I swear, I almost drove off the road at that point - whether from shock of hysterical laughter I am not sure which.
Here is a definition from Wikipedia, which is probably as good as any:
So what does this say about Obama?
"Intellectual" can be used to mean, broadly, one of three classifications of human beings:
- An individual who is deeply involved in abstract erudite ideas and theories.
- An individual whose profession solely involves the dissemination and/or production of ideas, as opposed to producing products (e.g. a steel worker) or services (e.g. an electrician). For example, lawyers, professors, politicians, and scientists.
- An individual of notable expertise in culture and the arts, expertise which allows them some cultural authority, which they then use to speak in public on other matters.
1 - deeply involved in abstract erudite ideas and theories.
Erudite means he has read a lot of books. I've read a lot of books. Paco has read lots of books. George W actually read a lot of books too. Are we also intellectuals. Hmm, just checked the top of my head, and it does not end in a point.
Then we have "abstract ideas and theories", which to me means "utterly divorced from reality". If you really want to screw something up, get a pointy headed professor who has never had a job in the real world to devise a solution for you. Yes, Obama is heavy on the theory, but it all seems to be Marxist theory 101. I'm not sure that is a good grounding for the top job.
2 - an individual whose profession solely involves the dissemination and production of ideas, as opposed to producing products.
In the good old days of the Labor Party, the comrades who served as office holders and MPs at least came from backgrounds where they produced things - boilermakers and steelworkers and bricklayers and shipbuilders; and if they did not produce things, they moved things - wharfies and engine drivers and crane drivers. They were deeply attached to the real world, to tangible things, and they knew how the world worked.
My grandfather was a founding member of a union and of the Labor Party - he drove a train, and he figured the railways did not pay enough for a working man to support a family. The only way to change that was to form a union and agitate for higher wages, which is what they did. They took action because of their circumstances, not because of some abstract ideas generated in the ivory towers of a distant university. And note that he was almost solely interested in the welfare of the working man, as opposed to those that choose not to labour for their daily bread.
If you suggested to him that the government should give money to unmarried teenage girls who became pregnant, and furthermore gave them free housing and sustenance for every further bastard they produced, he'd have chased you off his verandah with a shotgun before you could say "human rights" (and yes, he owned plenty of firearms, and used them to shoot anything that moved).
What can we say about people that have never had a real job in their life, yet profess to know everything about how the world works for those that do have "real" jobs, and seek to raise their families in a semblance of normality? I think we used to call them "Poindexters".
3 - An individual of notable expertise in culture and the arts, expertise which allows them some cultural authority, which they then use to speak in public on other matters.
I don't think Obama qualifies on this point, unless you count looking sharp in a good suit and being good at reading lines from an adding machine with a transparent screen.
Should we trust someone with a deep knowledge of Mesopotamian art, who has cultural authority, with devising a new tax system? Or tinkering with our health system? What qualifies an intellectual to tinker with the machinery of government?
Pretty much nothing if you ask me.
Oh, by the way, Obama qualifies as an intellectual apparently because he has written two books.
I have some hefty books on my bookshelf that tackle some pretty meaty subjects. I've got Kissinger and Chomsky and I had that pillock Pilger until I couldn't bear the site of him anymore, and into the trash he went. Those guys might have moronic ideas, but they are my idea of intellectuals. But do we really want a Chomsky or a Pilger in the White House?
The guy can write a book, so he is the smartest guy on the planet. Wilbur Smith and Clive Cussler have written entire bookshelves - what does that make them?