Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reflections: A Basis for Hope

America is never going to be ruled by philosopher kings. The closer any Chief Executive has come to being thus categorized, the less successful has been his political career. The anti-war candidate of 1968, Eugene McCarthy, a good man and a poet, comes to mind here. As does, to a certain extent, Jimmy Carter.

That said, one of the of the things that makes me most optimistic about the chances for success of the coming Obama administration is that, presumably, the executive branch of the government will be pretty much purged of businessmen and staffed with lawyers. Businessmen tend to think in terms of fiscal quarters--in three-month chunks of time; i.e. they are short-sighted. For maximum profit-taking this may be a good trait; but for the plotting of history, it sucks.

This was demonstrated to horrible effect with the invasion of Iraq, when they didn't look past "Shock and Awe" to see the inevitability of an insurgency. In contrast to businessmen, lawyers also tend to look at people and see their rights, rather than their "worth." We saw the horrible effects of the latter perspective with Katrina. People who were perceived not to be "worth" much were simply left to die.

Lawyers tend to be more intelligent than businessmen. It takes more brains to craft a letter-perfect brief than it does to add a column of figures. That is why businessmen need to hire lawyers. Hopefully the people have again--as they did in the Clinton Administration--wisely eliminated the middleman. Leave the governing to the guys with the smarts, and let the businessmen do what they are good at--generating wealth.

No more square pegs in round holes.