Saturday, September 13, 2008

Charles Krauthammer: Anti-snob snob

In his most recent opinion piece, Charles Krauthammer goes after ABC's Charlie Gibson not only for being a condescending snob towards Sarah Palin, but also for being supposedly wrong about what the "Bush Doctrine" means. He goes after Gibson as a means to mount a feeble defense of Sarah Palin's excruciatingly painful-to-watch moment in her interview with Gibson. Krauthammer defends Palin by pointing out that Gibson was apparently wrong about the Bush Doctrine being the policy of "anticipatory defense" or the right to engage in preemptive warfare to protect US Security. But Krauthammer is forced to note that Gibson is not really wrong, just that Gibson was referring to one of four stages in what is known as the "Bush Doctrine." If Krauthammer believes that most Americans don't think of the Bush Doctrine in the way that Gibson does, then I would say that Krauthammer is demonstrating a bit of intellectual elitism and snobbery himself. For the fact of the matter is that nearly everyone thinks of the Bush Doctrine as Gibson does -- the policy of preemptive warfare. But I want to comment specifically on Krauthammer's concluding paragraph. Here, Krauthammer writes:

Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it [the Bush Doctrine] is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.
First, Charlie Gibson is not putting himself out there to become our next Vice President and second in line to the most powerful political position in the world. Second, what seems to bother Krauthammer more is that Gibson didn't know all four of the interpretations of the Bush Doctrine that Krauthammer outlines in his article. But what bothers me about Krauthammer is that he seems completely dismissive of the fact, which he directly admits, that Sarah Palin didn't know any of the interpretations of the Bush Doctrine. In fact, it was as if she hadn't even heard of the phrase before. And yet Krauthammer writes as if there is some value in a Vice-Presidential candidates complete and utter lack of awareness of this concept because "at least she didn't pretend to know." If that's not a clear case of "damning with faint praise," I don't know what would be. And, finally, what is Krauthammer's article itself if not his own version of "weary disdain" and his own perfect capturing of "the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes" towards someone who got the most common understanding of the "Bush Doctrine" right. The fact that Krauthammer fails to recognize that most of us think as Gibson does about the "Bush Doctrine," and not as he does, tells us more about Krauthammer's disconnect with any other regular "mother of five" who pretends to "play on his stage."

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