July 29, 2010 by jamesessj
Saw Roger Angell on Charlie Rose the other night — Roger Angell, whose baseball writings I’ve enjoyed for most of my life. I’d never seen him interviewed, so I was looking forward to it…and I was enjoying the interview, as well, right up until Charlie decided to switch the topic to politics. (Probably because David Remnick, the New Yorker‘s editor and author of a recent book on Obama, was also there.) Angell’s words on the subject were, in essence, these:
1. Isn’t it great to have a president who’s an intellectual?
2. There haven’t been many presidents who’ve been intellectuals.
3. Let’s give Obama time, he’s not finished yet.
My words on the subject don’t exist in the English language — it’s impossible to register that level of disappointment. Again with the “intellectual” crap? In the first place, what precisely constitutes an “intellectual”? I daresay no one would classify Ronald Reagan as an intellectual, but the man did as much heavy thinking — see his diaries, his letters, his self-authored speeches — about political theory, about the United States’ role in the world, about the government’s role in the life of the individual — as many a tenured professor. And what about George H. W. Bush? He was not a genius at communicating, but he was plainly a man who’d thought deeply about geopolitics, whose grasp of the (arcane and frequently inane) subtleties of diplomacy was probably firmer than any other president’s.
But “intellectual,” when used by the left, simply means “someone whose thinking I agree with.” It’s a way of demeaning the opposing point of view — if my way of thinking is “intellectual,” well, then, yours must be “anti-intellectual.” Meaning: “stupid.” And “wrong.”
Typical of the left, but terribly disappointing coming from someone you’d assumed had something of an independent brain. But then Angell has written for the New Yorker for fifty years, and this is a magazine whose editor, on the same show, railed against Republicans for doing nothing about a “planet that’s heating up,” as proven by “science that’s incontrovertible.”
Ladies and gentlemen, an intellectual.