MENSA VS. MENSCHS:
Welcome to the Democrats' Misreading
: How the Liberal Elite Keep Losing Big Elections to the 'Regular' Guys Like Bush and Reagan (David Von Drehle, November 10, 2002, Washington Post)
Given a choice between having the votes of intellectuals and the votes of everyone else, the Republicans and George W. Bush are happy to take Option B. More voters
are turned off by casual talk about IQ and reading habits than are turned on.
"Everybody knows what they need to know about human nature by about the third grade," Rogers theorized. "The smart kid up in the front of the class wasn't necessarily the one you wanted as captain of the football team, or to pal around with. You probably didn't even want him for class president."
Reed concurred. Liberal snobbishness, he said, is music to White House ears. Speaking of Bush's political guru, Reed said, "I'm sure there is nothing Karl Rove likes better than to have a bunch of intellectuals suggesting that George Bush is not one of them. After all, the Republicans are not targeting the Mensa vote in these elections." That would be the society of smart people.
The bottom line may be this: Conventional wisdom before Tuesday would have told most politicians that there was nothing smart about a president going into several dozen extremely close House, Senate and gubernatorial races to campaign with potential losers. A sophisticated politician would know better than to risk it. He could be blamed for bad outcomes.
George W. Bush did a dumb thing, in those terms. Dumb like a fox.
The Democrats, on the other hand, who take the Mensa crowd
seriously, seem hell bent on cornering their votes even if it means surrendering the rest of the country to the GOP.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 10, 2002 4:26 PM
Yes, this is a labelling issue. I don't have a problem with Dems being portrayed as intellectuals/smart and Reps as folksy, as this softens all the other vicious and vacuous steroetypes: uncaring vs caring, rich vs needy...etc.
However, this is not about smart vs dumb. This is more about hedonistic intellectualism vs. pragmatic problem-solving. Which to me is just a stone's throw away from liberalism vs conservativism. Put this way, it is clear that GWB should appeal to those who lean towards the latter, regardless of how well educated and/or smart they happen to be.
Common folk -- lets say those without the burden of much advanced schooling -- have an uncanny ability to see problems for what they are, and deal with them without twisting themselves into intellectual pretzels every time they face a problem. It is no wonder GWB appeals to a lot of them.
In extremis, sophisticated folk -- those who have devoted a meaningful fraction of their lifes being schooled -- begin to think of education as an end not a means. I think they forget that, advanced education endows one with some (even substantial) analytical advantages, but it does not transform one into a higher form of life. Conservatives see education as the acquisition of tools to deal with reality. Liberals see it -- at best -- as a way to transcend it; at worst, as a way to obsecure or reject it elegantly.
On a final note: this may also be a case of liberals just simply refusing to see intelligent life outside of liberal arts campuses and the establishment media. I challenge an objective analyst to evaluate the analysis coming out of the Blogsphere aganist that coming out of the Establishment Media, and deem the former lacking in substance.
E.B. White, Stephen Hawking, and Linus Pauling made significant contributions to mathematics, physics, and chemistry respectively. But they later made fools of themselves in politics, theology, and physiology, respectively.
It usually happens after gaining celebrity status; after becoming renowned in a field X, they think they can expound with authority on unrelated area Y.
Hollywood actors seem particularly susceptible to this.