nside Higher Ed is running a piece by Jack Stripling on how the Right is attacking Obama by calling him a “professor.” This past weekend Sarah Palin told the crowd at the Tea Party Convention that in times of war “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.” The crowd went wild.
Obama’s years on the University of Chicago’s faculty have proven a double edged sword. While his supporters accept his higher education experience as evidence of a thoughtful pragmatism, the “professor” label has just as easily been used as a bristly brush, painting the president as an out of touch dreamer who formed theories in the Ivory Tower that can’t be translated into concrete policies from the White House.
The attacks on Obama aren’t new to politics, and they reveal longstanding stereotypes about the professoriate that continue to speak to a subsection of the electorate for whom higher education is regarded with skepticism, a number of political thinkers and academics said in interviews.
The article explores the history behind political backlash against academics, from William F. Buckley to Richard Nixon. Historians Thomas Haskell and David Brown are quoted and there is also the obligatory reference to Richard Hofstadter.
Worth a look.