11 April 2006

A silver lining?

Getting weary of all the bad news? I know I could use a good dose of optimism right about now. Enter political scientist Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. According to his review of a couple of new books in the Chronicle of Higher Education, everything that's going wrong is only paving the way for a backlash of intelligence.
...governance is impossible without ideas, and by basing his foreign and domestic policies on so many bad ones, President Bush may have cleared the ground for the emergence of a few good ones.
Yes he may have done just that. Unfortunately, Wolfe doesn't really provide any real grounds for anticipating a new era of reason, just an appeal to the "center cannot hold" kind of logic. Which isn't really logic at all, but plain old wishful thinking.

Still, it was refreshing to come across someone from academia who hasn't abandoned all hope. He doesn't say so explicitly, but I get the sense that Wolfe was inspired by the road-to-Damascus conversion of former neocon Francis "End of History" Fukuyama, who takes back everything he said about the least intellectual president ever in his new book America at the Crossroads: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. Apparently, if Fukuyama can change his mind, so can the American elite en masse:
...academics and intellectuals will find themselves in great demand when the leaders of this country eventually decide that their foreign and domestic policies will have to confront the real world around them, not the imaginary one bequeathed to them by their ideology.
In other words, the pendulum will swing back toward sanity. Well, one can hope.

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