Quote of the Day III

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times is much impressed by the books Obama has read, or says he has read. I am almost in despair when I read the same list. Obama will be the commander in chief — but he appears to have read almost nothing on military history or strategy. And he does not seem to see that as a defect in his preparation for the presidency. There no books on science, technology, or economics in the list.

Jim Miller

(Of the many things I do not like about Obama, this ignorance of his role as Commander in Chief scares me the most. I share Miller’s despair, but without the qualification of “almost”. Like Miller, I fondly hope he surprises me. At least, for now, he has some good advisors on the subject.)

UPDATE: Obama’s reading list, with links. Dude. Wow. It is thin. (Via Instapundit)

UPDATE II: Henry Kissinger somewhere said that once you get into high office you consume intellectual capital. You cannot add to it. You don’t have time. You’d better have a good stock of intellectual firewood, because you are going to burn it all. Obama’s got a pretty much empty woodshed. God help us, he better have good advisors and a good gut, and the luck of the Irish (I’ll lend him mine) and a rabbit’s foot. I don’t think you can just be “smart” in general, you have to actually know things. The very people who berated Bush for being an intellectual lightweight have bought this Obama guy like he is a bright, shiny, new Red Wagon. But there is no reason to think that Bush was less knowledgeable than this guy, other than the smoothness of Obama’s delivery. And Bush was a bitter disappointment to many of his supporters (my hand is raised) and a figure of hatred and ridicule to lots of other people. Stay tuned. We just handed the car keys to some guy from out of town with a nice smile and a glossy shoe shine. Hope it all works out … .

9 thoughts on “Quote of the Day III”

  1. I share your and Jim Miller’s assessment, and am dismayed by the excessive deference that many conservatives, libertarians and Republicans are showing to Obama (never mind the ridiculous worship by the Left, and by many other people who imagine that the world is safe enough for them to treat electing a US president as an act of political self-indulgence).

    Of course I hope that Obama rises to the occasion. But I fear that he will make poor decisions and won’t be called on them by enough people, and that his partisans will accuse critics of racism.

    It is ironic that the first supposedly post-racial president got the job largely because of his skin color and has been held to a lower standard of qualification than other candidates have been. The presidency is no place to play racial preferences games, yet here we are.

  2. Excessive deference by conservatives: I couldn’t believe my eyes reading what some wrote. Example. What? “Encourages to have pride in America? That’s what he brings to the table?

    Was made to listen to hysteria on TV while waiting in Dr’s reception; if it was up to me, I’d switched to cartoons. More honest.

  3. Obama is praised because he has the reading taste of articulate intellectual. He ponders things for the sake of being seen to ponder them. Bush by contrast is hated because he read books to find concrete answers to concrete problems.

    It’s the great cultural divide between those who talk and those who produce.

  4. The kind of people who write for the New York Times are endlessly fascinated by “nuance” and “shades of gray.” I suspect that what this is often really about is the attempt to make a personal character flaw–the inability to make decisions–look like a virtue.

    As Gonzague de Reynold said, “Often behind a false moderation there lurks genuine cowardice.”

    I can’t find the exact quote, but Robert Lane (CEO of John Deere) had a great line about the key to good decision-making being the willingness to go into the thicket of ambiguity and then come out the other side. While some overly-non-analytical leaders may skip the thicket of ambiguity step, what the NYT types miss is the need to come out on the other side. Shades of gray must be resolved into primary colors if effective action is to be taken.

    See also Arthur Koestler.

  5. Not sure about articulate intellectual. That looks to me like a college or what we call here sixth-form reading list. I would have preferred him reading nothing except DIY. After all, you don’t want an intellectual as a Commander in Chief, do you? Think what a disaster Woodrow Wilson was. But this seems to me (and I am an outsider) the worst of all worlds.

  6. It helps to have enough background reading and knowledge to be able to evaluate your advisors’ arguments yourself.

    This is bleak. Bush had a better bookshelf. In Dubious Battle is good, at least; it shows the manipulativeness of the Communist Party in the union movement in the 30s. Should have clued him in about Bill Ayers. Zakaria is better than many of the foreign policy commentators he might have read — Paul Kennedy, for example. His reading on FDR is bad, basically liberal myth-making. He should read Amity Shales. Perhaps somebody should get him Conrad Black’s book on FDR; if he likes it, maybe he would give him a commutation.

  7. “His reading on FDR is bad, basically liberal myth-making.” The Jean Edward Smith bio is pretty good. It is mainstream, but not too bad. We still do not yet have a post-revisionist discussion of FDR and his presidency. The nearest we have is Michael Barone’s chapters in Our Country.

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