Monday, April 14, 2008

Elitist Elitism

American Heritage Dictionary
e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
Define Elitism:
Audio Help (ĭ-lē'tĭz'əm, ā-lē'-) Pronunciation Key n.
The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

Barack Obama recently made this statement about the middle class to a group of wealthy elites San Francisco Democrats: 'It's not surprising ... they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,'

This statement was genuinely elitist, but it was not a mis-statement. It was something that politicians and journalists call a "gaffe".

Define "Gaffe" - when someone, usually a politician, accidentally tells the truth.

Obama was correct, of course, but his unfortunate statement has sent religious gun nuts (excluding me) into a frenzy.
In P.J. O'Rourke's immortal words, "This country was founded by religious nuts with guns". And don't think we don't know it.

Hillary is now doing everything but taking assault rifles to her Tuesday morning Bible study, and I predict she'll eventually do exegetical studies of the book of Romans at the rifle range. She might volunteer for the next Utah Firing Squad.

One editorial says she's trying to cast Obama as this election's John Kerry. (Speaking of out-of-touch elites....)

And then there's the Huffington Post:

This weekend she (Hillary) tried to paint herself as a good old boy, the kind of gal you'd want to have a beer with -- not like that "elitist" Barack Obama: "You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught be how to shoot when I was a little girl." After she said this, she took a shot of whiskey. What's next, ads of Obama windsurfing?

Now John McCain has chimed in:

WASHINGTON — John McCain called Barack Obama’s recent comments that Pennsylvanians are “bitter” an “elitist” remark but stopped short of calling Mr. Obama himself elitist.

Let's look at this a little closer. If elitism is a sense of entitlement to favored treatment because of intellect, social status, or financial resources, coupled with control, rule, or domination by those classes, then all of these candidates are "elites" of one peculiar breed or another.

The Clintons have already dones the Wellesley thing, the Ivy League thing, the Rhodes Scholar thing, plus the eight years in the White House thing.
McCain comes from military aristocracy, if there is such a thing. Daddy was an admiral, and there are airfields named after his Granddaddy in Mississippi. (I come from a long line of Mississippi elites, and know these things....)
Obama and his wife are both Ivy Leaguers, and he was editor of The Harvard Law review.

Let's go backward through the last few presidents:
George W. Bush comes from old money, and has an Ivy League MBA.
We've already discussed The Clintons. Neither grew up as elites, but they got to Martha's Vineyard as fast as they could.
The Elder George Bush - like son, like father.

Reagan could make a case for being a non-elite.
Carter is about as elitist as a Yazoo City bait shop.
Ford wasn't much of an elite. I think he got through school on a football scholarship.
Nixon had an "Enemies List" comprised of elites. But he wasn't one.
Lyndon Johnson wasn't an elite, but was burdened with an administration of "the best and brightest" leftover elites from Kennedy.

Kennedy - now there was an elite. The money, manners, and education. He had it all.

Ike wasn't an elitist, except on battlefields.
Truman was a tailor.
Roosevelt was an elite, and an elitist.

If you had to be governed for the next eight years by a randomly selected ex-president from one group or the other, which group would you pick? The elites, or the non-elites?

No comments: