To be considered for the highest court in the land, Elena Kagan had to endumb herself, lest she be perceived as someone not right for, arguably, the most intellectually strenous postion in the land.
According to Nina Totenberg of NPR, teaching Kagan to soften her law-professorial tone and to correct for “a streak of what even her friends admit can sound like arrogance” was a key part of the intensive coaching that went into preparing her for the hearings.
That is something about which I've written a lot, and it's nice to see that the NYT has picked up on it.
“It’s been the signature accomplishment of the conservative intellectual elite to slap the labels ‘elite’ and ‘intellectual’ just on liberal intellectuals,” Jacoby says. “When the words ‘intellectual’ or ‘elite’ are invoked, they mean ‘liberal,’ and they’re code words for ‘this person is not one of the people.’ ”
The article describes prepping Elena Kagan for her confirmation hearings: don't be smarter than the senators. (Talk about mission impossible!)
A tendency toward anti-intellectualism isn’t new in our country, of course; in his 1962 classic, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” Richard Hofstadter wrote of our culture’s longtime devaluation of the head in favor of the heart and a historic tendency to prefer people and phenomena — educational approaches, types of religious experience — motivated by passion or gut rather than intellect or reason.
Hofstadter added, “Intellect has been dissevered from its coordinate place among the human virtues and assigned the position of a special kind of vice.”
Nice going, Republicans. Job well done, RWS™ and teabaggers.