GOP candidates give lie to liberals’ “anti-intellectual” smears

Robert O'Brien Former US Representative to the UN
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Facing a wave election in which even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has acknowledged the Democrats’ likely loss of the House of Representatives in November (analysis confirmed this week by Charlie Cook and Larry Sabato), the left, aided by its friends in the press, has unleashed its bi-annual assault on the intellectual bona fides of the GOP in an attempt to hang onto power.

While the Google search “Republican anti-intellectual” yields over 240,000 results, perhaps the poster child for this attack line is last week’s American Prospect commentary entitled, “They’re with stupid: anti-intellectualism rears its ugly head.”  Not surprisingly, the piece contrasts University of Idaho graduate Sarah Palin with the “thoughtful, educated man [in] the White House.”  It concludes by bemoaning the fact that anti-intellectuals — Republicans — “would rather feel things than know things.”

The strategy is not new and was a staple of the 2008 campaign, when Paul Krugman identified the GOP as “the party of stupid.” His fellow New York Times pundit, David Brooks, got in on the act noting that conservatives’ “disdain for liberal intellectuals” had turned into “disdain for the educated class as a whole.”

These charges, however, are refuted by an embarrassing fact: scores of supposedly “anti-intellectual,” “stupid” or even “tea party” GOP candidates were educated at the bastions of liberal intellectualism — Ivy League universities and similar elite institutions.  Many of these folks are first-time candidates who flatly reject the progressive ideology dominant at most such schools and embodied by the Democrats’ policies of trillion-dollar deficits, massive tax increases, Obamacare and defense cuts.  They include former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (Princeton; Harvard Business School), who is on track to become California’s first female governor, and former ambassador Tom Schweich (Harvard; Yale Law School), who is running for auditor of Missouri, where the incumbent Democrat has refused to audit how the Show Me State spent its stimulus money.

GOP congressional candidate Michele Rollins, running for Delaware’s open seat, received her foreign service degree from Georgetown (Bill Clinton’s alma mater) and was one of only seven women to graduate in her 1968 Georgetown Law Center class.  David Harmer, the GOP contender for California’s 11th Congressional District, was an honors graduate from BYU’s highly-ranked law school.  Dan Debicella, who is challenging a Democratic incumbent in Connecticut’s 4thCongressional District, graduated magna cum laude from the Wharton School and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, graduating in the top 5% of his class.

The frontrunner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination attended Stanford and BYU as an undergraduate, then earned a JD/MBA from Harvard’s law and business schools.  By the way, Governor Mitt Romney speaks fluent French.

Just as the manifest greatness of self-educated Abraham Lincoln, William Chrisman High School graduate Harry Truman and Eureka College alum Ronald Reagan give lie to the conceit that our nation’s leaders must matriculate from elite colleges to succeed, the current outstanding crop of Republican candidates with educational pedigrees from the left’s “approved” list of schools gives lie to the claim that those who oppose the Democrats’ ultra-liberal agenda hail from some backwater province of anti-intellectualism.

Of course, should the GOP comeback materialize in November, the American Prospect has a ready explanation: “politics still seems [to be] ruled by the aggressively dumb.”

Robert C. O’Brien is a former US Representative to the UN General Assembly.  He practices law in California.  His commentaries are available at www.robertcobrien.com.