This op-ed by David Ignatius, "Meet The New Elite," deserves a read. He argues that "we are living in the post-Reagan era. The outsiders of old are insiders; the conservatives are credentialed and networked." (Note: Ignatius' bio states that he "[g]raduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1973, then received a Frank Knox Fellowship from Harvard and went to King's College, Cambridge, where he received a diploma in economics in 1975." So he's certainly got elite credentials himself.)
In college, my political science professors used to joke that the way to get a State Department job was to "go to Harvard and turn left." Now it appears that the road to influence in the conservative Republican world is to go to an Ivy League school and turn right.
I must say that my non-Ivy mind disagrees with Ignatius to a certain extent. It is surely a mark of distinction to attend and graduate from an Ivy League school and (obviously) an even greater distinction to have an impressive academic record there. Since the founding of the nation, such people have risen to the top in government, and the Bush Administration is far from the first to rely on them extensively.
Still, something about this does not sit well with me. During the intra-conservative Miers debate many seemed to be saying (whether they would admit it or not) that by default, if you want a serious job like Supreme Court justice done right, the best person for the job is one who has a highly-credentialed Ivy League background. This view seemed to be everywhere, most notably at NRO's Corner and sites like Confirmthem.com. (One amusing thread at Confirmthem.com worried about whether Judge Alito is a "feeder judge," an insider term meaning that his clerks go on to be Supreme Court clerks. I had to smile; what did this mean about his qualifications to be on the high Court? Now we were talking about issues that matter only to the elite among the elites!)
Anyway, I'd feel better if we saw more people in high positions who had superb academic records at the Universities of Nebraska, Florida, Notre Dame, Utah, Colorado, Mississippi, Arizona, and the like. Those are not Ivies, but I think the Republic would still be safe, somehow.