Quoting a tape in which RN complains to Henry Kissinger about the presidents of Ivy League institutions, a New Yorker article adds:
David Skorton, the president of Cornell, was apprised of Nixon’s comments over the phone. “My mouth is open,” Skorton said, after the line went quiet. “Gosh, what a negative thing to say. Ivy League schools, like all good universities, teach people to think and to reason, and why would anyone be against that?” Amy Gutmann, the president of Penn, noted that suspicion of Ivy League intellectuals is “a recurring undercurrent” in American politics: “The story I remember is from 1976, when the New York senator James Buckley referred to Daniel Patrick Moynihan as ‘Professor Moynihan,’ and Moynihan replied, ‘The mudslinging has begun.’ ”
Like a driver stuck in heavy rush-hour traffic, the Old Man did a lot of venting in the Oval Office. We have to be careful about assigning too much significance to his grumbling. After all, he named many Ivy Leaguers to top jobs, including Vice President Gerald Ford (Yale Law), Treasury Secretary George Shultz (Princeton), Attorney General Elliot Richardson (Harvard College and Harvard Law), HEW Secretary Caspar Weinberger (Harvard College and Harvard Law). Harvard faculty member Pat Moynihan was his urban adviser and ambassador to India.
And by the way, James Buckley went to Yale College and Yale Law School.
The title of the article is “Team of Brainiacs,” a reference to the credentials of Obama advisers. The term “Brainiac” is not encouraging. As every comic-book fan knows, Brainiac is a villain who perpetually loses to the less-educated Superman.
Meanwhile, Peter Beinart says that Obama is ending the “anti-intellectualism that has dominated politics for 50 years.” Beinart misses a key distinction. Conservatives have often criticized liberal intellectuals, but that’s different from criticizing intellect itself. In fact, as historian George Nash has explained, the entire conservative movement is rooted in the teachings of intellectuals. Liberals attacked Ronald Reagan for espousing the ideas of Hayek and Friedman, and they blame the Iraq War on cabal of neoconservative intellectuals. Newt Gingrich, Ph.D., called himself “the most professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.” Close runners-up would be Dick Armey, Ph.D. and Phil Gramm, Ph.D.