New York Times political writer Mark Leibovich employed the Full Sneer in a story for this weekend's New York Times Magazine entitled "The Bumpkinification of the Midterm Elections.” Leibovich began with Iowa Republican candidate Joni Ernst talking about castrating hogs, but he soon turned to the announcement that the “apotheosis” of bumpkin-hood was Sarah Palin, the mama grizzly with the brawling children. CNN anchor Carol Costello must have enjoyed this:
The apotheosis of the modern bumpkin mode has been embodied by Sarah Palin, who nearly found herself one 72-year-old heartbeat from our highest national office. Palin, the starkest example yet of a proud unsophisticate taking the national stage, has remained visible and unapologetic.
She also appears to have made little attempt to fill the knowledge gaps she demonstrated in 2008 or to shed her association with reality-TV-style family dramas, like the recent drunken brawl she apparently observed at an Anchorage birthday party. According to Alan Schroeder, a professor of journalism at Northeastern University and an expert on the celebrity aspects of politics, Palin has come to represent “a new standard of the slim résumé.”
This is pretty daring, considering Barack Obama's thin resume when he applied for the job of President of the United States. Fresh from trashing Palin, Leibovich then turned his negative beam to Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who apparently don't have an idealistic bone in their body. They are no modern equivalent of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," since they have "no background in legislating or have shown no interest in it" -- proven by when they've resisted Obamacare.
In a sense, Jefferson Smith, the plucked-from-nowhere senator played by Jimmy Stewart, came to represent the ideal of the pure-hearted Washington bumpkin. Mr. Smith is a naïve outsider with quirky habits (he trains pigeons!) and a determination to live up to the ideals embodied by the monuments he so admired. His capacity for umbrage at the corrupt ways of his colleagues and the press made him an admirable foil. Likewise, he willingly engaged in a filibuster for 24 hours — just like the highflying outsiders of recent cycles, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.
But Smith’s antics are actually geared toward pending legislation. He does not care about getting attention, let alone harbor any ambition of running for president. In real life, Cruz and Paul have no background in legislating or have shown no interest in it, in part because it might taint them as Washington “professionals” in places like Iowa.
Back in 2011, Leibovich displayed his admiration for Obamacare (and Obama) on an NPR show: “Look, there has been a widespread criticism of this White House, which is that it has a, quote, ‘communications problem,’ that this is an administration that has legitimately accomplished a great deal, they've passed some historic legislation, and yet, has not, for whatever reason, been successful in promoting the good points of these accomplishments in a way that would make the American people truly understand what’s gone on.”
Leibovich is an insider’s insider, and nobody’s bumpkin. In March of 2012, the Times printed a smoochy front-page story headlined "Obama Seizes Chance to Score As an Everyman." Leibovich proclaimed how "Mr. Obama's team has proven effective in exploiting each gaffe" Mitt Romney made. Leibovich was also strangely impressed that the president's campaign manager David Axelrod mocked Romney's clumsy claim that "the trees are the right height" in Michigan (Axelrod's tweet: "So Mitt wins Guam, where the Sea Hibiscus are just the right height!").
Leibovich even slavishly paid tribute to Axelrod on Twitter: "@davidaxelrod you ate your tweeties today, Axe. Impressed."
[HT: Seton Motley]