“Every time I hear Sarah Palin talking – more and more to jubilant overflow crowds – I hear the voice of America speaking,” writes Michael Novak on today’s National Review.

It’s an important column because Novak, who has roots in Pennsylvania, understands why so many regular people like Sarah-but why the media, which has worked hard, and to some degree quite successfully, to drive down her favorable ratings, regards her as unfit for national office. She is not one of them, doesn’t share their values, didn’t go to their schools.

Novak writes:

“I wonder if most of the people who are today dissing Sarah Palin, at least among a few conservatives I greatly admire, are more accustomed to debating highly educated liberals. Could it be that they understand the diction of journalism and the academy better than they understand the speech of most of America? They understand the maturity, sophistication, and rationalization of their own world better than the simpler but truer instincts of most of America.

“I remember how shocked H. L. Mencken was when he arrived in tiny Dayton, Tennessee, for the Scopes trial, only to find copies of his own publication The American Mercury on sale in the local drug store, and to meet several people in town who subscribed. He actually thought the yokels and the yahoos read nothing. That was the tone Sarah Palin picked up in Katie Couric, who demanded that Sarah produce a reading list. Sarah was too insulted to care to reply.”

I also want to note another woman who, apparently, isn’t part of the in-crowd: Florida TV anchor Barbara West, whose questions made vice presidential candidate Joe Biden squirm and sneer. (O’Reilly has a transcript of her questions.) She was poised and she asked hard questions, blatant ones no one in the mainstream media would dream of asking. She quoted Marx and asked an obviously uncomfortable Biden to respond to his spread-the-wealth philosophy. How…bourgeois. She was firm and poised, never rude, and she is probably not going to be offered a job in Washington for her good work. But I must say that these two women-Palin and West-have reminded us all that there are plenty of bright, intelligent women (and men!) out there who are well-read, accomplished, and superior in so many ways to the insulting Katie Couric.

Many of those who make it into the media elite/Washington establishment are mediocre. They have had their tickets punched in the right places and worn the right opinions. But they aren’t very deep or original-and they don’t have the nerve to ask hard questions, unless it’s of a Republican, and then they can be rude and demanding.

A cleric named Raymond de Souza, who blogs for a Canadian outlet, has an interesting piece today on how one makes it into this establishment. And there’s some good news for time servers who didn’t manage to go to the right schools:

“Bob Dole stands out on the list for his lack of elite education — Washburn. But Senator Dole took another route to the ruling class, which is to slip into Congress and marinate there long enough to be nominated for national office. His presidential nomination came 20 years after he was nominated for vice-president in 1976. Joe Biden took the same approach, entering the Senate at 30 and remaining there forevermore. His vice-presidential nomination comes 20 years after he first ran for president in 1988. ‘Yes, we can!’ — it’s the motto of almost every senator hoping to hang around long enough to land a national nomination.”

Such time servers are, in the eyes of the press and other Washington old timers, far superior to Sarah Palin.