|Wells Hill Road in Lakeville|
This time of year, the landscape is always dotted with political lawn signs. Some are rather mundane (“Roraback: Proven Leadership You Can Trust”); others, such as the doozey pictured at left, are obvious attempts to paint the opponent in an unfavorable light by associating her with something people don’t like.
I am always amused when I see this kind of political message: “My candidate is smarter than yours.” Now, I would ask you: how important is it that a candidate for U.S. Senate have a law degree from Yale, as Dick Blumenthal does?
Whenever it’s employed, this kind of tactic is almost always the domain of liberals. Progressives have a proud intellectual tradition in this country. And, truth be told, there are probably a lot more Ph.Ds walking around who subscribe to that political philosophy than to, say, the Tea Party nostrum.
But how much brains does it actually take to be a U.S. senator? Obviously, you don’t want a know-nothing in that job (e.g. Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell). However, the list of congressmen, senators and presidents who succeeded in their jobs without appearing at a Mensa meeting is also long and proud.
To name a few recent ones (and, in the realm of legislators, I will limit myself to Democrats since candidates for those offices are making this charge in Connecticut): Teddy Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. The list of presidents is even more impressive: Abraham Lincoln, whose formal education consisted of approximately 18 months of classes from several itinerant teachers; Franklin Roosevelt, whom Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously characterized at the time of his inauguration in 1933, as having “a second-rate intellect, but a first-class temperament;” Ronald Reagan, who graduated in the bottom half of his class at some place called Eureka College.
Here’s what you need to be a successful senator: a compelling vision; good communication skills and the ability to bring people along with you. And then you need to manage a small office, sit on some committees and vote. You need many of the same qualities to be a good president. Oh yeah, and for presidents, it helps if you can make your opponents fear you. Why don’t liberals understand that it’s not rocket science? Or are they merely striking a pose?