Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Too Smart By Half

The conservative movement is blessed with some really, really excellent thinkers. Peggy Noonan is one; Kathleen Parker is another. Christopher Buckley and David Brooks, while not strictly conservative, are also smart and insightful writers. All these pundits are, perceptive, discerning, and smart, and can look beyond the obvious when analyzing an issue.

But it’s possible to be too smart by half; and it’s easy to overanalyze. And I think that some conservative thinkers are guilty of these sins. It’s tempting, when writing about some political controversy, to buck the prevailing trends and offer something no one has thought of, and it’s often attractive to go against the groupthink found in any movement. But Parker, Buckley, and the rest have gone too far—they’ve moved from edgy and challenging to merely stupid.

There seem to be two main ideas among the anti-McCain conservatives: a) that McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate shows his contempt for intelligence and competence, and b) that Barack Obama’s temperament is remarkable enough to trump ideological differences and represents a reason to vote for him over McCain. Both of these concepts are silly.

I think that it is nearly indisputable that Sarah Palin isn’t ready to be Vice President, and isn’t nearly ready for the presidency should anything happen to McCain. But neither is Obama. Obama is a smart man, and like Palin, could in time be a strong president (at least from a Democrat point of view). But he’s not ready—he has served in the Senate for less than four years, and hasn’t really done anything. He has never had to respond to anything more important than a drop in the polls.

Palin’s philosophical vision is hazy. So is Obama’s. Obama’s beliefs are pretty well-known—and they are nothing more than your typical Democrat ideals: balanced budget, more spending on welfare programs, less war, and the rest of the Democrat agenda. Obama displays no original vision, no brilliant ideas—his plans could have come out of the Official Democrat Incoming Senator Handbook, and probably did.

If McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin represents a lapse in judgment, then considering voting for Obama does as well. You can’t have it both ways—either both Palin and Obama are qualified, or they both aren’t.

Reason number two for Obama: Obama’s temperament is so adjusted and nuanced that it obscures any ideological weaknesses and becomes a real reason to vote Obama. A few problems there. First, Obama’s temperament may be good—but it’s not that good. Christopher Buckley seems to read judgment between the lines in Obama twin autobiographies. His books are interesting and revealing, but they are hardly literary classics. If Obama loses, his autobiographies will be on the bargain shelves pretty quickly, and will be completely forgotten a year from then. Anyhow, writing ability doesn’t necessarily translate into leadership ability—Ulysses S. Grant was a dreadful president, but wrote a very good autobiography.

And this idea ignores a more important point—when it comes to the presidency, competence might be a bit more important than temperament.

And there really isn’t any reason to think that Barack Obama is especially competent. He’s never had to make a tough decision, he’s never led a Senate fight, he’s never really even pushed any particularly unpopular positions. Some point to his presidential campaign as proof of his aptitude. But his campaign isn’t the smoking gun these people think it is—he beat Hillary Clinton, but she started with some sky-high negatives, and he should have won the nomination much earlier. His campaign has been run competently, but not brilliantly, and if Obama wants to cite a political campaign as evidence of his abilities, he had better run it brilliantly.

Noonan, Parker, Buckley, and the rest decry anti-intellectualism, and justifiably so. But just because one is smart (and for the record, any of the people I’ve cited is far more knowledgeable and insightful than I am—in fact, I feel presumptuous just saying that) doesn’t mean that one is invulnerable to indefensible ideas.

Peggy Noonan wrote a column praising Palin’s selection, then got caught bashing it on an open mike. Kathleen Parker suggested that Sarah Palin remove herself from the ticket in order to help McCain (which would hav) set up an Eagleton scenario in which McCain’s judgment would be irrevocably tarnished).

Neither of these things was a good idea, and I think that both writers will come to regret them. (In fact, I think Noonan already does). Too many people under analyze issues—but overanalyzing them to come to a ridiculous conclusion is just as bad.

6 Comments:

At October 27, 2008 at 2:03 PM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

Palin's problem, IMO, is that she scares those voters who are uncomfortable with biblical literalists. Creationsim as science, global warming as some sort of hoax by 'sloppy science'.
I suspect she is too smart to push those ideas on an unwilling majority, but still.......

 
At November 16, 2008 at 6:47 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

She did scare voters, and for this reason, she needs to remain from running in 2012. The GOP needs someone who appeals to all voters, especially those who voted in the left-wing illuminati.

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:11 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

louis vuitton outlet, coach purses, prada outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, nike shoes, red bottom shoes, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin outlet, oakley vault, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, true religion outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, coach outlet, ray ban outlet, nike air max, burberry outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, kate spade outlet online, polo ralph lauren, coach outlet store online, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, cheap oakley sunglasses, coach outlet, true religion, christian louboutin, longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet online, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton, jordan shoes, prada handbags

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:14 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

nike blazer pas cher, lacoste pas cher, timberland, north face, air max, guess pas cher, nike free, air jordan, sac louis vuitton, air max pas cher, hollister, michael kors canada, lululemon, barbour, abercrombie and fitch, burberry pas cher, hermes pas cher, vans pas cher, north face pas cher, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, chaussure louboutin, mulberry, nike roshe run, ralph lauren pas cher, louis vuitton, louis vuitton pas cher, sac michael kors, converse pas cher, nike free pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, longchamp, new balance pas cher, hollister, nike roshe, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, scarpe hogan, true religion jeans, nike air force, longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, nike air max

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:19 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

marc jacobs outlet, beats headphones, canada goose, rolex watches, abercrombie and fitch, celine handbags, new balance outlet, instyler ionic styler, ugg boots, reebok shoes, roshe run, uggs on sale, ghd, north face jackets, nike huarache, valentino shoes, vans outlet, ugg outlet, p90x workout, ugg soldes, mont blanc pens, chi flat iron, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, ferragamo shoes, longchamp, nfl jerseys, asics shoes, mac cosmetics, bottega veneta, north face outlet, herve leger, birkin bag, wedding dresses, insanity workout, soccer shoes, soccer jerseys, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, canada goose outlet, babyliss pro, canada goose outlet, hollister, jimmy choo shoes, uggs outlet, ugg, mcm handbags

 
At November 5, 2014 at 5:22 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, moncler outlet, hollister, juicy couture outlet, ralph lauren, moncler, louis vuitton canada, montre femme, moncler, canada goose pas cher, pandora uk, parajumpers outlet, thomas sabo uk, iphone 6 case, ray ban, lancel, oakley, swarovski jewelry, supra shoes, moncler, louboutin, uggs canada, coach outlet, swarovski uk, wedding dress, ugg, canada goose, baseball bats, canada goose, timberland shoes, replica watches, pandora jewelry, gucci, moncler, converse shoes, air max, karen millen, hollister clothing, juicy couture outlet, pandora charms, hollister canada, vans, converse, links of london uk, nike air max, moncler, toms outlet, canada goose uk

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home