Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cuomo Misuses "Best and Brightest" In His State Of The State Speech

We're back to that old "Best and Brightest" phrase.

Governor Cuomo used it yesterday in his State of the State speech when he was drum-beating teachers as stupid people:

ALBANY — Ignorant, unqualified teachers won’t be able to get a job in New York classrooms if Gov. Cuomo has his way.

The governor used his State of the State address Wednesday to announce plans for a “bar exam” that all new teachers would have to pass to get a job in the state.

The tough new test was among a host of education initiatives announced by Cuomo in a sweeping address as he starts his third year in office.
Cuomo said the moves would ensure that only the “best and brightest are teaching our students.”

Now we've been over this before, but apparently Andrew Cuomo didn't get the lesson, so let's try it again.

The "Best and Brightest" as used in the 20th Century is a pejorative.

David Halberstam, the author who published the "The Best and the Brightest" in 1972, was using the phrase ironically to expose the geniuses in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations - the so-called "best and brightest" the country had to offer - as arrogant, short-sighted elitist fools who continued to pursue a murderous and disastrous foreign policy in Vietnam long after they knew the war could not be won.

According to Wikipedia, the phrase first showed up in a letter Junius wrote to a newspaper in 1769 that disparaged George III's advisers.

In both cases, the phrase "Best and Brightest" was meant ironically - as in, the geniuses you have surrounded yourself with in the corridors of power are allegedly the "Best and Brightest" but really are just arrogant, short-sighted fools pursuing disastrous policies that will bring us all to ruin.

Percy Shelley did use the phrase in a poem in a way that wasn't meant to disparage, but I guarantee you that Andrew Cuomo wasn't channeling Percy Shelley in his State of the State address yesterday.

Wikipedia puts the phrase "Best and Brightest" as used by Halberstam into context:

In the introduction to the 1992 edition, Halberstam states that he had used the title in an article for Harper's Magazine, and that Mary McCarthy criticized him in a book review for incorrectly referencing the line in the Shelley poem. Halberstam claims he had no knowledge of that earlier use of the term found in the Shelley hymn. Halberstam also observed regarding the "best and the brightest" phrase, that "...hymn or no, it went into the language, although it is often misused, failing to carry the tone or irony that the original intended." In a 2001 interview, Halberstam claims that the title came from a line in an article he had written about the Kennedy Administration. The phrase referred to President John F. Kennedy's "whiz kids"—leaders of industry and academia brought into the Kennedy administration—whom Halberstam characterized as arrogantly insisting on "brilliant policies that defied common sense" in Vietnam, often against the advice of career U.S. Department of State employees.

And now Andrew Cuomo, who says there are too many ignorant people working as teachers in NY State, who only surrounds himself with the "Best and Brightest" in his own government (often the intellectual and moral heirs of the very geniuses and "whiz kids" Kennedy and Johnson surrounded themselves with back in the Sixties), is apparently ignorant of the irony intended by the phrase "Best and Brightest" and continues to use it as if it's a good thing to want to bring in arrogant, short-sighted, elitist fools to do important work.

Barack Obama suffers from the same ignorance.

The last thing we need is the "Best and Brightest" teaching our children.

Haven't the "Best and Brightest" done enough damage to the economy with their CDO's and credit default swaps, to the environment with their wonderful innovations like hydrofracking, to humanity with their fabulous inventions like drone bombs, and to world peace with their policies of Endless War and constant Surveillance?

Isn't it time we give the "Wise and the Humble" a chance to see what they can do to clean up the messes the "Best and Brightest" have caused?

Do we really want the intellectual and moral heirs of Robert McNamara, Maxwell Taylor and Dean Rusk in charge of anything or doing anything truly important in our society?

1 comment:

  1. I think when the taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year for this public education, I think they're entitled to more than just the complete and utter retards of teachers

    The teachers that could barley get a college

    degree, that no one in the private sector would hire probably because they couldnt remember to wear pants to the job interview but the government will hire because they are spending the taxpayers money and not their own.

    The taxpayers do deserve better than any government worker.