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Interview: Mark Steyn on After America, One Year Later

DRISCOLL:  A number of America's woes seem to come down to academia.  They've created what Yale's David Gelernter calls "America-Lite," in which the culture of America has basically been hollowed out from the top.  And they've created what the aforementioned Glenn Reynolds calls the higher education bubble.  And now in Rahm Emanuel Chicago we're seeing the lower education bubble as his teachers are on strike.  Do these bubbles give conservatives an opportunity to reform that broken and increasingly fiscally broke system?

STEYN:  I would like to think so.  In a strange way I think the Rahm Emanuel situation is actually more serious because it's more disturbing to me that you've got this kind of social engineering in kindergarten and grade one, then by the time people get to middle age like Sandra Fluke.  Because basically by that point you've had -- how old is she?  Thirty-one.  So she's basically had twenty-five, twenty-six years of this stuff.  So in a way I regard the smashing of the teachers union monopoly as absolutely critical to this country.  I think the Right abandoned almost all the levels of society that mattered apart from electoral success.

And I think we saw in 2008 -- by the way, Obama and Mrs. Obama are themselves superb embodiments of the worthlessness of this over-credentialed society.  If you look at Obama, he's had basically a million bucks of worth of elite education between Occidental, Columbia and Harvard Law and then he goes and becomes a community organizer.  If he hadn't become president nobody would think that was any kind of, you know, return on investment for what that guy's education is supposedly worth.  Mrs. Obama, likewise, goes to Princeton and becomes basically the diversity outreach consultant for the University of Chicago hospitals.  A job so essential that they pay her 380,000 dollars a year.  And when she becomes -- when she has to leave it to become First Lady it's so indispensable, that diversity outreach consultant job, that they don't even bother replacing her.

I mean, these two, in their disconnect from any kind of primary wealth creation I think embody the sort of decay of America in that they -- if you recall, people mocked Sarah Palin because she'd been a mayor and before that she'd run a commercial fishing operation in Wasilla.  And people thought that was -- for some reason that was a kind of snare.  She'd been in trade as opposed to thinking big thoughts like Obama.

I mean, the elites in this country now are like kind of dowager duchesses in an English social comedy from the late nineteenth century that, you know, they're horrified by mere tradesmen:  oh, my dear, Sarah Palin, commercial fishing operation.  Why couldn't she have been a supposed community -- or done a little light community organizing like Obama.  Nobody would want to live in a community that had been organized by Obama; the community he did organize, they have -- what are they up to now, a dozen murders on a good weekend in Chicago?

This, I think, the sort of decay of the elites and the decay into a kind of Latin-American setup where you have this super-privileged elite at the top and then a vast dysfunctional mass underneath and no middle class.  I think that's where we're headed if we don't change course.