Experience and Prudence

20 09 2008

David Brooks is just a remarkable columnist. His recent piece on McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin is typically insightful and he avoids polemics. He suggests that Palin is not ready, and he compares Bush and Palin, as I have done elsewhere. However, he addresses the whole issue by commenting more on what good governance requires (experience and prudence) than on what Palin lacks.

Its also worth noting that in another life, Brooks could easily have been a social scientist.  He is that rare conservative who is fascinated with human behavior, and he is not afraid to follow the science where it leads and take it into consideration. Consequently, he’s prepared to offer comments like this:

David Brooks

David Brooks

“Geneticists have shown that our behavior is influenced by our ancestors and the exigencies of the past. Behavioral economists have shown the limits of the classical economic model, which assumes that individuals are efficient, rational, utility-maximizing creatures. Psychologists have shown that we are organized by our attachments. Sociologists have shown the power of social networks to affect individual behavior. What emerges is not a picture of self-creating individuals gloriously free from one another, but of autonomous creatures deeply interconnected with one another. Recent Republican Party doctrine has emphasized the power of the individual, but underestimates the importance of connections, relationships, institutions and social filaments that organize personal choices and make individuals what they are.”


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