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Any wise, intelligent, insightful elected leaders?(22 posts)

Any wise, intelligent, insightful elected leaders?Continental
Mar 11, 2003 7:22 AM
I can't think of a single elected political leader that I perceive to have wisdom and intelligence that surpasses several people I know personally from everyday life. Am I underestimating our leaders? Can anyone identify an elected official with exceptional wisdom and intelligence?
If they were smart they'd have nothing to do with politicsDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 7:39 AM
I don't know why anyone would put themselves through elections, fundraising, the public scrutiny, and the thanklessness of politics. To some extent, I think that anyone willing to do it should be automatically disqualified.

Most of us will dismiss half of the politicians as "smart" right off the bat, as we tend to think that anyone disagreeing with us is stupid. So, for someone like Cory or OldEd, I doubt they'd ever admit to any Republican being intelligent, much less moral, as I'd have a hard time seeing a Democrat as such.

I think Carter was an intelligent, wise, and moral man, but simply ineffective as president.

Greenspan appears to be pretty bright and doing a good job.

I could cite some elected and appointed Republicans, but everyone would jump down my throat -- John Ashcroft, for example. The Left demonizes him, largely because he is religious, but the guy is a smart, good man. Some will never admit to that, though, because of anti-religious bias.

Gore is probably an intelligent, decent man, but I simply disagree with his world view so much that I have a hard time admitting to it. I have a really hard time accepting any leader who wants to run my life, tell me what I can drive, over tax me, etc. Does that make him less wise in my mind? Not sure. I suppose you can be intelligent, well intended, but still wrong.

Generally, I think the most intelligent "leaders" or public officials are the Supreme Court justices. They generally do an extremely good job of interpreting and making law, and for the most part maintain high public respect. Seeing as how they have no enforcement power of their own, but still have the last say as to the meaning of law, they must maintain that respect, and it takes some smarts to do that effectively.

Finally, take anyone you think you know well, and throw them into the public spotlight, both personally and all their decision making, and see just how smart they continue to appear to be. I'd bet other people might not see them the same. Maybe there is an elevated perception of wisdom mostly by keeping a low profile and your mouth shut.

Doug
Just to clarify:OldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 8:42 AM
I don't 'demonize' Ashcroft because he's religious. I'm tickled to death he's religious. I think, on balance, it's a good thing for anyone to be religious, and a better thing for politicians to be religious. A firm moral grounding is a good thing in a leader, and religion can provide that.

I 'demonize' Ashcroft because I perceive him as a clear and present threat to the Bill of Rights, and to me that's a big deal. Simple as that.

I know we disagree on Ashcroft, and don't want to rehash the argument whether he's a totalitarian threat or a godsend to American liberty. I just want to clarify that the Left as I know it has no objections to Ashcroft's religiosity, certainly wouldn't 'demonize' him for it, and has plenty of perfectly secular reasons to be fearful of the man.
sorryDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 8:55 AM
Sorry, maybe I shouldn't have named names. I was lumping you in with "The Left" in general, and certainly there will always be exceptions.

However, I do think that many left wingers do demonize him for his religious beliefs, whether they want to admit it or not. If not, why is he so consistently labeled a "Christian Fundamentalist," "religious zealot," and similar terms? These things were done from the moment he was nominated, well before 9/11.

I think in some circles there is a strong bias against anyone who is outwardly religious, particularly Protestant Christian; there is an implied assumption that they are closed-minded, reactionary, freedom haters; while some may be, it's just as wrong to label the whole group as such as it would be to label Democrats as Marxists.

Now, you may very well believe that Ashcroft has proven himself to be overly zealous in law enforcement, but I believe that for the most part the bias against him was well entrenched well before he had the chance to do anything as AG.

Doug
I am skeptical of leaders with strong religious beliefs. . .czardonic
Mar 11, 2003 12:47 PM
. . .simply because, by their nature, religoius beliefs must come before the laws of man. As such, I think that as a person's beliefs become stronger, their allegiance to things like the Constitution must wane, at least from a personal perspective.

Now, that certainly doesn't mean that a religious politician can't commit to upholding their oath of office even if it deviates from their religious beliefs. As much as I dislike Ashcroft, I believe that he has made that commitement and held to it to a satisfactory degree.

That being said, I still think that he is a threat to this country. Whatever prejudice "the Left" may have had towards him before he went into office has been more than vindicated.

And speaking of prejudice, what of the prejudice on the "Right" towards people of strong religious belief (or more specifically, strong Christian belief)? There seems to be a presupposition among most conservatives that anyone who professes Christian affiliation must be a "good man".
Prejudice towards people of strong Christian belief...TJeanloz
Mar 11, 2003 1:02 PM
I think the basis for the bias towards people with strong religious beliefs is grounded in the fact that a true, practicing, and devout Christian, is, all in all, a pretty decent person. What's not to like about a person who uses Biblical guidelines to map their life?

The trouble comes when people pretend to be "good" Christians, while not actually practicing what they preach.
Perhaps.eyebob
Mar 11, 2003 1:54 PM
Perhaps a "true" (who defines that again?) "practicing" (which version?) and "devout" (again, who defines this?) is a pretty decent person but it doesn't dismiss the fact there is a potential for idealogues to rule by their "faith" (or superstition depending on which thread you read around these parts) and not their oath.

What's not to like about a person who uses the Biblical guidelines to map their life? Typically not much. I'm curious though, are you just as comfortable with saying the same for those who follow the Koran? Lest we not forget the old saying "What's not to like about a person who uses Koranic guidelines to map their life?" Just throwing that out there to remind you that we in the US live under and predominantly Judeo-Christian leadership base.

BT
What is a "good Christian"?czardonic
Mar 11, 2003 1:56 PM
First, who's to say anymore what values one can expect from a "devout Christian". In fact, is seems as though the more "devout" people are in their Christianity, the more they tend to espouse abolutist or fundamentalist beliefs that most non or moderately religious people find alarming.

There are many reasons to look askance at a person who uses "Biblical" guidelines as a map to their life: especially if you are a racial minority, woman, gay or lesbian. Supposedly "Biblical" concepts have been used to justify the oppression of all of these groups and more.

As I see it, the trouble isn't so much with people who pretend to be "good" Christians. The trouble is that "good Christian" is a completely subjective term that spans the most humble charity minded person to the most violent white supremacist. As long as their no is agreement about which way is up on the Biblical "map", there's no telling where its follower is heading.
Generally, I agree...TJeanloz
Mar 11, 2003 2:24 PM
People who live in strict adherence to Biblical study have some issues. But people who follow basic tenets of Judeo-Christianity with respect to the Ten Commandments and other teachings, tend to be pretty decent people. Personally, I'd like to know that the guy I'm electing is opposed to stealing, murdering, adultering, on down the line.
Sure, let's look at what is "on down the line."czardonic
Mar 11, 2003 2:58 PM
Obviously, anyone who is opposed to stealing, murdering and adultery earns some points. (Then again, you have to wonder about those who believe that they are guarunteed forgiveness for all but the most heinous sins).

Still what about "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. . .", etc.? Pretty intolerant sentiments, if you ask me.

And honoring thy Father and thy Mother sound good on paper, but there are countless examples of when Mothers and Fathers have done wrong by their children. Moreover, I don't think that society is served by fostering this kind of arbitrary obedience.
The left does not demonize a politician's faithkilimanjaro
Mar 11, 2003 4:59 PM
Hate to disagree with you there Doug, but the two thing every politicians wants voters to see are kissing babies and attending church. Name even one politician on the left that does not profess strong faith in God.

Accurate or not, hardcore conservatives are perceived as overconfident in their value system, insenstive to the suffering of the masses and attempt to impose that view on eveyone else.
Lots of them.OldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 8:32 AM
It's just that the dictates of politics work to obscure intelligence, wisdom etc. You're always 'on,' you have to think about the next election, watch everything you say because every word you utter will be parsed and attacked. You have to stay 'on message.' You're aware of the latest polls and focus groups. Everything you do is calculated. Politics is theatre, a very tightly controlled theatre. There's very little improvisation. Free thinking in public is punished much more often than it's rewarded, by a factor of 10.

Ever notice how smart, wise and insightful ex-presidents, ex-governors, ex-senators seem? Either party, left or right, it doesn't matter. You see 'em on TV and they make all kinds of sense and you're impressed as hell. You wonder why he was so mealy-mouthed and sh!tty in office, when he's so great now.

I work with politicians every day, and while there's a fair share of idiots, you'd be suprised how smart the ones at upper levels are. On average, they're very bright people. It's a real shame our system is designed to obscure that fact.
good points. nmDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 8:36 AM
"our system" isn't designed to obscure the fact that plenty ofeyebob
Mar 11, 2003 2:08 PM
good and smart politico's are out there. We (you and me, and maybe Doug) are to blame because "we" enable those who do not free-think and do, in fact, play to the latest polls. I have no doubt that lots and lots of good and maybe even great leaders go into politics with good intentions but then succomb to the idea that it's better to serve 4 terms (and hence work more at getting re-elected) than 1 (and hence work less at getting their message and their ideas out). I also have no doubt that because of the way the "leadership" of each party works that initiative and free-thinking is discouraged if it isn't lock step. If I could change things I'd make committee heads in the house and senate elected as well. Not named by the ranking party. Or better yet, have a lottery for it. Everyone who wants the job puts their name in a hat and it's picked randomly. This would probably end partison politics (god dammit I hate that term) because cooperation would be needed on many levels to get anything accomplished. Would this need for more consensus slow down the political process (getting bills brought to a vote, getting appropriations voted on, etc), maybe, but maybe not. Who wrote the rules for this anyway?

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
Honest Abe Lincoln
what about term limits? nmDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 2:11 PM
Yeah! Weren't terms limits part of the Contract on America? WhatOldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 2:59 PM
in the world happened to them?? Now that the Repubs are in control of Congress, I guess we're about to have 'em sure enough!
I knowDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 3:07 PM
That's one of those hypocritical issues that depend on who's in charge, huh?

I think they'll have to pass it, but make it effective starting in 10 years. That way, we'll not know who'll it affect the most, and the present incumbents are probably safe.

Doug
Some Dems ran on Term Limits as wellAlpedhuez55
Mar 11, 2003 4:07 PM
I will name Marty Meehan of Massachusetts on that one. He promised to serve only 4 terms and I think he is on his 6th now.

The problem with term Limits & Campaign Finance Reform is that the incumbents in both parties doe not want to give up their advantage. Any real reform is usually dead on arrival.

As for smart politicos, there are plenty on both sides. I think Joe Leiberman, Bob Kerry, Dick Gephart(most of the time) are good on the left. On the right I liked Phil Gramm, J.C. Watts, John McCain, Dennis Haskert & I will agree with Doug on Ashcroft.

It just seems the moderates get lost in the shuffle a lot of the time. They are usually the ones who look at things with an open mind as opposed to just being contrarians who oppose the other side no matter what.

Mike Y.
Wait, I bet it was term limits that 'withered on the vine'OldEdScott
Mar 11, 2003 3:01 PM
instead of Social Security!
What about em?eyebob
Mar 11, 2003 3:19 PM
You can't possibly suggest that limiting ones job is legal, ethical or even democratic. I'd hope that any true "leader" has the were with all to know when to give up office for the sake of someone else who might do a better job serving his/her constituants when they become part of "the problem." How many are smart enough or have the balls to do that? Few. Term limits dumb down the system. If we don't like who we have, motivate to get rid of them. Don't put in laws that release us of our duty to ditch those that we don't like.

And you call yourself a libertarian!

BT
assumptionsDougSloan
Mar 11, 2003 3:29 PM
>"I'd hope that any true "leader" has the were with all to know when to give up office for the sake of someone else who might do a better job..."

Problem is, then, the good ones leave on their own and the bad ones hang around.

OTOH, if not for term limits, Reagan would probably have been 3 or 4 terms, we'd never have heard of Clinton...

I think being a Libertarian doesn't mean that government should be a free-for-all quasi-anarchy. We still need to have some rules that work.

We already have term limits for many elected official positions, probably more do than don't.

Doug
re: wise, intelligent, insightful elected leaders.Fredrico
Mar 12, 2003 10:06 AM
Nobody has mentioned Colin Powell, Rudolph Guiliani, or John McCain. I'd vote for them anyday, and would have faith in their ability to govern. Guiliani could very well run for president. So could Powell.

Kofi Annan and Nelson Mandela also come to mind as role models for political leaders. Isn't it interesting they're both Africans?