Very good points, DWill. One characteristic of intellectualism that Jacoby keeps bringing up is fairness, or the ability to examine opposing viewpoints.
So yes, living the life of the mind isn't necessarily the ultimate - if you're bullheaded, you can become "quagmired". For open-minded intellectuals, these dead end roads can be self-correcting, rather like the scientific method.
However, I suspect Social Darwinism is alive and well today. I think if you scratch a little deeper, many Americans believe the poor are lazy and stupid.
Jacoby discusses the Baby Einstein videos several times, she agrees with you...