Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.
You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV's restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came... well, the elite know: it's random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.
Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn't really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world... not so much.
And the second problem is that the elite are stupid. No, really. They're educated and sophisticated and they dress well and speak well. They may even have high IQs. But in the immortal words of Forrest Gump's mother: "Stupid is as stupid does." And the elite are stupid.
Take the columnists at the New York Times. Or as I call them: Knucklehead Row. These guys look like smart people, they talk like smart people, they've got the trappings of smart people. But they are not smart. They are the opposite of smart. What's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah. They're stupid.
Last week, in a spectacular column by the increasingly terrific Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, Stephens opened with a point-by-point indictment of Nobel Prize Winning Stupid Guy Paul Krugman. This is the Times economic columnist who "once called on Alan Greenspan 'to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble'; who, a few months before the eurozone crisis erupted, praised Europe as an 'economic success' that 'shows that social democracy works'; who, as the U.S. fracking revolution was getting under way, opined that America was 'just a bystander' in a global energy story defined by 'peak oil'; and who, in 2012, hailed Argentina's economy as a 'remarkable success story...'" and now 'tells us... that Barack Obama has been a terrific president."
Wow. That's the sort of record that would get a thank-you-Paul-but-it's-just-not-working-out from any newspaper that was not so convinced of its elite status that the stupidity in its pages had become invisible to it.
But the same is true of all of them, with the exception of Ross Douthat. Thomas Friedman wishes the U.S. could be "China for a day," so we could "authorize the right solutions," without all that congress and debate and voter business getting in the way. Friedman is also the guy who felt Barack Obama was "leading on national security," in 2012, which would be after the president withdrew our forces from Iraq. He also wondered aloud whether Obama "is the most pro-Israel president in history or just one of the most." Friedman graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis and got an M.Phil from Oxford and — read his columns — he's an idiot.
Then there's David Brooks, the so-called conservative columnist, who thought candidate Barack Obama's "perfectly creased pant" leg was proof he would "be a very good president." And when the very good president let out some windy garbage about race after the George Zimmerman case, Brooks called the speech "a symphony of indignation, professionalism, executive responsibility, personal feeling." But then, this was Brooks' reaction to Obama's team when it first came to power: "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." Turns out if you're three times smarter than a Times columnist, you have an IQ of 48.
I could go on, but quoting Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd would just be cruel. And in any case, the problem is bigger than Knucklehead Row. The problem is that the left's elitism has always been unearned and self-perpetuating: nothing more than a series of behaviors, attitudes, alma maters and clothing stores — nothing to do with actual thinking. In fact, it's a recipe for stupidity. And sad to say: soup's on.