‘Somebody with a Doctorate’

Well, this is what I’m always saying. This is where anti-elitism gets you. Influential political operatives who are not ashamed to sneer at education.

Why this administration feels unbound by the consensus of academic scientists can be gleaned, in part, from a telling anecdote in Nicholas Lemann’s recent New Yorker profile of Karl Rove. When asked by Lemann to define a Democrat, Bush’s chief political strategist replied, “Somebody with a doctorate.” Lemann noted, “This he said with perhaps the suggestion of a smirk.” Fundamentally, much of today’s GOP, like Rove, seems to smirkingly equate academics, including scientists, with liberals.

And hence with really terrible people. The GOP could of course look at it another way – they could wonder why people with more education tend not to be of their party, they could pause to wonder what that says about their party. They might wonder what people have learned, that tends to make them dislike right wing parties. That would be one reasonable reaction. Or they could do what they are in fact doing, they could be certain in advance that dislike of right wing parties can’t possibly be well-founded and that therefore any activity that tends to promote such dislike must be corrupting and polluting. Hence higher education is a bad thing.

And then of course that has the incalculable added benefit of giving an entirely spurious but tragically convincing aura of populism to the party of tax cuts for the rich, so that people who make too little money even to pay taxes vote GOP all the same in the illusion that the GOP is on the side of Just Plain Folks and against elites. Stark nonsense. The GOP may pride itself on sneering at people with doctorates, but it’s very much in favor of elites.

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