Clive Crook writes in the Financial Times, “If only the Democrats could contain their sense of entitlement to govern in a rational world, and their consequent distaste for wide swathes of the US electorate, they might gain the unshakeable grip on power they feel they deserve. . . . But the fathomless cultural complacency of the metropolitan liberal rules this out.” Crook’s blogging colleague at Atlantic.com, Ta-Nehisi Coates, replies that “whenever I hear these charges of liberal condescension they’re almost always accompanied by what I would very generously call a sprinkling of examples.”
Mr. Coates, here is some raw material to consider:
1. Arthur Schlesinger, a Harvard man, had limitless praise for liberal Democratic presidents who were also Harvard men, such as FDR and JFK. He barely bothered to hide his contempt for the Democrat who served for nearly 8 of the 15 years between them, Harry Truman, the only 20th century president who did not graduate from college. Schlesinger called Truman “a man of mediocre and limited capacity” who “has managed to surround himself with his intellectual equals.” According to the historian Fred Siegel, “the political and cultural snobbery” that Schlesinger did so little to conceal, “has proved the undoing of American liberalism.” Schlesinger’s attitudes, Siegel writes, “live on in the aristocratic snobbery of professional liberals, in both senses of the term, who expect, given their putative expertise, to be obeyed.”
2. After the 1980 Republican convention The Nation published an article by the novelist E.L. Doctorow, which derided Ronald Reagan’s upbringing in such small downstate Illinois towns as “Galesburg, Monmouth and Dixon – just the sorts of places responsible for one of the raging themes of American literature, the soul-murdering complacency of our provinces . . . . The best and brightest fled all our Galesburgs and Dixons, if they could, but the candidate was not among them.” For good measure, Doctorow described Reagan’s education at Eureka College as the journey of “a third-rate student at a fifth-rate college.”
3. A 1997 cover story in Time magazine, about educated professionals moving to small towns for a better quality of life, described the tensions when some of those same professionals decide that Mayberry would be greatly improved if it were made more like the Upper West Side. It recounts the story of Marcy Hawley who moved to Wilmington, Ohio. She and other newcomers created the school system’s “Multicultural Advisory Board,” where they advocated “racial-sensitivity training and a minority-hiring program.” The locals ignored the committee’s recommendations and eventually disbanded it. “After a rancorous school-board meeting,” one board member “took Hawley aside. ‘You folks are getting a reputation,’ he said. ‘You’re always trying to enlighten us.’" Ms. Hawley’s congenial reply was, "‘Then I guess we’re not succeeding.’”
4. The Inside Higher Ed blogger, UD, reacting to Sarah Palin’s nomination, wrote, “A lot of Americans don’t seem to like highly educated people, and they don’t want them running the country.” That being the case, “We need to encourage everyone to be in college for as many years as they possibly can, in the hope that somewhere along the line they might get some exposure to the world outside their town, and to moral ideas not exclusively derived from their parents’ religion. If they don’t get this in college, they’re not going to get it anywhere else.”
5. Finally, The New Republic’s John Judis came upon a delegate to the 2008 GOP convention, who turned out to be the Arizona Superintendent of Schools, killing a little time by playing Bach, Rachmaninoff and Gershwin on a hotel piano. “I asked him how a person who played the piano so well . . . could be a Republican.”
The prosecution rests.