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A Snob, but Not Really an Intellectual

Michael Gerson writes of Obama’s last temper tantrum:

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents “facts and science and argument.” His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader — the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

From this, Gerson concludes that Obama is “an intellectual snob” and, alas, that snobs “don’t make very good politicians.” But there is another problem here: in no sense is Obama an intellectual. His understanding of free markets, international affairs, war strategy, and domestic policy evidences no originality. To the contrary, his vision is supported by myths and inaccuracies. (Recall the serial misstatements about history during the campaign.) It is not, then, the public that lacks reasoning skills; it is the president, whose rigid ideology prevents him from taking in new data, analyzing it dispassionately, and rendering decisions based on the facts before him.

He displays contempt for Americans who don’t agree with his flawed policies, in effect instructing them to shut up. But his arrogance is both unwise (these people vote!) and undeserved. Had he not spent trillions on a flawed Keynesian economics, had he not botched the Middle East peace talks, had he not misread the mullahs, had he not mistaken appeasement for “reset” with Russia, and had he not hired ill-prepared senior advisers (who now must be cast off), his self-satisfaction might be warranted. But to put it bluntly, where does a garden-variety leftist with a track record as bad as his get off telling the voters that they lack adequate reasoning skills?

Obama’s self-image is as distorted and unreliable as his political and policy judgments. Next time, perhaps the voters should select someone for the White House who has not merely been told he is an intellectual marvel but who actually has demonstrated that he deserves such praise.



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