From Joe Klein: http://swampland.blo...s-authenticity/
But Christine O'Donnell is not like that. She is attractive, to some, because she doesn't know anything. She couldn't name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with, not even Roe v. Wade. There is no way she could ever be confused with a member of the elites; there is no way she could be confused with an above average high school student. Her ignorance, therefore, makes her authentic--the holy grail of latter-day American politics: she's a real person, not like those phony politicians. In that sense, she--and the lifeboat filled with other Tea Party know-nothings--follow in the wake of our leading exemplar of ignorant authenticity, Sarah Palin (who seems every bit as unaware of public policy--she certainly never talks about it--as she was when a desperate and petulant John McCain chose her to be his running mate).
There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts. It is a society that no longer takes itself seriously. This is not a complaint about the current Republican tide, by the way: that's part of the natural flow of political life, a result of the economy and the President's abstruse brand of politics. I'll welcome the arrival in Washington of smart Republicans like Ohio's Rob Portman; I won't welcome an ideologue like Rand Paul, but at least he's done some thinking about what constitutes good public policy (although his notion of such is puerile and ultimately fatal to a democracy). A businesswoman like Carly Fiorina certainly has the qualifications to be a Senator, even if you disagree with her politics. Christine O'Donnell does not, nor does Sharron Angle, nor does Ron Johnson in Wisconsin; nor does Carl Paladino have the qualifications to be governor of New York.
But they are all certifiably non-elite. Steve Rattner, on the other hand, is a card-carrying member of the financial elites--and his story may help explain why the public has so little time for the Establishment these days. Rattner is a journalist turned investment banker, an Ivy Leaguer, a denizen of Manhattan's happiest haunts and of summers on Martha's Vineyard, vacation spot of choice for Democratic Presidents. He did a fine job as Barack Obama's auto czar; the GM and Chrysler bailouts seem to be working brilliantly, saving thousands upon thousands of good American jobs. I know Steve pretty well; I've had dinner at his house; we've had good conversations; our kids have played together.
He also is lucky that he's not going to jail. The Securities and Exchange Commission has fined him $5 million and banned him from finance, for a time, because he and his partners apparently attempted to bribe major pension funds in New York to invest with them. From Bob Rubin to Hank Paulson, recent Presidents have turned to financiers who gained fame by making deals rather than by making products (the current Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, never was a Wall Street dealmaker, but he comes from that world). Their disastrous chicanery is part of the reason--a good part of the reason--why voters are rebelling against expertise this year.
It occurs to me that George W. Bush had the right idea the first time around, hiring Paul O'Neill, who came from the world of manufacturing, as his Treasury Secretary--and then, of course, he fired O'Neill, who couldn't stand the irresponsibility of Bush's economic policies.
I am not saying that Steve Rattner is directly to blame for Christine O'Donnell. But he is part of a generation of financiers, the most respected figures in our society, who have been disgraced utterly by their greed and shenanigans--and who have made the world safe for Mama Grizzlies. This is how a great power wanes. This is why Barack Obama's next Treasury Secretary has to be a successful business executive with an unimpeachable record of creating jobs, not financial parlor tricks.