Instapundit acu tetigisti

I’m thinking of starting a new game, called Instapundit acu tetigisti, whereby every time one spots Glenn Reynolds managing to succinctly “touch the matter with a needle” on any issue (and he does it a lot) one must take a shot of espresso, or grab a cup of favorite coffee.

Today, I sat at my desk with a cup of espresso (a double, actually) clicked on Instapundit, which is how I start my day, and read this:

The problem we have is that our “elites” — a reader keeps telling me that “gentry” is a better term, and he’s right — aren’t really elite. That is, they’re not actually especially smart or well-educated or competent. They’re just credentialed. That’s not the sort of elitism that commands respect, which is why it’s not getting so much anymore, as people catch on.

To which I responded, joyfully, “acu tetigisti!” and down the hatch went the double shot!

A little Latin, a bit of Superior Java and some links to smart web sites; the world of arts and letters and humanities at your fingertips. You’d expect the elites, who pay such lip service to theories of egalitarianism, would approve.

And yet, strangely, they really don’t seem to.

They love the narrative. They just don’t want to live it, themselves.

UPDATE: As to egalitarianism, well, the elites love “isms,” too. As long as they’re the right sorts of “isms”.

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  • DaveO

    I’d be, personally, physically ill from all the caffeine within a few Instapundit posts.

    [Heh. Yeah, he's pretty sharp; I admire his economy of words -admin]

  • NanB

    Sounds good. I’ll have to brew some extra coffee!

  • Ellen

    I’ve met any number of graduates from elite universities who know everything in the world about their tiny area of expertise, but that’s about it.

    My grandfather never went above 6th grade since that was all that was available to him, but he was one of the most thoughtful, intelligent men I have ever met. He read widely and valued knowledge. He was a successful businessman and a valued member of his community and his church. I’d say he was an elite man.

  • Xavier

    I’d never denigrate Latinity, but wonder if it’s better to celebrate Glenn Reynolds for his acuity or for the well-placed force of his observations? I.e., to tell him that he’s “touched the point with a needle” or that he’s “hit the nail on the head.”

    A good thread for the Feast of Teresa of Avila, who herself so frequently did both.

  • Gloria

    The elites aren’t smart, they’re just “credentialed.” This is an extremely important point, especially for all those people who ARE SMART, but have no academic credential. Credentials and competence should not be confused. At the present time, many people in politics and in the mainstream media confuse their own credential with competence.

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  • Bender

    “Elite” is not a term of merit, e.g. smart, well-educated, competent, but rather is a term of pride and arrogance, hubris and narcissism. “Elite” means “better than others,” but in truth, there is no one “better” than anyone else. Ours is not a caste system. Anyone who thinks themselves first, i.e. elite, or thinks that some are better than others, i.e. elitist, are not first, but last.

  • Bender

    I’d say he was an elite man.

    Ellen, your grandfather sounds like a great man, great enough, in fact, that I suspect that, in all humility, he would abhor being called “elite.”

    “There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.”
    –Admiral William “Bull” Halsey

  • Elaine S.

    There is a big difference between being elite and being elitist, just like there’s a big difference between being sexy and sexist :-)

    The problem with the “elite” is not their knowledge or their IQs or their intellectual talent, it’s their ATTITUDE that they know it all and have nothing to learn from anyone below their educational station. No one likes or prefers stupid or clueless people as leaders — everyone wants smart and competent leaders — they just don’t want to be treated as stupid, unenlightened sheep by those leaders.

    A brillant and well-educated person who is also humble and willing to learn from those “below” him or her is a rare find.

  • newton


    Do you want to give me a massive caffeine headache?

    Here’s a joke: “When I drink coffee, I can’t sleep.”

    “Oh, it’s the opposite for me.”


    “When I sleep, I can’t drink coffee!”

  • tim maguire

    While I agree with Glenn’s characterization of the elites, the real problem is with the concept of elite itself. “Just credentialed” is what elites traditionally are supposed to be. They are the aristocracy.

    In old Europe, someone who worked for what they had was looked down on, true loyalty and admiration is reserved for those who inherited their wealth and position through no effort or talent of their own.

    American elites were different. Our success came in part from our determination to turn that on its head, do away with the aristocracy and reward effort and ability.

    The downfall of the new elites is that they have become more like the traditional elites; useless, baselessly arrogant and undeserving of their influence.

    We are becoming more like the old Europe our founders tried to rescue us from.

  • tim maguire

    Too bad I don’t think more before hitting “submit” because there’s irony there worth commenting on. Our elites are trying to make us more like new Europe but instead are making us more like old Europe as new Europe tries to become more like us.

  • MB

    OK, it was Jeeves in the background, right? Hope to see more!

  • GW

    Credentialing is a problem because it diverts a massive amount of society’s energy and talent into degree programs of questionable value to both individuals and society. This is especially true of graduate school, which takes a toll on young adults: