Why are intellectuals, sometimes the most intelligent among us, so dumb?
This is the question that confounds everyone; some intellectuals most of all. The late William F. Buckley Jr., a certified egghead, once said he would rather be governed by the first 50 names in the Boston telephone book than by the professors at Harvard.
Another wit observes that an intellectual is someone who so prefers theory over experience that he would sit down on a red-hot stove, twice. You can be too smart for your own good, and have the blisters on your bottom to prove it.
The intellectual romance with the clever Barack Obama continues. Having invested so much in candy and flowers, they must ignore all the evidence of being dumped.
His cultivated demeanor and carefully applied patina of synthetic sophistication, fraudulent as it may be, is what attracted the adoration of intellectuals from across the political spectrum in 2008, says Charles Murray, the social scientist and an intellectual with impressive books, studies and learned papers. He admits that he’s a dumpee.
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“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit it,” he tells an interviewer for the website Daily Caller, “but I responded in part to his rhetoric because he talks just like me.
“It’s his whole way of presentation of self … of a little self-deprecation in the argument and picking out a nuance here, which is all the ways that we overeducated people have been socialized in the same way. It’s the way we carry on discourse. Along with [seeing] what was a very engaging personality, I kind of ignored things which … a lot of working-class people glommed onto right away.”
Working-class stiffs, the people an earlier generation of political scientists called “Joe Sixpack,” having earned their blisters and calluses by heavy lifting, are too smart to take a seat on the red-hot stove even once.
Having been to some big towns and heard some big talk, they were too smart by miles to be taken in by a smooth-talking butter and egg man from Chicago.
“It’s not that I think he is not a patriot,” says Mr. Murray, “but remember the line, he said, ‘You didn’t build that.’ No American is going to think you can say that, no matter what your political views are, because it’s just disastrous to say that. He is clueless about this country in some profoundly disturbing ways.”
How could he not be clueless about his native land, when he absorbed anti-American venom in his tender and formative years as a child in the Third World? He was deprived of the instincts and cultural intuitions that are the native son’s birthright.
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No other American president in anyone’s imagination would instruct the National Park Service to evict veterans of World War II, many arriving in wheelchairs or moving with unsteady gait on walkers and walking canes to see the long-awaited memorial to the celebration and sacrifice of their unselfish generation.
The veterans had run afoul of the instructions to the Park Service rangers to “make life as difficult for people as we can.”
Then, only days later, thousands of illegal aliens were invited to rally for privilege and amnesty on the very soil where the veterans, American citizens all, were forcibly told they were not welcome.
Presidents of all stripes usually think they’re special and should be treated that way. But no president before him has guarded his privacy like President Obama.
He constructed his personal history with a ghost-written autobiography and refused to answer questions. He let speculation about his birthplace fester for months, stretching into years, before producing the evidence that put the questions to rest.
This raised no questions from the intellectual class. Why would he have done that?
Inquiring minds didn’t want to know. Mr. Obama’s obsessive protection of personal privacy, however, does not extend to everyone else.
The government eavesdropping on telephone calls, the collection of Internet correspondence, the probing into everyone’s underwear at the airport is OK.
The private man in the White House says so.
So, too, the intimate and intrusive questions asked by the health care schemers, backed by the weight and authority of the Internal Revenue Service. Inquiring intellectual minds don’t want to know about that, either.
Fortunately for all of us, the working-class stiffs, often untutored and even crude in their impolite and impolitic curiosity, continue to “glom” onto the holes in the story of how he would be “the uniting president” of “hope and change.”
His approval ratings have dropped into the 30 percent range. Obamacare now frightens most of us.
The fraud and misrepresentation recognized years ago by Joe Sixpack and his buddies is writ so large now that even an egghead can see it.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.