Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Reverse Snobbery

I haven't seen Michael Kinsley weigh in on the "elitism" angle of the cat fight amongst conservatives over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, but I hope that he does. It reached a new high, or perhaps low, yesterday when Jonah Goldberg posted the credentials of Hugh Hewitt:
Hewitt graduated from Harvard College cum laude with a degree in Government in 1978. He was Order of the Coif at the University of Michigan Law School and received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1983, magna cum laude. Hewitt clerked for Judges Roger Robb and George MacKinnon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1983-84, and then went on to serve as Special Assistant to Attorneys General William French Smith and Edwin Meese, Assistant Counsel in the White House Counsel's Office, General Counsel for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, where he finished his career in the Reagan Administration as Deputy Director of the agency, having been confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate . . .

Goldberg added, "Ah yes, those Harvard alum, Coif-ordered, presidential library-building, appeals court clerking, Justice Department working, . . . men of the people really have us National Review aristocrats dead to rights." Hewitt replied saying that "an Ohio-born and raised Cleveland Indians and Browns fan cannot be an elitist. Further, my argument has been with the Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism, and not an argument about snobbery."

Actually, Hewitt is engaging in reverse snobbery. He's just a regular guy, working stiff from Cleveland -- a Browns fan. Ignore Harvard etc. Republicans and conservatives have been engaging in this with a great deal of political success in recent years. Remember all that stuff from last year about how the other guy windsurfed and spoke French -- heck he even looked French; while our guy (never mind Andover Prep, Yale, Harvard, and scads of help from daddy's rich friends) is a regular guy who clears brush and is barely coherent in English. Kinsley wrote about this in Harpers several years ago:
A journalist moving in generally meritocratic circles makes friends and has associates from widely different social backgrounds. No WASP aristocrat has ever pulled rank on me without seeming ridiculous, and none has put me on the defensive for being who I am. On the other hand, even very good friends from working-class backgrounds often manage to make me squirm. I've never been made to wish I'd gone to Groton, but I'm often made to wish I hadn't gone to Harvard. That's reverse snobbery.

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