The Boss Hogg Backlash Begins

by Jonathan Chait | May 7, 2010

For months I've been referring to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as "Boss Hogg," in what I concede is a fairly juvenile shtick. Keep that in mind as you watch this ad by Massachusetts governor candidate Tim Cahill:

The soundtrack, of course, is the theme to "The Dukes Of Hazzard," the 80's show that featured Boss Hogg. The theme of the ad is connecting his Republican opponent to Barbour, with Barbour serving as a symbol of Deep South conservatism.

During the Bush years, political writers tended to buy into the conservative trope that the country was fundamentally divided between "real America," the heartland, and the big cities of the coasts. In reality, regional divisions don't really work like that. I grew up in Michigan, and nobody really resented New York City or coastal elites. The one region of the country we tended to ridicule was the South. Southerners, of course, famously resent the North for kicking their ass and freeing their slaves. The feeling isn't entirely reciprocated, but it is somewhat reciprocated. Which is to say, in many parts of the country, a cultural profile like Barbour's is going to entail some controversy. As Ben Smith notes of the ad, "This is the sort of thing that make even Barbour's admirers wonder if he can be a national candidate."

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