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Decisions in a Democracy



     My confession of my struggling ignorance elicited many expressions of approval, from short (Robert Gard) to long (Les Robinson). Les says:
     I heartily applaud your recent posting on the difficulty of making wise and informed decisions. There is no humility in the cocksure way so many people make decisions and make dogmatic, truculent statements to advance their "opinions." It is not only the uninformed who do this; so called experts are just as guilty, as you have pointed out. The "mass mind" who poses as an expert in all things, even though he specializes in only one field, is what I recall Ortega y Gassett most criticizing in his Rebellion of the Masses. No human, however brilliant, is smart enough to have 20/20 vision in all things, or even necessarily in any one thing. Some sage, I don't remember who, has intoned, "The greater the intellect, the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." Throughout history brilliant leaders and intellectuals have often been proved to be disastrously mistaken in their judgment. That doesn't mean one need by paralyzed by indecision. True wisdom dictates reluctance to take dogmatic, inflexible, intemperate positions. Few of our politicians seem hesitant on that score. In fact, the more dogmatic and truculent the politician, the more distrustful I am of his judgment.
     I may not be as disturbed as you by charisma in a candidate-- so long as it is supported by substance. I don't know yet whether there is substance in George Dubya's persona so I am withholding opinion for the time being. What's going on now is preliminary footwork and the attempt to avoid damaging gaffes this early in the campaign. The important point, it seems to me, is less whether he already has well-informed opinions on every issue that must face a president but whose counsel he listens to and how he absorbs and acts on that advice. Then, an effective president nowadays must have some measure of charisma in order to get a national concensus for his policies.
     My comment: That is the role of a leader's charisma. I am not sure George W. is a good listener and his counselors all represent the same viewpoint. Their failure to reply to my inquiries convinces me that they don't want to say anything controversial.
     Equaly important is to have objective journalists trained in a field to tell the public what policies a candidate really stands for and thus exercise spin control. As yet, George W's team is not even playing. Cowardice.

Ronald Hilton - 08/10/99


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