Intellectualism & Sarah Palin: Or How The Smarty Pants Set Are Threatened By Someone Who Knows Sense

by Melissa Clouthier | October 9, 2008 11:19 am

Sarah Palin inspires vitriol for many reasons among the smug knobby-headed class. The latest unguarded moment came courtesy David Brooks who called Sarah Palin a “cancer on the party[1]” to a group of writers from The Atlantic. (As AllahPundit points out, this outburst is a lot like Peggy Noonan’s opinion[2], also caught in an unguarded moment. And, of course, it differs little from Barack Obama’s “gun clinging” comment[3].)

Why do they dislike her so?

  1. Her state school education and path to power devalues the elite’s Harvard training.
  2. She’s homespun. Intellectuals despise homespun. They prefer the calculated indifference they’ve worked so hard to master over the years.
  3. Sarah doesn’t seem to care what they think. Perhaps her most grievous error is that she just doesn’t give a moose turd what David Brooks thinks. Everyone should care what David Brooks thinks. And Peggy Noonan. And the rest of the obnoxious snobs.

Here’s the thing, for those in the elite class, who go to parties and hang in social circles, they spend their time telling themselves a story: the story is that middle America is consumed with the provincial and that the provincial is horrible. It doesn’t occur to them that middle Americans have the same concerns and often discuss some of the same things as the elites, but that middle Americans have what is called a life which gives them a context in which to put these fancy-pants ideals. Many theories sound good in theory, but the small business people, and white and blue collar blokes have to actually live with the consequences of these theories know how they affect life practically.

The elites have no feedback loop and that’s the problem.

Sarah Palin ain’t dense. I don’t think she’s even anti-intellectual. I think she’s smart, actually, and not just politically–in that scrappy, street-smart way. She strikes me as above-average smart. What she has, though, is an understanding of how the theories of DC affect the real person who works, raises a family, and lives a life. She has the feedback loop.

When a person has spent his whole life living theoretically, a person who lives real makes him feel insecure. The DC elites are no different than the actors in Hollywood. No wonder they all pal around together. At a certain point, their lack of concrete contributions and endless pontifications sounds hollow and empty. They want their lives to have meaning so they inflate their contributions in their own minds. No one dissuades them of the notion because they hang around people just like them.

This divide isn’t a matter of Republican or Democrat, or even smart or stupid (because I don’t think anyone is making the argument that Brad Pitt is a genius). The divide is a matter of ideas only or ideas with context. The coastal elites have no context, but they have plenty of ideas of how those people who do should live their lives.

A soldier knows who he is and what his job is and the concrete value of it. A mother of a special needs child knows who she is and what her job is and the concrete value of it. A doctor knows who he is and what she does and the concrete value of it. A welder knows what he is and what he’s making and the concrete value of it.

The fact is, America’s founding fathers weren’t just intellectuals. They were intellectuals who were grounded in real world experience. They had farms or businesses or were inventors or something. The sum total of their intellectual contributions were so profound because the ideas were rooted in an understanding of human nature and the real world.

Sarah Palin comes to the national scene as a business woman, mother and real person who experienced how Washington, D.C. ideas affect life. She has substance while the DC set theorizes. I don’t get the sense that Palin is anti-intellectual, so much as she’s pro-common sense. Intellectual means nothing if the ideas stink and produce unintended destructive consequences.

In order to have the healthy dose of sense, though, a person must see an idea through to fruition and live with the results. Most DC insiders, intellectuals and Hollywood elites don’t have to worry about living personally with the results of their ideas–they will be fine economically and personally no matter how things turn out. They have no feedback loop. Sarah Palin has risen to power and been educated in a most interesting way–she knows the power of government to harm and seeks to limit that power.

It’s no wonder the elites are so threatened.

Cross-posted at[4]

  1. cancer on the party:
  2. Peggy Noonan’s opinion:
  3. “gun clinging” comment:

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