24 September 2008

Elitism and GPA

I've said it before and I'll say it again: charges of elitism (especially during campaign season) are almost always myopic and erroneous. I don't think you can simultaneously argue that Obama is elitist and McCain is just folks. But this, while amusing, falls short of a good explanation:
I think I finally realized why McCain and Bush, while attending elite universities like Obama did, are “normal guys” while Obama is “uppity” and “elite.” He did well at his prestigious universities, whereas they, basically, sucked. I don’t know why this clear difference didn’t hit me until today.
At the risk of taking this quip too seriously, allow me to offer the following counter examples:
  1. John Kerry, labeled as elitist during 2004 elections — GPA at Yale actually 1% lower than Bush's. (Doesn't Kerry looks a little like Stephen Fry in that photo? Weird.)
  2. Al Gore, labeled as elitist during 2000 elections — grades "bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks" of Bush, according to the Washington Post.
  3. Teddy Kennedy, pretty much a canonical example of an elitist politician — suspended from Harvard for academic malfeasance twice.
Alternative hypotheses: (not mutually exclusive)
  1. Perception of elitism is completely arbitrary and unfounded.
  2. Perception of elitism has factual basis, but it is entirely unrelated to academic performance.
  3. Perception of elitism is based more on comportment than substance.
  4. Perception of elitism is manufactured by nefarious Republican operatives.
  5. Perception of elitism is correlated with a perception of support for widespread central planning.
[Ancillary observation: Washington is a cesspit of mediocrity.]

I like #5 because it encompasses most modern liberals (who are more often perceived as elitist and are usually vocally supportive of planning) as well as the few government figures on the right who are often commonly seen as elitist: banking types like Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. In light of recent events I must include them as gung-ho for planning, though I might not have a year ago. Right or wrong, prudent or rash, willingly or reluctantly, they are all set to start pulling levers and flipping switches and having the nation respond to their fiddling and meddling and mucking about. Even when our central bankers didn't aggressively support planning (in the far, deep, distant past of 2007) critics used scary sounding words like "fiat money" and "fractional reserve banking" to make it seem like bankers were standing at the helm of the good ship US Economy steering things for their own purposes.


  1. You did take it too seriously, but I don't mind since the points you bring up are good.

    Besides criticizing you for ramping off one of my jokes would be a perfect kettle/black scenario given the last entry I had spawned from a South Bend Seven entry.I say "good show."

    And good commentary on the Skull Splitter too.

  2. Yeah I probably should have replaced "At the risk of taking this too seriously" with "I'm absolutely certain I'm taking this too seriously."