On Bill Maher's Real Time, last night, the guests were Rachel Maddow, Niall Ferguson and Joe Queenan. For those that don't know, Rachel is an Oxford educated Rhodes Scholar, Niall is an Oxford educated Harvard history professor with an expertise in economics and Queenan is an author (and NYT's book section contributor) from working class Philly who did not attend either.
There was a moment that gave some insight into a schism that exists between the Harvard intellectual class and those that aren't that may have given an insight into the Gates/Crowely incident (specifically as relates to effective communication about Obama's policy implementation and not about the Gates/Crowely incident itself).
Videos (including bonus Overtime coverage), cuts and pastes, and thoughts below...
A bit of Wikipedia about each guest:
Joe Queenan (born November 3, 1950) is a humorist, critic and author from Philadelphia who graduated from Saint Joseph's University. He has written for numerous publications, such as Spy Magazine, TV Guide, Movieline, The Guardian and the New York Times Book Review. He has written eight books, including Balsamic Dreams, a scathing critique of the Baby Boomers, and Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon, a tour of low-brow American pop culture.
Queenan's work is noted for his caustic wit.
Queenan Country, documents his lifelong fascination with Great Britain. In it, he describes the special relationship Americans have with the British.
His latest book, Closing Time, is an account of his abusive father and his working-class upbringing in East Falls, Philadelphia, especially in the Schuylkill Falls housing project.
Rachel Anne Maddow (born April 1, 1973) is an American radio personality, television host, and political commentator. Her syndicated talk radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show, airs on Air America Radio. Maddow also hosts a nightly television show, The Rachel Maddow Show, on MSNBC; she is a former guest host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and other MSNBC shows. Maddow is the first openly gay anchor to be hired to host a prime-time news program in the United States.
Maddow earned a degree in public policy from Stanford University in 1994. At graduation she was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship. She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln College, Oxford. In 2001, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree (styled a DPhil) in political science from the University of Oxford. Her doctoral thesis is titled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons. She was the first openly gay American to win a Rhodes scholarship.
Niall Ferguson (born April 18, 1964, in Glasgow) is a British historian who specialises in financial and economic history as well as the history of empire. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He was educated at the private Glasgow Academy in Scotland, and at Magdalen College, Oxford.
He is best known outside academia for his revisionist views rehabilitating imperialism and colonialism; within academia, his championing of counterfactual history is a subject of some considerable controversy. In 2008, Allen Lane published his most recent book, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World which he also presented as a Channel 4 television series.
These are, by any means, whether one agrees with their positions or not, three very accomplished individuals. But their backgrounds are different and that showed in the Real Time panel from 7/31/09.
In the first few minutes Niall Ferguson cuts Joe Queenan off (on a point that Niall was correct about):
Niall says: "With all due respect, you're ignorant of economics."
Joe responds: "Like I said, I didn't go to Harvard."
Even if (and he was) Niall was right, was he correct in how he said it? Look at Joe's body language after that. It carried on into overtime, where you start to see more about Joe's actual position -- but, again, look at his body language -- that's what's telling here (overall cool video):
This is indicative of interactions I've seen when I've visited Cambridge (U.S. and U.K.) -- where the intellectual class is perceived as having little patience (whether they do or not) for those who are not as well versed in their field of study -- while the "townies" (h/t to Hedwig for reminding me of that term and schism) see themselves as being disrespected and perceived as ignorant (whether they are or not).
I don't bring this up to revisit what happened between Professor Gates and Officer Crowely -- though I would agree that Professor Gates should never have been arrested and wouldn't be surprised if this townies vs. Harvard issue was at play, as well as whatever else was going on (profiling...).
I bring it up because this is not an issue that would have been explored during the last eight years. We had a president who was, forgive me, (imo), dumb as a stump but could reach a large demographic. President Obama is a Harvard intellectual with high across the board favorables :). But does the way he present policy get across to those from a different background? Is it part of the problem with the misperceptions in the healthcare debate, with other issues?
Do concepts that are obvious to many in the left wing -- especially the intellectual wing of the left wing -- come across as too much in the weeds or not of benefit to some demographics?
I don't have the answer. I hope someone else does, because the poll numbers are not pointing to enough people being reached on single payer and all the urgent issues that need to be more widely understood now.