Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's the matter with Obama?

There is irony in the fact that one of Obama's problems has been - and will continue to be - the notion that he is an elitist. How can this be? He is black; a member of a racial group historically subject to pervasive discrimination. William Deresiewicz, in an American Scholar piece entitled The Disadvantages of An Elite Education is concerned with other things, but says something that is instructive on this:

The first disadvantage of an elite education . . . is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely—indeed increasingly—homogeneous. Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in it . . . .

So you misunderstand why people "cling to" God and guns. You wonder what's the matter with Kansas because you can't see why working class people might not believe that their politics must center around voting themselves more of someone else's money. You define wedge issues as things that people care about even though you believe that they should not.

H/T: Paul Horwitz at Prawfs


Anonymous said...

Ivy League Schools are for people who couldn’t hack Military Service Academies.
(insert chuckle here)

Jay Bullock said...

Was it elitist of the McCain campaign's chief economic advisor to call working class people whiners? Or is that something different?


It's too bad the Republicans have decided to play the "elitist" card again, since I had high hopes for the McCain slogan I coined:

Elect John McCain: He needs and eleventh house.

Rick Esenberg said...

Was it elitist of the McCain campaign's chief economic advisor to call working class people whiners? Or is that something different?

I don't know if it was elitist in the sense of not understanding the concerns of the working class and it certainly wasn't aimed at them (he used the term "we"). Still, I can see that argument.

On the one hand, Gramm's statement fit Michael Kinsley's defintion of a gaffe - he said something that is true. The American economy isn't in recession and it's situation is not dire.

On the other hand, he said it in a way that could be interpreted as dimissive. As Andrew Ferguson wrote in this week's Weekly Standard, it's an example of why Gramm spent 20 million bucks seeking the GOP nomination in 1996 (he was my guy) and didn't win a single delegate.