In 2008, Barack Obama was an elitist. This was the worst thing ever. He supposedly ate in fancy restaurants and ordered unearthly foreign delights like arugula. This meant he was out of touch with the average person, unlike his opponent John McCain who -- as you might remember -- couldn't remember exactly how many houses he owned.
[Human Events, 2008:]
John McCain may be gaining what Obama is losing among women because of Obama's "Arugula Gap."
"Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Obama asked an Iowa crowd in 2007. I had to Google "arugula" to discover it's a leafy substitute for lettuce in trendy restaurant salads. Most people don't shop at Whole Foods (which specializes in "organic" foods and other environmentally-fashionable products). And most women, I suspect, aren't looking for a presidential candidate who reminds them more of their high school French teacher than of John F. Kennedy.
And that's why we're all talking about President McCain today, right? Of course, it turned out the quote was misrepresented, but conservative pundits are twelve year-old boys and "arugula" is a funny sounding word, so the meme would not be allowed to die. The right actually seemed to believe that accusing the president of knowing what an Italian salad green was would anger the populace and cost him the presidency. So they all ran with the "elitist" line -- straight away from the White House.
Given how the Republican Party and conservative pundits hate fancy-pants foods and elitist dining, you'd think they'd all be up in arms over this:
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Wednesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis.
It was the same night reports started trickling out about President Obama pressing Congressional leaders to consider changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for GOP support for targeted tax increases.
"Bistro Bis?" $350 bottles of Pinot Noir? If they drove there in a Prius, it'd be the exact rightwing caricature of the out-of-touch liberal elitist. This is what they're supposed to hate -- hell, this is what they spent months trying to convince you you were required to hate in order to be a "real" American -- yet here's a high-profile Republican hitting all the hot buttons.
So, did the right wing go apecrap over Ryan's obvious elitism? Of course not. They're defending him against gotcha journalism. And why?
Because everything's OK when a Republican does it. As always is with GOP scandals -- be they big or, as in this case, pretty much trivial -- it's not the act that's the problem, it's the hypocrisy. People who down $350 bottles of wine with -- and not two economists, but a hedge fund manager and an economist -- don't get to call other people "elitists."