The Philadelphia Story is my favorite movie ever. It has my three favorite actors--Hepburn, Stewart, and Cary Grant--it's funny, and the main character is named Tracey. What's not to love? My favorite scene in the movie is the one the above line comes from: Jimmy Stewart is the cynical journalist out to expose the foibles of the rich, and who finds himself increasingly attracted to his subject, much to his dismay. When he accuses Hepburn of the "crimes of the rich," she turns the tables with a spot-on analysis that forces Stewart to see that snobbery and disdain are not just the domains of the wealthy. The idea of the intellectual snob has stuck with me over the years, and Hepburn's line has rung increasingly true with me as I've travelled through the ranks of academia and self-proclaimed cultural elites.
Intellectual snobbery is the only real weapon left to those whose ideas are morally indefensible and intellectually bankrupt. When academicians, journalists, and politicians find their views met with scepticism or rejected outright, they tend to respond by wrapping their mantle of "greater understanding" around themselves and hastening to point out that their opponents simply don't have "the entire picture," or "a full understanding of the issues involved." Sometimes, they get a little carried away and go straight into the vicious invective category--like the movie review of Harry Potter that sums up the film by calling George W Bush a retarded monkey. That statement is indicative of a mental disconnect that I cannot begin to fathom--did someone forget his lithium?--but it's also an example of intellectual snobbery at its finest (if by "finest" you mean "most amazingly ridiculous").
Which brings me to the latest example of intellectual snobbery masquerading as thoughtful analysis--Daschle's idea that
"What happens when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that people aren't satisfied just to listen," Mr. Daschle said. "They want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so, you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up dramatically and — on our families and on us in a way that's very disconcerting."
"If entertainment becomes so much a part of politics," he said, "and if that entertainment drives an emotional movement in this country among some people who don't know the difference between entertainment and politics and who are then so energized to go out and hurt somebody, that troubles me about where politics in America is going."
You don't even have to read between the lines to see that Daschle has managed to salve his own ego by clinging to the belief that he simply doesn't have a chance to be the voice of reason in a land of mouth-breathing inbreds who "selected" a retarded monkey as president and who can't distinguish between reality and fantasy. To which I must reply, "Shut up, you fatuous pissant." Here's what you should be doing--analyzing reality. But it's much easier just to cling to the idea that no one else gets it and everybody who isn't a Democrat is just stupid and heavily armed and irrational and EEEEEEEK! Run away, for the Limbaugh barbarians are at the gates and they want to EAT MY CHILDREN!!!!! WITH RELISH AND ONION!!!!
The only bright side to all of this is that, like Katherine Heburn's character in the movie, Americans aren't fooled by this crap. I just hope that the snobs in question possess the presence of mind that Jimmy Stewart did, to understand their own foibles and relax their prejudices. Only, I don't want the debate to end like it did in the film, with a kiss. The idea of a big wet smooch from Daschle makes me feel the need to go gargle.