Credentialism, Elitism, and Schism in The Post-Harriet Miers Era
First, a worthwhile legacy media analysis, then a thoughtful e-mail from a reader.
1. William Powers at National Journal comments on "credentialism," partly in government but especially in journalism. He describes an interesting struggle between old school MSM types and new media. It's an interesting read. (HT: Real Clear Politics today.)
2. My reader Duane Truitt sent me these thoughts via e-mail, which I am sharing with his permission:
I wonder if you would consider the discussion that I initiated, regarding the - and what is growing more and more apparent to many of us non-elites in the flyover country that is not NY/Wash/CA - growing schism between the Republican Party elites and the rest of us "an argument amongst friends?" I didn't bring it up merely in order to castigate the elites, but rather, I raised the issue in order to start a dialogue that I believe is overdue ... between the elites of the Party and the movement, and its true grass roots "base" - both of whom (elites and grass roots) are necessary to a successful political movement and governing coalition.
If the perception continues to grow amongst the grass roots that the elites are out of touch with us, then support for the Party and the movement will surely wane, especially at the polls where it matters most. And for those elites who consider themselves to be big-C Conservatives more than big-R Party Members, the only hope the big-C's have to actually influence public policy rests solely within the Party. Otherwise they'll never have the majorities needed to get their conservative heroes elected.
Unfortunately, we are seeing far too much commentary amongst the elites that amounts to little more than threats to "stay home,” or even work actively against the Party or its current leader, Mr. Bush. They actually are working actively against his SCOTUS nominee, Ms. Miers, at this time. And if they carry out their veiled threats, it could put us into another one of those dreaded Clinton dark ages, for at least for 4 or even 8 years (by which point everything will be thoroughly mucked up and the reactionary cycle then begins yet again).
If the big-C elites would just stop and think logically and not emotionally and, truth be told, not petulantly, I think they'd see the big picture and use this opportunity to say to Mr. Bush (and to the rest of us), "OK ... you asked us to trust you, and because of what you have already done on our behalf, with other judicial nominees like Prior, Clement, Owen, and Brown, and with the War on Terror, and with the Bush Tax Cuts, we'll go with your judgment this time. You are not your father - we don't need to read your lips. But with the next SCOTUS nominee, we expect to see someone nominated out of our group of fine candidates."
If the Noonans, Ingrahams, Krauthammers, Kristols, et al., reacted in that way, the Coalition is preserved, the lib/dem's new "wedge issue" goes away, the President can get on to tending to the People's business (War on Terror, immigration reform, tax reform, spending reform, saving Social Security, etc. etc.) and the elitists would not appear so, well, "elitist" as they do now.
And like the very old saying goes, "You catch many more flies with sugar than with vinegar.”
Anyway, I think that we have begun this year to see the emergence of a very large metaphorical Gorilla in the room - this growing chasm between the elites and the rest of us - and nobody in the Conservative/Republican leadership or the conservative media within this room seems willing to acknowledge its presence. If we continue to ignore it, the Gorilla is going to hurt someone - probably all of us - eventually.
In that respect, and if the elites would wake up and act in the appropriate manner, the Miers debate could in fact be the best thing to happen to the Coalition since the re-election of GWB.
I think Duane is on to something. As an optimist by nature, I think movement conservatives and GOP regulars (and those are almost synonymous labels) will get past the Harriet Miers fiasco. For the first time, however, I am a little worried about what Hugh Hewitt calls the "Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism." (Hugh also touches on reader Duane's schism issue here.) Their apparent sense of entitlement and willingness to turn on their own are a worrisome combination.
Yes, dialogue among GOP regulars and movement conservatives will be important, provided the latter can let go of the idea that they already have all the answers.
UPDATE: Duane adds a few thoughts:
You know, I would like to see at least some acknowledgment in the Corner,
or on Laura Ingraham's show, or in Charles Krauthammer's columns, that the rank and file conservatives and party members out here don't necessarily see the world through the same lens that they look through. And that the rank-and-file's collective judgment is not necessarily less informed than theirs, but rather is tempered with different life considerations and priorities than what the elites' may have used to render their opinions.
A little elitest humility is in order, I think.