Palin and the Elites

Is it just me, or does anyone else get the sense that Andrew Sullivan didn’t even bother to read Ross’s latest column before he came out spluttering at it? I mean, how is it possible for someone to write a “rehash of the Nixonian class resentments and Rovian cynicism” when he criticizes the “Mrs. Spiro Agnew” role that Palin played in the McCain campaign, or simply blame “her elitist enemies” for her downfall when he admits that the American democratic ideal was “tarnished by Palin herself, obviously”? Like the game lately played by Governor Palin herself, it appears that this is a contest that the Palin-sympathizing commentator simply can’t win.

Similarly, here is the inimitable Freddie deBoer, taking issue with Ross’s take on Palin’s by-her-bootstraps rise to prominence:

Ross– Sarah Palin’s family makes better than five times the national median household income. Five times! The Palins own a huge mansion, four other properties, two boats and a plane! I will never be as rich as the Palins, in all likelihood. Hell, the odds are pretty good that any three readers of this blog combined made less than half what the Palins made last year. There is no earthly sense in which “lower class” can retain any meaning and include Sarah Palin.

Uhh, Freddie? What Ross said was that Palin grew up to be a great success story, which is not at all incompatible with her having, and retaining the very evident marks of, her small-town, middle- (note that Ross did not say “lower-”) class, humbly-educated background. Criticizing Palin’s startling lack of policy knowledge and almost total inability to communicate positions effectively is one thing, but calling her “slutty” and mocking her “white trash concupiscence” is quite another, and naturally opens the way for columns like this one: for no unbiased observer can seriously deny that Palin’s class and gender were consistently seized on in the attempts to discredit her, and no one who takes the democratic ideal seriously should look back at that saga without some real concern for the role that class plays in American politics.

In any case, when it all shakes out I pretty much agree 100% with Radley Balko:

It is possible that Sarah Palin was both unfairly mistreated and personally attacked by the media and many on the left, and that her family was rather ruthlessly and mercilessly run through the ringer . . . and that she’s a not particularly bright, not particularly curious, once libertarian-leaning governor who sadly devolved into a predictable, buzzword spouting culture warrior when she was prematurely picked for national office by John McCain.

This is, I think, pretty much the same thing that Ross was saying, albeit with more emphasis on the first conjunct than the second. That someone who devoted thousands of words to speculating about whether Sarah Palin faked a pregnancy can read Ross’s column and come away complaining about Rovian cynicism is a pretty hilarious example of false consciousness.

(Cross-posted at Upturned Earth.)