Ed Driscoll

'The Strange Case of Ben Stein'

At Ace of Spades, R.D. Brewer wonders what’s gotten into Ben Stein, a man who was once a reliably conservative-libertarian voice, particularly on economic issues:

Ben Stein has a bad case of wealthy liberal elite cocktail party disease, Potomac fever for rich people. It’s worse even than Peggy Noonan’s. He’s been spending too much time socializing with his ultra-wealthy liberal friends. And he wants to continue hanging out. His aggressive defense of his establishment buddies buys him tickets to the next cocktail party. Those parties must be something very special indeed.

The problem is, everything he says now is beginning to resemble everything they say. He used to be such a dependable conservative voice. I can’t believe Stein is a crank now.

But he gets to go to the next party and collect some attaboys.

In 2008, Stein touched the third rail of academia, with his documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which discussed the topic of Intelligent Design, and why it isn’t being taught in college:

As someone says in the film’s trailer, “If they value their careers, they should keep quiet about their Intelligent Design views.” Maybe that goes as well for the film’s star. The film currently has a 3.7 out of 10 rating amongst the tolerant, non-judgmental folks at IMDB (in contrast, Fahrenheit 9/11 is considered 7.6); and much more importantly, to dovetail with what R.D. eluded to above, likely cost Stein quite a few friends amongst the DC cocktail circuit. Perhaps to return to their good graces, he’s joined the Axis of Davids — Brooks, Gergen and Frum — and embraced a sort of bloodless and more-or-less pro-Obama centrism. No doubt, a column at the National Topsider will be forthcoming.

Such a nice, safe, worldview also keeps the lucrative TV commercial work flowing as well — if Stein is once again crying all the way to the bank, a few drops of Clear Eyes will hide any ill-effects.