In West Texas, it is common to meet people with stained teeth. These stains are a medical condition known as dental fluorosis, caused by excessive amounts of fluoride. In the Panhandle cattle town of Hereford, ninety miles from my childhood home, the water supply has long been known to naturally contain unusually high amounts of fluorine.
While few West Texans care about fluoride-stained teeth, the people of Los Angeles or (God forbid) New York City certainly do. Those people do not know, nor do they want to know, about fluorosis. When they behold a West Texas native, sometimes all they see is a goat-roper with rotten teeth.
And there are other issues. Most native West Texans have a distinctive regional accent, which can best be described as a twang. It differs from a Southern accent, which might be called a drawl. In Los Angeles or (God forbid) New York City, some people do not discriminate among accents. All they hear is hick, and they pigeonhole the speaker just as they might sort their recyclables.
To avoid these prejudices, many southerners and westerners have learned to disguise their accents. Such deception is a talent, not within the reach of all. Rumor is that Jimmy Carter worked for years to rid himself of his drawl, with obvious negative results. (For the record, I can hide my twang with aplomb.)
Given the debate this season about experience, where does a voter such as I stand? I will tell you that I put the experience of my father--native Texan, Korean War vet, scholar, man of the people--on par with anyone in this race. That is right: I consider my father competent to preside as president of this nation, especially as compared to this lot.
Believe me: there are plenty of West Texans who feel the same about their own fathers--or mothers. My mother was a math competition champion as a schoolgirl, and was on the vanguard of the two-income family in the 1960's. I was a latchkey kid starting in 1970. Whom do you think knows more about the concerns of working women: Barack Obama, or my mother?
The answer is obvious and not worthy of debate.
And oh boy, does that open a can of worms. Republicans back in the day hated--hated--Hillary Clinton. "Pretty in Pink" talking about the "vast right-wing conspiracy". But then we saw how tough she was during her primary fight against Obama. Many of us gained a newfound respect for the Castoff from Little Rock (that bastard). I can still barely contain my negative emotions about how execrably Hillary was treated by her erstwhile supporters and allies. And may I remind these hypocrites of this itty-bitty tiny eensy-weensy little fact? We have a war to fight.
To finally get to the absence of the Honorable Governor Sarah Palin...
The media mandarins mock her accent. They make sport of her regional characteristics. Take a look at this Palin interview, given just hours before she was announced as the republican vice-presidential pick. Biden schmiden: anyone should fear debating this woman.
If you are going to ignore Palin's obvious political achievements, and instead demand a DNA test to prove the maternity of her own child, please tell me why on Earth should she cooperate with you? Why on Earth should she be complicit with your assassination of her character and her family? Palin advisors to media moguls: go pound sand.
The Honorable Governor Palin has already delivered her natural constituents--the republican base--to John McCain. Anything else she brings is just pure gravy.
Republican pundits used to say of the septuagenarian Reagan, "Just let Reagan be Reagan". They are starting to say the same thing about Palin. The only difference I can discern between the two is this: she ain't a septuagenarian.