Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Shameless Self-Promotion

Boston Globe Endorses GOP and CRB

According to The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce, "admiration" is "Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves."  Let me politely express, then, my admiration for Neil Gabler's op-ed in today's Boston Globe, "The Best and Brightest Redux."  Gabler says the president and his closest advisors have one important thing in common: they are "onetime middle-class overachievers who made their way into the Ivy League and then catapulted to the top levels of class and power."  The problem is that "in elitism as in religion, no one is more devout than a convert, and these people, again like Obama, all having been blessed by the Ivy League, also embrace Ivy League arrogance and condescension. On this, the Republican critics are right: The administration exudes a sense of superiority."

Gabler is making a point close to the one I advanced in the Spring 2010 Claremont Review of Books on "The Meaning of the Tea Party."  In it, I contended, "Our new meritocratic masters have been more conspicuously smart than wise. They know a lot, but don't know what they don't know. Their self-regard as the modern Americans who are the 'natural aristocrats' Jefferson looked for has left them with an exaggerated sense of their own noblesse, and a deficient awareness of their corresponding oblige."  I agree with Gabler that hyper-competence is not inherently contemptible, but that leaders whose estimate of their own analytical and executive abilities far exceeds what the facts would justify always cause trouble - for themselves and their country.  As I wrote, "A leadership class that actually improved ordinary Americans' security and opportunities would be forgiven condescension worse than Obama's. It's when the people running the country are both disrespectful and ineffectual that folks get angry."

Discussions - 3 Comments

Overachievers my ass. They were relatively smart kids who understood which side the bread was buttered on. Ape the rhetoric and behavior of your Leftist professors; smooze with the most radical elements. You will be rewarded.

The way to muscle your way into America's "elite" class is to discard wisdom. I don't know why that is, but it's true. Our elites are no better than chattering monkeys, endlessly chasing their own tails. Shameful.

Obama, for one, was never an overachiever. He has, however, made the most of his talent for self-promotion.

Gabler seems to have people like Larry Summers in mind. If you know the "meritorcratic" class he's talking about, however, many of the classmembers are not especially meritorious. Many of them are, like Obama, "operators," self-promoters and toadys to the powerful, and thus able to attain considerable wealth and power for themselves with little in the way of "merit" other than dubious educational credentials.

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