Election '08 re-defines everything

My latest piece for Pajamas Media is up. It’s entitled, Obama, Palin and the Meaning of “Change”, and I hope you’ll go read it; I had a lot of fun exploring how this election is chewing up and reconfiguring what certain words mean.

For instance, the words “provincial“ and “small-town“ have been disdainfully sniffed into the air by many writers, most recently by the film critic Roger Ebert, who wrote, “How can you be her age and never have gone to Europe? … Sarah Palin’s travel record is that of a hopeless provincial!” For reasons unexplained, Ebert’s piece was later lost to the black hole that disappears wayward writing, but you get the gist. The woman had not “done” France! She did not “do” the Hamptons or L.A., either. All she did was stay in her state, kill moose, breed babies, and live a life so broad and outreaching that she’d traveled from a PTA meeting to the governor’s mansion in less than 20 years, challenging the shibboleths of her own political party and building bipartisan working relationships as she went.

By contrast, the sophisticates criticizing Palin from their exclusive and tidy enclaves, where like-minded people congregate, educate, recreate, and manage — even in their vast, first-class sojourns — to remain safely insulated from the commoners, have exposed themselves as suffering from small-town mindsets, every bit as judgmental, untraveled, narrow, and closed as any stereotypical tribalist. The exterior may say “uptown,” but the suddenly exposed interiors of these people screamed “provincial” and “keep away!”

Like I said, I had fun with it. You can read it all here.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Gayle Miller

    Once upon a time, I respected Roger Ebert – but now we discover that he’s another leftwing idiot!

    I’ve BEEN to France and Italy and Germany (which made me VERY nervous – I was there in the early 60s and it was quite frightening) and England (in the 60s – now THAT was fun) and that doesn’t make me better than anyone else – I’ve just seen more scenery! But I have NEVER been to Alaska and that’s a lack I’d like to remove soon. I am told by people who have been there that it’s gorgeous territory.

    WHO you are in the depths of your soul is far more important than any ephemeral “status” conferred by going to some foreign land. But the shallow amongst us wouldn’t understand that if we explained it all day long!

  • buccaneer00

    Zinnnnnng! the sound a yard tool makes when it is touched to the grinder wheel and produces that jet of sparks. The ringing sound the tool steel makes. that is what I hear when I say Zinnnnng! that was the feeling your article gave me. It would be appropriate to blow the smoke from the nib on your pen before re-holstering it after that post. mighty fine word smithing…mighty fine.

  • pbuchta

    Let’s stick to McCain’s mavrick methodology and lack of widom.

    McCain, who only a week ago said the economy was fundamentally sound, now says the U.S. financial system is facing a major crisis.

    Speaking on NBC television, McCain said, “We are in the most serious crisis since World War II.”

    He also said that despite the ballooning national debt he would not raise taxes if elected president.

    [You must have posted this in the wrong thread? - admin]

  • Gayle Miller

    Not to mention that you are completely incorrect in your assessment of Senator McCain’s words. Our economy IS fundamentally sound, and would be more so if the libtards would quit their mindless tinkering with it – as in saying that we are in a recession for the past 5 years when both realistically and technically, we are not now nor have we been. And yes, we ARE in a crisis but it’s an artificially created one that can be best cured by stimulating the economy in the form of tax cuts (and corresponding spending cuts – which is really what the liberals detest).

    A reality check for all – the Federal government was never intended to care for you from cradle to grave. It was intended to see to such things as national defense and interstate commerce. It wasn’t meant or intended to support national health care, or aid to, interference with and ruination of our educational system. It wasn’t meant to be riddled with corruption and cynical self-interest in the form of Congressional earmarks, lobbyists, grasping lawmakers and the like. It was intended to perform the tasks that local government could not do. And George Washington was right – the best government is the least government. Thus it was and thus it ever will be.

    A – just received my Liturgy of the Hours. I’m now going to soothe my soul.

  • http://jmbalconi.stblogs.com Jean Balconi

    I’m guessing that Ebert’s comments were pulled because in his newsroom, there are a whole lot of underpaid reporters who don’t make enough money to travel abroad, either. Really, the whole falderol is unthinkingly elitist.

    I’ve never been to Europe. I didn’t expect my parents to pay for an extra year of my schooling (what would have happened if I’d taken a semester in Spain). And I couldn’t afford it when I started working, both because I made $17-25K (before taxes and student loans) and I didn’t have time off during the “cheap ticket” season.

    Most of my friends are in the same boat, having gone abroad while students (at their parents’ expense) or having taken relatively inexpensive Latin American package trips for honeymoons (usually paid for by the combined largesse of the family). None of us are in a position (or irresponsible enough) to use our credit cards now and pay the piper later.

    A funny aside: A few of my friends are very well-travelled. One time over dinner, the subject came up about what our favorite cities were. I didn’t think I’d have much to say, but they were just as fascinated by my stories about Halifax, NS as I was about their stories of Paris and Prague. I sat next to a 50-year-old native-born American who’d been to Europe yearly but was just beginning to travel in the US. She told us she never truly appreciated the diversity yet solidarity (I think that’s the word) of America until she became a tourist in her own country.

  • Piano Girl

    I grew up in the South, in the great Commonwealth of Virginia. About 15 years ago my younger daughter was living in NYC and working for a fashion stylist. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in the Big Apple and stayed with Elizabeth who was living at her boss’s apartment on Central Park West. After dinner that evening, the boss commented to Elizabeth that “your mother is much more cosmopolitan than I expected her to be…I figured she’d be rather provincial, having grown up in the South. My daughter laughed when she told me this and said, “who is Irene to talk…she grew up in the Bronx!” That said, I didn’t make my first trip to Europe until I was 58 years old, and only went then because it was a business trip. I don’t think Gov. Palin needs to worry about what Roger Ebert thinks about her at all. I’ve seen a list of the different countries (eleven, I believe) that Alaska does business with…I would think the Governor will do just fine in meeting with heads of State or the common man over the next few years.

    Here is a bit of writing from the late Ann Landers about “class”. Sarah Palin has it to spare, and most of the libs trying to bring her down don’t have enough money in this world to even think of buying it!!! Dubya also has class, which is another thing that drives the libs right up the wall!

    by Ann Landers
    Class never runs scared.
    It is sure-footed and confident.
    It can handle anything that comes along.
    Class has a sense of humor.
    It knows a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.
    Class never makes excuses.
    It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.
    Class knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.
    Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money.
    Some wealthy “blue bloods” have no class, while individuals who are struggling to make ends meet are loaded with it.
    Class is real.
    It can’t be faked.
    Class never tried to build itself by tearing others down.
    Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.
    Class can “walk with kings and keep it’s virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch.” Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because that person is comfortable with himself.
    If you have class, you’ve got it made.
    If you don’t have class, no matter what else you have, it doesn’t make any difference.

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  • JuliB

    Oh how silly. Anchoress, I’ve been to Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. I worked in the UK for a time. The more I travel, the more I love my country. The US is the best place for a middle class woman such as myself. And guess what – I have the same values and outlook as Sarah Palin.

    I despise such snobbishness. I’m no different from the person who hasn’t traveled.

  • Gina

    I’m sure Ebert’s columns were pulled because they dovetail so nicely with the whole “elitist clueless about the average American” thing that Obama’s got going. My husband is half-European, is Palin’s age, and has never been to Europe. Why? Because he was working or going to school his whole life, and did not have $3000 to drop on junkets across the pond. Palin has had the additional little detail of having raised 5 kids.

    Anchoress: I am wondering if you have seen this little rant from Anne Lamott.

  • MikeM

    I think this Chesterton quote is appropriate when talking about small town “narrowmindedness”:

    “It is not fashionable to say much nowadays of the advantages of the small community. We are told that we must go in for large empires and large ideas. There is one advantage, however, in the small state, the city, or the village, which only the wilfully blind can overlook.
    The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us. Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come
    into existence founded upon what is called sympathy, and shut
    out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique. The men of the clan live together because they all wear the same tartan or are all descended from the same sacred cow; but in their souls, by the divine luck of things, there will always
    be more colours than in any tartan. But the men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment, like that which exists in hell. A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness. It is a machinery for the purpose of guarding the solitary and sensitive individual from all experience of the bitter and bracing human compromises. It is, in the most literal sense of the words, a society for the prevention of Christian knowledge.”

    -Heretics (1905)

  • culperjr.

    The American Left is the gift that keeps on giving! What hopelessly out of touch, arrogant, superior twits they are, and how Middle America will LOVE their sneering.

    I am very lucky to have been to Europe three times. I went on a student exchange in high school, got to the UK during the first Gulf War (airfares dropped to nothing, so I jumped at the chance) and once to Germany to visit an old friend. I suppose that, by the Ebert Rule, that would make me at least borderline acceptable in polite company.

    By contrast, the only times my father ever left the US were aboard US Navy warships. My father was a certifiable genius, specialising in Medieval French poetry while graduating Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude from Yale. Alas, Roger Ebert would find my father a hopeless rube, as he never made it to the Cote d’Azur or the Isle of Capri.

    He did make it to Tokyo harbor in 1945, however, but I’m sure that doesn’t count for much in the rarified climes of the Liberal Mind.