by Rich Herschlag
Senator Barack Obama’s recent comments regarding bitter Pennsylvanians clinging to guns and religion were personally offensive to me, even before I took the time to consider how spot on they really were. My first instinct was to hunt him down, but I was fresh out of ammo and late to church. This is particularly vexing for Jews who don’t own a gun.
Upon deeper reflection, however, I realized my personal holy war was actually the result of Senator Obama’s flagrant omissions. Truth is, there are many other things we Pennsylvanians cling to. Some of us cling to crystal meth.
Unfortunately, there was recently a massive raid in the Lehigh Valley on a sprawling crystal meth ring, and now the stuff is harder to get around here than 87 gasoline for under 3.26 a gallon. Makes you want to blow someone to Kingdom Come.
Here in Pennsie, in the absence of good union jobs, millions of us cling to fried dough. We never met a trans fat we didn’t like. You haven’t been to Pennsylvania until you’ve seen a 400-pound neighbor on a riding mower circling for hours around the same twenty-by-twenty foot patch of lawn while nursing a case of Yuengling. Our malls are vast seas of wide-bottom jeans sampling greasy pretzels. Forget the Keystone State. Welcome to the Gallstone State.
In the Commonwealth, we cling to Viagra. But that is a gross oversimplification, the kind to which carpetbagging, pandering politicians are all too prone. We also cling to Levitra, Cialis, Enzyte, and a variety of other FDA-approved sexual performance enhancing supplements. After a long day of going postal on non-believers, cooking up crank in the lab, decapitating rabbits with the John Deere, and sucking down foot-long hot dogs, it’s hard to get too excited about the Missus in her size-20 knock-off Frederick’s of Hollywood nightie. That’s why we cling to our first cousins every chance we get.
But from the Delaware to the Allegheny, there is more to us than drugged-up corpulent fun in the sack. We cling to our wrestling. Not the real kind. That’s for real athletes with real regimens and real goals in life. In the land of Ben Franklin, we prefer the fake kind. The faker the better. No steroid-crazed, HGH-gulping third-rate actor should ever hit the canvas without a two-minute choreographed prance around the ring. Did I mention how much we loved watching Ned Beatty squeal like a pig in Deliverance?
And finally, we here in the great state of Pennsylvania cling to Web porn, especially in hard times. Even trailer parks where the water has been shut off are hardwired with high-speed fiber optic cables so that young and old alike can cling to real-time virtual images of nubile young things weighing no more than one-fifth what we do. During this ritual, we cling to the mouse, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s, and ourselves.
So don’t sell us short, Mr. Barack HUSSEIN Obama. Your well thought out policy positions and broadminded, sensible approach to the economy and foreign affairs don’t fool us for a second. We will issue a redneck fatwa. We will cling to Hillary. We will cling to McCain. We’ll cling to Ralph Nader and even Dennis Kucinich once they learn us how to write in his name.
Rich Herschlag is the author of Before the Glory: 20 Baseball Heroes Talk About Growing Up and Turning Hard Times Into Home Runs (HCI, 2007). His other books include Lay Low and Don’t Make the Big Mistake (Simon & Schuster, 1997) and Women Are From Manhattan, Men Are From Brooklyn (Black Maverick, 2002).