"So, what should we call you? The First Dude? The First Gentleman?"
Greta Van Susteren was doing an in-depth profile of Todd Palin. Possibly the next vice presidential spouse. Which means: a heartbeat away from presidential spousedom.
The affable dude thought about it. "Todd. That works good." Just to drive the point home, he repeated it. "That works good."
He also began a description of his leisure time activities this way:
"Me and my friends....."
Is this some kind of bad movie? Slacker Dudes Take the White House? Todd Palin's Excellent Adventure?
Here's a confession: I have worked hard to overcome my early training as a grammar snob. I know where it came from. I was raised by parents who grew up in immigrant families during the depression. In my mother's family, they didn't even speak English at home, at least when she was young. But my parents saw education as a way out. They got college scholarships, advanced degrees. They created a different kind of life together.
Education became my family's religion.
I grew up surrounded by books--and by that that kind of hyper-correct English that leads you to say ridiculous things sometimes. You over-enunciate. When you pick up the phone and someone asks, "Is this Blair?" you say brightly: "Yes, this is she."
It's a tough thing to overcome. But I have. I talk like a normal person. I end sentences with prepositions. Beyond that, I've come to see beyond the too-rigid views of my adolesence and young adulthood, when I valued academic achievement to the exclusion of all else. Thanks to my passion for the Cajun accordion and my travels in Louisiana and Texas, I've come to look beyond the things that so often divide people. I have cherished friendships with people who don't necessarily have a lot of formal education. Some of them even hunt and fish. Their political views sometimes differ from mine. And some of them say things like "me and my friends."
But they are not running for public office. Or married to someone who is.
When did it become acceptable to celebrate poor English in formal situations? To elevate dude-dom? To make a fetish of being anti-intellectual?
Can you imagine the same scenario with the family of an African American or Latino presidential candidate? They wouldn't get away with it. And they wouldn't want to. That's the point.
Causes Blair Kilpatrick Supports
Louisiana Folk Roots, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Habitat for Humanity/Musician's Village New Orleans, Doctors Without Borders