Can We Trust the Brain Trust?

People are beginning to notice that President-elect Obama and his still-forming circle of advisers are a very different kind of people in power—different from those we have known in recent political history. Whereas, the Bush administration—and Reagan before him—seemed to bask in a beer-drinking, next-door neighbor image, Obama has assembled a team of highly educated and intellectual individuals. Peter Beinart, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes a welcome to the "nerds" in The Daily Beast. Beinart says that in the past fifty years that "anti-intellectualism has had a pretty good run in presidential politics," and Obama and his team represent a welcomed devience from this trend. New york Times columnist, Frank Rich, however, writes a warning against smarts versus wisdom. Rich writes that in such economic turmoil, it is wisdom and not accomplished academia that we need, as they can be distracted by the passive book-worm approach when action is needed. In such dire times, confidence, composure, and—most of all—credentials are very welcoming sights and the notion that our president should just be one of the guys is absurd. Rich, however, does have some valid points in highlighting the records of Obamas' economic team—primarily, Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner—who, Rich argues, lack the testing experience that develops wisdom. Though, the one major factor theat Rich ignores is Obama himself. He forgot that he is the boss and will have the final say. Although Obama is academically accomplished and highly intellectual, he does seem to possess the wisdom to know when to act and to use the best of the brains around him to guide his actions.

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