“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared,” he told a roomful of doctors who chipped in at least $15,200 each to Democratic coffers. “And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be.”
The notion that voters would reject Democrats only because they don’t understand the facts prompted a round of recriminations — “Obama the snob,” read the headline on a Washington Post column by Michael Gerson, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush — and fuelled the underlying argument of the campaign that ends Tuesday. For all the discussion of health care and spending and jobs, at the core of the nation’s debate this fall has been the battle of elitism.
Mr. Obama’s remark that autumn evening played into a perception promoted by his critics that he is a Harvard-educated millionaire elitist who is sure that he knows best and thinks that those who disagree just aren’t in their right minds. Never mind that Mr. Obama was raised in less exalted circumstances by a single mother who he said once needed food stamps. Or that although he went to private school, he took years to pay off his college loans. Something about Mr. Obama’s cerebral confidence has made him into a symbol of something he never used to be.
What all of those who attempt to refute the charge that Obama isn’t the product of an elite background haven’t–or won’t–realise is that the method one employs to become an accepted elitist snob has changed in the U.S. Today it’s the holding of educational credentials–and the cursus honorum that follows therefrom, high income results or not–that makes one a legitimate elitist snob. Obama’s inveterate “president as anthropologist” only sticks the knife in further.
The fact that American people elected him in 2008 with this fact obvious is indicative of a change in the psyche of the U.S. The fact that the voters are having “buyer’s remorse” two years later reflect a) the economy, where Obama’s idea of success and the American people’s diverge and b) the change in the mix of the electorate from a presidential year to an “off-year.” You can get away with being an insufferable snob if the result you deliver is pleasing to your audience, but this hasn’t happened in the last two years.
And, just to be hopelessly repetitive, I’ll take another swipe at this kind of thinking:
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was lambasted in television ads as “another rich liberal elitist” during the 2004 presidential campaign, used similar language in his introduction of Mr. Obama at the Boston fund-raiser two weeks ago. “Facts, science, truth seem to be significantly absent from what we call our political dialogue,” he said.
John Kerry comes closer to being an elitist snob in both the older and the newer methods of becoming one than Barack Obama does. But his–and Obama’s–endless appeal to “science” is a farce. If the left is serious about increasing the scientific level of our country, they would begin by running more people with scientific and technical backgrounds, and the Ivy League produces such people if that’s an absolute requirement. We’ll never have really scientific results until we have scientific people in our government, the way our Chinese counterparts do. But I’m not holding my breath on this.