The McCain campaign's attempt to define "real" and "fake" America has inspired The Economist's multimedia editor to do the same. He gleefully divides and conquers all the way to a NASCAR race in Delaware ...
Your correspondent is an American, and spent a day with a friend on US Route 301 playing a distinctly American game: who's more real? The McCain campaign's attempt to define real and fake America collapsed into absurdity as a spokesperson explained that northern Virginia is not "real Virginia", but all that means is that the McCain campaign failed to inherit the Bush campaign's gift for subtlety.
Just because the premise of real America falls apart under examination doesn't mean we don't all play it. My friend and I are on our way from Annapolis, Maryland to a NASCAR race at the International Speedway in Dover, Delaware (from fake to real), and we're at it for the full six hours of our trip.
My friend has a PhD (fake). He coaches his son's soccer team and watches NASCAR on television (real). He drives a Ford F-350, a schooner-sized truck (real). He powers it with recycled vegetable oil (fake). I am a journalist, spend a lot of time in London and use the word "schooner" (fake, fake, fake). In Sudlersville, Maryland I ask to stop for coffee and he warns me that we're unlikely to find a Starbucks--are the rules of the game now clear?
We pull over at a filling station, in front of which is parked a Ford F-250 with 38-inch mud tires and Mickey Thompson rims, perched on a lift kit and a six-inch exhaust. This my friend reels off to me as I find in the station a can of cold, sweetened Starbucks latte, which I do not like but purchase to be stubborn. The modifications on the truck outside, he explains, probably cost $15,000. I ask how I can hear live radio coverage of the race in Dover and the woman behind the counter gives me four different stations. The Sudlersville volunteer fire department is selling barbecue to race fans on the road. Signs on the way out of town read "NASCAR country" and "Darlene's Tavern."