From Snobs to 'Pointy-Headed College Professors' to 'Eggheads'

February 28, 2012

When Rick Santorum called President Obama "a snob" for wanting more Americans to attend college, it caused quite a stir, leading some fellow Republicans to distance themselves from the remarks.

"There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren't taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them," continued Mr. Santorum at a rally in Michigan on Saturday. "Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image."

Fellow conservatives like Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia may have seen Mr. Santorum's remarks as extreme, but anti-intellectual rhetoric has a long history in presidential campaigns.

Elvin T. Lim, an associate professor of government at Wesleyan University and author of The Anti-Intellectual Presidency (Oxford University Press, 2008), says Republican candidates often use comments like Mr. Santorum's to separate themselves from the pack and build trust with their base.

"It's a last-ditch effort to make sure the base comes out for him," he says. "It's not surprising that we see that the most strident forms of anti-intellectualism in these closing days of the primary."

Here's a sampling of what candidates past and present have said about those highfalutin innalekshuls.

They exhibit an "unbroken record of total abstinence from constructive joy over our whole national history."
—Herbert Hoover

An intellectual is "a man who takes more words than are necessary
to tell more than he knows."
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

"They are more concerned with the trivia and the superficial
than they are with the things that have really built America."
—Lyndon B. Johnson

"Pointy-head college professors
who can't even park a bicycle straight ... "
—George Wallace

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau
was "a pompous egghead."
—Richard M. Nixon

"A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." —Spiro T. Agnew

Taxpayers should not be asked
"to subsidize intellectual curiosity."
—Ronald Reagan

Taxpayers' money is "used to subsidize bizarre and destructive visions of reality" at state universities.
—Newt Gingrich

"There are college students at this conference who are reading Burke and Hayek. When I was your age, you could have told me they were infielders for the Detroit Tigers." —Mitt Romney

The place where Satan was "the most successful and first—first successful­—was in academia. ... And so academia a long time ago fell." —Rick Santorum

"Eggheads of the world, unite!
You have nothing to lose but your yolks."
—Adlai Stevenson