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Don't Hate Him Because He's An Intellectual

That was the essence of an inadvertently hilarious (anonymous, natch) comment about Obama in this post.

To me, that's like Helen Thomas saying "don't hate me because I'm beautiful."


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Tom (Never Anonymous) W. wrote:

But Rand, that is exactly the problem with you and every other mouth breather that doesn't vote Democrat. You are all just too intellectually inferior to understand that you are just dumb. All of the great Democrats are here to make sure the government (you know, the one they put in place) makes sure that you don't continue to make the same mistakes that you always make - Belief in God, Free Market, Free Speech, gun ownership, etc. Give the Dems enough time, they will learn ya'.

Cecil Trotter wrote:

Obama an intellectual? That is laughable.

Carl Pham wrote:

No, actually I agree he's an intellectual. But that doesn't mean he's smart.

"Intellectual" is more an attitude than anything else, a prizing of theory over empiricism, a taste for analysis and criticism more than action, a contempt for those for whom words do not flow freely, an unconcern for consistency that leads one to generally prefer to invent whole new theories rather than patch or modify existing methods and attitudes, a tendency to fling the baby out with the bathwater, and of course a general grandiosity and arrogance. Obama certainly fits the mold, and I've seen lots of them.

Actually, by University of Chicago standards, he's almost an empiricist. It's not for nothing that the place is known as the most ivory of ivory towers.

Carl Pham wrote:

Oh, I forgot one key thing that most intellectuals have: a thin skin and surprisingly fragile ego. They tend to be easily insulted, to have no sense of humor (or, curiously enough, a rather mean-spirited one that can only laugh at the mistakes of others), and a tendency to panic if they aren't winning. They're generally poor at losing gracefully, or fighting their way back from a loss, personal or professional.

Interestingly, the United States has elected a few intellectuals as President, starting with Madison, and including at least Wilson, possibly Hoover and Carter. In each such case one can identify pretty dreadful mistakes that resulted from the combination of arrogance -- telling the country, or the world, with huge confidence that some problem could be solved this way or that -- and a fragile ego, the inability to re-adjust and adapt when the beautiful Master Plan proves unworkeable. Arguably this led Madison to the near-disaster of the War of 1812, Wilson to the shameful screw-up in Paris in 1919, Hoover to misunderstand the political urgencies in 1930-32, and Carter to lose his bearings when the Iranian students (and OPEC) proved immune to moral suasion.

We've generally done much better with men of practicality and action as President, even when their "intellectual" chops are modest. It is, after all, an executive position. We're better off when the dreamers and idea-men serve in Congress, if at all.

Bob wrote:

Carl, your sentence structure reveals you to be an intellectual. Only intellectuals use parenthetical caveats in their sentences. Please don't be offended - no insult is intended. ;-)

Carl Pham wrote:

Bob, I'm a recovering intellectual. I voted straight Democrat from high school through Bill Clinton, I believed NPR gave a deep and correct analysis of the world's events, I read the New York Times with approval and appreciation, and I hobnobbed with professors of linguistics and physics (in part because I was a professor myself). Fifteen years ago, I would have robotically pulled the switch for Obama, certainly, and known no one who didn't.

Nowadays...having been in the business world where next year's salary depends critically on this year's performance on the marketplace, where nothing is free and everything is purchased with hard work, having dipped into financial hazard space enough to have the electricity briefly shut off because there wasn't enough money for both the power bill and mac 'n' cheese for the kids -- having, so to speak, seen how it goes up close and personal for the working stiff, it's all different.

I've learned nothing but contempt for my former intellectual fellow travelers, who presume to lecture the working poor from a position of wealth and ease, folks who create nothing but talk and paper who nevertheless presume to tell people who organize firms, design and implement and support the technological basis of our economy how to do it, who cope with no irate customers personally, who ooze concern for humanity in the abstract but bargain for rates below minimum wage when it comes to paying illegal brown people to clean their houses or mow their lawns. I am, indeed, the classic case of a liberal that got mugged by reality.

Daveon wrote:

I am, indeed, the classic case of a liberal that got mugged by reality.

You should spend some time in Europe. I think you'd find it interesting.

At least as interesting as this fairly conservative European is finding living in the USA.

And talk of robotically pulling levers, Maggie Thatcher got it from me.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 17, 2008 10:06 AM.

Unsustainable was the previous entry in this blog.

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