The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview

16
The Cult of the Expert

Following the elections of 1968, Henry Kissinger, the Nixon assistant in charge of national security, replaced the Johnson assistant, Walt Rostow. The office of assistant for national-security affairs is something new in our government. It is not provided for in the Constitution or in any law passed by the Congress. The powers of the office are undefined, though certainly great.

Mr. Rostow came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Kissinger from the department of government at Harvard. Mr. Rostow brought with him his best-known book, The Stages of Economic Growth, which hold that a nation goes through more or less certain stages of economic growth. Mr. Kissinger brought as a text his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, the thesis of which is that nuclear weapons have brought about a qualitative change in foreign policy. Both Mr. Rostow and Mr. Kissinger are classified as intellectuals.

Borrowing from a remark by G. K. Chesterton, one could say that years ago whenever a problem arose in the United States, someone said that we needed a practical man, and unfortunately there was usually one around.

Acceptance of the intellectual's role in government has been a gradual movement of the past forty years. The role began with the "brain trust" of the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Members of that group were never more than consultants who were held at arm's length. The separation of government and the scholars was maintained. President Roosevelt was careful never to arm the clerks with power or even the appearance of power or to admit that they knew more about political problems than did the Cabinet members. His special assistants -- men like Harry Hopkins -- were identified as practical politicians and special operators.

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The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction by Tom Wicker vii
  • Preface xix
  • Part I - Institutions 1
  • 1 - Toward a More Responsible Presidency 3
  • 2 - The Vice President as Crown Prince 15
  • 3 - Changes in the Congress 19
  • 4 - The Courts, the Last Appeal 28
  • 5 - Court of Ideas 32
  • 6 - A Kind Word for the Bureaucrats 35
  • 7 - A Kind Word for the Military 45
  • 8 - A Warning About the Military Establishment 49
  • 9 - The Cia and the Inner Ring 58
  • 10 - The Corporations 61
  • 11 - The Universities 68
  • 12 - The Democratic and Republican Parties 75
  • 13 - Alternatives to the Major Parties 80
  • Part II - Operations 87
  • 14 - A Hard Look at the Primaries 89
  • 15 - Personality Cults 96
  • 16 - The Cult of the Expert 97
  • 17 - A Good and Becoming Exit 100
  • 18 - Listen to Mr. Parkinson 104
  • 19 - The Sst: Object Lesson in Dynamics of Opposition 106
  • 20 - The Lobbyists 109
  • 21 - Grant Park, Chicago 116
  • 22 - Marching on Washington 118
  • 23 - Changing America 122
  • Part III - Principles 125
  • 24 - Innocence in Politics 127
  • 25 - Language and Politics 130
  • 26 - Poetry and War 135
  • 27 - Ares 144
  • 28 - Intellectuals and Politics 148
  • 29 - Out of Phase 155
  • 30 - Trouble in the Economics Community 158
  • 31 - Constitutional Amendments 165
  • 32 - Five Systems of Justice 170
  • 33 - The Enemies List 173
  • 34 - Censorship 182
  • Part IV - A Good Person is Not So Hard to Find 185
  • 35 - John Bennett 187
  • 36 - Emerson Hynes 189
  • 37 - John Kennedy 190
  • 38 - Dan and Doris Kimball 193
  • 39 - Robert Lowell 196
  • 40 - Wayne Morse 197
  • 41 - Lewis Mumford 203
  • 42 - Eleanor Roosevelt 205
  • 43 - Frank Rosenblatt 207
  • 44 - Adlai Stevenson 208
  • Notes 215
  • Index 223
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