Today's column by the NY Times' David Brooks is getting a good deal of blogospheric attention. Brooks puts on his familiar "Americans In The Mist" safari hat to once again analyze those strange beings from beyond Manhattan (and the Beltway), and reaches the following conclusion:
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.
Brooks goes on to enumerate several liberal positions, all of which Brooks (an alleged conservative) strongly implies his own "educated" agreement with, including man-made global warming, gun control and "multilateral" (presumably meaning UN-approved) international action. After several graphs disparaging the burgeoning Tea Party movement as "amateurish" and "crude," Brooks notes,
The Obama administration is premised on the conviction that pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise should have the power to implement programs to solve the country’s problems. Many Americans do not have faith in that sort of centralized expertise or in the political class generally.
There's a subtle shift here; having pushed the concept of an intellectually superior "educated class" for most of the column, Brooks switches to "political class," perhaps in an effort to distance himself (and we can have no doubt that Brooks considers himself and his beloved Obama the epitomes of the "educated class") from the foibles of those grubby politicians. This hedge aside, there are a few points worth making about Brooks' armchair sociology.
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 not 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.
Brooks does actually stumble into a correct point by associating the current Washington crew with the word "pragmatic," but he fails utterly to note the intended end of that pragmatism: extending their own power. Like their spiritual forefathers in the New Deal, the Obami quickly abandoned most of their ideological goals (although not the demagogic language of that ideology) when reality failed to comply with theory. In their place came the much more politically pragmatic mantra of "tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect." That's what Obama's trillions in "Monopoly money"--other people's Monopoly money, of course--are all about.
That's what the "stimulus," serving mostly to funnel federal pork to favored politicians and government employee unions, was all about. That's what nationalization of GM and Chrysler to the benefit of the UAW was all about. That's what nationalizing the banks to extend Federal power over their operations was all about. The current "health care" bills are only peripherally about patients and doctors; their real purpose is to put as many voters as possible under Federal medical Welfare. After all, almost everybody on Welfare votes Democratic, and that's what Brooks' "educated class" wants to see more than anything else.
Brooks continues his extended sneer for the rest of the column, finishing by noting, "I'm not a fan of this movement." Worry not, David, out here in flyover country, we're not too wild about you, either. As Megan McArdle very aptly put it a little over a year ago, regarding Tea Party matriarch (and Brooks' ultimate bête noire), Sarah Palin,
[She] speaks to the sense of people who didn't go to Ivy League schools that Harvard grads think they're not quite bright, and definitely not competent to run their own lives without a Yale man supervising things. And they're entirely right that a lot of Ivy League grads do think this way, consciously or unconsciously.
… I may not like what she stands for, but I have to acknowledge its power--and yes, that frequently, the coastal elites earn the revulsion of Middle America. They don't, to coin a phrase, hate us for our freedoms--our homosexual coddling, abortion loving ways. They hate us because we act like we think we deserve to rule them.
To which I would only add, "And because you've proven so many times that you're no damn good at it."