Newt Gingrich makes a similar argument to Charles Krauthammer’s in yesterday’s Washington Post, which is that Barack Obama really doesn’t get America. That’s not to argue over origins, because as Gingrich also points out, a cadre of American elitists fall into the same trap. While the majority of the country opposes the federal lawsuit against Arizona, the ivory-tower academics are really the only group enthusiastically cheering it on. It speaks to a fundamental disconnect from the American mainstream, and that spells trouble for Obama that goes far beyond this lawsuit:
An apocryphal quote had New Yorker magazine film critic Pauline Kael claim to be surprised by Richard Nixon’s landslide re-election, saying that no one she knew voted for him. That quote gets pulled out on occasion to demonstrate the cluelessness of media and academic elites about the nature of the American mainstream. The actual quote was somewhat more damning:
“I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”
In other words, it’s not an accidental cluelessness, but deliberate snobbery. That seems to be the case for this administration as well. The lawsuit against Arizona appears to be an attempt to lecture the American mainstream about how Obama and his circle demand us to think, not an attempt to right some egregious wrong. If that were the case, then Obama would have filed suit against Rhode Island last year for doing the same thing, and would have ended the BIET program that encourages state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration law and refer violators to ICE.
Barack Obama seems to have a bad case of Kael Syndrome, in one sense or the other, and the American mainstream has begun to discover it.
Update: Kael wrote for the New Yorker, not the New York Times. Thanks to Kevin S for the heads-up.