The Corner

Culture

On Snobbery

Former President Barack Obama (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Writing in Areo, Michael Blatt takes me to task for . . . I’m not entirely sure what. I don’t think he is, either.  

He writes:

Many conservatives have defended Trump no matter how low he has stooped, and attacked the upholders of standards as elitists. . . . National Review columnist Kevin Williamson suggests that critics of Trump who think that President Obama was more dignified in office are ‘snobs.’” This is an invention. I did not write any such thing. It is simply made up. He adds: “Kevin Williamson calls [Robert Francis O’Rourke] a ‘snob.’” This, too, is simply made up.  

His article purports to be an exploration of “anti-elitism” on the Right and the ways in which it is used in defense of President Trump, which is an odd context in which to find myself cited. (“Ridiculous buffoon with the worst taste since Caligula,” I believe were my words.) The article of mine he references reads in part:  

The Democratic party is the political home of snobbery, a word and a concept often misunderstood. Snobbery does not refer to the cultivated preferences of those refined persons who order the ’82 Bordeaux because it is their mothers’ milk or who have an iTunes library full of Liszt because the sound of Cardi B fills them with discomfort and anxiety. . . The snob isn’t a man of exacting tastes, but a poseur: The word derives from an older English word for a shoemaker’s apprentice and is intended to convey contempt for vulgar social climbers who aped the manners and tastes of the upper classes. 

There is a peculiar paradox at the heart of modern progressivism: Progressives, especially Democratic candidates for office, claim to speak for the poor, the low-income, the marginalized, those born and raised without the benefits and (inevitable word) privilege of a Bush or a Romney or a McCain. But, at the same time, there is nothing they hate worse than somebody who comes from such a background entering public life: You’ll recall the sneering at Sarah Palin’s education — six years spread out over four colleges, none of them very good ones. There are many good criticisms to be made of Sarah Palin and the shtick into which she eventually sank, but she is a self-made woman who entered public service in one of the least glamorous and least lucrative ways, as mayor of a small city — as thankless a job as there is in elected office. She was ridiculed as a “snowbilly” and worse. 

 . . . Dan Quayle was mocked for his night-school law degree, sometimes by reporters who could barely spell their own names; Richard Nixon was condescended to by the Harvard elite he hated so intensely; Ronald Reagan’s education at Eureka College was held up for scorn. 

I myself am an unapologetic elitist; I am only pointing out the contradiction.

Blatt is of course wildly mischaracterizing my views, either through laziness or intellectual dishonesty. He should correct himself, and maybe stick to writing about something he is more easily able to understand. 

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