New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman complains that the McCain campaign is "making America stupid." This from a leading voice in the media who once explained to Charlie Rose that America must invade Iraq in order to tell Arabs to "suck on this."
Years of ideological cheerleading and stenographic coverage of the Bush administration by the MSM have empowered the McCain campaign to believe it can get away with linguistic murder. It sees an opportunity to exploit the elite media’s infuriating combination of arrogance, ignorance and smug self-importance to lie its way into the White House. And given how unpopular the media have made themselves, it just might work.
Take Sarah Palin’s interview with Charles Gibson. Much of the debate has focused on Palin’s lack of familiarity with the words "Bush doctrine." But what of Gibson’s ignorance? His question demonstrated no comprehension of the ambiguity and amorphousness the alleged doctrine has acquired in the wake of its failed application in Iraq. I hate to say this, but Charles Krauthammer is actually correct when he argues, "And at least she didn’t pretend to know–while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and ‘sounding like an impatient teacher,’ as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes."
True, Krauthammer is deliberately clouding the issue. It’s one thing not to know that Paul played drums on "The Ballad of John and Yoko" because Ringo was out of town. It’s quite another not to know the name of the Beatles’ drummer. But Gibson’s condescending pomposity allows McCain/Palin apologists to muddy the issue of her ignorance by pointing to Gibson’s own. Again, Gibson may or may not be stupid. His questioning of the Democratic candidates during two debates was filled with misstatements and a laserlike focus on issues of nonexistent significance. But as with so many members of the punditocracy, his apparent stupidity is adulterated with so much arrogance that sympathy with his putative targets becomes all but axiomatic.
Another example, about which I’ve seen little or no discussion: Gibson asked Palin, "What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?" Palin responded, "Well, first, we are friends with Israel, and I don’t think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security."
Where to begin? Well, yes, Palin’s answer may fly in a nation where it can be politically suicidal to question anything about Israel. But it’s idiotic when it comes to "real life." Seriously, you’re not allowed to second-guess any action your friends think they need to take to defend themselves? What if you think they’re wrong? What if you have better information? What if you think your friend is going to get a whole bunch of people, including your friend and yourself, killed? What, after all, are friends for?