Monday, July 6, 2009

Ross Douthat Insults the Working Class

Ross Douthat takes on the thankless and somewhat odd job of sort-of defending Sarah Palin after her completely bizarre announcement that she will be resigning as governor of Alaska. I'm glad the New York Times believes in ideological diversity, because his argument almost sort of makes sense, but only in the funhouse that is the conservative punditry's attempts to come to terms with Sarah Palin. I'm glad he made this argument on the pages of the New York Times, because that means that many people will have an opportunity to refute it. He opens with a simple five-word sentence: "She should have said no." Meaning that she should have said no to John McCain, because then her life, both inside and outside of politics, would still be somewhat normal.

He then proceeds - let me repeat, on the pages of the New York Times - to attack liberal elites for denigrating her because of her working class roots. Taking the fight to the enemy, that's what he's doing. Sort of. He writes well, and might actually believe this argument. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible argument.

I have a five-word response: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Both of them were from the working class. Neither of them were elites, until they worked their way into the social and economic stratosphere. But they both worked for it. I disagreed with Reagan on just about everything, but he did work for his success. I've also realized, long after his presidency, that he wasn't as stupid as I thot he was. I saw a video of him in the mid-1960's attacking communism, and I couldn't believe how articulate and profound he sounded. Bill Clinton was from farther down the social ladder than even Palin - he was white trash. But he went to elite universities, Georgetown, Yale Law, and Oxford, because he's smart, ambitious, competent, hard-working, and curious about the world.

Here's another two-word answer for Mr. Douthat's claim that Americans judged Sarah Palin poorly because of her social class: Abraham Lincoln.

Americans love an underdog who climbs up from poverty to success. Michelle Obama's father was a municipal employee in Chicago.

All of my grandparents started out in life as members of the working class. But they ended up solidly middle class - both of my grandparents became professionals who owned their own businesses and sent all of their kids to college. And they were thrilled when I went to an elite liberal arts college in the East. I had plans once to earn a Ph.d., and my fundamentalist grandmother's response was "We'll finally have one."

Sarah Palin's failure as a candidate, as governor, and as a politician in general had nothing to do with either her gender or her class. There are lots of very successful women politicians in this country, and many very successful politicians from the working class.

Sarah Palin failed in so many respects because she's incompetent, lazy, and irresponsible, not to mention a pathetic wimp and delusional and pathological liar. She's a whining idiot who is incapable of either admitting her mistakes or taking responsibility for her failures. None of those traits mark her either as a typical member of her gender or her class. To imply otherwise is to insult women and people who make an honest living with their hands.

My grandparents started out as members of the working class (one of my grandfathers was a coal miner at 16), and, like Sarah Palin, were conservative Republicans and devout Christians. Unlike Sarah Palin, however, they were also smart, honest, competent people who didn't complain about their lot in life, took responsibility for their decisions and actions, and finished the jobs that they took on.

No comments: