Kate Harding wrote an interesting post about some two-bit wingnut pundit named S.E. Cupp, who is next in line in the stream of female pundits whose good looks flatter their mainly male audience and who say outrageous things to titillate the haters. I’m actually not surprised that Cupp plays the part of the populist while bragging about her taste for the finer things in life. Ostentatious displays of wealth are actually part and parcel of right wing “populism”, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the base that creates right wing populism is wealthier on average than the country as a whole. Their argument for being “populist” is about class only insofar as they have decided that the more actual privilege you have, the more oppressed you are, which is why they use the term “class warfare” strictly to describe the unsavory attempts of the hoi polloi to get a piece of the wealth that we created through our labor, wealth that right wing populists believes belongs in the hands of the already wealthy.
It may not seem this way, of course, because conservatives enjoy shaming rich liberals for their wealth. To liberals, this might seem that they’re sincere in their hatred of the “elite”. But it’s really not that—shaming rich liberals for wealth is actually a way of shaming them for being class traitors, which is why Caitlin Flanagan only considers it unethical to eat at a fancy restaurant if you have an unsavory desire to make the lives of poorer people more pleasant. If you feel that the children of working class immigrants should be locked in a room, memorizing stuff for 8 hours a day with no relief and certainly no exposure to fresh air and sunlight, then you should eat your fancy food guilt-free, because you are no “elitist”, which is the new euphemism term for “class traitor”.
What I found more interesting was that Cupp also admits to being an atheist, while of course pretending that she finds “Judeo-Christian” values to be superior to her own. I’m not actually surprised she gets away with this, since Karl Rove is in a similar boat, but I’m surprised she has the courage. Being rich is part of being a right wing “populist”—those who aren’t believe they will be some day—but refusing to swear fealty to the fundamentalist god scares the right wing leadership a little more. Except, of course, she did swear fealty to the god she doesn’t believe in, by writing a book about his awesomeness. Which is why she gets away with it.
This whole thing really does expose what I think is an interesting bit of tension within the right wing. The pundit class doesn’t separate themselves from the idiots they condescendingly lead by wealth so much as by cultural markers, and the big one is religion. The fealty they all offer to the fundamentalist god under the term “Judeo-Christian values” is related to the way David Brooks gets all sentimental about the uneducated swarms of the flyover states he’d never deign to hang out with for non-professional reasons. Or how, under a sexist system, men treat “ladies” with this condescending pseudo-respect, opening doors and pulling out chairs to reinforce how your weakness and stupidity makes you delicate and needing of coddling. Unfortunately, more than a few liberal atheists also get sentimental about religion, but the conservative elite takes this condescending, chivalrous attitude towards the fundies to a whole new level. They happily will grow teary-eyed at the salt of the earth fetus-worshipping young earth creationists, but they also shudder to think of lowering themselves to become one.
Which is why I found this post by Blue Texan and this post by Digby so hilarious. Bob Kerrey makes a crack about how Scott Brown—who is a good evil Republican in most of the important ways—isn’t a creationist. The folks at NRO flip their shit, because they don’t want to be lumped in with all those fundamentalist idiots. Oh, they’ll write poetic odes to them, insist that they’re the only Real Americans, and make money peddling books that suggest that said fundamentalist idiots are better people than us. But when push comes to shove, you better respect that they aren’t that fucking stupid. Believing in creationism is for those other right wingers, the morons.