Effete liberals and the people they condescend to

On Dave's suggestion, I read my colleague Clive Crook's piece in the Financial Times on the Democratic Party's problems with the working class. I found it interesting, but ultimately wanting for specifics. Clive argues that basically liberals think they have the best interest of the working class at heart, and yet they routinely talk down to said working class, who in turn punish Democratic candidates at the ballot box every four years. This is hard for me to take for a couple reasons. First off, I'm black and grew up in a working class community, and I never heard anyone complain about presidential candidates talking down to them. I'm willing to allow that my experiences are atypical, though.

Still, whenever I hear these charges of liberal condescension they're almost always accompanied by what I would very generously call a sprinkling of examples. Clive only gives us a routine by comedian Bill Maher. For this to stick, I'd need to hear about Walter Mondale's condescension to working class voters, or Jimmy Carter's. It's true I hear a lot of Republicans invoking that charge, but I rarely hear actual examples. Interestingly enough, Clive doesn't believe that Obama fits the bill--and yet that's exactly how Karl Rove chose to paint Obama in his silly "country club" remarks.

I also don't get the idea that anything besides Fox News and talk radio qualifies as liberal media. In my happy home right here at the very prominent Atlantic (if I may say) I believe me and Fallows are the only liberals on the eight man roster. It's true the average big city reporter is unlikely to believe that gay marriage represents a significant threat to marriage itself. But outside of social issues, I'm not sure how liberal your average reporter is. It remains the case that on the essential foreign policy question of this decade, the New York Times (that alleged temple of liberal media bias) basically went along with the Bush program. I'm willing to be convinced on the "liberal media" point and on the "liberal condescension" point, but you'll have to give me some proof to take these ideas out of the "War on Christmas" territory. But just because conservatives say it, doesn't make it true.