I have found that the claim to intellectual brilliance may the weakest, maybe the most dangerous reason to select a political leader.

I recall Oprah Winfrey announcing that we should not vote for Obama because he is black but because he is brilliant.  It made me want to run the other way.  I hear supporters for Newt Gingrich tout his intellect, yet less than a week after his announcement he seems to be going down in flames. He thinks out loud and seems to lack any cohesive philosophy outside his own intellect.

I am not anti-intellectual.   Learning (not to be confused with education) is a very important value to me. Intelligence is the ability to hold multiple and conflicting thoughts in your head at one time. It is the ability to see relationships that others miss.  But this ability is limited by lack of experience and by emotional limitations.  The most common emotional limitation among the intelligent is the hubris often associated with the desire for public office.  This is why the most desirable leaders are often those who do not want the job.

Harry Truman may have lacked the academic credentials but he was long on experience.  He had such distaste for high public office that FDR had to berate him to get him on the ticket.

The candidates I like the most are often the once who want it the least.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie keeps denying he is seeking a presidential bid but he is still actively sought.

My biggest problem with the very intelligent is that they often believe that they do not have to abide by common rules or generally accepted principles as  a guide because they are so smart that they can just adapt to any given situation.  Unmoored from important and guiding principles they wing it because they have the confidence that often comes with intelligence to rely on their abilities.

They think they are smart enough to beat the odds. They know much but underestimate randomness. They do not know what they do not know.

This is not to say that intelligence is not important. It is.  But it is far from enough, and when intelligence is the foremost reason to pick a leader one should be cautious.  Intelligence with experience and modesty becomes wisdom.

Rarely do I hear this as a reason to select a leader, but that is what we need.