There’s a lot of head-scratching going on right now in Pundit Land. How, these Great Oracles of the print and broadcast media wonder, could the American public have failed to fall head over heels in love with Sarah Palin in the vice presidential debate? After all, she managed to get through an entire 90 minute debate without once saying — “duhhh!” And by definition, this makes her brilliant, right?
Yet, standing in the way of this obvious wisdom are all of those annoying snap polls and focus groups that pretty clearly prove most Americans believe that it was Joe Biden, not Palin, who won the debate.
But surely (the pundits wail) this can’t be right: viewers must have noticed that Palin only seemed hopelessly confused a few times: She was magnificent!
And how about that folksy manner and all of the talk about small town life. Surely that must have been a big winner out there, well, you know, in all those flyover states.
And if you harbor any doubt about this, well then, think again, because that ultimate populist/man of the people himself, David Brooks, is here to set you straight. As Brooks says in today’s column in The New York Times:
On Thursday night, Palin took her inexperience and made a mansion out of it. From her first “Nice to meet you. May I call you Joe?” she made it abundantly, unstoppably and relentlessly clear that she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew little about Washington. She ran not only against Washington, but the whole East Coast, just to be safe.
To many ears, her accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday life will seem cloying. But in the casual parts of the country, I suspect, it went down fine. In any case, that’s who Palin is.
So, does ya all hear that? As Brooks explains, we quaint country folk — here in the “casual parts of the country” — think Palin’s often artificial sounding folksiness is as cool as the ice on the back of a coon in December. You see, we’re not too bright and don’t get a lot of book learnin’ out her in the sticks — even if much of the sticks is actually made up of major cities and filled with topflight universities, bookstores and even the occasional coffee shop. Hey, we can even get on the Internet.
But what with us not being all that bright, it naturally follows that Sarah Palin must be our kind of girl. Ya see, as Brooks makes clear, we simple folk just can’t relate to all those big words and complicated policy stuff that that fancy-pants Joe Biden kept bringing up. Besides, Sarah’s the kind of girl folks here in the sticks would like to have a beer — I mean, a jug of white lightning — with.
And what more than that could simple people like us want in a potential president?
This isn’t, by the way, the first time David Brooks has made a fool of himself by trying to climb intellectually into the shoes of his cultural “lessers.” On June 2, 2008, for example, he said this on MSNBC:
“Obama’s problem is he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who can go into an Applebee’s salad bar and people think he fits in naturally there.”
As was quickly and repeatedly pointed out across the web, Applebee’s doesn’t even have a salad bar. Props to Eugene Robinson who said: “I tend to take this sociology a little more seriously when it’s delivered by people who actually eat at Applebee’s more than once in a decade.”
The bottom line here, of course, is that big media pundits (especially the ones in the political right wing who rail against the Eastern elite that they themselves so enjoy being part of) tend to think that average Americans are morons. So it shocks them to discover that many such Americans are, in fact, perfectly capable of putting substance over form, of understanding difficult issues and of making wise judgments.
Here’s what actually happened last evening: the vast majority of Americans concluded that Joe Biden won the debate. They did so because Joe Biden did win the debate. It’s that simple. And if the elite media has trouble understanding it, exactly who’s problem is that?