Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Podhoretz on class bias against Palin; C-Span viewers weigh in

Norman Podhoretz's Wall Street Journal op-ed from yesterday, "In Defense of Sarah Palin", takes on the "conservative intellectuals" who seem to believe that Sarah Palin is anathema to the Republican Party, that she is not qualified (for anything, apparently), etc.  Some, like David Brooks, David Frum, Kathleen Parker, and so forth, have been dead-set against her from the moment John McCain announced her name as his running mate in 2008.  But while Mr. Podhoretz is quick to state that Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan, the 40th President clearly had his share of detractors within the Republicans, and for similar reasons.

As Mr. Podhoretz relates:

31 years ago, when I first announced that I was supporting Reagan in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, I was routinely asked by friends on the right how I could possibly associate myself with this "airhead," this B movie star, who was not only stupid but incompetent. They readily acknowledged that his political views were on the whole close to ours, but the embarrassing primitivism with which he expressed them only served, they said, to undermine their credibility. In any case, his base was so narrow that he had no chance of rescuing us from the disastrous administration of Jimmy Carter.

Does that sound like anyone in the conservative movement these days?  You can guess my answer to that question. 

And what, then, is causing this intense dislike of all things Palin from many conservative intellectuals?  Mr. Podhoretz attributes it not to policy but to class bias, stating that most of the intellectuals in the party may have said they adhered to William F. Buckley's famous statement, when their true views were exactly the opposite:

When William F. Buckley Jr., then the editor of National Review, famously quipped that he would rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the combined faculties of Harvard and MIT, most conservative intellectuals responded with a gleeful amen. But put to the test by the advent of Sarah Palin, along with the populist upsurge represented by the Tea Party movement, they have demonstrated that they never really meant it.

Much credit must be given, finally, to Mr. Podhoretz's recognition of the most biting satire of conservative intellectuals I have seen in quite a while, that of the blogger known as "Iowahawk".  (Less credit, though, goes to the WSJ for shamefully not including a link to Iowahawk's site.)  His creation, Mr. T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, does a great job of illustrating the absurd drifting of the conservative elites over to the Obama camp in late 2008, and their continued, if wavering, allegiance to President Obama now.  (Iowahawk hints, ever so tantalizingly, that T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII may make a return appearance later this week.  This blog will post a link if he does appear.)

Mr. Podhoretz's column, which ran in yesterday's Journal, also inspired the folks at C-Span to ask their "Washington Journal" viewers whether they saw such a class bias against Mrs. Palin.  The entire segment appears below, and while it may not be very helpful in answering the question, I saw it as rather enlightening.

As can be seen from the 43-minute video, there are a lot of people who have made up their minds about Sarah Palin, and nothing seems to be able to change them.  I heard a lot of "she quit" arguments, especially.  (For those just joining this blog, I spoke to the "she's a quitter" arguments here.  The short version:  she's not.) 

And what else did I learn?  Apparently people like to prank call C-Span.  (Such people need a life, and quickly.)  Others like to call when the program clearly states "conservatives only", when they clearly aren't.  (When was the last time you heard a conservative refer to the "teabag movement"?  I'll give you a hint:  never.  And darn it, I wanted never to have to refer to that stupid term on this blog again.  Thanks loads, fake conservative C-Span viewer.)

Of course, all of this adds to the fact that Sarah Palin is a polarizing figure.  I've said that here before, so this isn't a big revelation for me.  It does show me, though, that a lot of people will not be swayed by facts from seeing exactly what they want to see in others.


rockdots said...

"When was the last time you heard a conservative refer to the "teabag movement"? I'll give you a hint: never."

Right here.

Snowed In said...

I linked to this post in the article. The post in question points out that some conservatives spoke of teabagging in that sense back in early 2009 (as your link shows).

I haven't seen any tea partier use "teabagging" in that way since Anderson Cooper and the MSNBC gang ran with it.

And I still have never heard a conservative refer to the "teabag movement".

So, if you have a different link that answers the original question, I'll be happy to look at it.


rockdots said...

Well, of course they don't use "teabagging" NOW. I don't know (and neither do you) whether those original protesters understood the connotations of what they wrote on their signs. Doesn't matter -- it's comedy GOLD.

Meanwhile: a response to Podhoretz's "classist" charges

rockdots said...


Snowed In said...

Rockdots, I appreciate the comments, but I will still respectfully disagree on several counts.

First, I think the tea party protesters who originally said "tea bag them before they tea bag you" knew what it meant, but most mainstream tea partiers and conservatives did not. I certainly didn't know until the left started using it. Moreover, I believe the majority of tea partiers would not have approved of the original usage of the language.

Second, apparently our definitions of "comedy gold" are substantially different.

Third, your "response to Podhoretz's 'classist' charges" says nothing whatsoever about such charges, talking instead about Mr. Podhoretz's thoughts about the Jewish reaction to President Obama. Sarah Palin's name was thrown in at the end of the article as what appears to be an afterthought, and her name appears in the title apparently just because Mrs. Palin's name draws more readers than Mr. Podhoretz's name does.

And your "MORE" link does little more than to perpetuate the class bias with phrases like "these folksy bozos" to describe Ronald Reagan and Sarah Palin. Plus, Digby's use of phrases like "teabag intellectuals" tell me that his opinion is not going to be worth my taking the time to read it.

rockdots said...

Well I have to say I was half expecting you to claim that the original "Tea Bag the Dems" signs must've been made and distributed by Lefties to discredit the Tea Partiers. So, five points for you there.

Re: "Comedy Gold." ...agree to disagree.

You're quite right that the truthdig is more about Podhoretz's frustrations with American Jews' liberalism than a refutation of the arguments he makes in the WSJ.

But too bad you're not willing to consider what I believe to be the main point of the digby post: "They can't win without the teabag contingent." Without coming right out and saying so, isn't that the point of the unholy alliance Podhoretz is proposing? It's just the latest variation on "She may be a _________, but she's OUR _________."

By the way, are you coming at this from the Palin direction, or the Podhoretz/"Commentary" side? I'm assuming the former, in which case I'd have to ask, would you agree with Podhoretz that you "would rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party, and... rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama?"

Snowed In said...

Catching up on answering comments:

would you agree with Podhoretz that you "would rather be ruled by the Tea Party than by the Democratic Party, and... rather have Sarah Palin sitting in the Oval Office than Barack Obama?"

Absolutely, yes.

And as to Digby's other point, which is heavily tainted with Digby's own elitist attitude, of course a winning Republican candidate will need tea partiers aboard, just as Democrats have to pander to people such as Kos, Michael Moore, and, I suppose, Digby.