Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Brilliance Versus Reality

Let’s say you are president Obama.

Your admirers and even your distracters say you are brilliant.

You have a reputation for intellectual brilliance. You ran a brilliant campaign. You give brilliant speeches. You surround yourself with brilliant advisers with brilliant backgrounds. They have brilliant academic records. You and your advisers have access to and can create brilliant theoretical econometric business models. You admire each others’ brilliance.

David Brooks describes your brilliant inside advisers, which he calls theorists and Demand Siders, this way.

“ They trot out a plausible theory with computer models to go with it. If the federal government borrows X amount of dollars and pumps it into the economy, that would produce Y amount of growth and Z amount of jobs. These Demand Side theorists are giving you a plan of action. These Demand Siders have very high I.Q.’s, but they seem to be strangers to doubt and modesty. They have total faith in their models. ..Moreover, the Demand Siders write as if everybody who disagrees with them is immoral or a moron… The theorists have high I.Q.’s but don’t seem to know much psychology…The Demand Siders are brilliant, but they write as if changing fiscal policy were as easy as adjusting the knob on your stove. In fact, it’s very hard to get money out the door and impossible to do it quickly.”

The problem is: high insider IQs don’t translate into high public EQs, Emotional Quotients. When the economy stays bad with signs of getting worse, unemployment remains historically low, skepticism about health reform lingers, the public gets emotional, and it wants to throw out the bums, even the brilliant bums.

It’s a bummer, but,

It’s time to shift from IQ brilliance,

To dumb old-fashioned political resilience.

It’s time to take the cue,

IQ is not the same at EQ.

It’s time to get real,

To get off the brain wheel.

It's time to acknowledge everything Harvard,

May be the route to the political graveyard.

It’s time to finesse the theoretical geek elite,

And to address men and women on Main Street.

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