A Matter of Degree

04Oct08

In a column in the Huffington Post, Michael Seitzman says that Sarah Palin, along with her running mate, is evidence of a conservative attack on education and the intellect.

Conservatives have long sent their sons and daughters to our greatest universities, but now they’ve decided to surrender those admirable values in exchange for pandering to the people they endeavor to inspire. The Republican party’s contrived contempt and manufactured mistrust of intellect is not only counter to what they’ve always believed, but is terribly dangerous to the country they claim to put first. To indoctrinate a nation to renounce education and intellect is to shamefully discourage and suppress the very thing that America has not only historically exalted but needs so desperately right now.

This misses the point I think, and does so deliberately. There is no evidence that the GOP is waging any such war, or that they would not find Sarah Palin to be an even more exciting and powerful addition to the McCain campaign were she sporting a degree from Harvard Law. They’d be drooling.

They talk about teaching our children to compete in the global economy and international relations and yet they present us with a vice presidential candidate who has to memorize talking points and cynically condescend to us with winks and “doggonits” in order to conceal her astounding and terrifying lack of genuine knowledge.

The problem isn’t that conservatives don’t respect the intellect, but rather, that liberals believe it trumps all. Sarah Palin’s 13 years in public office means nothing to them, even though her career was entirely her own invention, done without the benefit of training or pedigree. She got to the governor’s seat not because she was taken under the wing of the powerful, but because she was willing to challenge the ugliness of power long entrenched. This earns her nothing but the disdain of liberals, who judge her based on her starting point in life, not the point to which she has ascended under the power of her own abilities and drive.

They are impressed, instead, by the one who was raised to attend and succeed at fine schools, and then did. They mock Palin’s natural Alaska accent, which embarrasses them, but they don’t question where one acquires a hip-hop sort of drawl while being raised in Hawaii and Indonesia and attending Columbia and Harvard Law. Hawaii and Indonesia feel exotic and hip – Alaska feels middle class and pedestrian. Not the right imagery for the enlightened.

What we are seeing is old-fashioned classism, a trait the Ivy League crowd should recognize and run from more readily – one that education is supposed to dispense with. How unsophisticated the highly educated can be with their snobbery.

Ironically, Joe Biden is the very type of person Sarah Palin aspires to be, a “real American” who tirelessly works for his country, never forgets where he’s from, and constantly looks forward to where we should be going. One thing is certain, Sarah Palin is no Joe Biden.

Liberals aren’t excited about Barack Obama because of his experience – they can’t be. He served just 8 years in the Illinois state senate – a period which constitutes, effectively, his entire leadership resume, since he started running for president almost immediately after joining the U.S. Senate in January of 2005. It is the time at Harvard Law that is the trick for liberals. Give them a degree and an erudite speaking style, and those of great intellect and education turn into groupies, fawning over the latest fad. Take away Harvard Law, and Barack doesn’t make it to the state senate, forget about the White House. It is liberals who have a problem with weighing the value of education, not conservatives.

One conservative journalist said that Palin didn’t learn the easy way by going to Harvard, she learned the hard way, on the streets. I guess if I ever need open-heart surgery I won’t go to one of those doctors who learned the easy way in medical school. I want someone who learned surgical technique on the streets of Wasilla.

The fascinating part of Barack’s ‘career’ is that with all his talents and training there is not one achievement for supporters to point to as evidence of a leader. He is the surgeon who hasn’t gone to medical school! His service in the state senate – like his law career, his three years as a community organizer and his time in Washington – is without great achievement, devoid of leadership – and worse, lacking any evidence of even the desire to lead. There is the trail of a man eager for power, but too in love with it to ever risk losing it by putting it to good use.

Is Sarah Palin really the best and the brightest? Shouldn’t a leader inspire us by example, be curious as well as ambitious, humble as well as formidable, gracious as well as robust, and learned as well as knowable?

Sarah has inspired by example, as has John McCain. Barack has not. He inspires with words. A great ability for a leader to have, no doubt, but not evidence, by itself, of a leader. Curiosity, humility and graciousness are all nice sounding traits that Palin may or may not possess – but they’re hardly at the top of the list of presidential qualifications, nor do they appear often in people in hot pursuit of the presidency.

Change is not likely to be achieved by one who is saving his first attempt at affecting it for the highest office in the world. Barack entrance onto the national stage is followed not by a trail of results, but rather, one of blind ambition. Which, if you ignore his unique lack of qualifications for the job, makes him sound remarkably like more of the same.

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One Response to “A Matter of Degree”

  1. 1 Anonymous

    These so-called elitists do nothing but exploit the class of people they truely disdain in order to get votes. Hypocrits!


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