To all three loyal readers out there, you may have noticed my hiatus. This past week, I flew to California to attend the wedding of a good friend from college and to spent some time with the parental units since I don't get to see them much seeing as how the entire continent divides us. I have been woefully oblivious of the news except for the Rosie/Elizabeth dust-up on The View (my mom watches the show and is, therefore, intrigued by this broohaha) and the lost whales in the San Fransisco Bay. I don't fault myself too much for being an un-knowledgeable citizen shirking my civil society responsibilities; after all, this is why there is vacation.
But, alas, vacations are not always truly vacations. In the process of waiting for one of my committee members to call me back about a paper that I am writing, I looked up what was going on in the world at the Washington Post. Luckily for me, today is Eugene Robinson's column in the post. For all of you who have never read his work, I believe that he is one of the smartest columnists in America and often writes about stories that other columnists ignore or writes about the more "common sense" angles of stories that other columnists treat as "horse-race" analyses.
Today, Robinson chose to write about the buzz surrounding Al Gore's run for office. Rather than focusing on Al Gore's weight as a factor about whether he would run, Robinson &mdash shock of all shocks &mdash decided to focus instead on his intelligence. I mean why would any one want to focus on that? Unfortunately, because intelligent people will have a difficult time getting elected:
Al Gore has been in town launching his new book, "The Assault on Reason," and you could have predicted the buzz: Is he about to jump into the race? What you probably wouldn't have predicted is the counter-buzz that Gore, poor fellow, is just too ostentatiously smart to be elected president.
While the entire column is worth the read, here is the part that I found particularly important:
Leave aside the question of whether Gore is even thinking about another presidential run, or how he would stack up against the other candidates. I'm making a more general point: One thing that should be clear to anyone who's been paying attention these past few years is that we need to go out and get ourselves the smartest president we can find. We need a brainiac president, a regular Mister or Miss Smarty-Pants. We need to elect the kid you hated in high school, the teacher's pet with perfect grades.
When I look at what the next president will have to deal with, I don't see much that can be solved with just a winning smile, a firm handshake and a ton of resolve. I see conundrums, dilemmas, quandaries, impasses, gnarly thickets of fateful possibility with no obvious way out. Iraq is the obvious place he or she will have to start; I want a president smart enough to figure out how to minimize the damage.
Huh, what an interesting concept...It would also seem to apply to columnists in the nation's papers of record &mdash too bad Eugene Robinson doesn't have the same notoriety as Maureen Dowd or Thomas Friedman.
UPDATE:While Maureen Dowd certainly deserves much criticism, I must also be fair and acknowledge that she has a very intellegent and well-written column [sub. required] this week on why President Bush can no longer be trusted on the war in Iraq.