. . . Monday April 19, 2004

There Will Not Be a Quiz

We’re talking about a guy who went to Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School. He owned businesses and baseball teams. Oh, yeah, and his father was the President of the United States. So it might strike you as odd when a person with President Bush’s background (not to mention his current gig which is certainly considered “up there” by almost every measure) would have so much clear disdain for the elite. But he does.

On the most basic level, Bush holds those in contempt who qualify as members of the intellectual elite. So who are these evil-doers who hold qualities such as common sense and intellectual firepower in such high regard? Who are these inquisitive buzzkillers (let’s call them un-patriots) who, from their ivory towers of intellect and reason, place deep thought above deep sleep? Geniuses perhaps (yuck, we hate them)? Academics dedicated to analysis, reading and teaching? (Please, you know the old saying. Only those who can’t flick towels, chug beers or order the world’s most powerful military in action, teach.) Weeklong champions on the gameshow Jeopardy? Librarians? Writers? Those damn kids in junior high who always turn in extra credit assignments.

Actually the category is whole lot broader than you might think (which of course is no no). Let’s put it this way. If you are reasonably sure that Chicken of the Sea is not chicken, then I’ve got bad news for you. You are elite.

Here is how Bob Woodward described an exchange with the President in which reference was made to the elite. “He’s not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker … He chastised me at one point; Well you travel in elite circles.”

What question did Bob Woodward ask that got him thrown from the straight-line fraternity into the elite circle of jerks? Perhaps it was something esoteric about a tiny detail from the Pentagon’s war planning? Maybe it was some left-leaning inquiry about the connection between our historical military efforts (And who cares about history? As a shrugging W explains, “We’ll all be dead.”) and the one in Iraq?

Nope. Woodward mentioned that people were concerned about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction.

In the Bush world, once you’ve added two and two to get four, any future reference to the two is considered somehow elitist. We were led to a war (at least as we heard it) specifically because of the threat posed by WMDs. And now any questions regarding those WMDs have got to be the work of some liberal, academic, newspaper-reading, Good Will Hunting, professorial, tree-hugging braniac.

And besides, it all sounds like an essay question, doesn’t it? At least make it multiple choice.

If such an inquiry is deep thinking, it’s at most a millimeter deep (Wait, I meant to say inch. Millimeters are French aren’t they?). The non-elite (which is how Bush clearly views his base of voters) would never come up with such rhetorical, analytical, Socratic nonsense.

Come on, how much longer are we going to accept this simpleminded, condescending hogwash and continue to allow our leader to describe being smart (or even awake, it seems) as something negative?

Acutally, do yourself a favor. Don’t answer that.

Concentration is important!