Sunday, November 9, 2008

A return to a thinking President?

On my other blog I wrote about the pleasure of continual education in a personal sense. Today I'm thinking about a wider view: Nicholas Kristoff, one of my favorite NY Times columnists, writes that we may have a return to the Kennedy era's idea of a President who surrounds himself with the "best and brightest." I sure hope so. It's needed in so many facets of American life. Right along side that op-ed pieces was one by Al Gore on how America can regain leadership in the world by dealing with global warming and at the same time create vast numbers of jobs which would be un-outsourcable -- which is to say they'd have to employ people living right here right now.

Won't it be wonderful to have someone who can make a speech using whole sentences and well crafted paragraphs? Because my every day work involves listening to people speak I can attest to how infrequently people can speak in whole,grammatically correct sentences -- let alone whether they have anything substantial, creative, interesting to say -- let alone whether the whole thing is graceful and truly intellilgent. Not that most American listeners know a proper sentence when it is spoken. I'll never forget my astonishment as a senior in high school when the boy who's name was alphabetically next to mine [so we had sat side by side all through 12 years of school) turned to me after 12 years of instruction and whispered, "What is a verb?" I'm sorry to say he is rather recently deceased and probably went to his grave not knowing or caring what a verb is.

I can't resist adding that Krisoff noted that few younger Americans think there is any reason to know where the various countries of the world are, and that Sarah Palin, like a great many of her countrymen/women didn't know that Africa is not a country but a continent. Really that kind of willful ignorance appalls me so that I become incoherent in my astonishment and regret and horror. I don't believe any President can undo willful ignorance among our ill-educated populace but I would rejoice if the tone of arrogant ignorance could be erased at the highest levels of our government.

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