August 29 2011
Driving the Conversation: Is Rick Perry Dumb
I don't know Rick Perry, so I'm not in a position to remark on the depth of his intellect. But the question - and the full article today - should remind Republicans that they shouldn't shun intellectualism. In fact the future success of the GOP depends on the party's ability to demonstrate respect and appreciation for knowledge and ideas.
While some Republican lawmakers have rejected an "elite" tone in favor of a more "down home" style, this isn't consonant with conservative tradition. In fact, a succession of intellectuals helped define and create the modern conservative movement - and by extension the Republican Party.
Consider, for instance, William Buckley, founder of the central conservative publication National Review. Today Buckley is still a pivotal figure in intellectual history courses. Ronald Reagan, who is often accused of intellectual shallowness, avidly consumed serious works of political theory. And let's not overlook Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick - the first person I worked for in DC - a Georgetown professor credited with crafting some of the most significant foreign policy of the 20th century.
No matter who the nominee, Republicans can't afford intellectual indifference. The stakes are too high.