Friday, November 21, 2008

David Brooks - American Valedictocracy


Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has lamented what he sees as the scourge of Republican anti-intellectualism. In his latest column he points out that the Obama administration won't be short of intellectual heft. He's even coined a term for them, the American Valedictocracy:

Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).

...Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists.

...And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition.

Unlike past Democratic administrations, they are not just handing out jobs to the hacks approved by the favored interest groups. They’re thinking holistically — there’s a nice balance of policy wonks, governors and legislators.

Obama seems to have dispensed with the romantic and failed notion that you need inexperienced “fresh faces” to change things. ...because he is so young, Obama is not bringing along an insular coterie of lifelong aides who depend upon him for their well-being.

As a result, the team he has announced so far is more impressive than any other in recent memory.

First, these are open-minded individuals who are persuadable by evidence.

Second, they are admired professionals.

Third, they are not excessively partisan.

Fourth, they are not ideological.

Finally, there are many people on this team with practical creativity. Any think tanker can come up with broad doctrines, but it is rare to find people who can give the president a list of concrete steps he can do day by day to advance American interests.

Believe me, I’m trying not to join in the vast, heaving O-phoria now sweeping the coastal haut-bourgeoisie. But the personnel decisions have been superb.

Gee, I think Brooks may just have to surrender his membership card in the party of proud and defiant ignorance. It sure sounds like the hillbillies are on their way out of town.

2 comments:

Dr. Prole said...

Oh, Bobo:

"..And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition."

I especially like how he calls the appointments "overeducated Achievatrons", and then uses the word "Enarchs" in the same sentence.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Brooks may be on the verge of a religious conversion. Nah, that'd cost him his job.