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With your feet in the air, and your head on the ground . . .


{Thursday, January 29, 2004}

Expanding on last night's blog . . . I was having fun imagining a presidential primary version of "Jeopardy". How cool would that be?!? Who the hell wouldn't watch?
Trebek: "Today our categories are "World Leaders", "American History", "Consitutional Law", "Math and Science", and "Pop Culture". Howard, where shall we start?"

Dean:"Math and Science for 100 seconds of ad time please, Alex"

Trebek:"This everyday letter is the natural logarithm of e^x"

Kerry:"I'll get to that question in just a moment, Alex, but first I'd like to speak for a moment about what I will do as president to fight the special interests that have too much influence in Washington and have for too long . . ."


Then I thought, "okay, it ain't gonna' happen, but what's something a little more sedate and sensible?" How about some kind of basic aptitude testing? We have this whole "No Child Left Behind" paradigm of "standards based education", where everything is focused on standardized tests. Now, true, this is a terrible idea . . . but what's good enough for our nation's children ought to be good enough for our presidential candidates, right?!?

Okay, so again, it's never going to happen. But what does this highlight? Despite some talk about qualifications and experience, we don't, as a nation, really seem to care about how intelligent or knowledgable candidates are. (Please supress your cheap-shot-at-Bush urge, and consider the big picture with me for a second.) Debates and candidate platforms are all about opinion, not aptitude, not even structured argument; political commentary is the same. I think this is reflected, deeply, in the fact that except for the limited domain of medicine, no candidate has any platform statement that says "this is a problem that we need to figure out how to solve, and the way to solve problems is through research, so as a leader and decision maker what I'm going to do is fund research."

posted by Miles 11:13 AM

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