My always-on-point colleague, Kevin Drum, posted this quiz today that’s based on the anti-“New Elite” Washington Post ramblings of quasi-eugenicist Charles Murray. (This poll’s originator, Claire Berlinski, called it the “How Plebe are You?” quiz, but I happen to think that “plebe” is a fairly elitist term.) So, do establishment conservatives and tea partiers have us lefties pegged right, or are we actually plebeian as all hell? Take a gander at my results:
HOW PLEBE ARE YOU?
1. Can you talk about “Mad Men?” Yep. (-10)
2. Can you talk about the “The Sopranos?” Sure. (-5)
3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right?” Yep, he’s a former jarhead. (+20)
4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? Sadly…yep. (+1)
5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga? Animatedly? Um, no. (+0)
6. How about pilates? Only to bitch about its most religious adherents. (+10)
7. How about skiing? Nope. (+5)
8. Mountain biking? Nope. (+5)
9. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? Yes, and I even know he’s not actually a Southerner. (+20)
10. Does the acronym MMA mean anything to you? Does it! Did you see Brock Lesnar get schooled by Cain Velasquez the other night? (+50)
11. Can you talk about books endlessly? Indeed. (-50)
12. Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? Yes, and I can tell my Tim LaHaye from my Hal Lindsey. (+30)
13. How about a Harlequin romance? Yes…and it was NASCAR-themed. (+100.)
14. Do you take interesting vacations? While stationed in Iraq (+5000), I once took leave in Paris (-5000).
15. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? No, but my dog peed on the Continental Divide once. (+1)
16. What about an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor? Huh? (+5)
17. Would you be caught dead in an RV? I’ve ridden in one, but would prefer not to die in one. (+0)
18. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship? Do USS Constitution, Rhode Island, or Boone count? (+25)
19. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? Yep. Like Memphis and Graceland better, though. (+25)
20. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? Nope. (-20)
21. How about the Rotary Club? (-20)
22. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town? Raised in Saugerties, NY. You tell me. (+25)
23. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? It’s called Hamilton Heights, but you probably just know it as Harlem. (+25)
24. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line? I live on the poverty line now. Growing up, my family lived in a trailer in the woods and subsisted for a winter on frozen sausage and saved-up garden herbs. (+500)
25. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Or half my family? Here’s where they worshiped. (+50)
26. Have you ever visited a factory floor? Yep. (+10)
27. Have you worked on one? No (-10), but I applied and was rejected for a job on a Motorola line (+10), and went back to waiting tables and teaching for another three years (+50).
Question my weighting if you like, but I appear to stand firmly in plebeian territory at 853 points. Also, I feel it fair to point out that I actually was a plebe once—in fact, my plebe-year class at the Naval Academy was documented in a photo exhibition (+1000), but the photographer is now President Obama’s official White House photog (-1500). Which brings me a little closer to normal.
By the by, Murray, the architect of this kulturkampf litmus test, is a truly plebeian fellow of the Washington-based right-wing think thank the American Enterprise Institute. He’s a 1965 graduate of Harvard, with a Ph.D. from MIT (-20000), but I won’t knock him on it, since after Annapolis I too went to an Ivy (as well as a state school), and like me, he sounds like he got there on his own hard work and financed an education himself. And Lord knows there’s nothing more elitist than drawing unfair, generalizing conclusions about people you haven’t bothered to meet!
Do you disagree with my self-assessment? Or perhaps with Murray’s asinine standards of “real” petit bourgeois Americanness? I’d run them past my parents, but their AOL dial-up connection takes forever to load a page, and since they still have to run a small business with little savings and no health insurance, they tend not to have that sort of free time (+1000000).