Christopher Edley, Jr… a former Harvard Law professor and current Berkeley Law Dean… whines that Americans in the Heartland just don’t appreciate how much better the Ivy League elites are than they.
In September 1988, I was helping prepare Gov. Michael Dukakis for a presidential debate against Vice President George H.W. Bush. The late Bob Squier, a brilliant operative, coached: “Remember, in this debate, the voter is sitting at home watching the tube, trying to decide which one of these two characters they want in their living room every night for four years. They’ve got to like you.” Everyone got the message: The brainiac doesn’t win, niceness counts, eliteness alienates. (Dukakis, like me, attended Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School; Bush went to Yale.)
The tension between elitism and populism is embedded in our national DNA because America rejected the model of a monarch ruling by divine right in favor of an iffy experiment in democratic self-governance. So now you are responsible for choosing your leader. Do you want someone like you or someone better than you?
Naturally, his idea of a brilliant leader is… Barack Obama.
Obama’s handlers use sports to humanize a brilliant man. But when he is pressing Afghan President Hamid Karzai about corruption or drug companies about health care, we are thankful for his intellect, not his jump shot.
Never mind that the man can’t tell the difference between comprehensive and liability-only insurance, can’t pronounce “corpsman,” is fuzzy on the number of states there are, doesn’t know the difference between an inhaler and a breathalyzer, and couldn’t order a Happy Meal without a teleprompter in front of him.
His basic … and flawed… assumption is that Harvard and Yale only select “The best of the best,” and they rarely make mistakes in their discernment over who is worthy. Therefore America should be delighted to have Ivy League elites ruling over them. Never mind that these are the same elites … installed at the Fed, at Fannie and Freddie, at Goldman Sachs… that managed to drive the economy over a cliff.
It is inconceivable to him that many of America’s brightest and most creative minds do not even want to attend Ivy league colleges, but would rather get to work starting businesses, creating jobs, making art, and raising families. To him, none of this is as important as getting a paper published in the Harvard Law Review.
Which, come to think of it, our genius president never did either.