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Jon Meacham's Palin Problem

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In his cover story for the October 13, 2008 issue of Newsweek, managing editor Jon Meacham continues the media’s relentless personal attacks on Governor Palin, characterizing her as the equivalent of the fourth century Roman political hero Cincinnatus without brains, further describing her as “…an odd combination of Chauncey Gardiner from ‘Being There’ and Marge from ‘Fargo.’” In Meacham’s elitist worldview, Governor Palin is mindless because she is a conservative woman.

What, you ask, warrants such viciousness from the normally mild-mannered Episcopalian editor of Newsweek? With a mocking tone, Meacham quotes an “unnamed McCain adviser”: “Palin is on the ticket because she connects with everyday Americans.”

Meacham, it seems, is shocked to discover that Republican presidential candidate John McCain actually made a political decision when he tapped Palin to be his veep, believing—rightly I turns out—that by choosing Palin the Republican base would be energized while capturing the imaginations of independent and undecided voters. It’s as if Meacham believes he has discovered the October surprise which will be the sinking of the McCain campaign: Politics influences McCain’s choice of a VP!

While rightly surmising that the point he is making may be construed as elitist, Meacham digs his hole deeper by asking: “Do we want leaders who are everyday folks, or do we want leaders who understand everyday folks?” Just how far down his nose were his glasses when Meacham typed those words?

Is Mr. Meacham suggesting it is only elites like him—and Barack Obama and Joe Biden—who can truly connect with ordinary Americans? Is he further making the ridiculous claim that an ordinary American really has no idea what it is like to be an ordinary American? Maybe his view is that only people with Ivy League credentials can truly understand the needs, longings and aspirations of ordinary Americans? Or is it rather Mr. Meacham’s view that ordinary Americans like you and me need extraordinary elitists like him to tell us what our needs, longings, and aspirations should be? Did Mr. Meacham actually assert that Governor Palin is mindless because she is a woman who connects with everyday Americans? Does Mr. Meacham believe that all everyday Americans—especially everyday American women—are mindless?

Mr. Meacham has done us all a favor. He has confirmed what we have widely suspected. The liberal elite problem with Palin as represented by Meacham isn’t that they believe Governor Palin unqualified to be vice-president. After all, people with elite levels of education can readily see that she has more executive experience than the ACORN affiliated community organizer who is at the top of the Democrat ticket for president.

The real problem elitists like Meacham have with Governor Palin is that she has achieved success as a female politician without sacrificing her morals at the altar of liberalism to gain the credentials required by the media elite.

Yes, Jon, Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans because she, like millions of ordinary American women, has managed to balance work and home without abandoning her husband. Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans who believe every life—from the moment of conception—is a valuable life, resisting the cultural pressure to exterminate the baby she is carrying in her womb because elites like you view children like Trig as a burden on society. Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans who haven’t lost one moment’s sleep mulling over which Supreme Court decisions they most disagree with. Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans because she buys diapers at Wal-Mart, which elites like you seem to view as Saks for trailer trash. Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans because she hasn’t perfected the art of looking down her nose at us when she speaks, even though she looks great in those Kawasaki specs. Governor Palin connects with everyday Americans who rely on sources other than the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS News, and Newsweek to keep them informed about the world. Governor Palin connects with every day Americans who opt for “Darn it all” and “You betcha” over “merci beaucoup.”

Meacham’s Palin problem is that she lacks the liberal credentials elitists require for those who aspire to high office. That’s good news for me and you. That makes Sarah one of us. Someone needs to shout it loud that Jon Meacham has exposed himself not only as an elitist, but a chauvinist, as well.

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