The hypocrisy is dazzling. Charles Murray (of Bell Curve fame) just wrote a book arguing that the vast majority of American college students shouldn’t actually be attending college, since they lack the cognitive ability to “deal with college-level material.” Instead, he argues that these people should become skilled laborers. (“There are very few unemployed first-rate electricians…”) He also insists that “the future of America depends on “the gifted,” or those who are genetically blessed with above-average intelligence.
I certainly don’t agree with Murray’s argument, but I understand that it’s a coherent argument. At least, it’s coherent until he starts talking presidential politics, and you suddenly realize that his partisan views completely obliterate the entire premise of his book. This short interview was conducted by Deborah Solomon:
Q: What do you make of the fact that John McCain was ranked 894 in a class of 899 when he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy?
A: I like to think that the reason he ranked so low is that he was out drinking beer, as opposed to just unable to learn stuff.
Q: What do you think of Sarah Palin?
A: I’m in love. Truly and deeply in love.
Q: She attended five colleges in six years.
A: So what?
Q: Why is the McCain clan so eager to advertise its anti-intellectualism?
A: The last thing we need are more pointy-headed intellectuals running the government. Probably the smartest president we’ve had in terms of I.Q. in the last 50 years was Jimmy Carter, and I think he is the worst president of the last 50 years.
As Jason Kottke noted, “the cognitive dissonance inside Murray’s head must be deafening.”