Monday, January 10, 2005

Elitism and Such

Kevin Drum has a great post about Wolfowitz, who will be staying on in his role as "idealogue mathematician who can't count and doesn't bother to figure out how a culture works before invading it, but is really a smart guy". The thing that REALLY effs me off about this is that on the right, being a "smart guy" is supposed to be a bad thing, isn't it? All you're supposed to need is moral clarity and vision, yeah? I remember the 1990's so well, when I would see speeches given to Heritage and Cato about how we really need to watch out for the smart guys, because they're the ones who cause all the damage. What we really need is character. However, being a "really smart guy" is the defense always offered to Wolfowitz.

Wolfowitz is a smart guy, in the sense that he speaks more than one language and has fantastic academic credentials. What's interesting to me is that his idealistic side is pretty right on. He has a passion for ideas, democracy and human rights - there's a reason this wonderful book is dedicated to him. But his realpolitik is broken. He doesn't mind a few wrongful deaths here or there in service of his aims, and he's willing to embrace policies that completely subvert his aims and simply wave his hands. I think this may be because his blind democratic ideaology is in complete conflict with his blind economic idealogy. To me, all this means that he belongs not in government, but in a thinktank. He's well suited to advocating certain large scale policy(he was very right about Kosovo and his reasons for war with Iraq follow the same line), but the implementation ought to be left up to competent policy people. Too bad ShrubCo ain't innarested in competent policy.
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