Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wisdom about Wisdom

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

I was hoping a moderate conservative would say this, and David Brooks of the New York Times did.  It's what was flashing through my mind as I imagined Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke yesterday explaining a credit swap first to President Bush.  I then flashed forward to the same conversation with President Palin.  Here's an excerpt:

In the current Weekly Standard, Steven Hayward argues that the nation’s founders wanted uncertified citizens to hold the highest offices in the land. They did not believe in a separate class of professional executives. They wanted rough and rooted people like Palin.

I would have more sympathy for this view if I hadn’t just lived through the last eight years. For if the Bush administration was anything, it was the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice.

And the problem with this attitude is that, especially in his first term, it made Bush inept at governance. It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard. It requires acquired skills. Most of all, it requires prudence.

What is prudence? It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events — the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight.

How is prudence acquired? Through experience.

* * *

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2008/09/wisdom-about-wi.html

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Comments

Jeff,

Interesting post. I'd add that good lawyering, like good governance, also requires prudence. Indeed, this excerpt applies quite well to the task of giving legal advice:

"It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events — the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight."

Posted by: Andrew Perlman | Sep 17, 2008 11:43:55 AM

two questions -- 1. how do i manage to vote for both the more experienced presidential candidate (mccain) and the most experienced vice presidential candidate (biden)?

2. presuming that experience is the deciding factor, and that 1 (supra) is unavailable -- is it better to choose the more experienced presidential candidate, with the least experienced vice presidential candidate; or vice versa

Posted by: fred ours | Sep 17, 2008 2:14:30 PM

Jeff, you may want to read what the former publisher of the National Review says about this worldview and prudence issue, without getting into the VP-choice "experience" issue that Fred understandably raises... http://www.dmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?nm=Core+Pages&type=gen&mod=Core+Pages&tier=3&gid=B33A5C6E2CF04C9596A3EF81822D9F8E

Posted by: Alan Childress | Sep 17, 2008 4:52:39 PM

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