Day By Day

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Thomas Sowell has some fun with the assertion of Nick Kristof [uberidiot at the NYT] that the ascension of the O marks the end of "anti-intellectualism" in America. He points out that the nation's intellectual presidents are not always ones recognized by the intelligentsia as one of their own.
President Harry Truman, whom no one thought of as an intellectual, was a voracious reader of heavyweight stuff like Thucydides and read Cicero in the original Latin. When Chief Justice Carl Vinson quoted in Latin, Truman was able to correct him.

Yet intellectuals tended to think of the unpretentious and plain-spoken Truman as little more than a country bumpkin.

Similarly, no one ever thought of President Calvin Coolidge as an intellectual. Yet Coolidge also read the classics in the White House. He read both Latin and Greek, and read Dante in the original Italian, since he spoke several languages. It was said that the taciturn Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

The intellectual levels of politicians are just one of the many things that intellectuals have grossly misjudged for years on end.
He then goes on to catalogue some of the more egregious errors in which American intellectuals have indulged themselves over the course of the past century -- it is a damning indictment.

Read the whole thing here.