I use the word "astonishing" in the clinical sense here, because the speaker - presumed to be so very much Smarter than you or me - makes an assertion that seems to be provably incorrect. Harvard Business, etc.
This has since been extended to Sarah Palin. Were Gov. Palin to be the typical blandly liberal Democrat - pro-abortion, pro-Affirmative Action, etc - then we would expect that her accomplishments would be sung to the heavens by the Left. Political reformer, working mother who does not sacrifice her shot at the levers of power, etc. Instead we get "I can see Russia from my house!"
Why? The biggest mystery to me is that this derangement comes from people absolutely convinced that they are much, much smarter than we. Nicer, too, but "smart" is the key. The sot of people who think that if only the right sort of people were in charge, All Would Be For The Best.
Lexington Green asks what on earth is up with this?
Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive, that has added little or nothing of value to the civilizational stock, that cannot possibly do the things it claims it can do, that services rent-seekers and the well-connected, that believes in an incoherent mishmash of politically correct platitudes, that is parasitic, have such an elevated view of itself?Roger L. Simon shows up in the comment with what I think is the right answer:
The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.
I would suggest, however, that they are not nearly as confident in their “cultural confidence” as it would seem. And the world is slowly turning against them.Almost none of them actually know how to think, as a true Intellectual (note that I use the term here in the non-pejorative sense) should. The Academy did not teach them how to think, but rather how to regurgitate pre-digested pap. When confronted with something from outside the fishbowl, they don't know what to do.
And so they fall back on bluster, and false confidence, and name calling. And most especially, conscious living inside the Fishbowl. From Journolist to the ClimateGate emails, we see the creation of an in-group/out-group world view. The in-group is loudly defended, even when indefensible (see Clinton, Bill).
Hamlet contains a much mis-understood passage that deals with this. It's mis-understood because the language has changed subtly in the last 400 years. It's pretty obvious when you find an archaic word in Shakespeare - we no longer use it, so these are the ones we typically have to look up. Words like avaunt, for example. The danger in Shakespeare is when he uses a word whose meaning has changed over the last four centuries. A word like protest:
By "protest," Gertrude doesn't mean "object" or "deny"—these meanings postdate Hamlet. The principal meaning of "protest" in Shakespeare's day was "vow" or "declare solemnly," a meaning preserved in our use of "protestation." When we smugly declare that "the lady doth protest too much," we almost always mean that the lady objects so much as to lose credibility. Gertrude says that Player Queen affirms so much as to lose credibility. Her vows are too elaborate, too artful, too insistent.And so we see the Ruling Class condemned by both old and new meanings of the word. Their protests - Bush Derangement Syndrome and Palin Derangement Syndrome - show them to be unthinking drones. And their protests - Obama the World Healer, for example - also show them to be unthinking drones.
It would probably be best for this Republic if there were a strong, vigorous Intellectual Left. There isn't, and no amount of braggadocio will change that. We might borrow our reply to them from Shakespeare, even:
Dauphin: I stand here for him. What to him from England?
Exeter: Scorn and defiance, slight regard, contempt and any thing that may not misbecome the mighty sender, doth he prize you at. Thus says my king.