Intellectuals and the Presidency

Manila Bulletin, January 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Intellectuals and the Presidency


DO intellectuals make good presidents of a country? Does high education ensure a presidents effective governance and national progress?

The book Intellectuals and the American Presidency: Philosophers, Jesters or Technicians tackles the role of intellectuals in the American presidency, from John F. Kennedy Jr. to Bill Clinton. Author Trevi Troy asserts that presidents need not be intellectuals, but should take ideadriven people seriously.

Notable among American intellectuals who had helped bridge the presidency and the people was Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who strengthened President Kennedys ties with the burgeoning artistic and intellectual community of the 1960s. Another is economist Martin Anderson who put together for President Reagan an impressive think tank for his domestic agenda.

Gerald Ford, who assumed the presidency after Richard Nixons resignation, hired political scientist Bob Goldwin who conducted idea seminars with top scholars. Although he lost in the 1976 election bid, Ford helped hold the country together during a very difficult period.

Bill Clinton loved having dinners and bull sessions with intellectuals. Faced later on by an impeachment case and possible removal from the White House, a group of 412 historians placed a full-page ad in the New York Times to defend him, arguing that the charges were not grounds for impeachment.

On the other hand, Jimmy Carter who had one of the highest IQ among American presidents in the last century, refused to reach out to the intellectuals. …

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