Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.
Matthew Yglesias calmed me down by precisely articulating my objection. Emphasis mine.
Meanwhile, I think it’s telling that Douthat’s idea of a counterpoint to Obama’s Ivy pedigree is Palin rather than, say, Joe Biden of the University of Delaware and the Syracuse University College of Law. Biden strikes me as an excellent example of the fact that a person can attend some not-so-fancy universities and yet be both enormously successful and widely acknowledged to be a smart person with a command of the issues. Palin, by contrast, is someone who Douthat acknowledges needs more time “to bone up on the issues.”
And that is the key to people’s complaint with Palin; not that she attended North Idaho College but that she ran for Vice President and spoke out on a range of issues without seeming to understand any of them. That’s a big deal, and it’s not mere snobbery to point out that it’s a big deal.