Flight of the Intellectuals: Does the GOP Need an Academic Elite?

This Professor Bainbridge post
is a little old but still timely. It's an "apology" to Bruce Bartlett who was one of the most vehement Bush 43 critics on the Right. Such was Bartlett's disgust with Bush that he ended up voting for Obama and supporting a Keyensian economic model to pull the country out of its fiscal and economic mess. He was also an early proponent of the current "GOP/conservatism is filled with morons and I just can't stand it" school of thought. Bainbridge, a law professor who has written in the past about the need for a right-wing "academic elite," and how it's getting embarrassing to be a conservative declares that Bartlett was on to something:

Back when Bush 43 was President, I was a huge fan of Bruce Bartlett. I especially loved his book Impostor. But when Bartlett broke with the Republicans back in 2008, it seemed to me that he had gone "from being inside the tent pissing out to being outside the tent pissing in." It seemed like apostasy.

I still don't agree with some of Bartlett's current view on economics, which still strike me as "the sort of Keynesian economics he one would have found anathema." Likewise, I still don't agree with his decision to vote for Obama.

But he is clearly right that there has been "a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already."

You can see the problem in the many hate-filled comments to my post on why the GOP needs an academic elite or my post on why it's becoming embarrassing to be a conservative.

On Bartlett: OK, I get that he is a Reaganite, and a leading conservative light for longer than I've been alive. But, if you are out there voting for Obama and supporting Obamanomics (or what you say is the right wing version), I think your conservative credentials going forward are highly suspect. Not trying to run a purge here, or anything, but supporting Democrats is anathema to conservatism. If you really can't stand the GOP, vote Libertarian.

As for Bainbridge's frankly snobby call for a conservative GOP elite (read his posts if you are into Palin insults, or think it's fair to link birthers to mainstream conservatism) ... does Bainbridge believe that politics is an intellectual pursuit? It certainly is not. That doesn't mean there's no place for intellect and policy knowledge, but there is certainly no need for a PhD or JD level of knowledge to be successful in politics.

Just look at who is put forward by the other side. Paul Krugman with Nobel Prize for Bush bashing? Jesse Jackson with his "creeping genocide?" Al Gore with his pompous lectures about destroying the planet (and his faux-professorial Assault on Reason)? Al Sharpton with his bullhorn? Sonia Sotomayor's "empathy" justice? Bill Clinton and his Oval Office blowjobs? What about Katrina vanden Heuvel? Ariana Huffington? Nancy Pelosi? Carol Browner? Jan Schakowsky? Harry Reid? And, what about the undeniably smart Chuck Schumer, who has to play second banana to the aforementioned Reid? Or, how about our "constitutional law professor" president who doesn't seem too concerned about whether the bills he signs into law are actually constitutional?

Next to all that, I think Sarah Palin's not having a "favorite" Supreme Court case stacks up nicely.

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