Don't get me wrong

When my dad retired many year ago, he and my mom built a house in the Kentucky woods and moved down there. It was a big change from the Chicago area, where they had both always lived, but they seemed to like it.

My dad was a long-time connoisseur of conservative talk radio. (If you think it all started with Limbaugh, you don’t know your history. Screaming right-wing nuts have been a staple of local radio for ages. Limbaugh’s great achievement was to bring bilious ignorance out of radio’s dusty corners and syndicate it all over the country.) I have strong memories of Dad carefully tuning in a weak suburban signal so he could have a good laugh listening to the ravings of, say, Warren Freiberg. The overwhelmingly conservative atmosphere of Western Kentucky gave him even more to laugh about.

Dad’s favorite example came from one of his neighbors. Old Willie was a man of the soil, the kind of small town American celebrated by Sarah Palin in a speech quoting Westbrook Pegler. Willie once explained his politics this way: “Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but I would never vote for a woman or a nigger.”

Willie’s gone now, and his backwards attitude has gone with him. Plenty of conservatives are now happy to vote for a woman. Don’t get them wrong.