The Corner

Palin’s Alleged Anti-Intellectualism

Last week I asked what evidence we have that Palin is, as is often said, “anti-intellectual.” Most of the feedback I got came from liberals who maintained that Palin is dumb–which, even if true, isn’t the same thing. One or two readers made the valid point that some of the arguments people have made in favor of Palin belittle the importance of intelligence and learning. But again, that does not establish that Palin is hostile to the life of the mind.

A friend pointed me to Noam Scheiber’s article on Palin. The Palin of Scheiber’s portrayal certainly fits the label: She seethes with class and intellectual resentments. (The article does not attempt to disentangle the two.) But all of the evidence the article presents for this view comes from political enemies of Palin. They don’t really even provide first-hand accounts of her flaws in action so much as they offer characterizations of what was going on inside her head. Scheiber concludes, “Could Sarah Palin despise Anne Kilkenny because Kilkenny once suggested she refrain from chewing gum? I’d like to believe it’s not true. But I’m honestly not so sure.” Okay. But Kilkenny got wide attention for circulating an email trashing Palin after her selection as McCain’s running mate. How much do we want to bank on her impressions?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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