If by clever you mean she was able to dupe racists into thinking their racism isn't racism. Ayn Rand was a racist in the same way Glenn Beck is a racist.
She knew she couldn't argue against the fundamental evil that is racism, so she attempted to cloak white supremacy in an economic philosophy and people like her have found it useful to do the same thing ever since.
She was the Glenn Beck/Karl Rove/Lee Atwater of her time, trying to use language to justify a white supremacist ideology. Her ideas are still popular with many, including her namesake Rand Paul.
For anyone confronted with an Ayn Rand sycophant, there's really no need to debate them on their adolescent beliefs. Simply direct these people to her essay "Racism" (not linked to because I could only find it available on rightwing and white supremacist websites like Stormfront).
Here are some excerpts from her essay:
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism... Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.
the celebrity who starts his autobiography with a detailed account of his family history -- all these are samples of racism, the atavvistic manifestations of a doctrine whose full expression is the tribal warfare of prehistorical savages, the wholesale slaughter of Nazi Germany, the atrocities of today's so-called "newly-emerging nations."
Obama's book "Dreams of my Father" is like Nazi Germany, according to Ayn Rand. It's a barnyard stock-farm version of collectivism. It's for animals, not men. And anyone else who cares about their family history... according to Rand, you're a Nazi too.
Just as there is no such thing as a collective or racial mind, so there is no such thing as a collective or racial achievement. There are only individual minds and individual achievements -- and a culture is not the anonymous product of undifferentiated masses, but the sum of the intellectual achievements of individual men.
The Civil Rights movement wasn't a group achievement. It was an achievement thanks to men like LBJ, a paternalistic achievement by Great Men, not the barnyard beasts... according to Ayn Rand.
Observe the hysterical intensity of the Southern racists; observe also that racism is much more prevalent among the poor white trash than among their intellectual betters.
"Poor white trash?" Totally not racist, right Ayn?
There is only one antidote to racism: the philosophy of individualism and its politico-economic corollary, laissez-faire capitalism.
There's your Glenn Beck: disguising rightwing racism as an economic philosophy.
It is capitalism that gave mankind its first steps toward freedom and a rational way of life. It is capitalism that broke through national and racial barriers, by means of free trade.
Of slaves from Africa to the colonies, Ayn?
It is capitalism that abolished serfdom and slavery in all the civilized countries of the world. It is the capitalist North that destroyed the slavery of the agrarian-feudal South in the United States.
No Ayn, it was the government that abolished the capitalist slave trade. And in many ways, not even the US government at that, although I'm sure Rand would have found the religious beliefs underpinning much of the abolition movement to be revolting and fascistic.
The persecution of Negroes in the South was and is truly disgraceful... Today, that problem is growing worse...
Diversified schools are much worse than slavery, according to Ayn Rand.
This accumulation of contradictions, of short-sighted pragmatism, of cynical contempt for principles, of outrageous irrationality, has now reached its climax in the new demands of the Negro leaders... Racial quotas have been one of the worst evils of racist regimes. There were racial quotas in the universities of Czarist Russia, in the population of Russia's major cities, etc.
The totalitarianism and fascism Ayn Rand escaped from was bad, but these demands by blacks are the "climax" of it all. Blacks in the Civil Rights movement who were fighting for equality and diversity in schools... they're not just like the worst racist totalitarian regimes, they're much much worse - according to Ayn Rand. That sounds like a sensible, totally not racist basis upon which to form a political philosophy, right?
It does not merely demand special privileges on racial grounds -- it demands that white men be penalized for the sins of their ancestors. It demands that a white laborer be refused a job because his grandfather may have practiced racial discrimination.
OK Ayn, we've heard that one before. The poor white people are being persecuted by decent folks demanding our schools be diversified. And the Civil Rights movement will prevent whites from getting jobs they deserve. We get it. We've heard that before from the White Citizens Councils.
That absurdly evil policy is destroying the moral base of the Negroes' fight. Their case rested on the principle of individual rights. If they demand the violation of the rights of others, they negate and forfeit their own.
If blacks demand diversified schools, they forfeit their rights? Wow. Gee, I wonder where that kind of nonsensical hatred for blacks comes from?
A man's rights are not violated by a private individual's refusal to deal with him. Racism is an evil, irrational and morally contemptible doctrine -- but doctrines cannot be forbidden or prescribed by law.
Obviously Rand Paul read this essay and agrees. But actually, you're wrong Ayn. When restaurants kick blacks and Jews out of their establishments, that is an infringement of rights. And we're not dialing the clock back on that one no matter how much your namesake Rand Paul wants to.
the Negroes -- are now in the vanguard of the destruction of these rights.
Sound the Tea Party trumpets. The blacks are leading the charge in taking away your rights... according to the Ayn Rand sycophants.
There's no reason to engage a Tea Partier or a Libertarian in a discussion as to the legitimacy of Ayn Rand's thinking.
Just point them to her hateful ignorant essay on racism and tell them to get back to you. It's just white supremacy disguised as an economic philosophy. That's all it is. It's just rightwing strategists doing what they always do, using the things they know they're guilt of (racism) to demonize their opponents - destroying language so that it's that much more difficult to have a reasonable discussion.
Ayn Rand's thinking is merely a dog whistle for racists. It's just a philosophy for people who are tired of being called racists because their beliefs are racist. It has been for decades, and it's time to stop pretending it's anything else.