Bill Maher has an article up on Salon going over one of his “New Rules” in which he mentions that 150 graduates of Regent University have been hired by the Bush administration. For those of you who don’t know, Regent is the oh-so-prestigious law school run by funda-nut Pat Robertson. Maher goes on to attack the school as being on the lowest rung of the ranking ladder, a law school for people “who couldn’t get into the University of Phoenix.” and then attacks the way in which the concept of elitism has come to be demonized.
He makes some good points. Chief among them, that in most areas we want the elite, from sports to warfare we admire those who have the natural talent and discipline to drive themselves to excel in their chosen fields. But not in politics. For some reason, we have a tendency to want our leaders to be folksy and accessible instead of smart and competent. Now I’m not saying that people who have the word “State” on their diplomas are incapable of leadership, or that only the wealthiest of wasps understand the needs of the country. But I like the idea that of the philosopher king even if it doesn’t always turn out for the best. I want the geekiest of the geeks to fix my computer when it is broken, I want the greasiest of wrench monkeys to fix my car, I want the tweediest of coats to teach me in school and I want the smartest people in the world working on the problems of how to govern.
I agree with Maher that there is nothing wrong with looking to the elite, and I’m pretty sure you won’t find very many of them under the tutelage of Robertson who functions as a kind of caricature of fundamentalism gone awry. But I don’t think we necessarily need to keep the justice department staffed with the top 1% of Harvard and Yale. The real problem I have with the fact that this administration recruits so heavily from Regent is that it yet another mowing down of the church-state barrier in favor of a fundamentalist Christianist agenda. If Regent were a place of serious academic chops instead of a bible-thumping diploma mill, there might be more justification. It seems clear to me that the primary reason for hiring so many Regent alumni has far less to do with their legal acumen than their religious convictions.
I’ll get back to talking about comic books and mixed martial arts later…