One of the easiest class markers is weight. If you see someone who's fat, chances are, he or she didn't grow up as a member of the upper class.
Now, close your eyes and picture Michael Moore.
He's fat, rumpled and as working class as they come. He didn't graduate from college, and he has little patience with intellectualism for its own sake -- even though he possesses a rather impressive intellect of his own.
When Farenheit 9/11 came out, I wrote about it too many times to count. At the time, I noticed that I was in a very small crowd of Michael Moore supporters. "This is a no-brainer," I thought to myself. "Why aren't more bloggers defending him?"
My working-class roots were making it hard for me to notice it's not just conservatives who have a problem with Michael Moore. All too often, liberals talk about him as though they'd stepped in doggy doo -- weary "reasonableness" in their tone, noses wrinkled at the unpleasant smell.
But I suspect it goes beyond his being fat and working class. (Oh, did I mention he's also a practicing Catholic? How déclassé!) I think they're also jealous and resentful.
Why? Because Michael Moore is a brilliant political strategist, a populist who's done more to move the political debate against the war in this country than a million journal articles, blog posts, serious journals or talking heads.
That's leadership. That's star power.
Star power is something seriously lacking both in the Democratic party and their pitiful media infrastructure.
Intellectuals tend to disdain anything that speaks in plain, simple language. They would rather have people completely in the dark about their point than speak in such a clear, concise way that anyone could understand their intent. It's almost as if they believe an idea can't be valuable if too many people can understand it.
(I once helped a friend edit her doctoral thesis. She came back later and told me her advisor said it was "too clear." The poor woman had to go back and obfuscate the whole thing again.)
The older I get, the less patience I have with obfuscation. There was a time when I devoured intellectual journals like The New York Review of Books and The Progressive. It's just that I got fed up with reading the same things, written for people who already agree with them.
The real fight is in the street and as I say, I'm a populist, not a liberal. I'm a lot more interested in what's being done in the mass media. That's why I'll read Rolling Stone before I'll read The Nation or Mother Jones. I don't see those publications gaining any new ground, and frankly, time's a-wastin.'
Michael Moore's made another brilliant move with his latest movie, Sicko.
The liberal establishment has been saying for years: "Yes, of course a national health system is the only sane solution but naturally, it isn't politically feasible so let's just look at what small changes the special interests will 'allow' us."
Meanwhile, Michael Moore went on his merry way. First he made the movie, and then he assembled an awesome public relations machine, made some strategic alliances and went out on the road to make sure ordinary people knew what he was saying.
"Screw that incremental policy crap," Michael Moore must have told himself. "Let's go for the whole enchilada." (The whole enchilada being a real national healthcare system.)
You know what? He just might pull it off. At the very least, politicians are going to be restored to a much healthier state:
Namely, scared to death of the voters.