As a North Carolina native, I have to patiently endure regional bigotry from those outside the region who think the South is full of ignorant, toothless, uneducated hillbillies who drive down the highway tossing beer cans out of the window and burn crosses on the weekends for entertainment.

Of course the "wisdom" of political consultant Dave “Mudcat” Saunders makes my job even harder. His "redneck for hire" schtick -- sold to pols (like failed presidential candidate John Edwards) who want to get to know Mudcat's demographic -- pay handsomely for this advice to Barack Obama:

The nominee's difficulties are not about the colour of his skin but the tin in his ear. “White people in the South and throughout the Appalachians love black culture. I mean, Southern-style cooking is black food. Everything I eat is fried. Your swing vote in the Appalachians comes down to common-sense thinking people who have strong faith, and what Barack Obama needs to do is embrace his culture. Because we like his culture. But nobody knows anything about him; over 10 per cent of the rednecks out here — and I'm a redneck — think he's a Muslim 'cause nobody's ever told 'em any different.”

No, those folks have been "told different" and they stubbornly still believe he's a Muslim. Sorry, Mudcat, it's a weasely way of being uncomfortable about Obama's "difference" without saying it's racism (and it's not just a southern thing - remember that woman in Ohio who insisted Obama will "revert to his Muslim and "Arab tendencies.") .

And as if to prove my point, Mudcat reveals an aspect of Southern culture that he holds in high esteem by showing us his bedroom and the covers he slips between at night:

More below the fold. This does not help me with my non-Southern peeps, Mudcat. Why are you sleeping with the symbol of oppression and bigotry? He describes the flag as "a tribute to the gallant kids from around here who lost their lives" during the War of Northern Aggression Civil War. "Rebs" know exactly what they are doing when they put that Confederate battle flag on their pickups, but you sleep under a giant one? Come the F on. As if on cue, here's Oliver Willis's take:

Do you see, perhaps, why some of us may see folks like Saunders as knuckle-dragging dumbass hillbillies? The confederate flag is a flag flown in support of slavery. There’s not really any way around that. You can go on at length about horsepuckey “southern pride” or whatever the b.s. du jour is, but at its core that flag stands for fond memories of keeping black people subhuman and in chains.

Where I agree with Mudcat is that Democrats at the national level have failed to "get" the South, and the way to connect is to focus on how a vote for the GOP (based on fear and smear and "family values") has only resulted in that working class demographic getting screwed over and over again. It's fertile ground to focus on economic justice issues. It's not a positive development to continue clinging to an icon of pain and bigotry.

Catering to Mudcat's "redneck culture" wisdom with the flag may fly in the deep South, but the reality is, in Southern/Mid-Atlantic states like NC and Virginia, John McCain is the one who needs to worry -- his parade of homes that he cannot recall isn't playing well down here. Who's the elitist now?