Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The term "elites" seems to have an interesting connotation for talk radio conservatives. I've read Laura Ingraham's book, _Shut Up and Sing_, and she constantly references "elites" in there. She makes some concession in there that not all "elites" are liberal - surprise, surprise. But the focus in the book and on her show when it comes to "elites" is on the typical far right's boogeymen - LIBERALS. The term "elite" is supposed to evoke goofy Hollywood limousine liberals, Harvard intellectuals, the East Coast "establishment" (whatever that means), ACLU lawyers, etc.

If the term "elites" is really to mean anything, it should be applied to those who actually wield power. Sure, liberals in Hollywood have a bully pulpit in the media - but they can't really effect any change. They may raise the hackles of those in the "heartland" (another interesting term), but that's about it.

The term "elite" really takes on more meaning in the real world when it is applied as Chomsky uses it - he seems to use this term interchangeably with "intellectuals" (he doesn't use this term in the same fashion as right wing radio does - "intellectual" as they use it means anyone who has anything beyond a high school education, but only if they don't adhere to conservative and/or evangelical Christian dogma). These are the people who "manufacture consent" and/or have the ear of those who enact policy, and in some cases, actually write or enact policy. Think of those who were charter members of Project for the New American Century, the conservative think tank that advocated current Iraq policy pre-9/11: Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Richard Perle. Now THOSE are elites.

Applying the term "elite" to the likes of Barbara Streisand looks really dumb in comparison. Since right wing radio hosts often pride themselves on being anti-intellectual, it makes sense that they so often can get away with this asinine use of "elite".

Now, if applied to the likes of Kerry, then it looks a little less silly. The problem is, when talk radio brings this up, they invariably have to do mental backflips to avoid noticing, that hey, Bush is an EVEN BIGGER ELITE than Kerry, despite well-orchestrated photo-ops where he's out sawing wood and clearing brush on his "ranch".

What I find most amusing about Laura's derision of "elites", is that she doesn't really acknowledge that she is one. I've heard her mention on her show that she was working out and saw George Stephanopoulos at her gym, for example. I doubt many of her "heartland" listeners roll like that. She also dated a senator. She also has the sixth largest talk radio audience. I'd say having that much exposure and ability to form opinions of so many qualifies as elite.

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