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Stephen Lewis on Infrastructure, Identity, Communication, and Change

An Intellectual’s Ascent to the White House and the Half-Century Decline of American Conservatism from Intellectuality to Ignorance

Posted by Stephen Lewis on November 13, 2008

In Obama and the War on Brains, Nicholas Kristof comments on the return of intellect to government and the damage done to public policy by a culture of ignorance.  In The Perils of Populist Chic in the Wall Street Journal, a political conservative bemoans the half-century-long fall of the American right from intellectuality to self-cultivated provincialism.

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4 Responses to “An Intellectual’s Ascent to the White House and the Half-Century Decline of American Conservatism from Intellectuality to Ignorance”

  1. James Robertson said

    Umm, yeah – just like Adlai Stevenson (famous non-reader) was more intellectual than Eisenhower (who was actually very erudite). Obama speaks well with a telepromptor. In ad hoc, extemporaneous sessions, he’s nearly incapable of expressing a coherent thought.

    Neither you nor I have any idea how intelligent Obama is, because he’s spent his entire adult life avoiding hard issues. Now that he’s President, that’s no longer possible, and we’ll get to see whether he’s an empty suit like Stevenson was, or something else.

  2. I agree, Eisenhower was erudite and capable. He had the temperament, qualities, and experience that McCain lacked. Adlai Stevenson, by the way, was not so much promoted as an “intellectual” as he was denounced as an “egghead.” He never had the chance to prove if he was an “empty suit.” As to Obama, indeed time will tell.

  3. Tom Clark said

    I think we can expect that a former president of the Harvard Law Review and lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago is a pretty smart guy. He doesn’t have a long political record, but he does have an impressive CV.

    We don’t know if Obama will be a good president, but there’s little question that he’s an intellectual guy. This is one of many qualities I want our presidents to have.

  4. Tom, Exactly! And, Obama’s intellectuality can translate into openness to new ideas and the creativity and knowledge to generate new responses to new configurations of issues. The anti-intellectuality of Republicans translated into being closed to the new and plunging into the 21st century armed with solutions from the 19th. Thanks, SL

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