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December 11, 2007

Which Came First: The Intellectual or the Leader?

My piece over at American Thinker today:

Now obviously George Bush is not running for office again, but I use him as an example because so much emphasis has been put on the "smart" vs. the "dumb" candidate -- "dumb" being equivalent to President Bush. When you realize that an entire industry has sprung up around Bush's "inferior" intellect, with numerous books, calendars, and other items for sale that impugn his IQ (and focusing largely on his propensity for mispronouncing words like "nuclear"), he's an obvious choice for discussion. (What will these entrepreneurs do when President Bush leaves office on January 20, 2009?)


If being smart was the only qualification for being a leader, one would assume from his treatment in the media that George Bush should never have gotten near the Oval Office...

The whole thing is here.

UPDATE: I received a lot of feedback from readers, most of it positive. However, I did get an indignant e-mail from a professor at the University of Wisconsin (in the engineering department). I will not reprint his name or e-mail here, since while he was condescending, he was not outright rude, nor was his message of a threatening nature (like some others I have read of). Here is the text of his message:

I see that you have joined the ranks of easy answers and offer more spoon fed ideology to the masses. Really schools produce anti-capitalist feelings among intellectuals? I teach at the University of Wisconsin, considered liberal, and we have more CEOs amongst our graduates than Harvard; and I believe and know some of them who qualify as intellectuals--how to explain that? Those verbal skills that you say shape entitlement are rarely graded; instead merit is usually determined through extensive writing, or testing and now more often in our college through product design and competitions.
But to some extent you are right, it is the intellectuals in IT who pointed out how the last elections were manipulated by touch screen voting, and it was the intellectuals in the pentagon who pointed out we needed more troops in Iraq, and it is the intellectuals in my class who I teach to be skeptical of all claims that are going on to lead us into a new and technically rich society.

My response:

Then by your implication, George W. Bush is an intellectual because he received his MBA at Harvard. Why didn't I see that before?

You seem to have missed the entire point of my article. I can't remember the last times CEOs, IT professionals and the like, as a group, were classified as intellectuals by the "great thinkers" of our time. That's not to say they are incapable of intelligent thought -- quite the contrary! Yet these thinkers, as you describe them, put a higher value on the end result than the "intellectual process." This is what distinguishes them from those who consider themselves to be intellectuals, i.e. philosphers, lecturers, and so on.

I do not mean to imply that there is no place for intellectuals in society. They provide a much-needed perspective on many things. I merely point out that "book smarts" alone do not necessarily make a great leader.

Thanks for writing.

Show Comments

Posted by Pam Meister at 11:16 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0) | American Thinker
Comments

Am I to believe that you are actually going to use the word "intellectual" to refer to Al Gore and John Kerry? You might as well try to redefine "genius" to include Nancy Pelosi.

From Webster's: involving intelligence rather than emotion.

There is no way to remotely stretch the meaning of intellectual to encompass Gore or Kerry, both of whom are sand-poundingly stupid ignoramuses.

Don't you just love the way that ignoramus rolls off of the tongue when referring to them? Yeah, me too.

Posted by: Two Dogs at December 11, 2007 02:04 PM

HOORRAAAAAAAY !

i often wonder if Al Gore had mistaken the film 'WaterWorld' for a scientific documentary.

watching him provide these generic estimates about the daily amount of carbon released into the air at the NOBEL ceremony was really quite amusing.

i could easily suggest, Gore produced a billion pounds of toxins, within the first few minutes of his own speech.

Posted by: HNAV at December 11, 2007 02:06 PM

Hi Pam -- I would definitely agree that pure intellectualism is not enough to be a great leader, and I like your list of qualities a leader needs. I am a little hazy on what your definition of "intellectual" would be -- it would help me understand the article if you could pin down what that word means to you. I guess my biggest problem with GWB -- and the way the GOP has been leaning -- is not that he doesn't possess the qualities that are normally associated with intellect (I'm sure he must be a pretty smart guy to get where he's gotten), but that he willfully ignores and even ridicules things like science and history. No, "book smarts" are certainly not everything, but I believe that a good leader would at least listen to the advice of experts in their field when making decisions.

Posted by: Ro at December 11, 2007 06:06 PM

I am absolutely just dying to hear what Ro determines to be the ignored science and history. This should be fun.

Posted by: Two Dogs at December 12, 2007 02:24 PM

Every Republican president has been derided as stupid, from Lincoln to GWB. Whereas glib liberals like Bill Clinton and John Kerry are widely assumed to be geniuses. Whence these characterizations originate is anyones guess.
I have a business associate who never graduated from high school that routinely describes George W. Bush as a stupid chimp. I asked her why she thinks Bush is so stupid and she said that because he is. I said, Dont you feel uncomfortable calling someone stupid when you never bothered to graduate from high school and the last book you read was the Da Vinci Code and you didnt even understand that? She told me to f---- off.

Posted by: El Duderino at December 12, 2007 05:56 PM

You mean you haven't already funded an extensive research project on the subject, TD? I'm so disappointed.

Posted by: Ro at December 12, 2007 07:27 PM

Certainly have, Ro, my name is Howard Zinn. Ever heard of me?

Posted by: Two Dogs at December 12, 2007 07:50 PM

Ok, you got me there. That was an actual LOL. Er...I think we met once, my name's Michael Reagan. Remember me?

Posted by: Ro at December 12, 2007 09:34 PM

Well, at least you aren't the queer ballerina kid.

Posted by: Two Dogs at December 13, 2007 11:14 AM

How did you become so charming?

Posted by: Ro at December 14, 2007 12:54 PM

Lots and lots of rare beef and tons of seafood. Oh, and beer, can't forget the beer. You have never read my romance lessons obviously. You have no idea what you are missing.

Posted by: Two Dogs at December 14, 2007 04:01 PM


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