Thursday, October 30, 2008


The other thing underlying the substantial support for Obama among people who ought to know better is the yearning to elevate the level of public discourse after eight years of George W. Bush's public torture of the English language. I have a particle of sympathy for this, except that many of them are inflating their hopes for Barack Obama on that score way above any kind of rational expectation. He speaks well from a prepared text, but beyond Hamlet-style hand-wringing over an uncertain racial identity, there's very little interesting thought there.

Beyond that, I'd recommend _Intellectuals_, a fascinating study of the private lives of prominent intellectuals by Paul Johnson that's about twenty years old now. We need smart people obviously, but it's very dangerous to other parties to hand them privileges them on that account. It encourages a very weird sort of moral hazard for them to shade their personas in order to maintain those privileges.

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