Thursday, October 06, 2005

The triumph of middlebrow

I know very little about Harriet Miers. There is an emerging consensus that she is not distinguished. What else do we know?

William Buckley supposedly once remarked that he would rather be governed by the people listed on the first few pages of the New York city phone directory than by the Harvard faculty. Who can argue with that?

The triumph of middlebrow probably explains most of the wealth and welfare that we now enjoy. Sure, genius matters substantially but highbrow and middlebrow complement and depend on each other. Each has a unique comparative advantage.

I cannot define charisma but I know it when I see it. We have all seen too many movies, plays, operas and read too many novels where charisma goes with leadership and excellence. That's why we call it theatre. In real life, the overlap between charisma and accomplishment is very slight. There is the added perturbation that many not-so-smart-or accomplished folk try (embarrassingly for all) to cultivate what they think is charisma -- including various Supreme Court appointees and others within their area code.

No self-respecting blogger has not opined on Ms. Miers. I wish her luck.