Data? We don’t need no stinkin’ data!

George Will was never the great intellectual many have believed him to be (seriously, you go around in a bow time all day and see how much smarter people think you are), but this is just sad.  Either he’s actually gotten dumber or he’s decided he’s got to channel the anti-intellectual Republican zeitgeist to stay in the good graces of conservatives.  From his latest column:

Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” [emphasis mine] (although there is precious little to support Romney’s idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.” But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before “forever”? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?

Seriously?!  Scare quotes around “data”?  I like Brian Beutler’s take:

Yes, data. Conservatives don’t like Romney in part because he lets facts and events influence his views. This is unacceptable. So as Republicans come around to the idea that he may be the party’s best hope in 2012, conservative hold outs are trying to prevent the Romney consensus from taking hold.

Wow, that’s really saying something about the ideology of a movement when even the supposed intellectuals in your movement seem to think that data-based thinking and competence are bad things.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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