At last, we academics will be in charge!

The Washington Post has a story about how Barack Obama is filling his administration with Ivy League grads and academics. From Academic Elites Fill Obama’s Roster:

Yale law professor Dan Kahan said several of his colleagues are for the first time considering leaving their perches for Washington. “You know how Obama always said, ‘This is our moment; this is our time?’ ” Kahan said. “Well, academics and smart people think, ‘Hey, when he says this is our time, he’s talking about us.’ “

No! Mr. Obama, no! Take it from me, who am one. You don’t want academics to run the country!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    I think the phrase “academics and smart people” is a pretty good summary of how they see themselves. I am just thankful these smart people are around to tell me what to think.

  • MarkE

    Not only that, now they’ll also have the coercive power of government to make us obey.

  • Mary

    Cuz why would they possibly be content teaching young minds content? Oh yeah, no wonder they’re looking for more “meaningful” work.

  • Bruce Gee

    It is logical that people would want the “best and the brightest” to be their rulers. Perhaps we mistake academics for the best and brightest. What is surprising is how often these people are unable to rule wisely. It is counter-intuitive for many that a Sarah Palin (or a Harry Truman), with her back-country hick ways and even more back-country ideals and values, could be a great and wise ruler.

    I think before an academic is allowed to go to Washington, he should prove that he can find what he’s looking for in his own office. That ought to thin out the herd.

  • http://www.brandywinebooks.net Lars Walker

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, become bureaucrats.

  • FW

    It might be worse than that. Rubin has his fingerprints all over President-elect Obama´s choices for economic related jobs. Ribn, along with greenspan and Phil Gramm are directly responsible for the failure to place the new derivatives market under the rule of law by insisting on laws that would require transparency in that market.

    we are not hearing more complaints about this because both democrats and republicans supported those measures. It does not look good.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Wasn’t it Frederick the Great who said something to the effect of “If I wished to punish a province, I would have it run by philosophers”? Another wise word on this subject came, I believe, from Thomas Sowell, who noted that some ideas are so idiotic, they can only survive on a university campus.

    And Lars, the way I heard that one is “Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” Either way. :^)

  • Peter Leavitt

    David Halberstram wrote an incisive book, The Best and the Brightest, about the mostly Ivy League types who delivered the country into and poorly executed the Vietnam War. One, also, thinks of Bill Buckley’s remark that he would sooner be governed by the first two-hundred folk in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Agreed. And if I think of my fellow alumni, it is rare that the brightest stay at ‘varsity anyway – it just doesn’t pay enough. Many PhD’s got there by default – thye had no idea what to do, so they just went on studying…

    Of course, there are exceptions. But I know of companies who refuse to hire PhD’s – because they tend to be prima Donna’s that cannot work with other people, especially non-graduates.

    And intellect, although required for any high-level job, does not automatically mean wisdom either.

    The clever might know what can be done. The wise are best suited to decide what SHOULD be done.

  • EGK

    From today’s C.S. Lewis quote of the day:

    “It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” One might replace the latter with “self-important academics.” See Lewis’s Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength for examples of self-important academics who ruled as moral busybodies.

    Having earned a doctorate myself, and having spent twenty-plus years teaching theology, I am well aware (cue self-reference) that being an academic in no way demonstrates that said person has a great intellect.

  • Peter Leavitt

    EGK, In truth many professors with PHDs are well aware of their human and intellectual limitations. I studied under some of them with great profit. Id be willing to bet that studying theology with you would be an interesting and enlightening experience.

    The problem comes when academics, particularly from the “best” schools, get involved with complex issues beyond their competence, or even within their competence when they think they have all the answers and become, as Lewis remarked, “moral busybodies.”

  • EGK

    Peter, you are exactly right. In fact most academics who have a modicum of self-awareness recognize this. All of the people I have had the privilege to work with have had that precise recognition of vocation that enables them to give other people the tools to think, and recognize that they are called to present God’s truth and then to get out of the way so that God can do His thing through His word. As soon as any of us gets too clever, and puts the focus on self and on one’s own brilliance rather than on God and His truth, God has His way of bringing us to account (and to repentance)!

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    I think it was W.F. Buckley Jr. who said that he’d rather be ruled by the first 100 names in the phonebook rather than 100 professors from Harvard or Yale (something like that)

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    And now the uncrowned leader of the Liberal Party in Canada, and a possible future Prime Minister, is an (ex-) Harvard Professor, and has held teaching posts at Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics and elsewhere.

    What would that imply?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    That Canada will be the new Zimbabwe?

    :^) I hope I’m dead wrong here, by the way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    What does it mean, when governors go academic (namely Jesse Ventura)?

  • Peter Leavitt

    Scylding, if this the fellow, Stephanie Dion, tthat you are talking about, then matters don’t bode well.

  • http://www.scyldingsinthemeadhall.blogspot.com The Scylding

    Peter – no – he is the old one. The new one is Michael Ignatieff.


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