Dean promises ``to break up giant media enterprises'' -- General Electric, News Corporation, etc. -- because there is ``information control'' that ``is not compatible with democracy.'' Question: Given the Internet and other new media, and the consequently declining importance of broadcast networks and other traditional filters of information, has there ever been less reason to use ``information control'' as an excuse for expanding government regulation of information media?
Asked to name his favorite philosopher, Dean named Lao-Tse because ``my favorite saying is, `The longest journey begins with a single step.''' That might make a better bumper sticker than anything David Hume said, but if that measures the depths of Dean, he and his supporters should take a sabbatical from deriding Bush's supposed shallowness.
America needs what Dean seems intellectually and temperamentally ill-equipped to provide -- truly thoughtful opposition in an election that should turn on two huge issues. One is: How do we guarantee economic growth sufficient to generate tax revenues to finance a welfare state whose entitlement menu is being substantially expanded just as 77 million baby boomers are about to retire? The second is: Can America's security be attained without adopting foreign policy goals of unattainable grandiosity -- nation-building, regional transformations?
Dean has provided no reason to expect from him especially elevated reasoning about these things. He seems to be an Everett Wharton. ``The Prime Minister,'' one of Anthony Trollope's parliamentary novels, introduces Wharton, who was, Trollope wrote, ``no fool'':
``(He) had read much, and although he generally forgot what he read, there were left with him from his reading certain nebulous lights, begotten by other men's thinking, which enabled him to talk on most subjects. It cannot be said of him that he did much thinking for himself -- but he thought that he thought.''
Dean seems like that, which is not surprising or disqualifying: Most political leaders are not people of reflection, but of ambition-dictated action, living off borrowed intellectual capital. Given the accumulating evidence, the professors' pin-up should dismount his intellectual high horse.
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