Arts Post
Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 01/09/2012

Nouvelle Hampshire: It’s self-conscious, it’s phony, it’s drab — but it holds the key to the White House

“New Hampshire is a fraud.”

That’s the opening sentence in a 4,000-word reported essay written by former Style writer and critic Henry Allen, who in early 1988 unsheathed his sharp wit and carved up the Granite State and its prominent position in the presidential nominating process.

Nauseated by the double-header debates this weekend? Weary of the breathless, bilious chatter preceding the nation’s first 2012 primary tomorrow? Luxuriate in Allen’s elegant takedown of New Hampshire and its citizens:

They never shut up about how closemouthed they are. They beat you rich and they beat you poor. They do this by taking a Calvinist pride in the riches from the high-tech boom in the southern part of the state, and then asssuming the smugness of Thoreau in defending the poverty of the swamp Yankees and shack people living back in the woods with yards full of mean dogs and broken snowmobiles. They exhibit the ethics of Switzerland and the shrugging shabbiness of New Jersey. ...

The question is not who they think they are, to be holding us hostage every four years with their presidential primary. Instead, who do we think they are, to let them get away with it, this white, tight and right smidgen of a place, this myth-mongering bastion of no-tax/no-spend conservatives with no minorities to speak of and a total of .43 percent of the American people?

His words are 24 years old but as bracing as breaking news, and a perfect tonic for this Hampshire-saturated moment. Read the whole piece here, and then chase it with Ann Gerhart’s story, published today, on how the flinty state grapples with real poverty.

By  |  12:04 PM ET, 01/09/2012

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