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Individual

Wise fool

Bill Kristol, son of Irving, plays the contrarian in reacting to Sarah Palin’s resignation. In a burst of controlled enthusiasm, he writes:
All in all, it’s going to be a high-wire act. The odds are against her pulling it off. But I wouldn’t bet against it.
I think we can see why Mr. Kristol has been wrong about so many things. Here he wears his irrationality on his sleeve.
Now I’m not sure that rational choice theory captures the essence of rationality. But I am quite sure that if I estimate the odds of rolling snake eyes at 35 to 1 and then bet even money I’m going to be short of cash before too long.
But just to show that rationality, of whatever cast, does a poor job at predicting behavior, Mr. Kristol has in fact done quite well in the last eight years. Being wrong has paid off. In an irrational culture, it pays to be irrational. Not about everything, of course; what works is well-timed, well-placed stupidity. To be stupid in Kristol’s way takes a lot of smarts.
I forgot—or maybe I never remembered—that Mr. Kristol was Dan Quayle’s chief of staff. Talk about falling upward! Fortunately Steve Schmidt hasn’t forgotten, and he was kind enough to remind Mr. Kristol recently. Unfortunately some say that Schmidt has a “congenital aversion to the truth”—he was lying before he could talk, the little rascal.

LinkJuly 4, 2009 in Current Affairs