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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Obama's Love for Elites

"I believe that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams," Obama said early in his remarks.

Looking at his administration, however, you would never know he believes that. Yes, as the president pointed out, both he and House Speaker John Boehner come from modest backgrounds. But as a graduate of Harvard Law School, Obama has shown himself more of that stripe, stuffing his administration with like-minded denizens of the Ivy League.

... A National Journal survey last year of 250 decision-makers in the Obama administration found that no fewer than 40 percent of them held Ivy League degrees. Moreover, just one-quarter of those officials held graduate degrees from a public university. In fact, more Obama administration officials secured advanced degrees from Oxford—you know, in England—than from any American public school. And more than 60 either attended Harvard as an undergrad or a grad student.

The survey also found than an overwhelming majority of administration officials hailed from the Northeast, with the West and South severely underrepresented. Just 18 percent came from a state that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. As the survey noted, "You're more likely to find someone who grew up overseas working in the top ranks in the administration than someone who grew up in Texas."
It is not hard to understand why. Simply look at his past. William Deresiewicz wrote a piece for the American Scholar on why those who attend elite schools are so conceited, lack real world skills, and have no empathy for the 99%. You should read the whole piece to understand the absolute sense of entitlement to power and money that the Ivy League schools instill in their graduates. But in the relevant part, Deresiewicz writes:
The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely—indeed increasingly—homogeneous. Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in it. Witness the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry: one each from Harvard and Yale, both earnest, decent, intelligent men, both utterly incapable of communicating with the larger electorate.

But it isn’t just a matter of class. My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at all.

... Elite colleges are walled domains guarded by locked gates, with admission granted only to the elect. The aptitude with which students absorb this lesson is demonstrated by the avidity with which they erect still more gates within those gates, special realms of ever-greater exclusivity—at Yale, the famous secret societies, or as they should probably be called, the open-secret societies, since true secrecy would defeat their purpose. There’s no point in excluding people unless they know they’ve been excluded.

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense. ...
Notwithstanding Obama's references in the State of Union to having been raised by a single mother (his mother was single for only about a year or so during his childhood; and for much of his childhood he lived with his grandparents anyway), and working his way up, his actual life has been one among the elite. From the 5th grade until he graduated from high school, he attended Punahou School, a private college preparatory school. He later graduated from Colombia and Harvard Law School. (Source: Wikipedia).

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