Thursday, November 04, 2004

Why I read Pejman Yousefzadeh

This was written two years ago.
Anyone this far ahead of the curve is worth listening to.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Misunderestimated: A Hedgehog, Not a Fox. The political philosopher Isaiah Berlin made a famous distinction between leaders he called 'foxes' and leaders he called 'hedgehogs.' Foxes know something about everything, and can dazzle with their wide-ranging knowledge. Their weakness is that they did not have a single strong idea with which they could be identified, and through which they could rally political support. Conversely, hedgehogs do not possess the across-the-board intelligence and knowledge that foxes possess, but they are able to use unadorned moral clarity and a few grand ideas to achieve their political goals.

Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were foxes. Undeniably intelligent and deeply versed in a whole host of subjects, Carter and Clinton paid tremendous attention to detail. However, they had problems convincing others that there was one great idea that they would never compromise on, one policy issue of tremendous intellectual and moral significance on which they would not yield, and with which they could shape a political vision that would fundamentally alter the landscape of American politics.

By contrast, President Reagan and the current President Bush qualify as 'hedgehogs.' Seemingly detached from detail, and delegating significant authority to subordinates, each was-and is-nevertheless capable of presenting a compelling vision to the American people.


There is a lot more, including this:

Bush had a meeting with a prominent Democrat in the course of the Presidential transition in 2000-2001, after the Florida recount controversy was finally over. The meeting, which was supposed to last for about 45 minutes, went two and a half hours, and stretched through a lunch. Bush and the Democrat got along famously at the meeting. After it was over, the prominent Democrat told staffers that he was charmed by Bush, and was able to connect with him and relate to him more in those two and a half hours than he had been able to relate to another Democrat with whom he had worked for nearly a decade. Additionally, the prominent Democrat said that he found Bush much more intelligent and savvy than he was given credit for, and that if other Democrats didn't come to realize this, they would be outmaneuvered by the new President. The events of last week proved that Democrat right.

Who was that prominent Democrat? William Jefferson Clinton, the first Rhodes Scholar President of the United States. McAuliffe and Gore may want to take note of the warning issued by Clinton. It would be the smart thing to do.

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