President George Bush, deliberately or not, (I believe deliberately) cultivated a policy of disassociating policy from reason or logic. Nicholas Kristoff sees in Obama a president who will allow intellectual debate to run rampant in the halls of the White House. Kristoff sees Obama as a president who will allow intellectuals free reign to shape policy, whereas under Bush eggheads were taken out to the woodshed to be beaten by Karl Rove.
While I make light of this issue, in reality this is serious business. Ignoring the scientific community on global warming and stem cell research and Middle East experts on the true hazards of invading Iraq have only stunted American growth, prestige, and treasure.
The policy of alienating intellectuals was done for political reasons. If you'll notice, right-wing radio and Fox News repeatedly bash the "liberal elite." In their infinite wisdom, Republicans decided that since they represent "Joe the plumber," all those who aren't (metaphorically speaking) plumbers must be evil liberal elite intellectuals. This shaming of intellect has been bad for the GOP and bad for the country.