WVA). All we rednecks need is to stay in school, not have babies at very young ages and out of wedlock, learn proper English and we can “pass”.

    Make sure to get good shoes along with your good bag, as well.

  24. Webb’s not there to win Virginia. He’ll woo the NRA. Eighty million gunowners.

    No frickin’ way does Webb change anyone’s mind who votes on gun rights. It will take the Dems a generation, and maybe a few actual, you know, bills promoting gun rights, to get the stink of gun control off.

  25. It will be interesting indeed to see how the left reacts if and when the Supreme Court overturns the D.C. gun ban, which could happen very soon.

  26. I don’t know that Obama won’t win Virginia (he probably won’t but it’s not exactly impossible). If he does, though, it won’t have anything to do with the military appeal of Webb; it’s just that Northern Virginia grows bigger every year and eventually it’ll get big enough to control the state’s vote. Virginia is going blue, sooner or later. I guess that is the only case where VP choice might make a state switch: one that is already heading in that direction might get there a few years sooner.

  27. Funny, I’m a Scot-Irish-Viking blend who grew up in a coastal elitist northern city (Boston) and I’ll be moving to northwestern Virginia soon. I was the child of an unwed welfare mother growing up in Boston but I’ll be going to Shenandoah Valley to work as an attorney. I seem to have reversed the usual direction of “upward mobility”.

  28. No frickin’ way does Webb change anyone’s mind who votes on gun rights. It will take the Dems a generation, and maybe a few actual, you know, bills promoting gun rights, to get the stink of gun control off.

    Paging Mr. Dean, Mr. RC Dean; you have a phone call from a Mr. Two Thousand Six.

  29. Obama/Webb don’t have to campaign on gun rights and win the NRA vote to win Virginian and the election.

    They just have to make the issue a lower priority for a certain chunk of swing voters. They just have to repel a slightly smaller segment of the gun nuts.

  30. It is absolutely amazing, no matter whether you are talking about Scots-Irish, or some other group, the answer to all of their problems is always more government intervention. And Webb is supposed to be some sort of maverick? Give me a fucking break. He has voted pretty much 100% party line.

  31. “Obama/Webb don’t have to campaign on gun rights and win the NRA vote to win Virginian and the election.”

    Yeah, the mere presence of a Southerner on the ticket will be enough to carry the state, no matter how ridiculously left-wing the presidential candidate. Just look at how Edwards helped Kerry win North Carolina. Oh, wait…

  32. Aren’t the Buckley clan (William F., etc) Scots-Irish too? Redneck to a man.

  33. There’s a great book on the class/race argument by Jim Goad, called the Redneck Manifesto. The basic argument is that white elites fomented the racial divide between poor whites and poor blacks in order to keep the class structure in place. It’s a little heavy-handed with the Marxism, but even if you can’t stomach the rhetoric it’s a valuable book for its discussion of the relative suffering of black slaves and white indentured servants in the early south.

  34. Paging Mr. Dean, Mr. RC Dean; you have a phone call from a Mr. Two Thousand Six.

    There’s data showing that people who rank gun rights high on their priority list shifted their votes to Democrats? Do link!

    They just have to make the issue a lower priority for a certain chunk of swing voters.

    There’s probably something to that, in theory. I doubt whether Webb can get the gun control stink off of Obama, though, given his baggage on this issue.

  35. B,

    If you are ever curious what it would be like to be able to read and think, you should check out RC Dean’s response to the same comment.

  36. “rap and country music were really very similar.”

    “Aren’t the Buckley clan (William F., etc) Scots-Irish too? Redneck to a man.”

    In honor of the late William F. Buckley, here is a “redneck rap” just for him.

    A man double-parked in front of my Swiss chalet
    After brief cogitation, I blew him away.
    Going to the regatta in my souped-up yacht
    Speakers at full volume playing Bach.
    Honky tried to outrun me, he was such a fake
    I hoisted my sails and he ate my wake.
    Two gays said, “you’re a sea captain, will you marry us?”
    I punched them in the face like Athanasius punched Arius.
    Yo, my name’s WFB and I get respect
    Understanding words like “eschaton” is what I expect.
    I’m on the warpath, and ya better fear
    I just found that my Riesling was grown in the wrong year.

  37. Believe it or not, Bill Monroe always said one of the influences he drew on to formulate bluegrass music was the dance gigs he and his Uncle Pen used to play backing up a black blues playing neighbor named Arnold Schulz.

  38. “I distinctly remember the rapper Ice T arguing sometime in the early 1990s that rap and country music were really very similar…”

    I can think of no better illustration than to compare Johnny Paycheck’s “Find ’em, Fool ’em, Forget ’em” and NWA’s “Findum, F*ckum, Flee.”

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