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Why We Hate Her

The roots of Jewish anti-Palinism

Marc Tracy
January 05, 2010
Palin in Fairfax, Virginia, last month.(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Palin in Fairfax, Virginia, last month.(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Jennifer Rubin’s essay in Commentary (via Ben Smith) is titled, “Why Jews Hate Palin”. She provides a number of answers: the former Alaska governor’s staunch position against permitting abortion; false reports of her association with Patrick Buchanan; the sheer fact that Jews are mostly Democrats. There is more specific cultural correlation between Jews and Palin-haters, too: “American Jews are largely urban, clustered in Blue States, culturally sophisticated, with more years of college and postgraduate education than the average American,” Rubin points out. Finally, Rubin finds an explanation in the historic Jewish emphasis on learning:

Jews, who have excelled at intellectual pursuits, understandably are swayed by the notion that the presidency is a knowledge-based position requiring a background in the examination of detailed data and sophisticated analysis. … Palin’s intellectual unfitness in the eyes of Jews was exaggerated during the course of the campaign as they, like other Americans, received an incomplete image of her abilities and talents.

(Of course, an image may be incomplete but not inaccurate. Just saying.)

Responding to Rubin, David Frum has a different idea:

More than any politician in memory, Palin seems to divide her fellow-Americans into first class and second class citizens, real Americans and not-so-real Americans. To do her justice, she has never said anything to suggest that Jews as Jews fall into the second, less-real, class. But Jews do tend to have an intuition that when this sort of line-drawing is done, we are likely to find ourselves on the wrong side.

Then again, perhaps, as Frum puts it in a throwaway line, Jewish attitudes toward Palin are “another manifestation of the old rule about Jews being like other people, only more so.” In 2008, 53 percent of voters went for Barack Obama; 78 percent of Jewish voters did so. It should be similarly unsurprising that most Jews disapprove of Palin—and disapprove of her like Ahab disapproved of the whale.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.