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Reagan aide disqualifies himself from the conversation

I hope I’m not being narrow-minded, but it seems to me there is a small number of enthusiasms that immediately disqualify those who indulge them as serious thinkers or policymakers.  When you learn that your Federal Reserve Chairman was an acolyte of Ayn Rand, for example, or that someone in Congress involved with budget policy remains a Rand devotee, you know instantly something’s gone terribly wrong.  You might even begin wondering whether this isn’t some monstrous financial equivalent of Caligula’s appointing a horse to the Roman Senate – or a ‘Rand’ to the American one.

We’ve all had the feeling:  You fall into conversation with some stranger on the subway or bus.  Or perhaps you are seated beside him at a concert or some other event.  Whatever the venue or circumstance, the conversation goes pleasantly for a while.  Your interlocutor makes various interesting observations about this subject or that.  He shows himself to experience the world much as do you and most others you’ve known.  He might even say something arrestingly perceptive or thoughtful at some juncture during your chat.  Then, without warning, it happens:  In the middle of a perfectly good sentence he throws in, as a sort of throwaway line or aside, some such observation as, ‘like that time the Venusians performed those experiments on me up on Telos Nine, before taking me back to the Bryant Park carousel and then flying home.  (They still call me, you know.)’

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