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Are Anti-Palin Intellectuals Anti-Intelligence?

Are Anti-Palin Intellectuals Anti-Intelligence?

Every now and then, someone writes something that says exactly what I wanted to say had I said it. An article by Yuval Levin in Commentary Magazine, titled “The Meaning of Sarah Palin” so well expresses my disgust at the treatment of Sarah Palin, that I’ll simply give you some of the better passages from the article:

Applied to politics, the worldview of the intellectual elite begins from an unstated assumption that governing is fundamentally an exercise of the mind: an application of the proper mix of theory, expertise, and intellectual distance that calls for knowledge and verbal fluency more than for prudence born of life’s hard lessons.

Sarah Palin embodied a very different notion of politics, in which sound instincts and valuable life experiences are considered sources of knowledge at least the equal of book learning. She is the product of an America in which explicit displays of pride in intellect are considered unseemly, and where physical prowess and moral constancy are given a higher place than intellectual achievement. She was in the habit of stressing these faculties instead—a habit that struck many in Washington as brutishness.

This is why Palin was seen as anti-intellectual when, properly speaking, she was simply non-intellectual. What she lacked was not intelligence—she is, clearly, highly intelligent—but rather the particular set of assumptions, references, and attitudes inculcated by America’s top twenty universities and transmitted by the nation’s elite cultural organs….

It is for this reason that Barack Obama, who actually has far less experience in executive governance than Palin, was not dismissed as unprepared for the presidency. Palin may have been elected governor of Alaska, but his peers in Cambridge had elected Obama editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is thoroughly fluent in the parlance of the college town, and in the eyes of the new American elite, Washington is the ultimate college town.

The reaction of the intellectual elite to Sarah Palin was far more provincial than Palin herself ever has been, and those who reacted so viscerally against her evinced little or no appreciation for an essential premise of democracy: that practical wisdom matters at least as much as formal education, and that leadership can emerge from utterly unexpected places. The presumption that the only road to power passes through the Ivy League and its tributaries is neither democratic nor sensible, and is, moreover, a sharp and wrongheaded break from the American tradition of citizen governance.

The politics in this country is like a simmering pot. The boiling water represents the desire of people to be left alone and to make their own way in life. The cover on the pot is the set of liberal assumptions which tells people that they have no right to lead life the way they want, and that those who have assumed the reigns of power know better. My sense is that the tighter that lid is pressed — by attacking people like Sarah Palin, by forcing government into every aspect of our lives, by appointing people like Tom Daschle who have milked the system dry — the more likely it is the pot will boil over.

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Comments

I know you didn’t write the article, but since you cosigned its overall message, please provide an example of how she is “clearly, highly intelligent”. It boggles my mind how anyone could listen to her speak and think she’s “highly intelligent”.

Yes. They are. They are elitist.

Samples – she demonstrates skill and knowledge of running a state. She is incredibly knowledgeable of energy policies. She has an excellent grasp on fiscal policies, because under her leadership she was able to build a savings fund which has prevented Alaska from being in as poor shape as other states.

She also demonstrates something that many of these elitists lack – common sense, which apparently isn’t very common.

William – I found you through the Conservative Web Brigade (of which I’m now a member). Feel free to check out my blog, Caffeinated Thoughts. I subscribed to your blog and look forward to reading more!

What’s wrong with how she speaks? She says what she means, unlike most other politicians. So she may not be as eloquent at The One when he has a teleprompter, but that is the point of the article I quote. Defining intelligence based on a narrow concept of book knowledge and snarky (the liberal phrase of the year) smarts rather than experience and common sense, is narrow minded.

And Caffeinated Thoughts, thanks.

Samples, here’s this from liberal feminist writer Elaine Lafferty (I posted on it here:

“Sarah Palin is very smart. . . .

“Now by ‘smart,’ I don’t refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don’t really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a ‘quick study’; I’d heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her ‘confidence’ is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.”

And here’s the redoubtable liberal feminist college professor Camille Paglia (my post on this is here):

“I like Sarah Palin, and I’ve heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is—and quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn’t speak the King’s English—big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist.”

Dr. Jacobson, I just found your blog through a link from Caffeinated Thoughts; I’ll definitely have to spend some time wandering around.

Parochialism, what people do to defend thee!

Yes ,Sarah may be smart , she is the very definition of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing . Yes, she can manage a budget and knows how to manipulate emotions out of pure instinct. That is the least and I mean the very least that I expect from my leaders . What she is not however is educated . I have worked with many bright young people on the streets that can manage a budget like crazy , that can run a small buisness franchise better then most millionaires and they too have incredible life experience and uncomprimising gut instincts. But like Ms. Palin they have no real education and can be lead by the nose and convinced of all manner of wrong headed notions like Mother Theresa is an advesary that needed to die or even that witch doctors can controll the morality of an entire town with prayer. it is thier whole hearted embraceing of such Idiotic ideas like “if only the jews could be gotten rid of we would be okay ” , or “we only have to fight the whore of baybylon in the Himalayas” that coming shining out of the eyes of the rigteously ignorant that leads the rest of the great unwashed uneducated into folowing a “follower”
and that is what Sarah Palin is at best, the same as George Bush a follower in emperors clothes . and the Last thing this country needs is another worshiper at the altar of mediocrity .

That last comment was clearly written by someone who knows nothing about Gov. Palin beyond what the badly-biased media have told her. Go do a little research on the woman before you write about her, eh? Maybe then you won’t be “the very definition of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

Lisette, if there were such a thing as an altar of mediocrity, I would nominate you as the first to be sacrificed upon it. What a lot of paranoid drivel.

I'm with "Samples". It boggles the mind when i hear conservatives say that Sarah Palin is "clearly, highly intelligent". Like many people. I've watched her performance closely since she was nominated to be John McCain's VP candidate. And I honestly have never seen any evidence that Sarah Palin is intelligent in any commonly understood meaning of the word.

She can barely construct a coherent sentence. She answers questions with meaningless word salads. Her understanding of foreign policy is childish in the extreme. She can't even tell you what newspapers she reads. She winks and wiggles like a beauty queen, but this hardly qualifies as "intelligence".

If this is what conservatives consider to be some kind of genius, they are in more trouble than any of us think.

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