Adlai Stevenson with a swagger

George Will looks at a cross-section of Howard Dean’s utterances and concludes that “the professors’ pinup should dismount his intellectual high horse.” Will’s case seems ironclad given this passage: “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.”
Will’s column made me think of Adlai Stevenson, who twice ran unsuccessfully for president during the 1950s. Stevenson was considered an intellectual (or “egg-head” in the parlance of the time) and was as beloved by the professoriate of his day as Dean is on the verge of becoming today. Yet the best evidence seems to be that Stevenson was no intellectual at all. Certainly John Kennedy didn’t consider him one. According to Richard Reeves, Kennedy used to ridicule Stevenson’s intellectual credentials, insisting that he had read many more books than Stevenson.