Dude-pundits Joe Scarborough, Matt Labash, and others have been putting the "bully" in "bully pulpit" when talking about Sarah Palin's presidential dreams, says Washington Post Colbert I. King. Their opposition to Palin "smacks of ... elitism," he says. Yeah?
King's not a Palin fan, so don't get him wrong. "But the notion of a phalanx of conservative elites—Palin called them 'blue bloods'—standing between her and the GOP nomination because they perceive her as inferior in intellect and social and political standing is pure snobbery," he writes, pointing to Palin's skills as a pol, star power, and following.
What do you think? One one hand, it does seem like Palin's gender has made her more of a target for ridicule than some equally kooky politicians who are male. Take Iowa Congressman Steve King (please!), who has expressed his concern that legalizing gay marriage would lead to America's children being raised in warehouses. This is not the only crazy thing King has said! He doesn't seem to tweet as often as Palin does, but he regularly unleashes opinions that combine racism, homophobia, and paranoia into exciting new forms of crazy. Yet he is not always in the news like Palin is—which you can blame her and her PR machine, in part, but also the media. (And King is still a government official—his beliefs have actual policy-related consequences.)
On the other hand, Palin deserves to be criticized if she does and says things worthy of criticism. Just because she's a popular political celebrity doesn't mean she gets a free pass. Calling her out isn't "elitist," it's necessary—especially when she's striving for elite levels of power. Colbert King's argument comes off sounding a bit patronizing: he's defending her from people who aren't taking her as a serious presidential candidate, when maybe it's because she shouldn't be considered a presidential candidate. He seems to be falling for Palin's public image as a representative of some average-Joe America who, it is true, often do get dismissed by elites. But the myth of Palin's Real-Americaness has already been thoroughly debunked so many times, that I'm having flashbacks to 2008 when we all didn't know this about her.
Because of her popularity and wealth, Palin is part of the conservative elite. If other conservative elites discredit her bid for the presidency, it's not because they're being snobs—it's because they're being cannibalistic. King's reference to H.L. Mencken's "the plain folks of the land" has a place, but it's not here.
Sarah Palin's meanest critics: The conservative elite [Washington Post]