Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, June 08, 2005  

Leadership and intelligence

With the release of Kerry’s grade average in college ( and Bush’s ), a number of people point out that great academic performance is no indicator of future leadership skills. People point to folks such as Patton, U.S. Grant in the military area, and to others like FDR or George Washington (who excelled in both areas, war and politics).

The fact is, though, that average students generally become average leaders, managers, scientists, doctors, and so forth. Exceptional students do not usually remain exceptional, though, in whatever field they choose to work in.

Our greatest leaders are as likely to come from the ranks of the average and the exceptional groups, and usually the former. You don’t often see Presidents with Ph.Ds, or business magnates and such with advanced degrees or first in class on their resumes.

Academics would complain that the disparity exists because average people elect average leaders; that they are afraid of anyone who is smarter than they are. There is more than a grain of truth in that. I know I’m afraid of extremely knowledgeable “experts” and “intellectuals” whose emphasis is always on cleverness and never on goodness.

We usually try to elect people who have the most common sense and a smidgen of moral wisdom to guide them.

My uncle was an economist for most of his adult life for the state of Maryland. He lived in Arlington, and knew the inside of the Beltway, it’s players and games. When he praised a man’s nature or character, his highest compliment was to say, “So and So is really bright.”

This was the standard by which people (men) measured each other. You still hear politicians say it about others and various pundits. I often read someone like Jonah Goldberg say that some opposing Democrat writer is really a bright or smart guy.

All this really means, though, when I questioned my uncle as to why so and so was so bright or smart was that it amounted to glibness. Someone who was quick with data, able to argue on his feet, and very smooth and facile in manner. It didn’t mean that this guy got results, was unusually kind or wise, or understood the world. It just meant that some fellow was fast talking, a political animal, and seemed efficient.

A moral compass was unnecessary. My uncle could talk to a communist at some embassy dinner and come away with the impression that Comrade Ivan was a really bright guy. And he thought that was marvelous that he’d just met a really bright guy to pass the time with.

My uncle had gone to the University of Chicago and either studied under Milton Friedman or knew him. Milton was really the “brightest guy” to my uncle. Which is funny because my uncle was a Roosevelt Democrat.

In discussing economics and Friedman one time with my uncle, I pointed out that Friedman’s idea of free markets above all else was nonsensical since it really take into consideration human nature which abhors “fairness” as in a free market while it embraces tyranny and dominance quite readily such as forming monopolies, collusion on prices, stomping competitors, inside trading, and so forth.

I said that Friedman’s schema lacked wisdom.

My uncle snorted. “Wisdom? What’s that? That’s meaningless. There’s no such thing.”

My uncle’s judgment was never, “Is this wise?” But rather, “Is this smart?”

Now, when I look at Kerry, I see a pathetic fool. Not even a great fool. When I look at Bush, I increasingly see a man way out of his depth.

In a real war on Islamo-fascism and its terrorists after 9/11 there were four needed things to do immediately. Take out Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran (in that order). If we needed more men, we should have drafted them.

Because we didn’t take out Syria and Iran, thousands more soldiers and Iraqis have died.

Bush has now fought a war longer than WW2, and will leave the job less than half-done by the time he leaves office. He has not impressed the world with American resolve but allowed enemies at home to undermine it every step of the way.

Domestically, apart from tax cuts, he has been a disaster on spending, on our own borders, and increased government programs and federal burdens.

He does not lead Congress. He does not lead the nation by making sure we understand what he is doing and has done, nor defend our war and its troops effectively. He is very good, one on one with people, and has enough of a macho swagger that the military loves him, but he just doesn’t seem to know what Americans want and need; or is unable to speak to that or want to do it.

He sees and must know the toll illegal aliens take upon our cities and states, but rather than do as the law and the people require him to, he ignores every single bit of the evidence which disputes his romantic notion of striving wetbacks.

How about reducing the regulatory burden on businesses? Not a dent.

How about reducing the horrendous cost to society that tort lawyers have done? Hardly a dent.

How about removing incentives from organizations like the ACLU by not subsidizing their lawsuits when they win?

How about attacking the ACLU as one of America’s greatest enemies? Bush is absent without leave.

How about getting government out of education? Not a chance.

Tell me, exactly what does this guy believe or do that’s effective?

I like Bush. As a man I think he’s both better and smarter than any Kerry or Dean or McCain or Gore.

Still, I’m at a loss as to what he does with most of his time. He’s going around talking about Social Security. Fine. He’s probably ahead of the times, but it’s creating the groundwork for eventual reform, but that doesn’t have to be the only issue on his plate. He can do more than one thing, and apply energy and force to other matters, can’t he? Apparently not.

I’m not talking about multi-tasking. I’m talking about setting an agenda and then assigning others to carry it out and to get his help from time to time with Congress.

Since the Press is hostile to Republicans, we ought to be getting a barrage of statements and releases every day demanding coverage of Bush initiatives. He ought to have a large staff just to assault the media and get in their face demanding coverage or cut them off with not allowing them any White House privileges. They aren’t essential anymore to get the message out, so why do any favors?

Bush seems to be on his heels all the time now. He is never seen being pro-active in a way that sets the tempo of the political cycles and sessions of Congress. His passivity in the face of unrelenting assault on his policies and acts such as Iraq, the facility at Gitmo, and so on. He should be appearing on TV every week saluting the work of our people in Iraq or Iran ans laying out the success we and the people of Iraq are having in a thousand different ways and places.

He just doesn’t seem to fight. I appreciate that he’s a Christian who finds it easy to turn the other cheek, but that has nothing to do with being a dynamic leader and reformer.


Michelle Malkin fisks Bush on his Gitmo answers to Neil Cavuto. It was not a shining or inspiring moment from Bush.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 8:22 PM |