Carol Platt Liebau: Claire McCaskill in "Ashcroftland"

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Claire McCaskill in "Ashcroftland"

George Will lets slip a private comment by State Auditor Claire McCaskill, running against Jim Talent for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, that's profoundly insulting to the rural portions of the state.

Will notes McCaskill's determination to hold down Talent's margins outstate. She's been working hard to present herself as someone who has a lot in common with the more conservative, rural voters from outstate, trying desperately to raise their comfort level with her.

Interesting, then, that she would refer to rural Missouri sneeringly as "Ashcroftland"; as Will writes:

To win, however, she must prevent huge Talent majorities in what she calls "Ashcroftland" -- rural and very religious areas . . .." (emphasis added).

What's even more interesting is that Will's got a direct quote from her on the topic. Could it have been obtained at this private lunch?

It must have been some forum like that, because surely McCaskill wouldn't have been stupid enough to speak so dismissively in public about the section of the state she's trying to woo. What, exactly, does she mean by "Ashcroftland"? Given the unfair impression of John Ashcroft purveyed in Washington, D.C., as some kind of backward, Bible-thumping religious zealot, it certainly wasn't intended as an accolade when McCaskill used it in her conversation with Will.

And then, it's worth asking, why, exactly, is Claire McCaskill running down portions of her own state -- the state she hopes to represent -- to George Will? Sounds to me like McCaskill was taken in by a sympathetic-seeming journalist, and attempting to win him over, tried to make common cause with him as a fellow sophisticate, versus the rural, religious bumpkins in Missouri's hinterland.

Shame on her. Either she's dishonest or ignorant -- because given the margins by which Ashcroft was elected to two terms as governor and one as senator, there have been significant periods of time when all of Missouri was "Ashcroftland" . . . and none the worse for it, either.


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