Why We Beltway Elites Like Sotomayor More Than Palin

By Conor Clarke

I think Matt Yglesias makes the important points about this race-obsessed column from Pat Buchanan. (Buchanan's admirably-frank-but-morally-repugnant argument is that Republicans should ignore the supposed demographic torpedoes and win elections by catering to the racial concerns of white people.) But I do want to touch on one claim from Buchanan:

[Liberals in Washington] archly demand that conservatives accord a self-described "affirmative action baby" from Princeton a respect they never for a moment accorded a pro-life conservative mother of five from Idaho State, Sarah Palin. [...] Pundits here gets hoots of appreciation for doing to a white Christian woman what would constitute a hate crime if done to a "wise Latina woman."

I've written all this before, but let me make what I think is a fairly obvious point: There's absolutely nothing wrong, much less "arch," about criticizing Sarah Palin for being an anti-intellectual demagogue while simultaneously demanding respect for Sonia Sotomayor. Palin's whole shtick is that she's an ordinary American with ordinary American concerns. Which is completely fine. But I'm of the mind that our leaders should be exceptional people -- hard-working Type-A meritocrats with actual expertise -- and I think Sotomayor is one of those people. (Palin, not so much.) That's my preference, of course, and not necessarily the country's. But I like to think it's a perfectly legitimate distinction, not a "hate crime."