Bill O'Reilly likes to use Bill Maher as a symbol of the "far left," though in reality Maher is only definably "left" if by that you mean "not a movement conservative". Still, O'Reilly on his Fox News show last night couldn't resist using Maher's insistence that Americans are "stupid" as proof positive of his own favorite narrative -- that "the left" loves to look down their noses at ordinary, working-class Americans.
His proof of this: The disparate way that liberals treat Sarah Palin and Deval Patrick. While liberal icon Patrick has struggled to get Massachusetts' massive economic problems under control, Palin, he argues, has been a smashing success as Alaska's governor:
Gov. Palin is obviously a fuse on this. The left despises her. But the truth is the governor did a pretty good job in Alaska. Her approval rating when she left office was 54 percent, despite spending a lot of time outside the state. Mrs. Palin is portrayed by the left as dumb, but how does that square with her solid performance in office? No, she did not study at an Ivy League college, graduating from the University of Idaho. But again, she did the job she was elected to do.
Oh, really? Quitting two and a half years into a four-year term is "doing the job she was elected to do"? On what planet?
Why, Planet O'Reilly -- one of the moons of Planet Wingnuttia -- of course. It's a planet made of falafel, festooned with loofah trees, and populated by nubile blonde bimbettes who wanna do threesomes with Bill. And from this planet one can get a clear view of venal liberals who see everyone else as "stupid."
O'Reilly invited Marc Lamont Hill and Naomi Wolf onto the show to discuss it, and both actually did a credible job of responding. (My favorite moment came when the two of them begin having a direct conversation uncontrolled by O'Reilly, who nearly explodes in apoplexy at being sidelined.) And Wolf gets it exactly right:
Wolf: I think that what is important is to go back the Founders and think, well, what -- when Jefferson was imagining that the people were going to run this Republic, he imagined that it would be ordinary people but they would be educated, that they would have --
O'Reilly: Sarah Palin's educated, she has a University of Idaho degree.
Wolf: Well, Sarah Palin -- there is a fascinating clip that went viral on YouTube that showed Katie Couric asking her, well what kind of magazines and newspapers do you actually read? And she couldn't answer the question.
O'Reilly: Well, what does that mean?
Wolf: So I don't think a smart American cares if the leader of the nation went to the University of Idaho or to Harvard or Yale, or just graduated from high school. I think we the people care that our leaders know what's going on in the world and are making sensible decisions on our behalf.
Now, for what it's worth, your humble editor is also a graduate of the University of Idaho. Obviously I don't think Sarah Palin is "stupid" for having a degree from a lesser school. However, I don't think she's qualified to be president -- not because she has a UI degree, but because she's demonstrated clearly a lack of the requisite intellectual capacity. That has nothing to do with where she comes from, and everything to do with what she has said and done.
Incidentally, that 54 percent approval rating among Alaskans for Palin that O'Reilly cites is not the positive thing he thinks: It actually represents a 30-point drop in approval over the course of a single year.