David Brooks: What do these tea-party wingnuts have against the educated class?

Most pundits hostile to tea partiers are content to dismiss them as racists, but Brooksy — who once sized up The One by the crisp crease in his pants — has never gone in for the easy analysis.

Mind you, this is a guy who once said, “I divide people into people who talk like us and who don’t talk like us.” For someone who imagines himself playing some sort of intellectual concerto, he sure does seem to hit this one note an awful lot.

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.

The story is the same in foreign affairs. The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply.

A year ago, the Obama supporters were the passionate ones. Now the tea party brigades have all the intensity.

The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against.

Could be. Or, it could be that the country’s reacting to Obama, not because he’s an intellekshual but because he’s a leftist. As I said once before of a Gallup poll about abortion, “The more the man in the White House is perceived as a threat to an issue you care about, the more ardent your defense of that issue is likely to become.” Elect President Palin in 2012 and see what happens to independents vis-a-vis abortion and guns. As for foreign policy, permit me to suggest that the rise of isolationism is due not to a mindless “whatever they’re fer, we’re agin’!” reaction to eggheads but rather to the emotional and financial depletion caused by two long wars. And even so, it’s the right, of course — which overlaps with the tea-party movement to a far greater extent than the left — that’s providing the chief support for The One’s tentative nation-building enterprise in Afghanistan. So much for knee-jerk opposition to the educated class.

I could go on, but we’re headed for a 500-comment thread here so let’s hop to it. Exit question via Karl: To the extent that Brooks is right that this is a reaction to the educated class, could it be that that’s because the educated class has royally screwed up?