What we have here is one of those newspaper stories that didn’t have to spotlight the religion ghost, but it could have. Maybe it should have.
I’m talking about that A1 story in the Washington Post that ran with the bland headline, “Obama Assembles an Ivy-Tinged League.”
What? No “Best and the Brightest” reference? Anyway, here is the top of the story that put the Beltway buzz into print:
Barack Obama’s chief economic adviser was one of the youngest people to be tenured at Harvard and later became its president. His budget director went to Princeton and the London School of Economics, his choice for ambassador to the United Nations was a Rhodes scholar, and his White House counsel hit the trifecta: Harvard, Cambridge and Yale Law.
All told, of Obama’s top 35 appointments so far, 22 have degrees from an Ivy League school, MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago or one of the top British universities. For the other slots, the president-elect made do with graduates of Georgetown and the Universities of Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina.
While Obama’s picks have been lauded for their ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost exclusively products of the nation’s elite institutions and generally share a more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government.
This is big news, of course, because the W. Bush team was full of dumb, second-rate people and, dang it, some of them were even religious crazies.
Am I reaching for that religion angle? Well, check out this reference later in this long news feature. You see, the style of this brilliant, articulate Obama team:
… (C)ontrasts with the style of President Bush, who played down his own Ivy League credentials and played up his mangled elocutions and the gentleman’s C’s he received at Yale and Harvard. …
Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul H. O’Neill, went to Fresno State, Vice President Cheney dropped out of Yale before graduating from the University of Wyoming, and strategist Karl Rove never finished college. Dozens of administration members hail from Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson.
Now wait a minute. Can anyone name a top-level, influential W. Bush-type from Pat Robertson University? How high up in the power chain did they climb or, as many Bush critics have noted, where they mainly foot soldiers who served in the offices far from those of the big dogs? Am I forgetting someone important?
Anyway, the Post story does quote conservatives who worry about the Obama elites being disconnected from all of those regular Americans who played such a major role in Republican rhetoric during the campaign. Once again, the stereotypes march forth to do battle. John F. Kennedy’s “best and brightest” led America into the pit called Vietnam. Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College and had the kind of common sense that is at the heart of all that is good and right in this great land of ours. Yada, yada.
But here is what interested me. I am not going to say, as many would, that people from the elite schools in the ice-blue zip codes of the Northeast are automatically skeptics and secularists. No way. However, we are not — obviously — talking about folks from the Bible Belt.
Thus, it would be interesting to know how many other members of Obama’s team have spent some time on their knees under a large cross in a megachurch sanctuary — even a liberal one — seeking the forgiveness of their sins. In other words, what’s going on here in terms of religion and culture?
Let’s put it this way, when it comes times to ask questions about this crew: WWWFBD?