This week Newsweek published an essay by Rick Perlstein on the current state of the Republican Party. They chose him for the task for obvious reasons: he's the foremost historian of the modern conservative movement. And the point he makes is an important one: the rift between the elites and the grassroots in the party --- as represented by Sarah Palin --- is very significant:Yes, we can either discuss if populist anti-intellectual movements, of the left or right, can have an intellectual elite. Or we can simply abandon the use of reasoning as a part of the political discourse.
O'Reilly is angry because Perlstein says in his piece that the conservative intellectuals have left the stage to the O'Reillys, Becks and Limbaughs, who were once confined to the far right fringe. (I'm sure O'Reilly likes to think of himself as one of the elite intellectuals, when he's actually a highly paid sideshow act for the rubes.) But I suspect this truth is what got him (and Rupert Murdoch, I'm sure) fuming:
[ cf Wingnuts Getting Restless ]
It really has been that simple for at least decades now.
The Next question is whether or not public intellectuals are of use in a Free Republic.