I can’t think of a more pronounced, but perfectly true, insult than that.
If you are confused by the first nine months of the Obama administration, take solace that there is at least a pattern. The president, you see, thinks America is a university and that he is our campus president. Keep that in mind, and almost everything else makes sense.
Obama went to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard without much of a break, taught at the University of Chicago, and then surrounded himself with academics, first in his stint at community organizing and then when he went into politics. It shows. In his limited experience, those who went to Yale or Harvard are special people, and the Ivy League environment has been replicated in the culture of the White House.
Note how baffled the administration is by sinking polls, tea parties, town halls, and, in general, â€œthemâ€ â€” the vast middle class, which, as we learned during the campaign, clings to guns and Bibles, and which has now been written off as blinkered, racist, and xenophobic. The earlier characterization of rural Pennsylvania has been expanded to include all of Middle America.
For many in the academic community who have not worked with their hands, run businesses, or ventured far off campus, Middle America is an exotic place inhabited by aborigines who bowl, donâ€™t eat arugula, and need to be reminded to inflate their tires. They are an emotional lot, of some value on campus for their ability to â€œfixâ€ broken things like pipes and windows, but otherwise wisely ignored. Professor Chu, Obamaâ€™s energy secretary, summed up the sense of academic disdain that permeates this administration with his recent sniffing about the childish polloi: â€œThe American people . . . just like your teenage kids, arenâ€™t acting in a way that they should act.â€ Earlier, remember, Dr. Chu had scoffed from his perch that California farms were environmentally unsound and would soon disappear altogether, â€œWeâ€™re looking at a scenario where thereâ€™s no more agriculture in California.â€
It is the role of the university, from a proper distance, to help them, by making sophisticated, selfless decisions on health care and the environment that the unwashed cannot grasp are really in their own interest â€” deluded as they are by Wal-Mart consumerism, Elmer Gantry evangelicalism, and Sarah Palin momism. The tragic burden of an academic is to help the oppressed, but blind, majority.
That’s a long clip, but it’s so on the mark that I couldn’t resist. Please hit the link and finish reading Hanson’s piece.