all them big noombers

Lately conservatives have been bitching and moaning about how they’re vastly outnumbered on college campus. Jonathan Chait has a theory on why that is:

The main causes of the partisan disparity on campus have little to do with anything so nefarious as discrimination. First, Republicans don’t particularly want to be professors. To go into academia – a highly competitive field that does not offer great riches – you have to believe that living the life of the mind is more valuable than making a Wall Street salary. On most issues that offer a choice between having more money in your pocket and having something else – a cleaner environment, universal health insurance, etc. – conservatives tend to prefer the money and liberals tend to prefer the something else. It’s not so surprising that the same thinking would extend to career choices.

Second, professors don’t particularly want to be Republicans. In recent years, and especially under George W. Bush, Republicans have cultivated anti-intellectualism. Remember how Bush in 2000 ridiculed Al Gore for using all them big numbers?

That’s not just a campaign ploy. It’s how Republicans govern these days. Last summer, my colleague Frank Foer wrote a cover story in the New Republic detailing the way the Bush administration had disdained the advice of experts. And not liberal experts, either. These were Republican-appointed wonks whose know-how on topics such as global warming, the national debt and occupying Iraq were systematically ignored. Bush prefers to follow his gut.

In the world of academia, that’s about the nastiest thing you can say about somebody. Bush’s supporters consider it a compliment. “Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn’t have to be book smart,” wrote conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks a week before the election. “Democrats, on the other hand, are more apt to emphasize being knowledgeable and thoughtful. They value leaders who see complexities, who possess the virtues of the well-educated.”

The conservatives wants their cake, and they want to eat it too. Fine. And when they stuff their face so full that they explode, I’ll be standing by with a broom and a dustbin to clean up their mess.

Because, y’know, people who blow up can’t clean up their own messes.

Hat tip: The Blue Bus.