Alan Wolfe offers what should, but undoubtedly won't, be the last word on Ayn Rand:
As for the masses, serious thinkers have shared Rand’s concern about their impact on society: de Tocqueville spoke of the tyranny of the majority and Ortega y Gasset of their “revolt.” There was a time when the concept of mass society was taken seriously in academic sociology: Daniel Bell wrote an essay about it, C. Wright Mills a chapter, and William Kornhauser a book. But while we continue to discuss mass media and mass culture, we have also learned, as Mills tried to teach us, that elites have flaws of their own. A theory of society that attributes virtues to one group and vices to another cannot pass the realism test: Rand’s “inverted” Marxism, as Chait calls it, is as myopic as its opposite.
Right-wing think tanks can have Rand (even if she had little use for them). In the academy, she is a nonperson. Her theories are works of fiction. Her works of fiction are theories, and bad ones at that. Should the Republicans actually win in 2012, we might need to study her in the academic world. It would be for the same reason we sometimes need to study creationism.
All of which of course, in the minds of Rand's cultists, makes her infallible greatness all the more obviously true.