Oh, Ezra! You’re sooooo smart!

Ezra Klein


Ezra Klein must be smarter than the rest of us otherwise he wouldn’t have a column at WaPo:

This isn’t a very popular statement, but there is a role for elites in public life. Just like I want knowledgeable CEOs running companies and knowledgeable doctors performing surgeries, I want knowledgeable legislators crafting public policy. That’s why we have a representative democracy, rather than some form of government-by-referendum. But of late, the elites in the Republican Party are abdicating their roles, preferring to pander to the desire for free tax cuts and the hostility to Al Gore than make tough and potentially unpopular decisions to safeguard our future.

You might not know this but half the people in this country are below average in intelligence. We don’t want those people making important decisions by themselves because they might elect some know-nothing chillbilly bimbo from the Arctic wastelands.

Luckily for us there are some really smart people in this country (like Ezra) who went to the best schools (like Ezra) and who are better informed than the rest of us (like Ezra.) That’s why he formed Journolist, a private listserv for lefty elites. Ezra personally selected the best and brightest 400 “left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics”

The Journolistas wanted to be sure that the smelly less-intelligent proletariat types (that’s us) had the proper guidance in making decisions like who to vote for. So they would discuss it and decide what we should be told to decide.

But even the super-smart Journolistas didn’t always agree with each other, so they made sure to discuss it in private first so they didn’t confuse the rest of us. You know, just like your parents used to do when you were a little kid.

(Here endeth the snark)

The biggest problem with elitism is the “elites” are never as smart as they think they are. But that’s not the only problem.

Membership in the “elites” becomes incestuous and self-serving. Entry into the group is based more on social class and connections than competition using some objective criteria. New members and wannabes engage in sycophancy.

Arthur Silber:

I think it was in early 2003 that I was invited to become a participant in an oh-so-exclusive and oh-so-secret private email discussion group.

[...]

When I first joined the list, I was very flattered. I was still a new blogger, and I was kinda sorta “in.” Whoop-ti-do! I was on a list with famous people! It was, like, totally cool, man. I’d be included in cutting-edge discussions! I’d see great, powerful new ideas being developed in real time! How fucking fantastic!

[...]

So a lot of it was simply boring. Beyond that was an element I found considerably worse, an element that I grew to dislike intensely. The toadying around the most famous members of the list was transparently obvious and frequently sickening. “Oh, your article about blah-blah-blah was magnificent!” “Oh, please, please write about X! You’re the only one who could do justice to this urgent issue! And you’ll treat it with your unique sensitivity and perceptiveness!” It was nauseating. Of course, the famous list members loved it.

I don’t mind in the least that we here at TC are considered untouchable lepers by the rest of Left Blogistan. Being an outcast is liberating. Since I’ll never get invited to join Journolist version 2.0 I am free to say “Ezra Klein is a dipshit.”

One last point, regarding the dangers of not being as smart as you think you are. Go back and read the last sentence of that quote from Ezra at the top of the post. It’s based on the premise that the Republicans KNOW that the Democrats are right but pretend to disagree for corrupt reasons.

This is one of several ways your thinking becomes warped by arrogance and conceit. You think everyone else either knows you’re right or they are incapable of understanding the truth. You stop listening to them, and since you alone are right and they are dishonest or stupid, you stop trying to persuade them and start looking for ways to manipulate them or to achieve your goals in undemocratic ways.

That’s a slippery slope with a sharp downgrade.



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33 Responses

  1. OT. Sort of.

    Arthur Silber says:

    The toadying around the most famous members of the list was transparently obvious and frequently sickening.

    That’s how I – and from reading comments I think others – feel about praising the TC FPs too much even though I’d like to. I (we?) don’t want to be seen as pandering. Too bad actually.

    I’m not a “honker” … yet (I used to not be a “smiley user” either, but found out how helpful they could be :) ), but I think that – ‘honking’ – is a good, easy, fast, ‘no frills’ way to show appreciation. But it takes for someone else to have done the appreciation first.

    And the ‘appreciation thing’ at the bottom of a post takes too much effort to use, so I’m still looking for an alternative: A way to show “you guys” how much I appreciate what you do, and not be seen as “toadying around” doing so. Guess I/we will just have to live with that dilemma? ;)

    Back ON topic: at Corrente, libbyliberal had an interesting post – and discussion – about “Americans being Idiots” yesterday.

    • Forgot the link: libbyliberal at Corrente

      • No, Americans are not idiots for saying:

        they want more limited government also call Social Security and Medicare “very important

        because they know that these two programs are paid for separately and directly. The fact that they would like other programs cut does not mean that they are idiots that don’t realize the limited government means no Social Security and Medicare. Just because you don’t agree with the programs that they would like to see cut does not make them idiots — and calling them that is one big reason why Democrats are doing so poorly.

    • There’s a qualitative difference between showing appreciation and toadying. The former has an element of sincerity that is lacking in the latter. When someone “honks” I see that more as agreement with the opinion expressed, than praise.

      I don’t think you need to be reluctant to praise or show appreciation for the TC FP. They do a great job, pro bono. The posts are always topical and insightful; that’s what’s kept The Confluence vibrant; attracting almost 10,000,000 hits.

      For me a greater concern is when the comments start sounding like an echo chamber; creating the appearance that we’re all a bunch of dittoheads. My rule of thumb is if someone’s already said what I was going to say, then I don’t say it.

    • I agree, Pips. I’m not a “honker” either, but this is an excellent post.
      I had an experience like Silber’s many years ago in which I was eligible to join an elite group, which I did mainly because I was lonely, but left in disgust after a few meetings.

      BTW, “honking” has alternately reminded me of noisy traffic situations, geese and sneezing, but I am getting used to it. It *is* an easy, fast and no frills means of expressing agreement.

    • I like the honks. It’s sorta rowdy, fun and very original.

  2. “You stop listening to them…………….”

    Fatal mistake.

    From today’s headlines:

    NPR Poll: Enthusiasm Gap Favoring GOP, No Myth

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130638764&ft=1&f=1001

    ABC ‘We need you fired up': President Obama, First Lady Court Voters

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2010/10/together-on-the-stump-president-and-michelle-obama-ask-young-voters-for-help.html

    “We need you..” How about addressing the needs of the country. Perhaps people would respond with the enthusiasm you so desperately seek. The love fest is over Mr. President. Too many people see little change and have no hope.

    • “We need you” — yeah, it’s all about Obama again. What about us? The ones you’re supposed to represent, Mr. POTUS?

  3. Long live the Snark!

    Will we break 10,000,000 today??

    Anyone want to place a bet?

  4. And BTW, who elected Ezra Klein one of our elites? Can we return him for a full refund?

    • How bout we just ignore him as no longer relevant, given his proven manipulation of information?

      You’ll never see Ezra tell his readers The One’s latest arrogance: The only reason the Dems are behind now, is that the American aren’t “thinking clearly.”

      Epic fail, AGAIN, driving away voters instead of recruiting them.

      Obama says you’re not thinking clearly, RD. (snort), and that’s cuz you’re bitter, clingy, and FEARful.

      Poor lil Ezra. He never saw it coming.

  5. Ha!Ha! Ezra sounds like David Brooks, minus the creased pants.
    So Rs are pandering to the voters whole Ds are pandering to the contributors. No wonder the polls are what they are, Several of today tabloid headlines confirm the consequences of this

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/tabloids-obamas-only-9-friendly-states-ds-defecting-to-gop/

  6. All I know is Jughead shows up in Columbus and Ohio State loses. Coincidence? I think not.

    • Toadies wanted. Cheap advertising/book promotion ploy.

      I feel tainted by having visited. Beware.

  7. Obama Speech Ohio Primary 2008:
    Can we come together across party and region; race and religion to restore prosperity and opportunity as the birthright of every American?
    We say; we hope; we believe – yes we can.

    Obama Speech at Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio | November 2, 2008 :
    In two days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.

    http://www.clipsandcomment.com/2008/11/03/text-obama-speech-at-statehouse-columbus-ohio-november-2-2008/

    Obama this weekend:
    “I know there are times when probably it’s hard to recapture that sense of possibility,” the president said at the reception. “It’s hard sometimes to say, ‘Yes we can.’ You sit thinking, ‘You know, maybe. I don’t know.’ It’s not as inspiring a slogan.”

  8. To pick a nit—the halfway point in a distribution is the median, not the average.

  9. But of late, the elites in the Democratic Party are abdicating their roles, preferring to pander to the desire for Hope & Change and the hostility to Hillary Clinton than make tough and potentially unpopular decisions to safeguard our future.

    I fixed that quote for you.

  10. Ezra is a fucking idiot. What a self-serving whine that article is. Americans have no problem with educated, skilled, intelligent people, or with giving credit where credit is due when someone has achieved something.

    We have a problem with arrogance, with the attitude of STFU-and-leave it-to-your-betters elitism, which is a very different animal from arbitrarily despising those who are demonstrably elite in some field.

    Americans are not anti-education. What a crock. But we do not hold to the idea that their level of education, or at which school it was received, makes them more worthy to make decisions for OUR LIVES, while they eschew the idea that maybe we ought to have some input and decide for ourselves if we like what they are selling.

    They can write all the editorials they want about how the unwashed masses are having “temper tantrums”. But the real temper tantrum is taking place in the halls of the elitist press and the political peerage. They are down on the floor and pounding their fists that their hallowed positions as arbiters of all opinion, and imposers of society’s rules, is being threatened by housewives and plumbers. Egads! The horror!

    We don’t disdain education or accomplishment, Ezra. We’ve just decided that your education does not give you the right to push us around. And you are pissed because we the unwashed masses have decided that you guys have long been acquiring a distinct whiff of aristocracy. And ‘mericans don’t hold with aristocracy, no matter how “good for us” you think your saccharine noblesse oblige might be.

    We’ll listen to Ivy-leaguers when they have something to say. But excuse the hell out of us if we refrain from a downcast gaze and a tugging of the forelock when you fucking pass by. You may have an education, which is a good thing, But you are not the Benevolent Lords of the goddamned Universe because of it.

    Get over yourself. You don’t want respect for the degrees you’ve earned – that’s a smokescreen. You want deference and toadying to your position as one of the Beautiful People. And you’re having yourself a little pity party because the smelly rabble are refusing to give it to you.

    • The Ivy Leaguers have had a big run on capitol hill and in the White House and on Wall St.—and what do we have? One big friggin mess.

    • Holy Sh*t…

      Honk. Honk.

      thank you – couldn’t have said it better…

    • Righteous rant, and so very true! I come from a family where most of them have advanced degrees from prestigious universities, and not one of them is like these cretins – where the heck did they learn to be overbearing boors so impressed with themselves that I’d hesitate getting between them and a mirror.

    • honk honk :)

  11. George W Bush, Bachelors from Yale and a Harvard MBA.

    Harry Truman, nothing.

    EVERYTHING is relative.

  12. [...] meritocratic society? Or to quote myiq2xu at The Confluence: The biggest problem with elitism is the “elites” are never as smart as they think they are. [...]

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