David Frum

09.21.12

Why Michelle Malkin Hates Half Her Country, ctd.

A friend in Texas offers an answer to my question about the source of the anger of the Michelle Malkins. Much wisdom here:

As someone from a Limbaugh-listening, FOX-exclusivist, southern, middle class, WASP family, I think I know where at least some of the anger comes from. The Limbaugh/Malkin “anger” could well be their own true feelings, or (more likely) it could simply be reflecting what their clientele wants.

In fairness, I think it’s important to keep two things separate. One, disdain for the poor; two, disdain for taxpayer handouts to people who don’t deserve them. No one would ever own up to the former, and even modern liberalism eschews the latter. The Malkin quote you used could be ventilation from poor-haters (this time, without the dog whistle!) or an angrily inarticulate denouncement of government nannyism.

Now, for the anger part. Anger is a natural product of fear. First, I think you might be paying short shrift to the fact that going through the Great Recession was culturally transformative. Our very identity as Americans has always been based in part on our unusual prosperity. When the bottom fell out in 2008, people experienced bone-deep fear that this amazing economic miracle could completely disappear. And like getting hit by your husband, if it happened once, it can happen again.

Second, you yourself have noted how scared and vulnerable middle class people are now. Their savings are low, their jobs are shaky, their incomes down, their houses are in trouble, their kids’ college bills are ridiculous, and the Smartest People In The World are responsible for a helluva lot of our current problems while suffering none of the consequences. While I have never bought the “Republicans hate Obama because he’s black” narrative, President Smooth is almost a caricature of the same Ivy League elite who, rather than get a “real” job, created things like naked credit default swaps or taught the Due Process Clause (whatever that is) at an expensive law school.

Meanwhile, Europe could erupt into Lehman 2.0. Hell, I’m a well-educated, well-paid professional---the very person supposedly immune from most of the problems---and it all keeps me awake at night. All that emotion has to go somewhere, and since conservatives can’t/won’t criticize Wall Street and the big businesses that globalize their semi-skilled jobs away, that leaves the layabouts. After all, why else is Big Government . . . big? It’s not for Grandma; it’s for lazy people and bailed-out jerks like the UAW. And no one’s telling them SS/Medicare/Defense are where most of the money goes, or at least they don’t want to hear it. So, bottom line: people are scared and it’s much more satisfying to rail against a nameless welfare queen or a sanctimonious law student who wants free birth control pills.