Saturday, September 27, 2008

More on Palin-Couric

My friend MC dissented from my recent post claiming that Palin's patent ignorance is a feature, not a bug, claiming that the GOP base knows well that Palin looked bad in her interview with Katie Couric. And it's true that, even some of the most serious wingers do seem to agree that there is a problem.

But here's what I think is going on: I agree that the GOP base knows that the exchange with Couric made Palin look bad in the eyes of elitists and liberals. But my point is that this interview didn't make her look bad in their eyes. The general reaction of the base, rather, was "She's more country than I am."

Consider this account of Palin's encounter with a firefighter during her recent tour of Ground Zero:
After the tour, Palin observed a memorial wall with John Morabito, a firefighter with Ladder Company 10.

"She was actually a little emotional because of the firefighters memorial wall," Morabito said. "I think she was sincere with it. She was friendly. I think she actually is a decent person." 

"She seems to be up to date [with] current events and everything that happened on 9/11. She's been given enough information. I'm sure she knows as much as the common American."
While at first glance that statement might not seem like a ringing endorsement, the implication of that line, to my mind, is that knowing "as much as the common American" is all anyone really needs to know. That's the fundamental position of the base: Palin knows what "common Americans" know; and anyone who thinks that that's not enough is an elitist.

In fact, knowing anything more than the "common American" is in itself suspect. In the view of the base, so-called expertise doesn't actually make you any better at making decisions; rather, it's just a tool for lording it over "common Americans." 

In fact, having expertise is worse than useless: because if you have expertise, it means that instead of doing "common American" stuff (like praisin' Jesus, huntin' moose and drivin' snowmachines) you've elected to spend your time doing elitist stuff (like reading books) whose only purpose is to help you put on airs.

In other words, not only is expertise a net zero for decision-making, it's a net negative in terms of your character. After all, since if you've acquired expertise, it means you not only think "common American" know-how isn't good enough, but also that you spend your time doing stuff that doesn't have any point except to put "common Americans" down.

In all honesty, I don't think I'm caricaturing the position of the a sizable swatch of Outer Wingnuttia.

1 comment:

zachawry said...

How's this for a theorem: Not all Palin supporters are ignoramuses (though a case could be made for this as well), but all ignoramuses are Palin supporters.