The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The “Educated Class”

In yesterday’s NYT column, David Brooks tries to explain the “sour mood” that has led to President Obama’s plummeting poll numbers and to the negative public feelings about everything from the Congress, to Healthcare legislation, to anthropogenic global warming. Brooks asserts that “Americans have lost faith in their institutions. During the great moments of social reform, at least 60 percent of Americans trusted government to do the right thing most of the time. Now, only a quarter have that kind of trust.” But he then goes off the rails when he states:
The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

The “educated class?” Let me be sure I understand this … Does he assert that to be “educated” means that one must toe the progressive line on all things? For those of us in the Center who’d like to think we’re educated, his comments are, well, offensive. But more importantly, they’re indicative of the Left’s view that any disagreement on doctrine, whether its AGW or deficit spending, makes the person asking hard questions uneducated.

I would submit that one of the reasons that Barack Obama (unlike, say, Bill Clinton) is having trouble connecting with the “uneducated” masses is that he believes his own clippings—that he and his cohorts are the smartest guys in the room. No so much.

Will Collier has a few edgy comments in response to Brooks:
First, David, until you can explain--without consulting Google--say, Bernoulli's theorem and how it relates to flight, don't bother passing yourself and your like-minded NYDC pals off as the country's sole "educated class." Out here in the hinterlands, we're well aware that you and your Ivy League buddies believe that you are the only actual educated people on the planet, but you ought to have learned somewhere along the way that belief in an idea does turn that idea into reality. Asserting as much, to borrow a line from the late John Hughes, just makes you look like an ass.

What Brooks, with his touching faith in "pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise" doesn't want to talk about, of course, is just how badly the Ivy League class has failed over the past couple of decades. All those rows of degrees from Harvard didn't keep a pack of Brooksian elites--mostly members of the Democratic Party--from running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac straight into the toilet, and taking the private economy with them. Hiring out of the Ivies also didn't save Lehman Brothers or AIG from doing remarkably stupid things with other people's money. And as for "professional expertise…" just what profession does the Obama cabinet posses expertise in, other than hardball politics?

This president and his government are not only largely inexperienced when it comes to the private sector or even practical knowledge of middle America, they tend to view both in outright contempt. Recall Obama's famous "bitter clingers" speech and autobiographical aversion to "the suburbs," or his wife's admonitions against "joining corporate America." One with an overweening faith in "pragmatic federal leaders" probably hasn't been paying much attention to Ivy-accredited politicians like alleged geniuses (and TARP/Fannie Mae culprits) Barney Frank or Chris Dodd.

It’s interesting to note that members of Obama’s cabinet have painfully little non-governmental experience (only 10 percent of current cabinet members). In fact, less real world (private sector) experience than any other cabinet in the past 100 years. Actually, that’s not surprising. The President himself had absolutely no private sector or executive experience when he was elected leader of the free world.

The problem is that Preident Obama seems to heed advice only from Brook’s “educated class” and as a consequence, common sense and hard nosed realism, a clear regard for real-world economic policy, and hard nosed geopolitical interaction sometimes seem to be missing. But not to worry—they’re all Ivy Leaguers. We’re in really good, “educated” hands.