by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
The putative Caroline Kennedy candidacy for senator has had the odd effect of reopening the media can of worms treatment of Gov. Palin. Compared to Sarah Palin’s almost immediate immersion into crowds and public speaking, Kennedy seems like a deer in the headlights before the media that is either ignored or asked to submit written questions. Palin was a natural; Kennedy can’t finish a single sentence without “You know” or “I mean.” Palin’s family saga and daily grind were populist to the core; Kennedy is a creature of a few blocks’ radius in Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard.
Outsider and lower-middle-class Palin toughed it out in Wasilla for years of politicking on a 16-year slog through Alaskan old-boy politics; Caroline Kennedy in regal fashion apparently skipped voting in about half of New York elections, and has never run for anything.
Reporters swarmed over Palin’s pregnancies, and her wardrobe, but apparently took on face value that Caroline’s fluff books were really a sign of either erudition or scholarship.
Conservative Palin endured liberal Charlie Gibson’s glasses-on-the nose pretentiousness, and Katie Couric’s attack-dog questions; insider Kennedy I doubt will meet with either, much less sit down with a hostile questioner like a Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly. Her friendly New York Times “interview” proved an embarrassment — rarely have so many words been spoken with so little content.
But, no, the real embarrassment proves to be the media itself that apparently can’t see this weird unfolding self-incriminating morality tale: It is not just that Palin is conservative, Kennedy politically-correct (e.g., pro-abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc), or Palin a newcomer to public attention, Kennedy a celebrity since childhood. Rather it is the aristocratic value system of most NY-DC journalists themselves who apparently still assume that old money, status, and an Ivy-League pedigree are reliable barometers of talent and sobriety, suggesting that the upper-East Side Kennedy’s public ineptness is an aberration, a bad day, a minor distraction, while Palin’s charisma and ease are superficial and a natural reflection of her Idaho sports journalism degree.
A few generations ago, Democrats would have opposed Palin but appreciated her blue-collar story, and applauded a working mom who out-politicked entrenched and richer male elites. But now the new aristocratic liberalism has adopted the values of the old silk-stocking Republicans of the 1950s — and so zombie-like worship rather than question entitlement.
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson