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The cult of cultural and intellectual superiority in American life.
“I felt I was entitled. I had worked hard. Money and fame
made me believe I was entitled. I was wrong and foolish. I don’t
get to live by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to
everyone apply to me.”
— Tiger Woods
“I’m the President.”
— Barack Obama
Three words. Volumes of information.
They are, of course, equals. Constitutional equals, as specifically provided by Article I (which creates the legislative branch) and Article II (which creates the executive branch) of the Constitution. The Article III crowd of constitutional equals, the federal judiciary, were correctly not at the table for the recent televised health care summit at the Blair House between the legislative and executive branches.
Yet unmistakably, there was one person at this event who clearly considered himself superior to the others. When Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted that Democrats had used twice the time of Republicans as the televised summit proceeded, Obama responded thusly: “There was an imbalance in the opening statements, because I’m the President. And I didn’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”
Let’s do a Tiger Woods translation. Being President means the rules do not apply. Presidents are entitled. They get to live by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone else in this room do not apply to me. Why? Because “I’m the President.”
Here’s a Ronald Reagan story.
Several times during his presidency, Reagan found himself in the hospital for various ailments. A gunshot wound to the chest plus a couple surgeries. On one of these occasions he was discovered on his hands and knees in his hospital bathroom, wiping up some water. Aghast, the person who discovered the President of the United States so employed received this explanation from Reagan. He had knocked a glass of water on the floor. Quite aware that he was the president, he was concerned that someone — most probably a nurse — would get in trouble for allowing such a thing to occur to “the President.” Instead of summoning someone to clean up the mess he himself had made — and thus potentially getting that someone else in trouble — he had grabbed a towel and dropped to his hands and knees to mop up the water himself.
The difference between the Reagan story and the Obama reaction to Senator McConnell’s noting the use of time by Constitutional equals is illustrative of exactly the problem that drives Americans crazy.
In short, as with Tiger Woods and his woman problem, Barack Obama and his liberal allies have a superiority problem. Liberals/progressives really do see themselves as “entitled” to make decisions for everyone else. They really do believe, as did Tiger, that the rules do not apply to them. Why? Because they are addicted to the idea they are smarter than everyone else.
Yes, yes, yes, their very-smart predecessors gave the nation Vietnam, caused the Great Depression (Herbert Hoover was a “progressive Republican,” lest we forget) and then FDR’s liberal intellectuals prolonged it. And yes, back in 2007, even the Nation’s David Moberg had to admit of Community Organizer Obama’s work on Chicago’s South Side:
“Despite some meaningful victories, the work of Obama — and hundreds of other organizers — did not transform the South Side or restore lost industries.” But hey, who cares? Robert McNamara, Hoover, the FDR crowd and Obama were and are just so mind-blowingly smart! So what if the results are a lot crazy?
This crowd belongs…nay, is passionately devoted, to what could appropriately be called a cult of cultural and intellectual superiority. Who cares if Obama is running the Democrats and the country into the ground? He’s just so damn smart!
Years ago, historian Richard Hofstadter wrote a book called Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. In 400-plus pages, Hofstadter wrote at length about what he termed “the national disrespect for mind.” Published in 1962, the historian attributed what he saw as an ominous trend to McCarthyism and the “political and intellectual conditions of the 1950s.” He saw an embodiment of the argument between what he called “intellect and philistinism” in the candidates of the 1952 presidential campaign, whom he described as follows:
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?