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Delegitimizing Criticism: Elitism
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Matt Stoller is unhappy to find that a Republican who used to work for the McCain campaign is critical of Obama.
'Suspended' McCain Aide Resurfaces Pushing Anti-Obama Messaging
Soren Dayton is a Republican operative who was apparently 'suspended' from the McCain campaign, but he's out there spreading the same old political arguments about Obama as he did before he was suspended. The whole disavowal thing for McCain is a neat trick, isn't it?
I'm not sure what the point is here. Does he think that Dayton wouldn't have been critical of Obama if he hadn't previously worked for McCain? Or is he saying that the McCain campaign should be able to force a former employee to stop being critical of Obama? Or is he saying that this is some secret strategy of the McCain campaign to have some guy start a Facebook group to criticize Obama (as if Republicans would have no objections to Obama if it weren't for the devious machinations of the McCain campaign)? I understand the desire to delegitimize any criticism of your candidate, but this seems absurdly disconnected from any actual argument about why it should not be legitimate.

What's more, his attack on the "elitist" criticism pretty much rests on Glenn Greenwald's skills at inferential psychoanalysis...
As Glenn Greenwald has demonstrated in his important book Great American Hypocrites, male Democratic candidates must always be presented as feminine, elite, aristocratic, savage, and untrustworthy, for fear that substantive arguments will actually present the electorate with a choice on larger questions of national direction.
When did Democrats decide that painting somebody as an elitist or questioning their toughness was a dishonest tactic? This must have occurred sometime after they rode "The Wimp Factor" to victory against George H.W. Bush in 1992. It apparently wasn't operational in 2007, either, when Stoller quoted Pete Stark calling a Republican "a little wimp" and "you little fruitcake" and called him "my kind of Democrat" for being so "tough".

And when did Stoller decide that elitism was an illegitimate criticism? Perhaps that occurred sometime after he criticized the "bipartisan elites". He might also ask his co-blogger, Chris Bowers, about his "serious problems with what I perceive to be Obama's insider elitism."

I'm also uncomfortable with too-easy criticism of "elites" - at least, insofar as elite status is taken to be evidence of unfitness by populist absurd idea in a meritocracy - but the "elitism" that the Right objections to in Democrats revolves around the fact that these Democrats are presuming to tell people what they want, what they need and how to live their lives. That is the elitism to which the Right objects in Democrats. It is absurd to conflate that with racism, or to suggest that it is illegitimate to object to such presumption.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Everybody knew this was coming.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
That "Don’t tell me words don’t matter" video is actually a pretty good piece.

It shows the interstitial connects between the Obama idea and the Obama reality, or as Eliot fans would call it, the shadow.

"Don’t tell me words don’t matter." "No, no, no, God Damn America."

"He’s like an uncle to me."

If anything, the video is too selective in its use of the available material.

Obama’s campaign has become and will remain a rear-guard action against Obama’s reality. There is no "change you can believe it," nor any "hope."

There’s BS and the BSers who BS it. It’s a moon shot that turns out to be a cherry bomb in the kitchen.

Written By: Martin McPhillips
"Elitism" is perfectly fine for attack...I’d define it as a self-referential over-class that intends to make decisions for the mass, based on it’s definition of the "good", whether or no the the referentials defining the "elite" matter to the subject matter being decided.

A real-world if absurd example... the Florida Corrections Dept. was Softball Mad. You made your "bones" by being good at outstanding performance on the field could result in promotion on-the-spot. So the guards and managers had a pecking order, true that pecking order had NOTHING to do with prison management, security, or rehabilitation, but they had their pecking order and those who mastered that order or those skills were placed in power over others, not within the group. And those in charge had only by random chance the abilities to effectively manage the Masses, IF you could play softball and were a good manager, OK, but it was entirely random that a good manager was in a position of authority. To me that’s elitism...a somewhat self-selected, self-referential group making decisions for others, based on qualities not germane to the decisions being made...

If I want to know about real estate and deal-making OK, I might follow the example of The Donald, but I wouldn’t turn to Trump for advice or orders concerning my home life or marriage. In a meritocracy I can pick and choose who’s example I choose to follow in various phases of my life.

Obama represents the current "elite"...Ivy League Lawyer/politician/Progressive. If I want to know how to organize a union or a street protest I’d turn to him...for tax advice, economic advice, national security advice...not so much. Sadly, he and his ilk wish to give me that advice and that makes them the Elite, telling me what to do in areas they have little knowledge and claiming a right to give those orders on the basis of the JD’s from a prestigious law school and a public career.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I have always liked Ann Richards’ line "born with a silver foot in his mouth", combining charges of elitism with incompetence, two of our larger questions of national direction.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The best part about hearing "new proposals" from Congress-persons in the majority party every Presidential election cycle is asking the obvious question ..

If these folks are so smart, why haven’t they put their proposals on the docket already ? .. why do we have to wait until they get elected President ?
If their ideas are so great, doesn’t America deserve them today ? Why shouldn’t we be bitter and frustrated that they won’t share, at least not for another 9 months, till their President ?

I can look into and see that Obama hasn’t submitted bills to solve these problems. Shoot .. he and Hiliary are in the majority party of both chambers. So why the wait ?

Do they think that we are that dense ?
Yes, they do .. or perhaps Obama hasn’t found the "in" basket yet.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
University faculty are now one of the largest interest groups in the Democratic party. I believe that their donations to The Party have now surpassed those of the trial lawyers.

Anyone who has taken a university course in the Humanities during the last few decades will have the proper frame of reference for understanding Obama’s comments: He was throwing red meat to his base, just like any politician does.

The truth is that the Democrats wrote off the middle class white vote a long time ago.
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://

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