Tuesday, November 23, 2004

From the Mail: Reppert on Bush

Victor Reppert writes:

I've had some reactions to some of your political discussions, but haven't had time to respond.

BV: I would like to hear them, especially if they are pithy and 'bloggable.'

One of them has to do with the question of whether it matters if Bush is stupid. Whatever one thinks of Bush's intelligence, it does seem clear that in his administration that intellectual heavy lifting is delegated to others. Is there a disadvantage to having someone other than the person in whose office the buck stops do most of the hard intellectual work that is needed to make the nation's policy decisions? How would you react to this way of posing the question?

BV: As I have said before, the president's job description includes being the Commander in Chief, not the Intellectual in Chief. So it does not bother me all that much that Bush lacks the sort of verbal intelligence that people like you and I so prize. Of course, it was embarrassing in the debates with Kerry to hear him pronounce mullah as moolah (money) and use the wacky plural, internets. As Garofalo has pointed out, listening to him speak off the top of his head is a bit like a parent's watching of a child in a school play: one nervously hopes the kid won't screw up too badly.

Nor does it bother me that Bush delegates to sharper and better informed heads.

That being said, I am impressed by Bush's courage, his resoluteness, and his clarity about the geopolitical situation. Unlike Kerry, who is a Clinton-style opportunist out for high office for the sake of high office, Bush is grounded in sound principles and is willing to risk his career to see them implemented. One gets the impression that he wants high office to forward his agenda, whereas Kerry just wanted high office for the sake of the attendant perquisites. An indication of Bush's courage is the fact that has not merely touched, but grabbed hold of, the 'third rail of American politics,' namely the issue of Social Security reform.

It is also relevant to point out that someone can appear to lack intelligence while in fact possessing quite a lot of it. You will recall that Thomas Aquinas, no slouch of a philosopher, was known in his student years as the Dumb Ox.