Intellectual foolishness 43

In Commentary magazine, the admirable commentator and analyst Jennifer Rubin examines at length the possible reasons for Sarah Palin’s unpopularity with Jewish voters. If she is right – and by saying that, we are not intending to cast doubt on her conclusions – Sarah Palin is scorned by American Jews as being intellectually inferior.

‘Jews,’ Rubin writes at the end of her article (we suggest interested readers read it all) ‘are not about to cast aside their preference for those leaders whom they perceive as intellectually worthy – and socially compatible.’

In other words – ours not Jennifer Rubin’s – she is the victim of intellectual snobbery. (Maybe social snobbery too, but ‘social incompatibility’ may not be because one social group thinks itself superior to another, but simply because it feels that it has little in common with the other. So we’ll overlook that. It’s the ‘intellectually worthy’ judgment that concerns us.)

We believe Rubin is right to take into account that Jews in general place a high value on intellectual ability and achievement. It’s well known that they do. A circle of Jewish voters of our acquaintance holds that Bill Clinton deserved to be president because he was a Rhodes scholar. That’s more than enough all by itself to secure their admiration and their political loyalty. Academic brilliance, in their judgment, is a ‘pro’ that cancels any ‘con’, such as character flaws, sexual exploitation, even perjury. And that is not wise. It is also not intellectually respectable!

Most Jews in America are liberal and vote Democratic, even though Jewish interests, especially where relations between the US and Israel are concerned, are in far safer hands when the Republicans are in power. The Left is now predominantly and universally anti-Israel, and in Europe positively anti-Semitic. The illogic of Jewish loyalty to the Left in the light of these facts is glaring enough to need explanation, and Norman Podhoretz has taken a whole book (Why Are Jews Liberals?) to explain it.

So Jewish voters’ opinions of Sarah Palin can be understood in part as the opinions of the Left in general. And of course the Left is against Sarah Palin: she is a conservative and a Republican. But the degree of animosity towards her aired obsessively by leftist intellectuals goes beyond mere difference of principle and opinion. It is so contemptuous, so personal, so cruel as to outrage civilized standards. They even attack her children! Women writers ridicule her appearance (out of envy, we suspect, of her quite exceptional beauty), as if that were relevant to her politics and aspirations to leadership.

In our view Sarah Palin is highly intelligent, and – yes – not an intellectual. Thomas Sowell has convincingly defined an intellectual as someone whose product is ideas, and Sarah Palin does not fit that definition. But that is in no way a deficiency in her. America does not need an intellectual as a leader. We’d even go so far as to say that an intellectual is the last person America needs to lead it. It needs someone who is principled, who holds liberty to be the highest value, who respects the Constitution and the traditions of America, is competent, commonsensical, has proved herself electable, has been tried and tested in office, is fiscally responsible, knows the importance of keeping America militarily strong, and is exemplary in her self-reliance. If ever there was a model of an American able and willing to stand on her own two feet, it is Sarah Palin. (She and her husband fill their deep freeze with meat and fish that they themselves hunt and catch; and they built their own house. Not the sort of activities, we acknowledge, that intellectuals are likely to admire.)

We are not saying that Sarah Palin would be the indubitably best choice for the 2012 presidential election. We are saying that she would be a good candidate. And we think that Jewish voters should know that in her office when she was Governor of Alaska, she displayed an Israeli flag on her wall. Or so we have been told. If we’ve been misinformed about that, we’d still like to point out to them that she is much more likely than Obama to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons.

And speaking of Obama – who, it is worth noting, will not let his academic records be made public – we wonder: how do the Jews who voted for him reconcile their preference for an ‘intellectually worthy’ leader with his manifest ignorance and career-long dependence on affirmative action?