It’s no secret that Barack Obama has surrounded himself with very powerful intellectual lamps—and appointed a bevy of Ivy League graduates to his cabinet.
But does Obama himself have the emotional balance and intellect to challenge the elite expert opinions that will be swirling about him?
A recent article from the Washington Post, and posted at MSNBC, says that Obama is more than up to the task of refereeing among intellectuals.
Douglas Baird, who hired Obama at the University of Chicago, noted that whizzes can also have too much faith in their answers. But he said Obama is confident enough in his own intellect to challenge others’ conclusions. He recalled watching Obama hold his own with erudite faculty members.
“He goes into a faculty club filled with Nobel laureates, and he talks to them on equal terms — there hasn’t been anyone in the White House like that for a long time,” Baird said. “So it’s not as if, when he’s given advice by powerful, smart people, that he’ll get swayed from his core principles. And if you’re confident you’re going to stick to your own principles, then you might as well surround yourself with smart people rather than dumb ones.”
We know that Bush’s anti-intellectualism has proved disastrous for the country.
It will be extremely interesting to discover what an Adlai Stevenson-type presidency will be like.
The above image, by the way, is one of William Blake’s depictions of Job, who also had to contend with the competing opinions of his “comforters.”