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Michelle Obama and the Arugula Factor

US Politics
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I find that I’m still annoyed by Margaret Carlson’s crack on “Hardball” the other night that Michelle Obama is elitist because she buys arugula at Whole Foods. Carlson doesn’t want a president who’s an elitist. Or America doesn’t, she says; America wants a president who can relate to the common man.

The first response is that Carlson’s right: someone who buys arugula at Whole Foods is more than likely a member of the elite. The problems with the statement though are: 1, Does Carlson buy arugula at Whole Foods? (ye olde media hypocrisy question; media workers are very well-paid), 2, How large is the arugula-buying demographic; i.e., as we were surprised by soccer moms, aren’t we going to be surprised too by how many people are upper-middle-class (Obama’s base)? 3, Don’t we want a president who buys arugula at Whole Foods?

The third question is the most important. It’s not really a lifestyle question. It’s about habits of mind. Yes, the Obamas are elitist. But elitists have led the fight on global warming, elitists have led the fight for women’s rights and gay rights, elitists have led the fight for stem-cell research. That’s how certain ideas work. They’re adopted by well-educated arugula-eaters first. Arugula itself may be a political issue, inasmuch as Whole Foods is (I imagine, I’ve only been to one a couple of times) dedicated not just to artisanal cheeses, but to some real relationship of consumers to the foods they buy, which as Michael Pollan argues in the American Conservative, is a conservative issue and one vital to the future of the planet.

I got disgusted by elites during the 90s, under Clinton. Elitism then was about globalization, making money, and rationalizing the threats against Clinton’s women. In ’00 I changed my registration to Republican so I could vote for McCain, a straight-talker with a great sense of humor. But McCain doesn’t know how to think, and neither does George Bush. That’s why Bush was prey to the neocons, as Scott McClellan demonstrates in his book. They did the thinking for him. Bush has a third-rate mind. Which is why I’m for Obama. He has a first-rate mind. And he has good values, given to him by his Third-World-hopping mother. He can lead us in a global age out of the disaster Bush has created in the Middle East. And no, he has nothing on McCain’s sense of humor. I’ll vote for humor when there’s order in the world.

As for media hypocrisy, are you as fed up as I am with affluent reporters talking about what people in Pennsylvania and West Virginia really want? They might some times be right, but they are also talking down. What do these reporters really care about in their own lives? What are their values? If they care so much about the common man maybe they should get more of them on television.

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