1. So this comparison is based on Carl’s and Pete’s thoughtful corrections to my spin on Jim Ceaser’s more upbeat businessman vs. intellectual.
2. I agree with Jim that our president deserves to be classed a real intellectual. He wrote real books full of interesting thoughts. Plus he was a professor at a leading law school who fit in with the other professors. “We philosophers,” so to speak, know that all intellectuals are frauds. They define themselves with oversimplified and vague versions of ideas found in books they didn’t really read closely. All intellectuals are BS artists, and we professors are envious of their glib popularity and influence. It’s the job of “we scholars” to show that this president doesn’t know as much about the Constitution etc. as he thinks he does, but we might concede that he knows a few more details that, say, either President Bush. Most intellectuals fail or at least flail when they assume positions of real political responsibility. Their general ideas don’t help them much with real problems.
3. So I agree that the two intellectual vices displayed most prominently by the president are practical cluelessness and a somewhat despotic condescension for the moral opinions and aspirations of ordinary people. They go a long way to explaining why he shouldn’t be reelected. But I don’t think they make him hateful. He’s a decent, disciplined guy. (I continued to really like President Bush personally even during his most clueless and incompetent period.) (It’s impossible not to compare the president very favorably with his fellow Democrats the Clintons and the criminal John Edwards, although each of those three is arguably more savvy.)
4. That a third or more of the country hates the president seems to be correct. As a resident of a most white, semi-rural Georgia county, I”m surrounded by Obama hatred. Much of the hatred seems unreasonable for me, although I will join my neighbors, of course, in voting for Mitt.
5. That Romney is more a politician than a businessman, as Pete says, seems clear in the amount of time and intensity he’s devoted to each endeavor. He’s spent a lot more time in politics than, say, our president. More than that, he’s surely spent more of his money on his political ambition than he has even on his Mormon church. Still, when Mitt seriously talks policy (and he knows a whole lot for a presidential candidate and much more, I think, than Obama), he arguably thinks more like a businessman than any other recent candidate. Plus, his rhetoric is mostly about applying his business skills and perspective to solving our policy problems.
6. Pete is right to be concerned that the mixture of business acumen and flippy-floppy political views isn’t enough evidence that Mitt will be tough enough—and willing to risk being temporarily very unpopular—to give us the change that we really need. He might not be resolute enough just to tell the American people inconvenient truths that they really need to hear from someone they trust.
7. Dr. Parrino, in the thread, seems to criticize me (and Jim) for not appreciating the importance of Romney’s faithful Mormonism in assessing his character and personal identity. If I conveyed that impression, I certainly apologize. His Mormonism—and the high opinion Mormons have of him—is the best evidence that Mitt is a “real guy” with “core values” that will actually inform his leadership.