09 July 2008

Scary smart

Brad DeLong makes an observation about American journalism and political culture that I also take as a general life lesson.
The number of mulligans that America's press corps gives John McCain is truly remarkable. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that it's because he doesn't threaten them—just as George W. Bush doesn't threaten them. By contrast, Bill Clinton and Al Gore and John Kerry and John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are scary-smart, in the way that my ex-boss Alicia Munnell once spoke of Lloyd Bentsen: “It only takes fifteen minutes before it is very clear why he is the Secretary of the Treasury and I am the Assistant Secretary.” That seems to provoke a reaction from many journalists—I am not sure why.

1 comment:

Willa said...

DeLong is definitely onto something. Journalists love to feel like the smart kid in the class -- don't all of us former smart kids? When encountering someone smarter, the ego starts screaming in protest, so if you're not aware of it, you're gonna be giving the person one-upping you some grief. Which explains Bush's two terms and McCain's respected status brilliantly.

I'm passing this to you because I am so moved: http://www.westword.com/2008-06-26/news/duck-and-cover/