Lion of the Blogosphere

Ronald Reagan had elite advisors

There’s a really stupid op-ed article by James Oliphant criticizing Obama because he has “stuffed his administration” with “denizens of the Ivy League.” Where does Oliphant think that Reagan’s adminstration came from?

Alexander Haig – Columbia (maybe he only lasted a year because he graduated from a lesser Ivy?)
George Shultz – Princeton
James Baker – Princeton
Caspar Weinberger – Harvard (both undergrad and Harvard Law!)
Donald Regan – Harvard
David Stockman – Harvard
Jeane Kirkpatrick – Columbia University (undergrad Barnard, PhD Columbia)

Reagan also gets credit for choosing Yale grad George H.W. Bush as his running mate, a much more elite pick than Joe Biden who graduated near the bottom of his class at Syracuse Law School (probably the nation’s snowiest law school, but will never appear in a list of the nation’s best law schools).

This is another example of a conservative who hates Obama because he’s Obama and not because he has done anything differently than Ronald Reagan.

In fact, one of the things I really like about Reagan is that, even though he himself was not Ivy-League educated, he didn’t have a big chip on his shoulder about it, and he made sure to surround himself by the smartest people possible, which is why his presidency was so effective.

I predict that if, horror of horrors, Sarah Palin were to become president, she will surround herself with a bunch of morons from bogus directional state schools, and her administration will be a huge disaster.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 30, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Posted in Politics

31 Responses

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  1. The difference between Reagan’s (or if you prefer Clinton or the Bushes) ivy league advisers is that they were men with real accomplishments in the private sector, or “the real world” as it’s referred to in academia. Most of Obama’s advisers have as much experience in the real world as he did, which is little to none.

    Mike Street Station

    January 30, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    • I was going to make this point, so I’ll make a different point.

      Weinberger – Army
      Schultz – Marines
      Meese – Army
      Regan – Marines
      Baker – Marines


      January 30, 2014 at 1:10 PM

  2. Reagan had saying to the effect that if you don’t care who gets the credit, you can accomplish an awful lot. Related to that, it is said that on his first day in office Reagan gathered the cabinet and said “gentlemen, I hate taxes, inflation, and communism. Do something about it,” and adjourned the meeting. True or not, it’s a great anecdote on how to delegate.

    Palin is never going to be president, so we don’t have to worry about who her advisors might be. I’d say that both parties are about as bad in this regard though, because whereas Reagan had high-end talent working for him, the trend since Clinton at least seems to be one of (a) rewarding party insiders and donors, and (b) filling “diversity” quotas. You cannot make an argument, for example, that Timothy Geithner was as capable a Sec. of the Treasury as George Schultz, or that Susan Rice even belongs in the same conversation as Jeane Kirkpatrick. We are, I suppose, fortunate that Obama wasn’t president while we were trying to win the Cold War.

    Sgt. Joe Friday

    January 30, 2014 at 10:49 AM

  3. Those with the right credentials are the only ones who can deal with the congress and foreign leaders. What foreign leader will take someone from boondocks university seriously?

    Truman was totally manhandled by Stalin at Yalta. Ever since nobody without a college diploma became president.

    (Before Woodrow Wilson no incumbent president left the USA, including TR who technically never left the USA since he visited the Panana Canal Zone which was part of the USA 1903-1979. And after Wilson, FDR was the second to leave the USA, not counting Harding’s Canadian ports of call to his fatal visit to Alaska. So Truman was the third US president in its history to deal with foreign heads of state.)


    January 30, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    • “Truman was totally manhandled by Stalin at Yalta.”

      As John Belushi asked “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

      (for those who haven’t noticed: FDR was at Yalta.)


      January 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      • Well, Potsdam I mean. But it is true that Stalin played Truman like an instrument.


        January 31, 2014 at 1:13 PM

  4. Also,
    Alexander Haig – Army officer during Korean War
    George Shultz – Marines in WWII
    James Baker – Marines 52-54
    Caspar Weinberger – Army WWII
    Donald Regan – Marines WWII
    David Stockman – no military
    Jeane Kirkpatrick – no military
    George H W Bush – Navy Pilot WWII

    You don’t get a lot of vets+Ivy these days.

    albert magnus

    January 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    • there’s a shitload of them. every hbs class has quite a few and I would imagine Wharton as well.

      academy -> captaincy -> top b-school is a pretty tried and tested path and especially with numbers in the military we had in the last 10 years, you are going to see quite a bit of ‘elected officials’ and advisors in government with this background in 10-15 years when they are all in their 40’s and 50’s.


      January 30, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    • Likelihood of military service is also in part a generational thing. Reagan’s advisers included men who were young adults during World War II or the Korean War and therefore were highly likely to have been in the military. Of the two non-military people on your list, Jeane Kirkpatrick was a woman, not many women serve in the military, while David Stockman was born in 1946 (he was of military age during Vietnam, but the percentage of eligible men who served in that war was far lower than in WWII).

      Obama’s current cabinet:
      John Kerry (State) – b. 1943, Yale undergrad, Boston College law, served in Vietnam
      Jack Lew (Treasury) – b. 1955, Harvard undergrad, Georgetown law, no military
      Chuck Hagel (Defense) – b. 1946, Univ. of Nebraska undergrad, served in Vietnam
      Eric Holder (Justice) – b. 1951, Columbia undergrad and law, no military
      Sally Jewell (Interior) – b. 1956, Univ. of Washington undergrad, no military
      Tom Vilsack (Agriculture) – b. 1950, Hamilton College undergrad, Albany law, no military
      Penny Pritzker (Commerce) – b. 1959, Harvard undergrad, Stanford law and MBA, no military
      Thomas Perez (Labor) – b. 1961, Brown undergrad, Harvard law, no military
      Kathleen Sebelius (HHS) – b. 1948, Trinity Washington Univ. undergrad, Univ. of Kansas MPA, no military
      Shaun Donovan (Housing & UD) – b. 1966, Harvard undergrad, MPA and architecture degree, no military
      Anthony Foxx (Transportation) – b. 1971, Davidson undergrad, NYU law, no military
      Anthony Moniz (Energy) – b. 1944, Boston College undergrad, Stanford physics PhD, no military
      Arne Duncan (Education) – b. 1964, Harvard undergrad, no military
      Eric Shinseki (Veterans Affairs) – b. 1942, West Point undergrad, Duke master’s in English, retired general
      Jen Johnson ( Homeland Security) – b. 1957, Morehouse undergrad, Columbia law, no military (but was USAF general counsel).

      Trivia: Sally Jewell was born in Britain. Tom Vilsack was adopted as a baby from an orphanage with little known about his biological parents. Penny Pritzker is a member of the zillionaire Pritzker Family. Thomas Perez is a rare example of a white (maybe very slightly mulatto) Dominican. Anthony Moniz is not Hispanic; his background is Portuguese, and in addition he looks like an overage hippie.



      January 30, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      • Indeed, my father was in the military, and he’s no gung-ho soldier. He had to join because there was a draft.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        January 30, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      • “Penny Pritzker is a member of the zillionaire Pritzker Family.”

        The Pritzker’s are the Chicago money machine and radical Leftist zanies who gave us Obama in the first place. They are a big part of the answer to the question (that nobody in the press ever dared ask): who sent you?


        January 30, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      • Backgrounds of Obama’s advisers with cabinet-level rank:

        Denis McDonough (Chief of Staff) – b. 1969, St. John’s Univ. (MN) undergrad, Georgetown master’s in foreign service, no military
        Gina McCarthy (EPA Director) – b. 1954, UMass Boston undergrad, Tufts masters in environmental engineering, no military
        Silvia Burwell (OMB Director) – b. 1965, Harvard undergrad, Oxford masters in philosophy (Rhodes Scholar), no military
        Michael Froman (Trade Representative) – b. 1962, Princeton undergrad, Oxford PhD in international relations, Harvard law, no military
        Samantha Power (UN Ambassador) – b. 1970, Yale undergrad, Harvard law, no military
        Jason Furman (Council of Economic Advisors director) – b. 1970, Harvard undergrad, London School of Economics masters, Harvard PhD in economics, no military
        Valerie Jarrett (chief adviser) – b. 1956, Stanford undergrad, Michigan law, no military

        Trivia: Michael Froman was a classmate of Obama’s at Harvard law. Samantha Power was born in Ireland.



        January 30, 2014 at 7:29 PM

      • It looks like the biggest influence on the cabinet is the various admission committees at Harvard. This also goes to the point that it is a lock that the Democrats will nominate an Ivy Leaguer in 2016 and will probably nominate someone who graduated from either Harvard or Yale.


        January 30, 2014 at 7:30 PM

  5. Wasn’t Harvard in the 40’s and Harvard in the 70’s, two completely different institutions? Didn’t Harvard become much more meritocratic in the late 60’s? Never went there but that is what I heard.


    January 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    • Yes. Which is why these comparison don’t make much sense.

      Look at where the presidents from Truman to Reagan went to school:

      Truman – high school education.

      Eisenhower – West Point.

      Kennedy – Harvard.

      Johnson – Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College.

      Nixon – Whittier and Duke Law.

      Ford – University of Michigan and Yale Law.

      Carter – Georgia Southwest State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Annapolis.


      No wonder Reagan didn’t have a chip on his shoulder about education. That’s not exactly an impressive lineup. There are many good schools on that list, but it’s nothing you couldn’t find at any of the top 1000 corporations in the country. In fact, you’d probably find a denser collection of Ivy league schools on the resumes for the average state college faculty.

      When Gerald Ford is as well educated as any president in the post-WW2 era, you know you’re dealing with a modestly accomplished group for that area.

      Pincher Martin

      January 30, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    • Wasn’t Harvard in the 40′s and Harvard in the 70′s, two completely different institutions? Didn’t Harvard become much more meritocratic in the late 60′s? Never went there but that is what I heard.

      Harvard students certainly became far smarter than the average university student post 1960, but that says far more about the declining selectivity of most universities than it does about Harvard’s rising standards. The elites have always been far more educated than the masses, but it used to be just graduating from high school made you hyper-educated. But now that almost everyone can do that (the Flynn Effect?) the only way to standout is to go to Harvard.


      January 30, 2014 at 8:53 PM

  6. “I predict that if, horror of horrors, Sarah Palin were to become president, she will surround herself with a bunch of morons from bogus directional state schools, and her administration will be a huge disaster.”

    Which makes the result different from the current crop of Ivy geniuses HOW, exactly?


    January 30, 2014 at 4:44 PM

  7. No one doubts that, on average, Ivy Leaguers are much more capable than the population at large, But capable of what? Wrecking the country? The problem isn’t their abilities but their values.

    “The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are out to impose upon the nation their modish fads and fallacies, and have nearly succeeded in doing so.” — William F. Buckley


    January 30, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    • The whole purpose of being an Ivy grad is to go into value transference, and there is an aphrodisiac stemming from our culture, when you screw people and get away with it.


      January 30, 2014 at 7:51 PM

  8. There is a monumental difference between intelligence and wisdom, between being smart and being aware.

    For example, you might fervently believe the world is flat. As such, you might come up with the most incredible, clever theories to explain things in a flat world — how the moon affects the tides, where the sun goes at night, and so on. These could be cleverest ideas, brilliantly expressed — but of course they’re dead wrong, because your fundamental belief is wrong. The world isn’t flat.

    This is precisely what we get with these Ivy types. They aren’t stupid. But they believe in blank slatism. They believe men and women are the same (except where women aren’t). They believe that rootless cosmopolitanism is the best way to organize a society. They believe in multi-culturalism and that all cultures are equal. They believe race is a social construct. One could go on for hours.

    So it doesn’t matter how “smart” they are when they believe a whole pile of absurd idiocy. A few of them know the truth and pretend to believe these Cathedral shibboleths because they recognize them as the source of their power and control. But most of them really DO believe in a lot of rot. So how “smart” are they?


    January 30, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    • Oh and I meant to say there that Sarah Palin, for one, probably doesn’t believe any of those things. But she believes a bunch of other dumb stuff, but the dumb stuff Palin believes in doesn’t corrode society like battery acid.


      January 30, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    • Unintelligent people believe even more absurd idiocy:

      1) being gay is a choice

      2) you can pray the gay away

      3) faith healing

      4)the universe was created by a wizard in the sky

      5)talking snakes

      6)the earth is only 6000 years old

      7) AIDS is a government conspiracy

      8) Obama is an Arab

      9) supermarket tabloids

      10) Psychics

      The list goes on and on. So overall, I’d say intelligence and wisdom are very highly correlated. And it’s largely people with IQ’s in the Ivy League range (120-140 when they’re tested on the WAIS) who believe the politically correct nonsense. Above 150 folks are much more rational.


      January 30, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      • The case for the earth being 6000 years old is considerably stronger than the case for the validity of collectivist economics, and nothing on this list has come anywhere near inflicting as much damage. As Peterik noted, some absurd fantasies are a lot more dangerous than others.


        January 31, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      • Most of these idiocies sound pretty harmless, do not affect the believers’ everyday lives much, and do not require costly government programs. Well done, but SWPLs require stronger stuff.

        I guess the Mayor’s wife had no choice, first to become a lesbian, then to become straight. Tossed by fate, if you will.


        February 3, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    • “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

      Oswald Spengler

      January 31, 2014 at 2:06 AM

  9. In fact, one of the things I really like about Reagan is that, even though he himself was not Ivy-League educated, he didn’t have a big chip on his shoulder about it, and he made sure to surround himself by the smartest people possible, which is why his presidency was so effective.

    Actually surrounding himself with Ivy Leaguers might show he did have a big chip on his shoulder if he compensated for his own inferiority complex by discriminating against his own kind and sucking up to Ivy-Leaguers. It also may suggests he wasn’t smart enough to judge who was smart on his own and thus had to mindlessly rely on credentials.

    I predict that if, horror of horrors, Sarah Palin were to become president, she will surround herself with a bunch of morons from bogus directional state schools, and her administration will be a huge disaster.

    Well if you look at who steered the Bush admin to disaster, it wasn’t the sub-educated advisors (Condi, Powell & even Cheney all initially opposed the Iraq war) it was the hyper educated neocons like Paul Wolfawitz (Cornell, University of Chicago), Richard Perle (Princeton), Scooter Libby ( Yale, Columbia), Douglas Feith (Harvard) who very brilliantly tricked Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Rice into being the public faces for the neocons’ agenda and taking the blame while the neocons themselves retreated to the shadows.

    So if a president Palin were smart enough to listen to her bogus school advisors and not let her admin get hijacked by Ivy League neocons behind the scenes, her admin could be a smashing success.


    January 30, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    • We also tend to forget that the idea of the Ivy League representing intellectual superiority is fairly recent, and that throughout most of their history the Ivies fascinated people largely for the same reasons that high society did – they were considered the preserve of the upper classes and the powerful. People wanted to know what ties a Yale man wore or what country club an Ivy grad went to. Schools that selected students mainly for high test scores and “resumes” were often full of prolish brainiacs because the children of the wealthy didn’t have to excel academically. Their family connections got them jobs, whereas the children of the working classes could only prove they were special by excelling in school.

      I did an extensive amount of reading a few years back about the issue of selective colleges and the “fast track” student. I came away grateful that I never took this route myself. For a variety of reasons I think the really lucky people are working-class folks who made it into middle-middle-class status. They are grounded enough in reality to usually avoid the worst excesses of “affluenza”, but not lacking in financial security or minimal comforts. Happiness depends a lot more on your expectations than it does on your position on the status scale. There will always be someone else who has more money, more power, etc… However, I don’t think most people on this blog will agree with me…!

      A good essay on the worth of selective colleges vs less or non-selective colleges is Caitlyn Flanagan’s “Confessions of a prep school college counselor” in Atlantic magazine.


      January 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

  10. oliphant is a conservative?

    there must be more than one. the one on the newshour is a flamer.

    jorge videla

    January 30, 2014 at 10:36 PM

  11. it’s surprising and…if someone as smart as lion still thinks he’s living in a two party democracy. i can’t think of a better way to say it.

    lion has said that the tea party is a marxist movement.

    jorge videla

    January 30, 2014 at 11:35 PM

  12. Gordon Gekko: The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It’s bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you.

    jorge videla

    January 30, 2014 at 11:45 PM

    • Who said bad Hollywood movies don’t influence the way Americans see their our own society and culture? We have Jorgeous Jorge cribbing quotes from Wall Street (which at least is a somewhat entertaining if formulaic film) and linking to the execrable movie Killing Them Softly.

      Oliver Stone and Brad Pitt are apparently JJ’s cultural touchstones for judging economic inequality. What’s next? Sally Field’s speech from Norma Rae? Or maybe Henry Fonda as Tom Joad:

      Pincher Martin

      January 31, 2014 at 1:33 AM

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