Thursday, November 04, 2010

Paying the Bill for Obama's Elitism

I do not know if it would have made a different in the elections. I doubt it but at the margin there is no doubt that Obama's elitism hurts. It was displayed most prominently during the BP disaster. For me, though, the biggest missed opportunity was the Kagan appointment. Just think what a difference it would have made if he appointed an equally qualified southerner mid-westerner or rust belter . Maybe someone with an actual drawl! Just the photo ops would have been worth votes at least in the appointee's home state. Instead we get a privileged ex-Harvard dean. This Times article covers some of the problem. As it notes, Obama was not raised to be an elitist. Instead it was an acquired characteristic.

In some ways, everything works against him. I've know some pretty unpleasant people who get away with it because of a perpetual smile, an aw shucks manner or a boyish or girlish facial structure. And then there are people like Obama who seem stuck with a stern look, seem always stiff, and are so careful in their wording that it becomes excruciating to listen to. It's so bad that even the imagery of just having a beer does not work. These things he cannot control and it is ashamed. Somewhere in there there may be a non elitist who is afraid to show it because he has invested so much in getting the role right.

Unfortunately, now others pay the price.


Me said...

Watching Obama having a beer is like watching Dukakis ride in that tank.

Me said...

If this was truly his problem, why didn't this hurt him in 2008? Were people simply not familiar enough with him? Did he keep it hidden or did he change?

David R. Maass said...

As far as Supreme Court candidates go, the leading candidate from the Midwest the last time around was Merrick Garland, who was said to have a folksy demeanor, but he was also a double Harvard graduate, so I doubt he would have fit the bill. Perhaps better would have been Diane Wood, who got both her bachelor's and law degree from UT.

With respect to Obama, the turning point for me was when he made the "bitter clingers" statement during the campaign. I wasn't particularly offended, but I honestly thought after reading his first book that Obama was wiser and more sensitive than that. The idea that American gun culture and widespread religious practice are products of poverty and a lack of education are such shopworn liberal elitist tropes that it was disappointing to see Obama swallow them whole.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

In response to the two comments above. I think it did not hurt him eariler because of the Palin distraction and he had not made as many high level decisions.

In response to other S.Ct. candidates. The problem is not Harvard per se but the image projected. "Folksy" is a perfect description. It is possible to attend an elite school but not be elitist.