Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sarah Palin As Brain Surgeon

There's a pretty good article at Newsweek written by Sam Harris (of Letter to a Christian Nation fame) about Sarah Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate. Harris lays out a good case that Palin is unprepared and generally unsuited to leadership of any kind, but especially at the international level. He uses this portion of the article to illustrate his point:

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

This is the doing of homo moronicus as well. Insecurity about other people being more intelligent, I think, drives regular people to reject exceptional people as leaders. That, if anything, is the real danger posed by the McCain/Palin ticket. Well, at least as far as the election goes. If they were to win the danger would be much worse.

No comments: