June 29, 2011; Source: Salon | It's hard to imagine a gathering of intellectual illuminati like the philosopher kings and queens gathered for the Aspen Ideas Festival. Salon's Alex Pareene calls the participants "the nation's most insufferable elites." He's pretty biting in his commentary, worth quoting at some length:
"The Atlantic discovered not long ago that putting on little parties for America's ruling elite – carefully disguised as important intellectual gatherings to ensure the attendance of the most self-important members of the political and media classes – is a much better way to make money than 'producing a magazine full of good journalism.' From that knowledge, the "Aspen Ideas Festival" was born. The festival, happening right now, is like South by Southwest for people who are willing to pay Thomas Friedman money for his thoughts."
Pareene seems particularly exercised at the standing invitations for Thomas Friedman and David Brooks of the New York Times. He calls Brooks "a hapless political columnist whose amateurish dabblings in pop sociology are mistaken for insight by the sort of corporate execs who find Malcolm Gladwell a little too 'out-there'." And Friedman: "the book-writing golf course squirrel with the endless expense account."
Sign up for our free newsletters
Subscribe to NPQ's newsletters to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.
Pareene concludes, "The best thing the organizers could do to solve America's most pressing problems would probably be to encase the city of Aspen in an impenetrable dome on the last day of the festival, trapping all participants and attendees inside, forever."
Phew! Maybe it's good that we weren't invited to this summertime think tank. Have NPQ Newswire readers been following the festival? Have you seen anything that makes its probably significant cost worth the expense?—Rick Cohen