Pawlenty and the 'Real American' Double Standard

Earlier this week, Republican presidential hopeful Governor Tim Pawlenty uttered something, that if it had been said by a Democrat, would have led to accusations of elitism, snootiness, and disdain for 'real' Americans. Faced with the question of why he decided to run for president, Pawlenty responded (italics mine):

I try again, saying I am curious about when he first imagined himself worthy of the history books, ready to send soldiers to their deaths and endure the national stage's harsh toll. "I don't know," he replies. "I wish I had a good answer for you on that." Pawlenty says it is not an idea that crossed his mind 15 or 20 years ago but that as he considered life as a relatively young ex-governor, he felt obliged not to take the easy path and "go make some money and play hockey and drink beer."

While Matthew Yglesias points out the dual inanities of this statment--Pawlenty could have done any number of worthwhile things instead of run for office, and he was recently seen playing hockey--it's the media double standard that gets me. Imagine if a Democrat had said this.

Said Democrat would have been pilloried as disdaining sport, as looking down on people who drink beer (no doubt because he drinks wine--French wine), and as 'not getting' the lives of 'real Americans' who like earning money--what is he, a socialist? (An aside: What is wrong with playing hockey and drinking beer?)

But, since being a member of the GOP is an automatic claim to being a 'real American', Pawlenty gets a pass.

More like this

He totally wiffed on that answer. The correct answer for the GOP is some variation on "Jesus wants me to" not some wishy-washy "I had nothing better to do today" answer. If he was a Democrat, the GOP would be playing that statement on a loop and screaming that he wasn't taking the campaign or the office of the presidency seriously enough.