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    He knows how to give me two-fisted love

    I don’t happen to think the whole Palin thing is all that hard to understand–whether you do or do not want to support her. The original argument from the McCain campaign was that it didn’t matter that she didn’t have impressive academic credentials or a history of grooming herself for national politics; she had the knowledge and skill sets to get the job done well. The initial protests from the more hysterical corners of the left that she was a rube with outdated hair and a degree from Nowheresville State and too many kids and guns and a history of sportscasting were therefore petty and irrelevant. Unfortunately, many on the right are still responding as if those were the issues at hand. They are not. The issue still is, can she get the job done well?

    Rachel Lucas is another person who’s getting it from right-leaning commenters about criticizing Palin, and she responds perfectly sensibly:

    So I watched the Couric interview of Palin clips late on a Friday afternoon and blogged that I thought she sounded like a fool. Didn’t say she is a fool, or stupid, just that she didn’t sound like she knew what she was talking about and that if she were on “the other side,” I would mock her with verbatim transcripts and most of my readers would laugh and mock along with me.


    This isn’t the Washington Post you know. I’m not Charles Freakin’ Krauthammer. But most of all, I refuse to be a hypocrite and it kinda pisses me off, not a lot but kinda, that so few others on “my side” don’t see how hypocritical it is to say that you wouldn’t tear her up all over the place if she were a Democrat, wouldn’t say that she sounded like a complete and total moron in those interviews if she were a liberal. She did sound like that, editing or not. You do realize that half the time I or any other blogger or right-leaning writer mocks the intelligence of Democrats, we’re doing that selectively, too?

    Along the same lines, my friend Zak zeroes in on a major issue, though I think he mischaracterizes it:

    The thing is, it’s almost impossible to talk about these things when someone who has risen up from truly humble roots through his own abilities is branded “elite,” while the guy who got into Annapolis because his dad was an Admiral and then married an heiress is somehow salt of the earth.

    In the end, it’s now a nonsense word, and just means “a liberal I dislike.”

    I DO think there is a serious current of anti-intellectualism in America these days, though. There always has been, but I think it’s been cresting.

    To start with…look, this is probably about the thousandth time I’ve linked this post by Megan McCardle, but it really does help illuminate things, so here it is:

    What is true is that Democrats, right now, have more ability to insulate themselves from being confronted with the views of the other side. Geographically, they can isolate themselves into coastal cities, which is why I never met any Republicans except my grandparents until I went to business school. And informationally, provided that they don’t watch Fox news, don’t subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, and keep the radio tuned to NPR, they can keep from ever hearing if the other side has a good argument.

    This is why the Democrats at that luncheon were so shocked and hurt. Not because they are stupid, or venal, or arrogant. But because they live in a bubble, and thus are genuinely not aware that the other side may occasionally have the better of the argument. The New Republic is about as far right as your average New Yorker generally goes, publication-wise — and I am acquainted with a number of people who have dropped it because it’s too right-wing these days. If the only explanation of conservatives beliefs you ever hear comes from the editorial pages of the New York Times, it is indeed incomprehensible that people out there could actually embrace such twaddle. I’d be looking under the couch for the Vast Right Wing conspiracy too.

    The main distinction that needs to be made here is between eliteness (being privileged) and elitism (the state of mind, the worldview, the 主義 that one is superior to others and, in this context, can govern them effectively without learning from them). I’ve never heard the argument advanced that McCain is not an elite, in the sense of coming from a powerful insider family and therefore being in a better position to snag an heiress. I have seen people occasionally use Obama’s grandmother’s job as a bank vice-president as grounds for arguing that his background was more elite than we’re given to understand, but most of his detractors that I know of accept that his family was pretty non-descript middle-class.

    The argument that McCain, despite his background, is not an elitist is based on his perceived willingness to get his hands dirty, which is predicated on the belief that he’s no better than anyone he’s serving. He went to Vietnam and withstood imprisonment and torture. He’s spent his career in the senate pursuing bipartisan cooperation. His wife doesn’t inform voters that her husband is going to shake them up, because his position is not that they’ve chosen to live their lives in ways that need to be reformed by do-gooder technocrats. He tells them that they have every right to love America as it is and that their existing values are worthwhile.

    The argument that Obama, despite his background, is an elitist is based on his perceived belief that he’s destined to fulfill the role of an enlightened political leader, a high-status charity worker who ladles goodness onto his constituents from on high because they don’t know what’s good for them. He explained the values of small-town and rural voters as resulting from the failure of presidential administrations to engineer the economy to make them happy. He sucks up to European social democrats and acts as if we needed to be more like them. He’s still against the surge even though he acknowledges that it’s worked. He started running for president practically from the moment he was elected to the senate.

    My point is not that either extreme is entirely true, only that it’s about more than just deciding based on upbringing who’s elitist and who is not.

    Regarding Sarah Palin, the questions seem to revolve more around eliteness of achievement than around elitism of beliefs. There seems to be little evidence that she’s tried to use the coercive power of her government position to push others to live her way. There is, however, evidence that she’s out of her depth as a contender for the vice-presidency. It’s not conclusive evidence, so I’m happy to humor conservatives who maintain that she’s saving up all her killer lines and dazzling political insights for the debate Thursday. We’ll know soon enough, after all. But the contention that anyone who questions her possible relationship to the Peter principle is a tool of the Obama left is ridiculous. I’m as unmoved by that as I am by the contention that anyone who votes against Obama is a racist.

    6 Responses to “He knows how to give me two-fisted love”

    1. Maria says:

      I like the title of this posting. That’s it. That’s all I wanted to say. ;-P

    2. Maria says:

      That semi-colon, dash, and letter P were supposed to stay together…

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Maria, Phoebe Snow, who wrote and recorded “Two-Fisted Love,” is an artist you might like, actually. She had two hit albums (well, more like one-and-a-half hit albums) when we were little, and then she diverted her energies into caring for her autistic daughter, and her handlers didn’t know where to take her career from there. She started singing jingles for commercials, and she’s only recorded sporadically since the ’70s. It’s a shame, because her voice is absolutely amazing–huge range–and she always sounds like a person, not a performer, singing to you. Worth checking out if you’re so inclined.

    4. Zak says:

      Ahh…I see now how you are using elite. Unfortunately, I think you have it wrong. You think that Democrats are more likely to try to tell others how to live than Republicans, whereas I think the reverse is true. The fact is, this is all about conservative versus progressive cultural norms.

      Sure Obama wants to tell the country to give healthcare to everybody, but the fact is that the consensus in America is rapidly becoming one much more favorable to universal healthcare.

      And, when it comes to 1) the right to put proven non-toxic, non-addicting drugs into my body, 2) have an abortion in the first trimester, 3) form legally binding civil unions between same-sex parterns, Republicans are perfectly willing to tell other people what to do and what not to do.

      So, it isn’t a question of who wants to boss other people around. Red staters want blue staters to assume their values, and the reverse is true as well. It’s just a question of whom you happen to agree with.

    5. Maria says:

      Hear, hear, Zak! Me and all the others that had to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills agree, agree!

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      You’re changing the subject, Zak. You can’t take my answer to your previous question–which was specifically about McCain vs. Obama and, by extension, about everyone on both tickets–as my position on the parties as a whole. “McCain is not as elitist as Obama” is not the same as “Republicans are not as elite [there’s that weasel word again] as Democrats.”

      If that’s what you want to talk about, I’ll be happy to join you in despairing over the in-practice position of both parties that it’s bad to curtail individual liberties with federal power…right up to the point that that makes one of their pet projects impracticable.

      I’m not sure I agree with you on the specifics, though. You could argue that the War on Drugs is more a Republican creation, yes, though it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that the Dems were eager converts. And (you didn’t mention this) the GOP likes to get ridiculously exercised over Internet gambling.

      I think abortion and SSM are harder to use to score points. There are plenty of people who genuinely believe that abortion is murder. I disagree with that position, but it does take the issue out of the framework of mere butting into people’s private lives. I wore myself out on this blog over the gay marriage issue years ago, so I’m not going to recapitulate my usual conniption fit in its entirety. Suffice it to say, one of the reasons same-sex partnerships have become so divisive is that the loudest gay advocates started in with the “If you don’t call it ‘marriage’ just like straight people’s, I’ll hold my breath until I turn blue” routine. Hard-line social cons would never have been happy with civil unions, either. I have no illusions about that. But a lot of live-and-let-live types believe that the marriage contract serves a function in heterosexual unions that doesn’t apply to homosexual unions. I have no doubt that some of them are looking for ways to intellectualize their anti-gay biases; but the rest of them have made thoughtful arguments that haven’t been answered, even to my satisfaction. And I’m gay.

      I don’t subscribe to the flat view that, in practice, the GOP works nobly for liberty and the Dems work ignobly for big government. What I do believe is that the Republicans come up on the classical liberal side far more frequently than the Democrats, and that when the GOP does contribute to government hypertrophy, its members at least exhibit a proper sense of shame that some of them may even mean sincerely. That at least provides some small space to start exerting pressure.

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