Friday, February 20, 2015

Revenge of the Orthogonians, Part II

The Anti-Madayln Majority

Given all the anti-intellectualism on display in the Republican Party, you wouldn't think that Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse and a host of other Republicans under 50 have Ivy League educations.  Ben Sasse, the recently elected Senator from Nebraska, has a whole wall of degrees, including a Ph.D. in History from Yale.  His paper, The Anti-Madalyn Majority, won the Theron Rockwell Field award for best dissertation.  He predicates the Reagan Revolution in 1980 on the 1962 and 1963 Supreme Court decisions striking down public prayer and Bible reading in public schools, spearheaded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a renown atheist of the time.

Obviously, Ben Sasse went to great pains to make his point and can make a persuasive argument in the ivy-shrouded halls of academia.  He achieved this milestone in 2004, having spent the better part of 15 years in one college or another.  Quite a contrast to Scott Walker, who dropped out of Marquette one semester shy of four years, apparently because he was short on credits to graduate on time.

Ben is an ardent Christian like Walker and Ted Cruz.  He has devoted an extensive amount of time since his prize-winning dissertation to Christian causes, although he found time to briefly serve in the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush (a Yale graduate and Harvard MBA) and served as chief of staff to US Representative Jeff Fortenberry (Georgetown, LSU, Franciscan University of Steubenville).  But, he seemed to love academia most, serving as a part-time assistant professor at UT-Austin, and in 2009 the President of Midland University in his home state of Nebraska (culled from his wiki page, which he probably wrote himself).

You might call him an evangelical intellectual.  You certainly wouldn't want to challenge him on his views, as he has had a considerable amount of time shaping them, preparing formidable arguments, and in colloquial terms, could no doubt "tear you a new asshole" if you tried to debate him.

Ben and Ted went into the Ivy League universities and beat them at their own games.  Ted graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1995 and was editor of the Harvard Law Review.  He had previously graduated cum laude from Princeton and was a champion debater.  Alan Dershowitz described his brilliance as "off the charts."  Marco Rubio also has an impressive education, cum laude from the University of Miami Law School.  As does, Paul Rand, who graduated from Duke University School of Medicine (similarly culled from wiki).

 So, what's to fear of academia?

Apparently, quite a bit, as these young turks are seen as the exception not the rule in academia, bucking the mainstream "liberal" establishment like evangelicals bearing their large crosses against the flow of human traffic on Mardi Gras night on Bourbon Street.  To be fair, Rand Paul is more in the Libertarian strain of Republican politics than the Evangelical strain, which currently is dominant.

You really can't call any of these persons "orthogonians," since they all excelled in university, and seemed to relish their time there.  Yet, they appear to have adopted the "orthogonian" mentality since entering politics.

Square is in.  Round is out, especially round with a pointy head, generally associated with effete intellectuals.  The Republicans have long embraced the "everyman" persona, and most of its party members seem to identify themselves with squares.  They can sniff out a round person trying to make himself look square, which is why Scott Walker seems to have gotten the jump on these "pretenders."  He's a square peg snuggly fit in a square hole.

Look at Ted or Marco or Rand try to appeal to the "everyman" in their party!  It is usually not a pretty sight.  Marco was so nervous in his 2013 SOTU response that he had to reach for a glass of water.  Ted recently flubbed his response to the President's SOTU address as well.  Rand has also stumbled during impromtu moments making one question whether he has the "right stuff" to mount a challenge for the GOP presidential nomination during the grueling primaries ahead.

Scott Walker is an "everyman," at least in the Republican sense of the word.  Dropping out of college is not seen as a liability, but rather a strength, because he recognized it was a fool's errand.  He could get where he wanted to be without a diploma, much less one of those fancy papers from an Ivy League university.

Ben Sasse is a possible exception.  This guy knows how to play both sides of the coin and has the potential to become a very popular figure in the GOP.  He appears to have relatively honest convictions, unlike Ted or Marco or even Rand.  You never know which side of an issue he is going to take.  All those years in academia hasn't seemed to turn off the Teabaggers, because Ben was fighting their fight at Yale, showing a bunch of secular left professors the real meaning of the "Moral Majority," even if most Teabaggers have no idea who Madalyn Murray O'Hair was.

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