Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blair's Replacement Has To be Smart

Nations need smart politicians - like Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan - but often get less-than-smart people like Tony Blair. The Germans are about to get smart leaders, and Brits need to follow, I hope with David Davis.

The Bell Curve pulls together the decades of analysis proving that smarter people are more competent than less smart people. They add more value to the economy, they bring up more productive kids, they're better citizens, and they make few demands on the state. Which confirms common sense, so lefties hate it and attack the book. They are wrong and the book is right. Incidentally, if you're reading serious blogs, you're smart.

Being smart is a necessary but not sufficient requirement to be a Prime Minister or President - you also need strong core values.

Maggie Thatcher is smart - she got a degree in Chemistry from Oxford and worked as chemist before entering politics. Like any smart person, she surrounded herself with smart people - Keith Joseph, Norman Tebbit, Nigel Lawson (plus some dunces, but the talent pool in politics is not big).

Ronald Reagan was smart. He learned in the university of life, and went from actor to broadcaster through union politics to running California to the presidency. He too chose smart colleagues - James Baker, Alexander Haig, Casper Weinberger.

Tony Blair isn't very smart. Non-smart people are poor at predicting outcomes, which is why he's in a mess now - trying to push through anti-terror laws on the same day he's pardoning 150 terrorist murderers is very non-smart behavior. And his cabinet has just one competent person (Brown, who opposes him) with the rest incompetent. He's a lawyer, which usually means considerable smarts. But lawyer friends tell me that he wasn't a very good one, so I suspect he gets by with just verbal intelligence, not the core intelligence researchers call "g".

Germany's new leaders will be the smart Angela Merkel and Matthias Platzeck, of whom the WSJ (subscription) says:

Both 51 years old, both with a background in science as well as in Protestantism, Ms. Merkel and Mr. Platzeck share a pragmatic, can-do attitude and a lack of patience for ideology.

So, providing Merkel has strong core values, Germany could be on the way up.

When the Brits chuck out New Labour, who would serve the nation best? Of the two men competing to head the opposition Tory party, David Davis looks smarter than his opponent David Cameron. Here's a quick academic resume comparison:

Bachelors degree in Molecular Science/Computer Science

Master's Degree in Business, London School of Economics

Advanced Management Program, Harvard

Bachelors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

Cameron may be smart, but Davis has chosen academically more challenging degrees and done them well, and so is almost certainly smarter.

The Tories are set to choose between the two next month and I hope Davis wins.