Fry­ing eggheads on a hot stove

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Wes­ley Pruden

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. “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 work­ing­class 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. 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.

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