For people who think there’s no cultural divide in this country, consider the treatment of two women much in the news in 2008.
The first is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. A woman from very humble roots and with a very blue-collar life story, she worked with her steelworker and professional-fisherman husband to provide a life for their large family. She got involved in the PTA. She became mayor of her small town, then rose, by dint of her dedication and almost naive fearlessness, to the job of governor. In a mainstream, almost romantic sense, it’s almost like she was designed by God for a Hallmark movie of the week.
But, when John McCain picked her to be his running mate, the full fury of the liberal establishment — and sizable swaths of the conservative establishment, some of whom dubbed her a “cancer” on the GOP — came down on her with a vengeance usually reserved for Klansmen and pedophiles. Don’t get me wrong: There were valid criticisms to make. But that is quite a different thing than saying all of the criticism was valid or that the intensity and volume of the criticism was warranted.
Then there’s Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy, sister of John Jr., niece of Senators Ted and Robert Kennedy, granddaughter of Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, and the cousin of myriad other Kennedys and Shrivers who’ve burrowed deep into the timber of the house of liberalism. A multimillionaire from birth, Ms. Kennedy has spent most of her life on the charity-benefit and cotillion circuit. A product of the Brearley School in New York and the Concord Academy in Massachusetts before she attended Harvard and Columbia, Kennedy has made the importance of public education her signature cause.
Sweet Caroline (she was the inspiration for the Neil Diamond song) recently made it known that she would like to be appointed to Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat.
One could say without fear of overstating things that the liberal reaction to the inexperienced Caroline has been somewhat more gracious than the reaction to the “inexperienced” Palin. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post has devoted two columns in as many weeks to this “fairy tale” scenario in which Kennedy, our “tragic national princess,” is finally rewarded — for her years of quiet dignity, selflessly avoiding scandal and the paparazzi — with the Senate seat that once belonged to her uncle Bobby. What’s astounding about the normally sensible Marcus’s case for “the Cinderella Kennedy” (New York magazine’s phrase) is that she doesn’t really make one, at least not on the merits. Marcus doesn’t even bother. It’s all schoolgirl gushing.