Yet those who deplore Beck and Palin fail to see that the reason for their popularity stems from their uninhibited willingness to evoke and champion precisely those values and themes that the overly fastidious and sophisticated perceive as crude and corny. It is when Beck and Palin are behaving most boorishly in the eyes of their cultured despisers that they are most apt to win the enthusiastic cheers of their devoted admirers.

Lee Harris, “Beyond the Tea Party: The Broadening of a Movement,” The Weekly Standard, September 13, 2010, 11.

Lee, I believe, is spot-on correct. Liberals can and most certainly have bemoaned the “God and Country” tenor of the message. It squares with then candidate Obama who declared that small-town America, when afraid, clings to guns and religion.  And with statements like these made by elected officials  familiar with Harvard University and Chicago politics, the disconnect and knee-jerk reaction fumes ever more.

History will write of the Restoring Honor Rally with various opinions. Myself, I think the event represents a moral referendum  by those Americans who have grown tired of having their values both silenced and trampled upon by the cultural and mainstream Left. Main Street, more than Wall Street, is still the epicenter of America. Beck and Palin proved this.

In Christian lingo, it’s popular to quote an old Christian saying, “What hath Jerusalem to do with Athens?” For our own time, it may be contextualized so as to say, “What hath Hollywood and the New York Times to do with the values of small town America?”

Who really speaks for America? The attendees of Beck’s rally or the readership of the New York Times? What say you?

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Posted by Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

24 Comments

  1. […] Why are Beck and Palin Popular? | Mere Orthodoxy […]

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  2. Though I too disdain the cultural snobbery directed at the Tea Party and the Beck/Palin movement, the snobs are right to be unsettled by a quasi-religious movement that leaves its key term – the identity of God – undefined. This ambiguity is at the heart of the movement, since clarity would totally split the Mormons, evangelicals, and miscellaneous theists.

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  3. We need to be very clear that outlets like the NYT seek to influence America. NYT does not speak for us. Lee Harris is spot on with his analysis. Beck and Palin are mere conglomerates of a sentiment that reached a climax with the fiscal insanity of Obama and the current Congress. Not only has this political and media class ignored the values of mainstream America, they ridicule them. I appreciate Beck’s rally because it was a true call to arms for people of faith and civic pride to be active about their belief in God. Being passive about faith and politics is not an option. Rise up friends! We are sinking into the political and moral abyss.

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  4. Andrew – I think your analysis is correct, but that doesn’t change my deep concerns about the movement. Speaking frankly, I’m more disgusted by Palin and Beck’s antics than those of just about any other public figure in the country.

    While it’s true that Main Street speaks more loudly than Wall Street, is it unreasonable for me to ask that Main Street speak with a sense of reason and – God forbid – civility? I’ve been thinking about this more as I watch the John Adams miniseries from HBO – the Tea Partiers (ironically) represent the Jeffersonian impulse toward constant revolution. It’s the voice of the people rising up against the isolated and elitist political class. And yet, as Adams tried to warn Jefferson over and over, democracy is not a good in itself. Rather, as Adams wrote frequently, democracy can only function with a certain sort of citizen, a certain cultural sensibility that protects us from descending into mob rule. At this point in our culture, I think we’ve lost that ethos. As a result, the only difference between the unruly mobs of past ages and the modern tea party is the mobs came with torches and pitchforks while the Tea Partiers sometimes come with semi-automatic weapons.

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  5. “… the snobs are right to be unsettled by a quasi-religious movement that leaves its key term – the identity of God – undefined.”

    “… I’m more disgusted by Palin and Beck’s antics than those of just about any other public figure in the country.

    “… a certain cultural sensibility that protects us from descending into mob rule. At this point in our culture, I think we’ve lost that ethos. As a result, the only difference between the unruly mobs of past ages and the modern tea party is the mobs came with torches and pitchforks while the Tea Partiers sometimes come with semi-automatic weapons.”

    These views lack any context whatever in American history. If this rally are are misguided as tusc0n and Jake believe, I can only imagine what their reaction would be to a study of American history. Even the HBO miniseries seems useful to Jake only as a prooftext for an absurdly simplistic point about democracy that all the Founders understood quite well.

    I’m surprised that I was the only one that commented on Andrew’s Civic Religion post in light of the comments on this one. What one thinks of that view determines a lot here I think. But it is easy to tear into the red meat of concrete example. The examples that come from a serious long-term interest in American history that so few do today tends to drain the extremism born of a hard-core idealism by providing context for how religion works itself out in a particular culture.

    I think Lee Harris’ insightful analysis is spot on, but I wouldn’t need to think so to think the comments here are hopelessly out of touch with American history. If things like the Beck rally are so unusual and dangerous (they aren’t either) the country would have gone off the rails a long, long, time ago.

    Another great post Andrew.

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  6. Mark, imagine no longer. American history is filled with attempts to reduce the triune God of the Universe into a mere one among many in a pantheon of appropriate democratic religions. I’m not sure what you mean by saying that my view “lacks context,” but perhaps it’s because I feel no need to justify mere theism, even (especially?) of the “judeochristian” sort. I don’t think I’m guilty of being “out of touch with American history,” but I do refuse to be subservient to it.

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  7. >> American history is filled with attempts to reduce the triune God of the Universe into a mere one among many in a pantheon of appropriate democratic religions.

    This is the human condition. There has never been a culture that isn’t guilty of this, nor even an individual life including yours and mine. This seems to me to be an extreme idealism. One must wonder what you are comparing with, but it couldn’t be a comparison of anything we’d find on this earth.

    “… yet the critic and artist too have their rights, and to take as calm and as long a view as possible seems to be but another name for the love of truth.” -George Santayana

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  8. tusc0n: I’d suggest reading “The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism” like I did last week. Actual historical facts are the context I was referring to. But first you’d have to face the fact that (like Andrew and I) the author (George McKenna) looks at the nitty-gritty of living out our religious ideas in public as seeing a glimpse of God’s grace at work in history and culture, even in spite of the bad things that happen on Earth. They key question is why you don’t seem to accept this.

    And if you think I read selectively in American history I’d say you could also do worse than to do what I did this week. Read “After Appomattox” by Stetson Kennedy and “Fiery Cross” (a history of the KKK). I seek to understand what I study, and see it as it was, not how I’d like it to be. You can’t understand history without understanding politics, nor the reverse.

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  9. “One must wonder what you are comparing with, but it couldn’t be a comparison of anything we’d find on this earth.”

    Quite.

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  10. >> Quite.

    Well that’s a conversation stopper isn’t it? … and you wonder that I’d aver that there is a lack of context in your view on the matter.

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  11. Mark Duling?

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  12. “Though I too disdain the cultural snobbery directed at the Tea Party and the Beck/Palin movement….”

    Why?

    First, whose the real cultural snob here? What does Hollywood have to do with Main Street? Errr, who buys Hollywood’s films? Isn’t it ironic we get lectured on ‘Hollywood values’ from a man on Murdoch’s NewsChannel while just down the dial we enjoy Family Guy on….Murdoch’s entertainment channel? What I see here is the old liberal guilt game. Accuse liberals of being snobs and they pull back least they’ve treated you unfairly because their ‘culture’ might have blinded them to some slight or unfairness. Meanwhile what’s wrong with the New York Times? What’s wrong with Hollywood? Both are market institutions who exist because willing customers like their product. Maybe cultural snobbery isn’t the right term, maybe it’s rank hypocrisy. On one hand we get a light brained politician more or less handpicked by a NYT columnist to run for VP (McCain wanted his friend Lieberman but the right wing pundits made it clear they would never tolerate it), whose career started as a minor entertainment celebrity (Beauty Queen, TV weather reporter) telling us she will liberate us from the NYT (which we read because the right can’t produce anything nearly as good). On the other hand we have a product of a mass entertainment empire telling us he will help us return to God by restoring our dignity (But get us home by 9 PM so we can enjoy our Fox Family Guy fix).

    Second, what snobbery directed at Beck/Palin? If anything the left has done Beck and Palin the undeserved favor of actually taking them seriously. Their conspiracy theories are fact checked, what they say on Wednesday is compared with what they said on Monday, if they say they support X because it will produce Y we actually try to see if there’s a relationship. When her husband joins a group, we actually see what its stated objectives are. When a preacher is praised, we actually see what his books say. For this we are ‘cultural snobs’ who have victimized a Main Street’s hero (wait 60% of the country thinks she is unfit for President….well that doesn’t count). Notice, though, the reverse is never true. Beck isn’t obligated to try to understand Obama’s ‘culture’ when he asserts he hates ‘white culture’ (whatever that means?). Palin is not a cultural snob when she refers to the coasts, the place that the majority of Americans actually live, as ‘less American’.

    I suppose the cultural disconnect here might be that Beck and Palin are a bit like Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. It’s not a song about education policy. If you try to read it as a program to improve schools by getting rid of ‘darkly sarcastic’ teachers you’re missing the point. Perhaps Beck and Palin are understood by their ‘supporters’ (BTW, I notice that the right produces lots of defenses of ‘Beck/Palin supporters’ but never actually produces a supporter. Where’s the actual Beck/Palin supporter telling us why their guy/gal is right?). But this gives the game away. If its just feel good entertainment, pat yourself on the back for being more real than ‘Wall Street’ or ‘Hollywood’ then it has nothing to do with actual governing. If the right wants to spend a decade or two striking a ‘counter cultural’ pose then go ahead but why are we obligated to pretend that this is a serious political movement? If, on the other hand, this is serious and not some type of reality based entertainment then why the constant excuses for why the movement must be shielded from serious debate and discussion?

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  13. >> Why? (disdain cultural snobbery)

    If you believe you are witnessing snobbery then you should disdain it. It is an assertion that others are inherently inferior -not merely that their views are inferior.

    >> What’s wrong with Hollywood? Both (Mainstreet and Hollywood) are market institutions who exist because willing customers like their product. Maybe cultural snobbery isn’t the right term, maybe it’s rank hypocrisy.

    I think “Hollywood” was used loosely here as a term to denote those who see themselves as the cultural elite, whether they are in the film industry or not. Most of course are not. Therefore if you don’t think Hollywood represents the cultural elite that is fine, but you haven’t interacted with Andrew’s points as I read them.

    >> Second, what snobbery directed at Beck/Palin? If anything the left has done Beck and Palin the undeserved favor of actually taking them seriously. Their conspiracy theories are fact checked …

    … Where’s the actual Beck/Palin supporter telling us why their guy/gal is right?

    Andrew’s question was “Why are they popular?” and your answer boils down to “They’re dim-bulbs, and even their supporters don’t think they are right”. Who is the conspiracy theorist here? Who is engaging in rank hypocrisy?

    I’d say we can argue all day about what constitutes cultural snobbery and reverse-snobbery, but I’d rather listen to the historical snobs since those folks would know that the basis for the red/blue divide goes back more than 150 years, and that politics hasn’t changed that much over that time, nor have the cultural elites though their names have changed. Andrew raised a good point and you’ve scrupulously avoided it.

    BTW, who the hell thinks “Another Brick in the Wall” is “a song about education policy”? I’ve never even heard of anyone who thought that.

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  14. Boonton, you made a lot of assumptions. I take it that you think that I or someone else on this blog is the “real cultural snob?” Does this mean that while one of us is a fake cultural snob? Please elaborate on this distinction.

    For what it’s worth, I disdain all cultural snobbery, since it is little more than an intellectualization of a visceral response. Usually the disgust is based on class resentment, and it goes every direction, whether it’s rural/city, black/white, Ivy/Big-10, or whatever. So I guess my suggestion is that you need to be a little less self-righteous, and a little more self-critical.

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  15. Actually let me return to the original post:

    “History will write of the Restoring Honor Rally with various opinions. Myself, I think the event represents a moral referendum by those Americans who have grown tired of having their values both silenced and trampled upon by the cultural and mainstream Left.”

    Who here is really being ‘trampled and sileneced’ by what left? Maybe what is really going on here is pure and simple playing the victim card. More often than not ‘trampled and sileneced’ here seems to mean that people on ‘the left’ had the gaul to actually disagree and challenge something that the right declares to be about ‘moral values’ and therefore off limits. As I pointed out you have only to look at Palin to see this victim card at play. Again and again contradictions, distortions and outright lies are uncovered and the response is that this is ‘hostility’, ‘elitism’, and belittling ‘Main Street culture’. Yet this principle never works in the reverse. If Obama contradicts himself it’s not racist for him to get called out on it. If the NYT has a ‘stupid’ editorial no deference need be shown to the ‘elite’.

    This discussion reminds me of Michael Kinsley’s famous take down of Bill O’Reilly. Again the strategy was similiar. Bill is more authentic because his father was ‘middle class’, because he didn’t go to an ivy league school, and so on. More importantly, though, he was hated not because ‘elites’ disagreed with his political stances but because they hated his ‘working class’ background….hated that he didn’t go to Harvard. In other words, those fancy pants NYT columnists just hate people who are “a coal miner’s daughter”.

    What’s interesting to me is that when this is done by African American figures the right is quick to spot the game and call it playing the race card. Well if blacks play the race card why is it impossible to accept the fact that the right plays their “victim of the elite” card?

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  16. >> Who here is really being ‘trampled and sileneced’ by what left? Maybe what is really going on here is pure and simple playing the victim card.

    >> Well if blacks play the race card why is it impossible to accept the fact that the right plays their “victim of the elite” card?

    The article didn’t say any person or group was being “trampled and silenced”, but rather values. But this subtle change you made covers (badly) your move to say it shows that a group of folks are engaging in victimization. Moreover, claiming that the charge of elitism equates to a playing the victim is absurd. What’s next? Claiming the charge of bigotry was never valid? The question, as always, is whether or not the charge is true. Was Bill Buckley playing the victim by saying “I’d rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone book than by the dons of Harvard”, or merely stating a fact?

    Elitism is a real attitude present in the world, and sometimes the charge is true and sometimes it isn’t. Historians postulate it of cultures they study to explain things that sometimes would have no plausible alternative explanation without it. You’ve tried to nullify it in this particular instance by equating it with (surprise!) racism, and I’m afraid that isn’t really believable.

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  17. I’m not really sure how you ‘trample and silence’ a value without actually trampling & silence the person espousing it. For example, a value of ‘there should not be gay marriage’….how is that ‘silenced’ unless you’re talking about silencing a person who advocates that statement. Which brings us back to whose being silenced and trampled.

    In terms of elitism, I’m not disagreeing with you that it exists but consider that maybe the problem here is that it is existing in the opposite direction. Maybe the elitism here isn’t ‘Harvard Dons’ but this “I’m better because I’m not elite” type of elitism that says Palin is better for dropping out of college while Obama is ‘elitist’ for making it thru by his own hard work. It’s one thing to say Harvard doesn’t contain all the world’s wisdom it’s another thing to say your foreign policy speech can be riddled with stupid errors but to criticize you is to commit the sin of ‘elitism’.

    I think the analogy to some of the ‘race card’ rhetoric of the 80’s and 90’s is apt here. Instead of worrying about the elitism of the Palin/Beck critics perhaps a better way of understanding this is to see Palin and Beck as the white Republican answer to Al Sharpton. Which if you think about it makes a lot of sense. Being a victim is very appealing since it lets you cloak yourself in self righteousness. It also would appear to be an excellent tactic against liberals as the left is generally sensitive to the claim that ‘cultural blinders’ causes the ‘elite’ to mistreat the ‘powerless’ by not understanding or appreciating their way of viewing things.

    As with Sharpton, then, maybe a bit of ‘snobbery’ can be helpful here. When presented over and over again with uneducated, illogical and error filled speeches a bit of elitism is a good tonic rather than a crime against the delicate sensitivities that supposedly represent the ‘cultural values’ of “Main Street”.

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  18. >> I’m not really sure how you ‘trample and silence’ a value without actually trampling & silence the person espousing it. For example, a value of ‘there should not be gay marriage’….how is that ‘silenced’ unless you’re talking about silencing a person who advocates that statement. Which brings us back to whose being silenced and trampled.

    Sadly, we all know this argument. If you don’t accept what a person does, then you don’t accept them. If you don’t accept their ideas, you don’t accept them. This is called “tolerance”, though falsely. You reject things said by me, do you not? Are you rejecting me? Am I rejecting you in thinking your ideas false?

    >> In terms of elitism, I’m not disagreeing with you that it exists but consider that maybe the problem here is that it is existing in the opposite direction. Maybe the elitism here isn’t ‘Harvard Dons’ but this “I’m better because I’m not elite” type of elitism that says Palin is better for dropping out of college while Obama is ‘elitist’ for making it thru by his own hard work.

    But you’ve run right into an infinite regress haven’t you? Have you considered the problem may be a double-reverse elitism? And on and on. You’ve destroyed your own argument.

    >> … perhaps a better way of understanding this is to see Palin and Beck as the white Republican answer to Al Sharpton.

    Really? Where is their Tawana Brawley? I’m sure you’ll tell me any day now we can expect it. http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id315.htm

    >> As with Sharpton, then, maybe a bit of ‘snobbery’ can be helpful here. When presented over and over again with uneducated, illogical and error filled speeches a bit of elitism is a good tonic rather than a crime against the delicate sensitivities that supposedly represent the ‘cultural values’ of “Main Street”.

    I don’t think it is snobbery or elitism you are engaging in. I suspect it is simpler than that. You seem to think those who disagree with you are stupid. It’s the ultimate conspiracy theory, and it requires no actual work to believe it other than a fairly dim view of God’s creatures, which you then apparently project onto your opponents as their views of their opponents.

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  19. “Sadly, we all know this argument. If you don’t accept what a person does, then you don’t accept them. If you don’t accept their ideas, you don’t accept them. This is called “tolerance”, though falsely. You reject things said by me, do you not? Are you rejecting me? Am I rejecting you in thinking your ideas false?”

    No, however this I think is a cultural difference between left and right. From my ancedotal experience, there seems to be many on the left who relish the argument. On the right, though, uniformity and agreement are enjoyed. (Think of Meathead and Archie Bunker. It was clear that Michael loved to argue with Archie, I don’t think Archie Bunker really liked his fights with his son-in-law) Some I know appear to have created a nearly self-contained world (often with the help of church groups) where they can socialize extensively with as little risk as possible of every actually confronting someone who disagrees with them. Of course this is by no means universal on either side but it does indicate how disagreement is equated with victimization.

    “But you’ve run right into an infinite regress haven’t you? Have you considered the problem may be a double-reverse elitism? And on and on. You’ve destroyed your own argument.”

    No I don’t think so. I’m sure there are some ‘Harvard Dons’ who think themselves better than everyone else but this is a personal problem for them. The days where ‘Harvard knows best’, whichis what Buckley was railing against with his quip, are long gone. Even the Harvard professor who thinks he’s better than everyone else is likely to say Harvard itself is full of fools, redeemed only by himself.

    “Really? Where is their Tawana Brawley? I’m sure you’ll tell me any day now we can expect it. http://eightiesclub.tripod.com/id315.htm

    They’ve been looking. We’ve had, let’s see, Obama ‘victimizing’ because he ‘hates White Culture’, we had the Shirley Sherrod silliness, we’ve had the ‘Clinton death list’, we had that psychopath Huckabee pardoned who went on to rape and murder because he was supposedly ‘framed’ by Clintonites, during the election when a McCain volunteer claimed she was robbed by black men at an ATM who carved a ‘B’ on her cheek the machine almost exploded in joy but saner heads barely kept the lid on for the few hours it took before the girl was exposed as a hoaxster.

    But I’m not sure why emulating Tawana Brawley would be tapped by the right apply Sharpton’s lessons? Brawley was Sharpton’s moment of jumping the shark.

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  20. >> Some I know appear to have created a nearly self-contained world (often with the help of church groups) where they can socialize extensively with as little risk as possible of every actually confronting someone who disagrees with them. Of course this is by no means universal on either side but it does indicate how disagreement is equated with victimization.

    Oh I agree with you right up to the victimization part. I don’t see how that follows.

    >> I’m sure there are some ‘Harvard Dons’ who think themselves better than everyone else but this is a personal problem for them. The days where ‘Harvard knows best’, whichis what Buckley was railing against with his quip, are long gone.

    I don’t think that was what Buckley was complaining about, and I don’t think you’ve grasped his point.

    >> … we had that psychopath Huckabee pardoned who went on to rape and murder because he was supposedly ‘framed’ by Clintonites,

    I’ll end on a common ground of a sort. I can’t stand Huckabee. He gives me the creeps. I think he’s managing his face when he speaks to people. I think he is a carricature of the self-inflated and self-conscious Evangelical preacher who is petty and I’m embarrassed by him. I don’t like the petty insinuations that he used on Romney about his Mormonism to try to get votes. In other words, I don’t like what I see in his character. But I don’t go around flinging incoherent rants about him like people do Palin. If that is the way you feel about Palin’s character then say it as I have about Huckabee. I won’t argue with you. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But if you want to go beyond that, could you use some substance please and just say what it is about her views you don’t like? With Huckabee I agree with many of his stated views, but I have a problem with how he actually governed Arkansas. But going over the top and talking about him like an idiot or a fool just wouldn’t do me any good, and I don’t think it is true anyway. In other words, I’ve said all I should say about Huckabee unless I want to go into the substance of how I disagree with him, but I probably won’t only since I think he’s a spent force and it’s not worth the effort. Otherwise I would.

    Palin derangement syndrome says more about the Palin haters than Palin. You won’t find me teeing off on Huckabee like that. It’s just not appropriate, wise, or helpful.

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  21. “Oh I agree with you right up to the victimization part. I don’t see how that follows.”

    Here’s an analogy I was thinking about…. I like Family Guy but find The Simpsons boring and way over the hill. If I was a TV critic I could see myself enjoying a debate with a Simpsons supporter. But I’m not and if I’m watching TV and had someone yattering on about how Simpsons was underrated, Family Guy overrated I’d find him annoying. At some point I might even find him offensive and feel he was just being rude trying to ruin an evening. In other words I’d start to feel ‘victimized’ so to speak by their disagreement.

    So yea being prone to associate only with those who agree with you does leave you more suspectible to view those who disagree not just as people with a different opinion but people who are somehow attacking your or putting you down for which you’re entitled to at least a verbal self defense.

    I don’t think that was what Buckley was complaining about, and I don’t think you’ve grasped his point.

    I believe his point was that the random judgement of people from the street was more reliable for good government than the judgement of experts. But his hypothetical was one of random people. The first ten people in the phonebook may very well include a poly sci professor, or a guy whose hobby is reading academic economics text. He wasn’t arguing for gov’t by an ‘anti-Harvard’ elite made up of people who try to prove how unelite they are by posing as ‘the average man or woman’.

    But I don’t go around flinging incoherent rants about him like people do Palin. If that is the way you feel about Palin’s character then say it as I have about Huckabee. I won’t argue with you.

    OK but has Huckabee kept himself in the public light the way Palin has? Palin has very explicitly been positioning herself as either a candidate for the next Presidential cycle or at least as a ‘kingmaker’ in the GOP. Huckabee seems to have shifted towards an apolitical stance for the time being. And “incoherent rants” about Palin? Again who tends to spout more ‘incoherence’, Palin herself or her critics?

    My point wasn’t directly about Huckabee, though. It was examples of the right trolling for Tawana Brawleys, or should I say falling for the right wing equilivant of Tawana Brawleys in an attempt to emulate Sharpton’s tactics. As I pointed out, though, Sharpton fans wouldn’t want to purposefully copy his Brawley fiasco. That was not Sharpton at his rhetorical best but the big error of his career, where he let his tactics sweep him away more than he was using them to sweep others away. A cycnical Sharpton emulator would try to avoid Brawleys but one falling into a Sharpton-like mindset ‘innocently’ would be more susceptible to Brawleys. The rapist Huckabee pardoned was an example and Huckabee was hardly the only one falling for it at the time.

    {BTW, on another list a friend pointed out to me that most of the people who like Obama also liked Clinton. But Clinton was an overweight, fast food loving Southerner who spoke like one. Not a polished Ivy League elitist. Many of the people who claim that Palin is hated by ‘the leftist elite’ because she is like ‘regular Americans’ had all the fun in the world mocking Clinton as a stupid, hickish, hillbilly. }

    Palin derangement syndrome says more about the Palin haters than Palin. You won’t find me teeing off on Huckabee like that. It’s just not appropriate, wise, or helpful.

    See this is what irks me. Notice at no point here has a Palin supporter ever stepped up and told us why Palin is right, why Palin is a good choice for public office given her record of both actions (stepping down before her first term was even finished for inexplicable reasons) and statements (do we really need to go thru them?). Many of her critics have exhaustively taken apart her statements yet that all gets dismissed as “derangement syndrome”. While I don’t doubt you’ll find examples of people on the left making incoherent rants against Palin on the vast Internet, the fact is more often than not “Palin derangement syndrom” is an attempt to dismiss real substantive criticism of Palin without providing anything of substance in return.

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  22. >> So yea being prone to associate only with those who agree with you does leave you more suspectible to view those who disagree not just as people with a different opinion but people who are somehow attacking your or putting you down for which you’re entitled to at least a verbal self defense.

    It’s not that I don’t get your explanation -it’s just that I don’t buy it. It is defining it so low that anything could be called victimization, including actual unfairness. If you speak in terms of substance and identify straw men and unfairness and such you could abandon such a tortured explanation for victimization. You seem to be in love with this explanation, but I can’t see why and I doubt many will find it attractive because of the obvious infinite regress. If you don’t stop this I’ll think I’m being victimized. :) See, doesn’t have any real punch does it?

    >> I believe his (Buckley) point was that the random judgement of people from the street was more reliable for good government than the judgement of experts. But his hypothetical was one of random people. The first ten people in the phonebook may very well include a poly sci professor, or a guy whose hobby is reading academic economics text. He wasn’t arguing for gov’t by an ‘anti-Harvard’ elite made up of people who try to prove how unelite they are by posing as ‘the average man or woman’.

    But before you kept repeating “better than everyone else”, and even here you keep referring to an attitude. You don’t think you have to be better than every one else -that’s an attitude. Elitism is a view that someone trained by recognized experts for a particular job is better *qualified* than someone who isn’t. For example, what if you are trained by non-certified experts, or more to the point is it true for state and local government (or Harvard for Buckley)? There may be an attitude that follows elitism, but it is not the problem since if one actually is better qualified because of training by certified experts then I suppose a dismissive attitude towards those less qualified is justified. False humility isn’t what we’re aiming for here.

    >> My point wasn’t directly about Huckabee, though. It was examples of the right trolling for Tawana Brawleys, or should I say falling for the right wing equilivant of Tawana Brawleys in an attempt to emulate Sharpton’s tactics.

    “It was examples”? Really? Where did you offer examples. I don’t think you think you need any -you certainly aren’t giving any.

    >> {BTW, on another list a friend pointed out to me that most of the people who like Obama also liked Clinton. But Clinton was an overweight, fast food loving Southerner who spoke like one. Not a polished Ivy League elitist.

    Your friend has a firm grasp on the blatantly obvious. Why is this surprising that superficialities like eating habits and fitness habits would determine anything where political agendas are so similar? What’s next .. Shia and Sunni terrorists collaborating? Oh wait …

    >> Many of the people who claim that Palin is hated by ‘the leftist elite’ because she is like ‘regular Americans’ had all the fun in the world mocking Clinton as a stupid, hickish, hillbilly. }

    Bill Cosby is the only one I ever heard do that, and it was distasteful. “Not funny Bill” was what Rush Limbaugh said. This is a straw man. I felt bad for Clinton -it was so rude. I don’t know of anyone that did this sort of thing but Cosby. I think you are starting to believe your own rhetoric.

    >> See this is what irks me. Notice at no point here has a Palin supporter ever stepped up and told us why Palin is right, … the fact is more often than not “Palin derangement syndrom” is an attempt to dismiss real substantive criticism of Palin without providing anything of substance in return.

    No one has stepped up about “why Palin is right”? About what? Everything? How about going case by case? What issues do you care about, and how do your views on these matters differ with hers? Could you please list some of the substantive criticism you claim to have easy access to, before demanding a substantial response? You can’t respond on substance without beginning with substance. That has been my point all along.

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  23. Mark,

    I’m not sure I get your infinite regress argument regarding elitism. My argument is quite simple, those decrying elitism in regards to Palin, Beck and other GOP media stars are quite often exercising their own type of elitism. For example, over on pseudopolymath I was asked why I didn’t recognize that Palin was more ‘like me’ (meaning not rich) than Obama (because he is rich). Let’s leave aside the fact that both Palin and Obama enjoyed higher than average, but not amazingly high, income and became rich when they became best selling authors. What is the mechanics of this assertion? Palin is better because she is ‘like me’ relative to Obama. Why? Not because of any particular policy or set of policies, but supposedly some set of shared traits (lackluster college record?, series of relatively less well paid jobs like weathergirl, having children?) make her better than Obama. This is quite simply elitism (people with those traits are better than those without) combined with some narcissim (people ‘like me’ share the traits of a superior person therefore by supporting their position as elite I’m making myself elite too)

    Now I don’t see much of the reverse. I see next to no one that says “Harvard educated people are better than non-Harvardites”. In fact, if I see leftists praise Obama’s ‘elitist’ credentials it is often combined with the rags to riches stories emphasizing his humble backgrounds, single mother and difficulty in not fitting any easy mold.

    The victimization side is equally as simple. Victimization is either making false claims of being wronged or blowing claims that have some merit out of proportion. This was seen pretty quickly with Palin with rightists jumping to the conclusion that she would be attacked because the left supposedly ‘hates breeders’ or would hate that she didn’t abort her son with Downs syndrom. This continued in a predictable fashion with claims that the left was victimizing the right with an elitism that held that people who don’t live in big cities, don’t live on the coasts (usually defined on the East as DC and North), look down upon ‘Main Street’ and likewise suffer from derangement syndom.

    My point is that the cries of victimization often mask much worse elitism than anything the right can legitimately claim to suffer from. Can you imagine Obama asserting not that rural Americans turn to ‘guns and religion’ in tough times but that they are ‘less pro-American’ than the college educated urban crowd? Can you imagine, on top of that, if instead of frantically apologizing after such a statement simply ignored critics?

    This is especially grating because the supposed ‘elite’ have been quite open. NYC, for example, is home to quite a few outspoken conservatives both high brow and low brow (Sean Hannity’s radio show didn’t take off in in Nevada or South Carolina). The NYT and CNN have given voice to notable conservatives like David Brooks, Pat Buchannan, Robert Novak (I’m going back to the old Crossfire days here). Hell even MSNBC briefly gave Mike Savage a shot. The favor is rarely returned on the right. Palin being interviewed by Katie Kouric is viewed as entering the ‘lions den’ and if a newspaper even asked her off the record to debunk the Bristol story it’s ‘character assassination by the MSM’ while birthers are given winks and nods along the way.

    I’m not sure how you can claim that only Bill Cosby (not a very political person in general) was the only notable one to bash Bill Clinton on the ‘elitist’ grounds that his accent, Southern lifestyle, background didn’t mark him as some type of ‘white trash’? Rush Limbaugh’s accent mockery along could fill half dozen CDs. Many on the right who claim they are standing up against elitism of the coasts and highly educated against the south and middle America had no qualms using the exact tactics they claim against elitists when one rose to power but didn’t agree with their ideology.

    No one has stepped up about “why Palin is right”? About what? Everything? How about going case by case? What issues do you care about, and how do your views on these matters differ with hers?

    Which is interesting because no one does defend Palin here. Palin doesn’t appear to be especially right about anything in particular except she is taking up the cause of those who have been ‘silenced and trampled’. This brings me back to my first point that maybe a little elitism is a good idea here.

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