Monday, January 4, 2016

Even suburban cowgirls get the blues

Recently, I've gotten into the habit of checking the relevant Wikipedia pages after reading a news story. I particularly recommend checking the demographics of the towns that come up in the report.

For example, Charles Pierce points us to this quote from Dana Perino.
One of the greatest compliments I've been given is that people who met me when I first got to Washington, D.C., in 1995 say that I'm still the same person today, even though I've been blessed with opportunities to work in the White House, travel the world, and transition relatively smoothly into a new career in television on The Five. I realized I couldn't start the book with my recollections of my years working for President Bush—just showing up at age 35 as the White House Press secretary—so I had to tell the story of how I became who I am today. And with every fiber of my being I think of those years in the West as the most formidable, and I miss that way of life so much. And I have always known that if ever I needed to, I could go home. They'd take be back in an instant, though I'd have to shed some of my big-city conveniences and haul my own groceries to my kitchen.
For the moment, let's put aside the question of whether carrying your own groceries in from the SUV constitutes roughing it, and instead look at that other way of life in the formidable West.

According to my go-to source,  Dana Perino grew up in an affluent white-flight suburb of Denver.
As of the census of 2000, there were 23,558 people, 7,929 households, and 6,525 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,615.2 people per square mile (623.4/km²). There were 8,352 housing units at an average density of 572.6 per square mile (221.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 92.60% White, 1.71% Asian, 1.01% Black, 0.45% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.88% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.80% of the population.

The median income for a household in the town was $74,116, and the median income for a family was $77,384 (these figures had risen to $80,679 and $89,154, respectively, as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $52,070 versus $35,700 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,479. About 1.7% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.
I tried to go to the National Review article to see if the quote looked better in context. If anything it came off worse. Both Perino and her interviewer, Kathryn Jean Lopez, are careful to present things like part-time college jobs and visits to her grandparents' ranch so that they suggest a simple cowgirl of humble origins who would raise to great heights. As someone who grew up  in rural Western Arkansas, that does stick in my craw a bit.

Of course, there's another level of irony in the fact that her career peak was working for a cowboy president who was afraid of horses, but that's a story for another day.

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