I see your ‘dumb,’ and I raise you an ‘elitist’

The latest debate on the ability of America to hold a political conversation was on display on today’s first hour of Midmorning.

The show purported to ask, “Is racism fueling criticism of the president?” But the fix was in on the answer because both guests had the same perspective: “Yes.”

That’s not to say they didn’t make good points in rebutting David Brooks’ column last week, “No, it’s not about race.

Given all of this, it was guaranteed that he would spark a populist backlash, regardless of his skin color. And it was guaranteed that this backlash would be ill mannered, conspiratorial and over the top — since these movements always are, whether they were led by Huey Long, Father Coughlin or anybody else.

A pretty poor example, said Jack White, who writes about politics for The Root. Father Couglin was an anti-Semite, he said.

The discussion intertwined with the “lack of civility” angle right up until it got hit in the kisser with an irony pie.

“The problem is, what is the Republican Party doing to make a bigger space for people like himself?” he said, addressing a caller who said he was a moderate Republican. People who have a disagreement with the president’s policies but don’t want to fall into this trap of falling back on fear and prejudice to move their party forward. You have a handicap, it seems to me, even though you have someone like Michael Steele, who is black, as Republican Party chairman, I would argue that Michael Steele is exactly the wrong kind of person to have?”

“Why? Kerri Miller asked.

“Because Michael Steel is dumb,” White said.

Caller Tim from Minneapolis provided the other side of the discussion.

“Thank you for calling another Republican dumb,” he said. “Ronald Reagan was portrayed on the one hand as being a tired, pre-senile old fool who, nonetheless, stayed up late at night masterminding the Iran contra deal. We still hear jokes about Dan Quayle misspelling potato. Bush was consistently portrayed — hammered, hammered, hammered — on late night comedy shows, everybody that he was dumb. And yet he was also an evil genius who masterminded — in the eyes of some admittedly paranoid people — that he masterminded the 9/11 tragedy.”

“Are you saying there has long been disrespect towards….” Kerri Miller asked.

“What I’m saying is disrespect… has been going on consistently from the left and you mentioned populism and populism is the response to political elitism and I think what you fail to recognize is that the Democratic Washington power circle, as well as the liberal side of the media, is viewed as being highly elitist and certainly Barack Obama did not help his case anywhere along the line when during the election, for example, when he made the comment about the price of irrugula arugula, You’ve assembled a nice panel of people that all seem to see things only one way,” he said.

And that brings us back to Brooks:

What we’re seeing is the latest iteration of that populist tendency and the militant progressive reaction to it. We now have a populist news media that exaggerates the importance of the Van Jones and Acorn stories to prove the elites are decadent and un-American, and we have a progressive news media that exaggerates stories like the Joe Wilson shout and the opposition to the Obama schools speech to show that small-town folks are dumb wackos.