November 13, 2005


I'd love to hear a politician say: 'We'll get the second-best minds together on this' (PJ O'Rourke, 13/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

The British Conservative Party is looking for a saviour, which is understandable - it needs one. But can either of the two Davids, Cameron or Davis, save the Tories? Personally, I'm a Davis man. He's my kind of guy. He's the one who educated himself. It doesn't take much to do what Cameron did, which is to get a good education at the best private school in the country. Davis managed to get himself educated at a lousy state school. That takes commitment.

Cameron appeared on Today and answered the usual question about what he was going to do about some terrible social problem with: "We're going to bring the best minds to solve this one." That was the moment when he lost me. The guy obviously doesn't understand the fundamental truth about politics, which is that the best minds only produce disasters. Scientists, for example, are famously idiots when it comes to politics. I agree with Friedrich Hayek, who said in The Road to Serfdom that the "worst imaginable world would be one in which the leading expert in each field had total control over it".

It's no coincidence that the only time we've not chosen the second best mind available in a presidential race in modern times (excepting some races featuring incumbents) was when we went for the disastrous Herbert Hoover who initiated the New Deal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2005 9:39 AM

Hey, that's not fair! Wilson, Nixon and Jimmy Carter were no dummies either...

Posted by: Ed Driscoll at November 13, 2005 9:59 AM

Wilson was no TR. Nixon was considered a political hack, though he did lose to JFK, who was a moronic playboy. Carter beat an incumbent.

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2005 10:08 AM

Come on oj. You know better. Kennedy stole the election from Nixon.

Posted by: erp at November 13, 2005 12:15 PM


They deserved a tie--both were repulsive.

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2005 1:27 PM

First, don't almost all races feature incumbents? That's a pretty escape hatch to leave open for yourself.

Second, although George Bush and Ronald Reagan may have cultivated an "aw shucks" persona, I see absolutely no evidence that they weren't smarter than the petty, pedantic, pseudo-intellectuals that they defeated. Although, admittedly, three out of the four races that they won involved an incumbent on one side or the other (ahem).

Posted by: HT at November 13, 2005 1:29 PM

The left thinks that all Republicans are stupid (or evil). The "aw shucks" is isn't stupidity, it's humility. The more prideful candidate - the one who thinks he's smarter and lets it show - tends to be the losing one (Kerry, Gore, Carter).

Posted by: Gideon at November 13, 2005 2:38 PM

oj. No argument. They were both repulsive, but Nixon did win and if he had been inaugurated, perhaps his paranoia could have been held in check and the horrors that followed the 1960 election through the 1980 election when Reagan was elected might have been avoided.

Posted by: erp at November 13, 2005 4:10 PM

Nixon was a liberal--he'd have been worse than JFK. But he would have prevented LBJ.

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2005 4:44 PM

You're right about Nixon being a liberal. Interesting thought about LBJ.

Posted by: jdkelly at November 13, 2005 5:03 PM

Hoover made numerous economic mistakes (as did all politicians of that era), but no way was his '28 opponent Al Smith his intellectual superior. Hoover was a very smart and accomplished man.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 13, 2005 9:37 PM

This is amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if we're the only three extant that have figured out that Nixon was a socialist. I go nuts when I hear him condemned as a conservative. The media hated him because he wasn't a commie who would take orders from Moscow, not because he was conservative.

Posted by: erp at November 13, 2005 9:48 PM


Which is what I said--he's the sole exception and a fiasco.

Posted by: oj at November 13, 2005 10:01 PM

Ah, you're right, I misread it.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 13, 2005 10:33 PM


So back in 2001, according to review from link above, you hated Clinton? what gives, another inconsistency?

Posted by: Perry at November 14, 2005 12:13 AM

Hoover was smarter than Al Smith.
Nixon was smarter than Kennedy and Humphrey.
Carter was smarter than Ford.

they were disasters. so what?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 14, 2005 12:44 AM


It is necessary to hate Bill Clinton--he's a rapist and dishonored the office.

He's the best Democratic president since Cleveland.

Posted by: oj at November 14, 2005 8:41 AM