Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tweety's World

We all know about Tweety's bizarre fetish for manly manly working men. It's so powerful that when he comes across a politician he likes he has to fit them into his rugged blue collar construction worker pinup model fantasy. He had this to say about Sherrod Brown, who when he enters the Senate will probably be one of the most progressive senators in the country.

MATTHEWS: Let‘s go to Ohio where I made the comment earlier that I think Sherrod Brown looks like the kind of Democrat that should be running nationally. Looks like a working guy, looks like he he‘s actually had some physical labor in his past. And he has a little bit of talking out of the side of his mouth, which works with most Americans. he doesn‘t look like one of these Ivy league guys that keep getting crushed nationally. I‘m going through the Gore, Dukakis, Kerry hit list of infamy, politically. Why don‘t they run guys like Sherrod Brown and Bobby Casey? I know I‘m talking from my own kind here, OK, guys? But I really think these guys—what are you doing, Charlie? What‘s wrong with Sherrod Brown? He‘s going to do something awful in Ohio. He‘s going to win.

Of course, like Tweety's other manliest men pinup hero, George W. Bush, Sherrod Brown went to Yale.

Sherrod Brown was born in Mansfield, Ohio in 1952, the youngest of three sons. His father Charles was a physician. His mother Emily hailed from Georgia and was an early supporter of the civil rights movement, introducing her boys to political activism at an young age. Sherrod was elected president of his high school student council. "He caused people a lot of headaches because he was such an activist," says his mother. "The principal didn't really care for him at all."

In 1970, he and his friends organized a march in Mansfield for the first Earth Day. "We did this really cool march and we had a really big crowd," says Brown with pride. "But we get down to the square and none of us had thought about what you do when you get down there. We didn't have any speakers, and it was like, 'Oh, shit.' So we just disbanded."

Brown enrolled at Yale, where he split his time between Russian Studies and campaign work for liberal candidates, including George McGovern. He so impressed Don Kindt, his local Democratic County Chairman, that the next spring, when Brown was back at Yale finishing up his senior year, Kindt called Brown and asked him to run for state representative. "I remember him calling me," says Sherrod's older brother Charles, who was in Yale Law School at the time. "'You just can't believe this, this is the most exciting news. Don Kindt wants me to run!'"

Sherrod graduated and moved back home, where his father, a Republican, was initially skeptical. "My dad says, 'I'm not voting for you, you're too young,'" says Sherrod. "But he helped a lot." Mrs. Brown recruited neighborhood kids to lick stamps and stuff envelopes in the basement of their house, and Charles spent nearly the whole semester in Mansfield running the campaign. By the time the election rolled around, Sherrod had knocked on 20,000 doors, nearly half the households in the district. In a stunning upset, he beat the Republican incumbent. She never saw it coming.

In 1982 at age 29, after eight years in the state House, Brown was elected Secretary of State. He spent two terms in Columbus, where his signature effort was voter registration outreach. He convinced McDonald's to print voter registration forms on their tray liners. "You could see voter registration cards with ketchup and mustard on them," he says, "and we accepted them."

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against people from less than elite backgrounds achieving something, but this story Tweety tells himself about "his own kind" and their rugged manliness is absurd.