24 November 2010

Intellectual Poker

Reason.tv | Richard Epstein on Barack Obama, his former Chicago Law Colleague

As Epstein told Reason in a 1995 interview, "I took some pride in the fact that [Sen.] Joe Biden (D-Del.) held a copy of Takings up to a hapless Clarence Thomas back in 1991 and said that anyone who believes what's in this book is certifiably unqualified to sit in on the Supreme Court. That's a compliment of sorts.... But I took even more pride in the fact that, during the Breyer hearings [in 199X], there were no such theatrics, even as the nominee was constantly questioned on whether he agreed with the Epstein position on deregulation as if that position could not be held by responsible people."
Ha! I don't trust anyone who doesn't have enemies. You know you're on the right track when you anger the right people.

Says Epstein of Obama:
"He passed through Chicago without absorbing much of the internal culture," says Epstein of the president. "He's amazingly good at playing intellectual poker. But that's a disadvantage, because if you don't put your ideas out there to be shot down, you're never gonna figure out what kind of revision you want."
We've got a problem on our hands. The people who end up getting ahead in American politics are the people who've been angling for that goal since they got to college, and have been refusing to express any ideas outside the mainstream for fear of having their opinions be unpopular later. (e.g. ?)

We ought to be asking people not only what their successes have been, but also what their history of being wrong is. Anyone ought to be able to point to mistakes they've made, incorrect predictions, hasty judgements, etc. There's no shame in that. There is shame in pretending you've never been wrong, or mincing about your life for fear of being shown to be wrong.  I respect people who get things wrong but do so in the process of getting their hands dirty mixing things up in the agora.

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