(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Yesterday I wrote about an anti-Palin elitist who actually reveled in being an elitist. But equally funny are the elitists who insist that they're not elitists, and that because they aren't qualified to be vice president, neither can Sarah Palin be. Their argument is that precisely because so many people immediately connected to Sarah Palin on some subjective, visceral level, that must mean Sarah Palin is not exceptional, but rather exceptionally common — and therefore unqualified.
Exhibit A of this species is Michelle Cottle, a senior editor at The New Republic since 1999. Ms. Cottle wrote the following vivid paragraph yesterday on TNR's The Plank blog as part of her response, titled "Spare Me Your Reverse Snobbery," to an anti-elitist (pro-Palin) op-ed by Ralph Peters in the NY Post (caps and italics hers):
Just like Ralph Peters, I KNOW Sarah Palin. Hell, in my younger days, I WAS Sarah Palin. (Well, minus being a crack shot.) The difference is I don't fetishize my regular-gal roots and assume they make me special — much less qualified to run the country. And while I have indeed witnessed my fair share of cultural snobbery from some of my better-credentialed, coastal colleagues over the years, I'm not so defensive about where I come from that I feel the need to champion a wildly unqualified fellow hick whose politics I disagree with as a way to get back at everyone I know who has ever made a sniffy comment about big hair or small towns.
Nice and snarky, that bit about Ms. Cottle not being a "crack shot." Indeed, that's the kernel of truth buried in the midst of an otherwise undigested analysis.
And although Ms. Cottle's post doesn't mention it, there have been many reports in the last few weeks (e.g., here and here) of young women and girls showing up at McCain-Palin rallies wearing tee-shirts or carrying signs that read: "I am Sarah Palin!" So Ms. Cottle's feigned identification with Gov. Palin — at least as Ms. Cottle remembers herself from her own "younger days" — does have some real-world analogs, which I think we can presume are sincere (even if Ms. Cottle would think them pathetic).
[# More #] Now, I have no idea whether Ms. Cottle has met or mastered any of the challenges of being a wife and a middle-class mom, much less a working-outside-the-home mom; so let's give her the benefit of the doubt on those counts and just presume that she has. And Ms. Cottle's own educational credentials, including her BA in English from Vanderbilt in 1992, aren't as shabby as her post makes out, and certainly they're no less prestigious than Gov. Palin's 1987 degree in journalism from the University of Idaho.
But thereafter, Ms. Cottle appears to have been busy pursuing a career as a leftist journalist and pundit — with stints as an editor at Washington Monthly, an editorial fellow at Mother Jones, and a free-lancer for various newspapers, magazines, and CNN — in which pursuits I'm sure she collected a nice sheaf of clippings, some video clips with Tucker Carlson, many loyal friends and colleagues, and some modest fame (albeit that mostly among fans of leftie pundits). And that's all very nice. Good for Ms. Cottle, I say.
In the meantime, by comparison, Gov. Palin was busy pursuing a career as a multi-term city councilman; then a multi-term city mayor and head of the Alaska Conference of Mayors; then an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor; then the chair and ethics officer of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission; then a private-citizen reformer who drove from state office first an ethically challenged fellow commissioner and then an ethically challenged attorney-general; then a successful candidate for governor who defeated, in succession, an ethically challenged incumbent and a popular former governor; and then a successful governor who, in less than two years, has helped enact comprehensive ethics reforms, completely revised her state's most important tax structure, and accomplished more than any single other American public servant of any rank or party to help bring us closer to national energy independence, all the while maintaining stratospheric public approval ratings among her home-state constituents.
So yeah, other than all that, and of course the "crack shot" status — Michelle Cottle and Sarah Palin are pretty much twins!
As for all this speculation about Barack Obama dropping Joe Biden from the Democratic ticket and replacing him with a powerful, accomplished woman to counter John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, my advice to Sen. Obama is: Forget about Hillary. Go for another regular gal — Michelle Cottle! After all, if Ms. Cottle is right, just about any
wildly unqualified fellow hick modest American woman could do what Sarah Palin's done, including electrifying a national political convention in a coming-out speech watched by 40 million Americans, energizing and unifying a dispirited national political party, and drawing tens of thousands of new enthusiasts to campaign rallies — even if, well, Ms. Cottle herself hasn't quite gotten around to any of that. Indeed, I'll be watching for those "I am Michelle Cottle" tee-shirts in the very near future.
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