Living out in the sticks has its advantages. For one thing, there's at least a slim chance that the wildly incompetent person screwing up your life behind the counter may get fired. For another, we're not stunned by election results that demonstrate Americans can think.
When Republicans swept the elections last Tuesday, official punditry fell into paroxysms of self-doubt. How did so many get it so wrong? What did we miss?
With hindsight, the answer seemed clear and went something like this: Democrats criticized Republicans but offered no substantive alternatives. Seems simple enough, but the truer answer may be even simpler.
It's the grown-ups, silly.
Even Democrats, many of whom confess to having voted Republican this time, prefer grown-ups in times of trouble. With notable exceptions -senatorial candidate Alex Sanders in South Carolina and gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride in Florida to name a couple -Democrats have acted like he-got-a-bigger-cookie brats, throwing tantrums and otherwise behaving badly.
Most recently and writ large, they behaved inexcusably at Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial service. Much already has been written and said about the service, so there's no need to belabor details here. Suffice it to say that Americans got to see up close how not to behave and whom not to emulate.
Most offensive and inappropriate were the ovations for Democratic celebrities -Bill Clinton, former Vice Presidents Walter Mondale and Al Gore, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
If ever there were a case of "been there done that," the Wellstone service was highlighted bold and italicized. It was like a reunion of aging Mouseketeers mournfully singing M-O-U-S-E for a boomer crowd that was thinking only of war and the possibility of sending their own kids to the sickest ends of Earth. In a word: irrelevant.
Serious times demand serious people, and voters, if not pundits, clearly get that.
And then there's the matter of style, which matters. And forgive me, but class. We may not know what "it" is, but we know what it ain't. Fix again on the Wellstone memorial, which evolved into a ranting, jacket-shedding, foot-stomping political rally. Now picture the Bush White House reserved, dignified, quietly passionate. Vive la difference.
Tuesday's "stunning" Republican victory was as simple as voters handing the reins of government to the adults. If you're having trouble with this, return to the list of those applauded at the Wellstone memorial and jot down by each name the first word that comes to mind. And your vote would be?
Americans with war and national security on their minds have wearied, too, of partisan bickering. Sibling rivalry has no place on the battlefield where we either work together or die. Voting to give the president greater support at a critical historical juncture was as easy as stabbing a chad.
Finally, and not insignificantly, people are fundamentally sick of the continuous bratty assault from the left on the leader of the Free World. That would be
their leader. They don't like it. Name-calling is unfair, unsportsmanlike and juvenile. Besides, beyond the Beltway are millions of people who see George W. Bush not as a bumbling fool, but as a thoroughly nice guy with a good heart and a good-enough brain.
So his syntax slips. Whose doesn't except those smarty-pantses on TV? So he misses a few syllables or adds one here and there. Down at the Jiffy Lube at the corner of Snake Fork and Timbuck Lane, people don't much worry about that kind of thing.
They worry: Does the man look you in the eye when he shakes your hand? Does his upper lip sweat? Are his tears for human loss or for cameras?
Bush passes the real-people test and real people outnumber pundits on Election Day. People trust him. They recognize him. They know he won't try to seduce their daughters or play games that don't involve a ball, a bat or a hoop.
The Republican sweep was something, all right, but it wasn't mysterious. At least not out here in the sticks where, after all, George W. Bush is most comfortable of all.