Monday, June 04, 2007

We need to get ourselves a really smart president

Found this in the Deseret News, of all places; and I agree. We at least need a president smarter than myself...
No comment on our current president :)

We need to get ourselves a really smart president

By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON — Al Gore has been in town launching his new book, "The Assault on Reason," and you could have predicted the buzz: Is he about to jump into the race? What you probably wouldn't have predicted, because it's insane, is the counter-buzz that Gore, poor fellow, is just too ostentatiously smart to be elected president.
In the book, you see, Gore betrays familiarity with history, economics, even science. He uses big words, often several in the same sentence. And in public appearances — get this — he doesn't even try to disguise his erudition. These, supposedly, are glaring shortcomings that should keep noncandidate Gore on the sidelines, rereading Gibbon and exchanging ideas about the structure of the cosmos with Stephen Hawking.
Like I said, insane. Leave aside the question of whether Gore is even thinking about another presidential run or how he would stack up against the other candidates. I'm making a more general point: One thing that should be clear, to anyone who's been paying attention these past few years, is that we need to go out and get ourselves the smartest president we can find.
We need a brainiac president, a regular Mister or Miss Smarty-Pants president. We need to elect the kid you hated in high school, the teacher's pet with perfect grades.
When I look at what the next president will have to deal with, I don't see much that can be solved with just a winning smile, a firm handshake and a ton of resolve. I see conundrums, dilemmas, quandaries, impasses, gnarly thickets of fateful possibility with no obvious way out. Iraq, of course, is the obvious place he or she will have to start — engineering a U.S. withdrawal and dealing with the aftermath. I want a president smart enough to figure out how to minimize the damage.
I want a president who reads newspapers. I want a president who reads books other than those that confirm his world view. I want a president who bones up on Persian history before deciding how to deal with Iran's ambitious dreams of glory. I want a president who understands the relationship between energy policy at home and U.S. interests in the Middle East — a president smart enough to form his or her own opinions, not just rely on what old friends in the oil business say.
I want a president who looks forward to policy meetings on health care and has ideas to throw into the mix.
I want a president who believes in empirical fact. I want a president whose understanding of spirituality is complete enough to know that faith is "the evidence of things not seen," and who knows that for things that can be seen, the relevant evidence is fact, not belief. I want a president — and it's amazing that I even have to put this on my wish list — smart enough to know that Darwin was right.
Actually, I want a president smart enough to know a good deal about science. He or she doesn't have to be able to do the math, but I want a president who knows that the great theories underpinning our understanding of the universe — general relativity and quantum mechanics — have stood for nearly a century and proved stunningly accurate, even though they describe a world that is more shimmer than substance. And I want the next president to know that the two theories are incompatible — neither makes sense in terms of the other. I want him or her to know that there's a lot we still don't know.
I want the next president to be intellectually curious — and also intellectually honest. I want him or her to understand the details, not just the big picture. I won't complain if the next president occasionally uses a word I have to look up.
The conventional wisdom says that voters are turned off when candidates put on showy displays of highfalutin' brilliance. I hope that's wrong. I hope people understand how complicated and difficult the next president's job will be, and how much of a difference some real candlepower would make.
I don't want the candidates to pretend to be average people, because why would we choose an ordinary person for such an extraordinary job? I want to see what they've got — how much they know, how readily they absorb new information, how effectively they analyze problems and evaluate solutions. If the next president is almost always the smartest person in the room, I won't mind a bit. After all, we're not in high school anymore.


John Robinson said...

I do happen to know of one particular presidential candidate whose name starts with Dr. and ends with M.D. ;)

alison said...

As a mediator between John and the world (I like this new label!)...

Ron Paul's stuff is highly refreshing and rings of truth and liberty. But I didn't know that he's an M.D.

Tim said...

What's his take on energy (where to get it, etc.)
What's his take on the environment (should corporations pay for the damage they inflict on it? Should they be required to upgrade to better equipment in order to lessen the damage to the environment? Should the US join the rest of the 1st world in being more responsible with our resources and with how much we pollute? Or should we say, "China's polluting too, so why should we be any different?"
I like some of his stuff (No on stupid wars, balanced budget).
Does he want to change how legal immigration is done?
Really, though, any of these guys running is smarter than...
Oh, never mind. I'll probably offend somebody.