The Corner

My Anti-Populism

I’m getting a lot of email like this:

The populist streak in America — which I tend to dislike

KA-BOOM! Man alive does that line demand a G-file or two (maybe six). Cripes, my whole love of your writing and much of what I read on NRO is what I consider its populism. George Bush is the first truly populist conservative of my lifetime, or as Mark Steyn put it, Bush is the triumph of the vernacular conservative over the patrician conservative. Vernacular, populist…aren’t we talking about the same thing here?

You guys at NRO has absorbed way too much of my time from day to day, but you have pulled it off for so many readers because you get to write about this populist president. The snubbing of academic and media elite by this president has opened mansions of humor via hubris on the elite left that no other president could have opened. I mean could you have written half of the funny stuff you have written over the past three years if you had been writing under Bush 41? Even Reagan—he was a conservative but certainly still a big state dinner president and much more at home with the patrician right.

On the more serious side it’s this vernacular stuff that allows this president to act on the foreign policy scene. Does anyone think this president frets over how he’ll be received in Belgium? Qadaffi surrendered precisely because he didn’t think this was a president who could be reasUNed with.

Anyway, I’m sure I’m missing your point but I’d love to hear it.

Me: I’m heading out the door to do a radio thingy and then get on a plane. But my short answer is that this has always been a theme of my columns. I like elitism, I just dislike the current elite. If forced to choose between the wisdom of the American people and the faculty of Brown University, I’ll side with the American people. But that doesn’t mean I think we shouldn’t have standards, experts, elites, hierarchies etc. Remember, I believe in censorship. The American people deserve a better elite than the one we’ve got. I can expand on this more later if people care. But that’s basically the deal.

Oh, and the notion that Bush — son of a president and all that — doesn’t come from a conservative elite strikes me as an idea worth discussing. Just not now.