Thursday, October 18, 2012

Envy & Jealousy in the Press & Academic Corps...

The Washington Times reports on a telling scene from just outside last night's debate:
[Mitt] Romney was trying to make the point that both his and [Barack] Obama's investment funds probably include investments in China--something the president has attacked Mr. Romney for. "Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?" Mr. Romney said. "You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it--it doesn't take as long," Mr. Obama retorted. His reply prompted laughter in the debate hall where the two men were squaring off--but across the way in the separate room where the press was stationed, a brief round of applause broke out.
In a WSJ article,James Taranto follows up:
It's a good idea for journalists to avoid applauding politicians, for we are supposed to be independent and, in the case of straight-news reporters, impartial. But what was it about this particular Obama rejoinder (in what was a rather entertaining exchange) that inspired such enthusiasm among the presumably left-leaning scribes?
Taranto's piece is titled "The Envious Affluent" and describes the peevish small-minded jealous mindset of the denizens of dead-tree journalism & publish or perish academia.
The answer, it seems to us, says a lot about the politics of "class" in America. You hear a lot about "income inequality," but most people don't particularly care. Last year's effort to begin a mass movement around the question was a whimpering failure, yet it got hyped to the sky at first because it played into powerful class resentments--on the part not of poor or low-income working people but of academics and journalists, which is to say intellectuals. Now, academics and journalists are not exactly downtrodden. Although life as an adjunct or a freelancer can be a challenge, a professor with tenure or a journalist at a major media outlet makes a good enough living to make him affluent. Affluent people with elitist pretensions often have a strong distaste for the wealthy, especially those, like Romney, who earned their riches by being successful in business. If you want to find bitterness against "the 1%," don't look at "the 99%." Instead, focus in on the 98th percentile.
Taranto goes on to nail the pettiness and girly-man nastiness of the self-centered solipsistic loooozer 98th percentile [I was 98%-ile in National Merit Scholarship competition back in the day!]:
"It's common for eggheads to nurture ressentiment against fat cats," as we observed in July. "Intellectuals are apt to hold a self-serving belief in cognitive meritocracy, in the idea that the brightest are also the best. They envy the rich because wealth is a concrete measure of status that is out of proportion to what the intellectual believes to be true merit. If they're so rich, how come they're not smart?" (Some academics will feel we are disrespecting their status by lumping them in with journalists. They are invited to write a letter to the editor.) Barack Obama is no scholar, but he has the quintessential egghead's arrogance. That came across most clearly in this passage from the infamous "You didn't build that" speech:
Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there.
Some of those smart people are right there in the press room. Where's their fair share of Mitt Romney's millions?
Yes, the journalists and 'perfessers' feel a common bond with the ultimate arrogant asshole, the inimitable combination of incompetence & class anger named Barry Soetero. Or Barack Hussein Obama.

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