Enough With "Elitism"

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If you're interested in knowing what type of beer Barack Obama drinks or whether Hillary Clinton follows her shot with a chaser, there are other political blogs to quench your thirst.

Elitism is a tough charge and it's a legitimate attribute to be debating. But to use as signifiers one's bowling score and one's interlocutory manner with a diner hostess ... that's a little ridiculous.

Both Obama and Clinton have had Secret Service details for a bit. Neither of them has had to open a door by themselves for a long-while... nor driven a car... nor shaken a hand without an elitist rope stretched between them and the public. Both are coddled by fundraisers, yes-ma'am-and-sir'd-by advisers, hugged by supporters.... A sense of entitlement is thereby built in to a presidential candidate. (The only exception I can think of: Barack Obama's aides -- senior AND junior, call him "Barack.")

Campaigning in Iowa in 1988, Michael Dukakis famously asked for some Belgian endives. Remember when George H.W. Bush professed to be amazed by the new contraption of a supermarket scanner? Remember when Trent Lott confessed that he'd just taken the DC metro for the first time? When Hillary Clinton, professing her feminisity, said she wasn't going to stay home and bake cookies like Tammy Wynette? George W. Bush likes back massages? Bob Dole lives in the Watergate? Pat Buchanan lives in a manse in Virginia? How many houses does John McCain own?

The point, I guess, is that it's silly to debate elitism by pointing to the alleged elitism of your opponent. Because this is Washington, D.C., and if you're a presidential candidate or a national political figure, chances are pretty good that you're developed a bit of an ego and a bit of a sense of entitlement.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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