Charles Krupa/AP Photo
Rick Santorum pumps his fist at a rally wearing a sweater vest.
I find it amazing that one man using one word on a stage in front of a couple hundred people can start a national debate over snobbery. (I am not talking about the shutter of judgement that went down my spine when I heard Mitt Romney say "Mornin' y'all" and "cheesy grits"). No, Rick Santorum calling President Obama a snob is still with us, probably longer than his campaign would like thanks to a drawn out explanation that led to Santorum admitting yesterday that his wife, Karen Santorum let him know that while it is quite alright to say there is something "snobbish" about what Santorum (falsely) claimed the President said, he should not call the commander in chief a "snob."
But now we are left with the aftermath of the snob. Rick Santorum admitted last Sunday he actually agreed with what the president had actually said, that people should have options for education beyond just a four-year degree and it turns out some others have found truth in what Rick Santorum said.
Robert McCartney writes in the Washington Post that Rick Santorum accidentally brings up a very good point that far too many are afraid to admit; there is value in post-high school education that is not a four-year degree. That there is more to life than liberal arts and bio-chem, and Chaucer. McCartney says community colleges, vocational and trade schools are just as important to a bustling economy, snobs be damned.
Which brings me to the snob-bashing by Andrew Delbanco in the New York times (go ahead, make an ironic joke here about snob-bashing in the New York Times, of all places.) Delbanco writes "the charge that elite college culture encourages smugness and self-satisfaction contains, like Mr. Santorum’s outburst, a germ of truth." In other words, people behaving snobbishly make it easy to be called snobs, even by a man with an undergraduate and two graduate degrees. Delbanco notes that SAT scores correlate closely with family wealth and that only 3% of students at the top come from the bottom, in other words: no matter how exceptional they say you are when you arrived, there is a big chance you didn't get there solely because it was your own exceptionalism. I had a professor say to me once that having a college diploma doesn't make you a better person, you have to do that on your own.
But while the Political Elite and Elite media spend time debating the intellectual honesty of the snob... it was snobs that made 86-year-old Marilyn Hagerty famous. Hagerty writes for the Grand Forks Herald in Grand Forks, North Dakota and recently wrote a review of the new Olive Garden. The review is plain spoken and direct. She explains her visit in clear detail, so clear in fact that hundreds of thousands who are accustomed to sarcasm and parody, simply did not believe it was true. About 300,000 people have read the article, leading the paper to write an article about people reading her review. And it that is not enough of a piece of meta-journalism for you, consider this. Not only does Hagerty dine with the "real" people that the presidential candidates want to reach, she says she's also eaten at the White House. Twice.