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The “creative class” – today’s “best and brightest”

You're not worthy

(RalphB found this little gem and I decided to frontpage it)

From Neal Gabler at The Boston Globe:

WHEN AUTHOR David Halberstam wrote his account of what got this nation into Vietnam, he didn’t find that the architects of the war were obtuse or illogical or commie-obsessed or infatuated with American might. Instead, in Halberstam’s now iconic term that became the title of his best-selling book, they were “the best and the brightest’’ — a superior governing class that was the product of America’s best families, its most prestigious prep schools and universities, and most august law firms and investment banks. The irony is that these geniuses turned out to be so dangerously wrong that the very term “best and the brightest’’ became a sarcastic euphemism for a hubris that leads to disaster.

One might have thought, then, that the “best and the brightest’’ would have been eternally discredited like the war they promulgated. But Barack Obama has such a strange, almost reverential faith in the very sorts of folks Halberstam flayed that the president threatens to lead his administration and the country down the same hubristic path.


The difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is that 2.0 are not all Protestant, white males sprung full-blown from the Establishment as 1.0’s fathers and their fathers’ fathers were. Like Obama himself, they are by and large onetime middle-class overachievers who made their way into the Ivy League and then catapulted to the top levels of class and power by being . . . well, the best and the brightest. But in elitism as in religion, no one is more devout than a convert, and these people, again like Obama, all having been blessed by the Ivy League, also embrace Ivy League arrogance and condescension. On this, the Republican critics are right: The administration exudes a sense of superiority.

So what difference does it make if our policy-makers think they are above criticism? As Halberstam shows in “The Best and the Brightest,’’ people who are concerned not with the fundamental rightness of something but with its execution, because the rightness is assumed; people who see what they want to see rather than what is; people who see things in terms of preconceptions rather than of human conduct; people who are incapable of admitting error; people who lack skepticism and the capacity to grow beyond their certainties are the sorts of people who are likely to get us in trouble — whether it is an ever-lengthening war in Afghanistan or ever-deepening economic distress here at home. After all, we’ve been there once before.

Gabler is talking about Obama and the people working in his administration, but I think he has nailed the typical “creative class” Obama supporter that Poetry Major Chris Bowers talked so glowingly about over at BadPrognostication.com:

Cultural Shift: Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types. Obama has all the markers of a creative class background, from his community organizing, to his Unitarianism, to being an academic, to living in Hyde Park to shopping at Whole Foods and drinking PBR. These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now, and it will be a big cultural shift from the white working class focus of earlier decades. Given the demographics of the blogosphere, in all likelihood, this is a socioeconomic and cultural demographic into which you fit. Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.

Anyone who has ever argued with an Obot will recognize that part about arrogance, condescension and exuding a sense of superiority. They “know” they are right and you are wrong. They are very open about the fact that they are smarter, better informed and better looking than us and everyone else. Not only are we always wrong, but they are better people than us morally and spiritually.

Remember when Obama said this?:

“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Do you remember the shock and dismay in the “progressive” blogosphere at those words? If you do you’re hallucinating, because the creative class reaction was “So what? It’s true.” Their main concern was that Obama got exposed by Mayhill Fowler for saying it.

According to the Obot creative class types, Hillary supporters are middle-age and older white women (the “dry p*ssy demographic”) who were not politically aware or active until one of their own ran for President. They also believe that in addition to being “low information” voters Hillary supporters were racists who didn’t want a black man to win.

It was obvious to them that Obama was the superior candidate and anyone who disagreed had to be:

a) stupid
b) racist
c) not a Democrat
d) all of the above

Who cares if the majority of the Democratic voters chose Hillary? They’re mostly working class (i.e. the lowest common denominator) and the creative class will replace them.

So what if the caucuses got gamed, the rules got manipulated and delegates got pressured? Obama got the nomination and that’s what really mattered. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

Ironically the Obot creative class/best and brightest don’t have the courage of their convictions. They don’t try to sell their progressive ideology, they either try to trick or bully people into voting for it.

Obama’s 11th-dimensional chess thingie that the Obots jizz in their pants over? It’s just a fancy way of saying manipulation. But saying “Obama really excels at manipulating people” doesn’t sound as cool. Not to mention they might start to figure out who he really manipulated back in 2008.

“Barack Obama had a gift, and he knew it. He had a way of making very smart, very accomplished people feel virtuous just by wanting to help Barack Obama.”Newsweek

Over in Obotia there are two main schools of thought these days. One group thinks Obama is the most wonderful Democrat since uh, well . . . ever. The other, somewhat larger group is trying to figure out how to make help Obama become the progressive messiah they know he *really* wants to be.

That’s the funny thing about hubris – it almost never leads people to the right decisions and good outcomes. If President Obama was even 10% of the advertised product that was Candidate Obama we would be cheering not jeering. But he’s not.

The “historic candidate” is an epic failure. Once again the hubris of the “best and brightest” has led us to disaster.

Once again they are smugly confident it’s not their fault.

108 Responses

  1. Thanks myiq. That gem really hit home with me, since I remember McNamara and the rest quite well.

  2. This is where the Journolist thing ties into Obamaphilia.

    • Oh no, Journolist had nothing to do with the groupthink and sheeplike behavior among the creative class.

      That was just a coincidence.

      • Did you read Joe Klein’s pathetic defense of Journolist? He’s proud of it. Just an exchange of ideas, that’s all. They are all really “fierce individualists.”

        • Even Andrew Sullivan described Journolist as “collusion.” (his word)

          But then again, had Sullivan been invited to belong to the club, he might be singing a different tune.

          • Journolist gave the right-wing a smoking gun to “prove” the existence of a liberal media conspiracy.

            It really doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy or not – they look guilty as hell.

          • Yes. If it is perceived to be true, it is true.

            They certainly ganged up on Sarah Palin. Don’t have to like or vote for Sarah Palin to see that, plain and clear.

            Thanks for this post, myiq. You always cut through the crap and nail it. Keeps me sane. 🙂

          • If I’m the reason you’re sane then you’re probably not.

            That’s okay though, crazy people get away with lots of stuff. And if you do get locked up they give you really cool meds.

  3. If anyone cares, POTUS will be on The View Thursday. He sure has a knack for cheapening the office.

    • He mailed it in to NetRoots but made time for The View.

      He is trying to keep the press away from the BP Oil Leak and the intelligence WikiLeak on the Internet. Oh, look over there! Julian Assange Who?

      It’s not as if Elizabeth or Whoopi are going to asks about Catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico or when the WARS that were never declared going to end.

      PS I think Shirley Sherrid will have the higher ratings.

      • I’m willing to be Elisabeth has been “warned” about asking Obama anything he may find to be “uncomfortable”.

        Or even trying to “embarrass” Barbara. (because she thinks everything is a reflection on her reputation as the GREATEST INTERVIEWER EVAH)

        Whoopi may actually be more apt to go “off script” and put Obama in a weird situation.

    • He needs the “wimmins” vote. Whoopi (yes, a bad pun)

    • Well, don’t look now but NPR is hyping this as “ANOTHER FIRST for President Obama”


      This week, Barack Obama will become the first sitting president to appear on daytime television. Hooray for dubious firsts!

      Is dubious a creative class word?

      • When they talk about ignorant rednecks that dubious they’re talking about.

      • That doesn’t quite sound like NPR is hyping his appearance!

        Dubious, indeed.

      • the creative class? Who is defining that? Artists are creative, writers, poets – not bloggers and politicians.
        the essence of creativity is originality and justification … I don’t think the Koses and TMPers really qualify.

        Like allowing the anti-choicers to capture pro-life, we need to be careful that the self defined creative class don’t highjack creativity, of which they have none.

        • They’re really more like The Borg, and too stupid to know it.

          • Mary — I’m seeing a new picture in my head of a Borg cube with little Obots and cheetos inside chanting in one single monotone voice, “Change you can believe in”.

            Anyone who is creative is free to steal this idea.

        • I’ve always hated that phrase too! It’s more like the not-so-creative, think-inside-the-beltway-box class.

    • I saw that announcement this morning and isn’t it amazing that the “best and the brightest” would go on that lame show. Whoopie, Sherri and Joy will be over the moon for him. This is a fluff piece designed to manipulate us. If they love him, then so should we, right?

  4. I posted the whole thing here, because you most likely don’t want to click on the Orange site…my how times have changed. Can you imagine this being posted even a year ago? BTW, HRC is winning the poll at 66%.

    Time for Hillary to Run…..
    by NMDan
    It’s time for another change…

    The whole Shirley Sherrod thing was the final straw for me. Obama emphasized making pragmatic decisions but is obviously so hyper sensitive to polls and politics (another thing he claims the right does but he doesn’t) but it’s obvious they made a “jump the gun” decision instead of attacking the right wing noise machine and their antics.

    I live in a state where the Democrats outnumber the Republican’s three to one and most of my friends are disappointed who worked their asses off to get Obama elected in hopes of another FDR that would take on the big business. We are wordless, stunned and disappointed.

    Obama has turned out to be another politician that duped us. Shame on me for believing the hype!!!

    What is even more disgusting is how the right wing media continues to attack and attack and Obama just takes it, he’s looking like a wimpy kid that won’t stand up to the bully!!!

    I’m ready to jump ship, I won’t vote for any right wing hack in 2012 and if I have to vote for the lesser of two politicians I’ll vote Obama again but I suspect that many will stay home and we will lose…

    So Hillary, if you are out there, if you are reading this, you are the only hope we have to saving the White House in 2012.

    Hillary can rally the base and get the independents back on our side!!!

    P.S. What is even scarier is if Hillary doesn’t run and Obama gets beat in 2012, Justice Kennedy get’s replaced by another Alito or Roberts!!!

    • Go to the back of the line, Dan.

    • I actually went over there. The juvenilism is just astounding.

      Why did I ever see anything in DailyKOS?

      • All the good people went elsewhere.

        Whatever happened to “Goldberry” anyway?

        • She started Alegre’s Corner, then had to back off on posting when she took a certain job. However, I just saw her over at Corrente the other day.

          • Goldberry is Riverdaughter. She started this blog.

          • Lol. I can see how you might think that BL. The impending sense of doom is the same. Well I fit wasn’t Alaska, it must have been the Dakotas. Someone has to stir up sh** over the Credit card monopolies. Congress sure didn’t.

        • Are you kidding? I thought Goldberry moved to Alaska and decided to run for Governor?

      • Same here.

        To our defence (at least to mine), I found that cite in 2002/2003, and it was the only place that people would comment against the whole collusion for the stupid war.

        But to not see how much of a jerk that the owner of that blog was, what was I thinking?

        • He’s done rather well for himself. GOS advertising revenues reached seven figures in 2008

          Does shilling for Obama count as advertising?

      • Another refugee from DK here. It’s a site of mass hypnosis.

        • Me too. I was there for about 4-1/2 years. I should have stayed away after the pie fights.

      • I use to say that the collective IQ dropped by 20 points at dkos after the pie fights. It’s true and they dropped another 20 during the primariesof 2008.

        • I remember someone saying after the pie fight, “I don’t think you frat boys fully understand the damage you’ve done here.” Unfortunately, the lesson that is always learned is that they don’t need us. So far, it’s worked out perfectly for them.

          • As long as we vote for men who take us for granted because we are afraid a republican woman wuld be worse, it will continue.

    • I won’t vote for any right wing hack in 2012 and if I have to vote for the lesser of two politicians I’ll vote Obama again

      But I’ll be very disappointed when I do it.

      Gee fella, did it ever occur to you that you’re telling Obama he can take you for granted?

    • P.S. What is even scarier is if Hillary doesn’t run and Obama gets beat in 2012, Justice Kennedy get’s replaced by another Alito or Roberts!!!

      Well, there’s another thing that hasn’t changed. d00d nation still enjoys beating women up with the abortion stick.

  5. & this is the “Great Orator’s” big pitch for the fall…this is what he’s left with:

    Obama’s message to voters: Things could be worse
    Erica Werner

    “This is a choice between the policies that led us into the mess or the policies that are leading out of the mess,” Obama said recently in Las Vegas.

    Trouble is, it’s a tough sell to voters who’ve seen little progress.


  6. Anti-Obama t-shirt worn in public (photo):


  7. Saw this on an lj feed and thought of Dakinikat:

  8. For the most part, the status groups have never and will never change, mostly because of their attitudes.

    Upon reading this “Dreams of my father, where do I belong?” That question was posed as one of racial identity, but in th end, whether he fully realized it or not,
    Obama found himself not in the black culture, or white white culture, but in the culture of the best and brightest. That’s where he belonged, that’s where he seem to feel most confortable.

    My, am I to believe that explains away everything. Since he wasn’t really white, and wasn’t really black, he then became the best and the brightest. I suppose they think that’s the change we’ve been waitiing for. And that explains why he can’t look to his own racism, be it black or white, and that surely explains why he was identified as the WHOLY ONE. I suppose they call this character building.

    What it says to me is that the best and brightest can’t make America real for all it’s citizens, and they will not even attempt to to do so.

    • The only thing I think Obama is the best and brightest at is self promotion … I’ve yet to seen anything substantive from him that shows he more than one of those people that continually takes short cuts by parroting some one else’s ideas

      • Once you learn to fake authenticity the rest is easy.

      • True Dak – noticed in the article how he refers to John F. Kennedy as being the “collector” of the best of minds, and the best when it came to selling their ideals.

        He must have forgotten that early on John F. Kennedy was not the grreat negro fighter, and neither was Obama.

        I am reminded of the saying: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

    • For some reason, a lot of us half-and-halfs turn out to be overachievers. Sometimes it seems to be the only alternative to losing yourself because it gives you something that you indisputably have and are. And sometimes, you overachieve and get lost anyway. I think that’s what’s happened to Obama.

  9. The Obamabots, so smart, so smug, so wrong.

    • If it weren’t so serious it would be funny how the “best and brightest” turned out to be the ones who didn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

  10. Just me being petty, but I still would really like to see those grades that “catapulted” BO to the top. As my boss told me at the time – the only reason someone won’t vote for a black harvard grad is they’re racist. Everyday I want to ask him if he’s still feeling the hope and change.

    • Questioning Obama’s qualifications is racist.

    • dm – I’d like to see them too. Petty or not, it seems to me that if they were good, we’d have seen them long ago and been sold the bill of goods of poor boy overcomes all to be academic star. Nope, I guarantee you, he scraped by. As the years go by I am even more convinced of that fact.

    • Another case of “gentleman’s C,” I suspect.

    • The infuriating thing about that comment is that voting for someone just because they are a Harvard grad is elitist BS. One can be a Harvard grad and still be an incompetent asshat. Why on earth would anyone think that being bi-racial with a Harvard degree magically makes a person qualified? And which one is the imperative aspect? Are all Harvard grads presidential material? Is it r@cist to not vote for a white Harvard grad?

      Perhaps the reason someone wouldn’t vote for the brilliant woman with a mastery of the issues is because he’s sexist. I wonder if your boss has pondered that notion.

      • Word.

        When Obots bring up the r@ce card, I whip out the sexism card and thrash them.

    • I want to see his LSAT score!

  11. Where can I get that bumper sticker?
    Or one that says “Don’t blame me, my primary vote went to the Democrat”

  12. “These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now”

    ABANDON SHIP!!!!!!

    • no kidding! I’ll take common sense over a Harvard Law Degree any day.

    • unfortunately they are the same people running the repub party… or at least a bunch of wannabe “best and brightest”

      the republican base is just as disgusted as the democratic base with the entrenched crony capitalism and arrogance of the elitist ruling class.

      • That’s why Sarah Palin makes the establishments of both parties nervous.

        She’s a genuine populist, and neither party’s leadership really believes in democracy.

        • And ObamaNation’s trusty (or is that rusty?) spambots are already out in force and spreading the women-hate in an effort to destroy her.

        • The hostility toward Palin is a toxic brew of class derision and sexism. And both in full force.

          And the creative class will enthusiastically employ both because they know what’s best for all of us. Just trust them.

    • Yes, Donna Brazille’s “new coalition.” They don’t need YOU anymore. Well, until they do—thus, The View.


    • LOL! Yep. That ship is going to be run right into the ground.

  13. I am well-acquainted with Ivy-Leaguers who supported (and still support) Obama, I am well-acquainted with state college graduates who supported (and still support) Obama, and I am well-acquainted with people who never went to college but who who supported (and still support) Obama.

    They are all equally dense.

    I don’t think we should engage in bashing people who went to our top universities and just automatically ASSUME they are dumb as turkeys about political issues.

    Some are and some are not.

    One can actually get a very good education at our top universities without becoming a snob or a jerk.

    • Everybody knows when you make an assumption you make an ass out of U and umption.

      I don’t assume they are dumb as turkeys, but if they have feathers, can’t fly and go “gobble, gobble” it’s more of an educated guess.

      • My point is that I have known people who NEVER went to college but are just as dumb and arrogant as any Ivy-Leaguers.

        • Not to the Obots. Those people you describe are just undereducated, bitter clingers.

          By the way, everybody, Chris Hayes was on the Journolist. Surprised?

        • With an alias like mine it’s obvious I am a paragon of humility.

    • I don’t think we’re assuming that they’re dumb because they went to top universities. It’s more that they seem to assume that because they went to top universities they learn things by osmosis and are natural leaders, or something. They call themselves wonks when they’re not, they can’t answer basic questions beyond, “Follow me, I am smarter,” and it all boils down to a culturally defined, shallow feeling of superiority. It’s not that the Ivy League made them stupid so much as that they seem to be convinced that that diploma is some sort of magic talisman which conveys intellectual curiosity and creativity without any effort or accomplishment, until the end of time. Sure, everyone can be arrogant, but these people have been given greater advantages than most and it seems like a waste that they choose to squander them.

      • “these people have been given greater advantages than most and it seems like a waste that they choose to squander them”

        Well, I would never argue with that.

        I am just trying to make the point that we should not judge people by where they did or didn’t go to school; we should judge them by what they do and say.

        There are many people who went to the best schools yet are capable of understanding that not everyone had the advantages they had, Bill and Hillary Clinton are just two examples but there are others.

  14. Thanks for this post! I grew up reading the Boston Globe and remember when it was a NEWSpaper. One that actually reported facts.
    There must be some light at the end of the tunnel if the liberal rags are dissing his oneness.

  15. I sold a piece Saturday, so after the bank and the grocery store today, I’m going to order some bamboo brushes, ink and fabric paint. And I’m going to paint a big, red 2012 on the front of my Hillary t-shirts, with something suitably snide on the back. So far “We told you so, assholes” is winning.

    • Congratulations on the sale!!

    • That’s great! Hey, if you weren’t an artist, you could be a “creative” 😉

      • I thought that “creative” actually refers to “lying”. Like, he didn’t do his homework, so he came up with a creative answer.

  16. Great post myiq! GOne are the days when qualifications matter. Now the test is do I like him/her or not. I have never seen a more juvenile methodology for such a serious position. 35% and my girl can strike. 35%…… It can’t get here soon enough…..

    Hillary 2012

  17. Journolist member Greg Sargent:

    Journolist flap shows conservative media conspiracy, not liberal one

    That’s the real story behind the Journolist flap, no matter what you’ve read to the contrary on news sites, reputable or otherwise.


    Poor Greg, any Star Wars geek could tell him the Jedi mind trick only works on weak minds. Like Obots.

    • All the while…

      TPM was GROUND ZERO for media distortions regarding Hillary’s campaign.

      Greg needs more people.

  18. “Anyone who has ever argued with an Obot will recognize that part about arrogance, condescension and exuding a sense of superiority. They “know” they are right and you are wrong. They are very open about the fact that they are smarter, better informed and better looking than us and everyone else. Not only are we always wrong, but they are better people than us morally and spiritually.”

    Geez, this is spot on!

  19. people who lack skepticism

    The key flaw of the “creative class.” We weren’t taken in by Obama because we were skeptical enough to do our research and look at his record.

    …making very smart, very accomplished people feel virtuous just by wanting to help Barack

    Help Barack? Any manipulation like that would trigger my skepticism. Why should I want to help him? His job is to help us. NOT the other way around.

  20. thanks, myiq–updating memory lane. What a bunch of bigots the ‘creative class’ was and still is–against anyone perceived different. The Boston Globe piece was a good find and comparison to the Bower’s piece.

    Note how Bill Clinton, despite going to some good schools, came out different. Either because he was smart enough or ideological enough to embrace the FDR coalition, or because of his roots and being a governor for a long time which kept him in touch with real people. Obama skipped these formative steps–which is, imho, very arrogant. He and they (his buds) thought he was so superior that they weren’t needed, I guess. Maybe they just thought that being president wasn’t all that hard.

    • Purging the Democratic party of all things Clinton was high on the creative class priority list.

      Ironic, isn’t it?

      Without Bill and Hillary we’d be talking about President McCain.

  21. I reread some of the comments to the Bower’s piece and it really rocks you from our perspective now. Some actually saw that throwing blue collar dems under the bus would not have a happy ending.

    I really think that the ‘creative class’ protested too much. It just screams of insecurity.

  22. I think the key word missing from the “best and the brightest” psyche is empathy. I know a lot of people who are educated that have empathy. I believe the “best and the brightest” just think they know better, how to fix the “small peoples” (ha) problems. And they surely lack the knowledge ( I think they really do know) of what would really help poor people. To me that is the the glaring difference, just being “smart” or really caring that you are in a position to find out what would really help people.

  23. Great post, myiq! And, damn, but that photo of Saint Barry, the patron saint of condescending twits, sure is worth a thousand words.

  24. BTW, posted here under a different name “organictriffidfarm” but have since moved blogs.
    Somewhat off topic, but what bothered me after returning to the States after thirteen years in 2004, was how the word “creative” was so self-consciously bantered around. It felt as if it were being coopted by a bunch of narcissists who could only see it in terms of production and consumption, or a pseudo-leftist self adulation. Shepard Fairey’s plagiarism of labor flyers from the 1930s is a good example. Now there’s Po Bronson and some creativity expert from an Ivy League pulling the “Nation at Risk” scam on our schools again with a trumped up creativity crisis based on a test score. Bronson, like Obama, seems intent on blaming the teachers, rather than the absurdist ed fads that wrangle teachers one after the other, cuts to Arts funding in education, not to mention the widening income gap placing more pressure on parents, or for kids who do have money, over scheduled lives. This is the only blog I’ve found that has seemed to nail the classism of the “new creativity.”

  25. bostonboomer,

    You just reminded me of another perfect example of pseudo leftist classism– Michael “This book is not for them”, i.e., the poor- – Pollan. 🙂

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