Do We Really Want A Hedgehog-In-Chief?


Liel Leibovitz sizes up Santorum and Romney along rhetorical lines:

What we want is a decently intelligent president with one solid idea. Or, to borrow Isaiah Berlin’s well-known distinction, what we want is not a fox but a hedgehog. … This is why someone like Santorum resonates much better than someone like Mitt Romney: Beyond his wealth and his android-like lack of social grace, Romney is a fox through and through, a politician who takes pride in attacking issues individually and logically. That’s a great approach for a venture capitalist, a governor, a law professor. It’s a terrible approach for a president. Great presidents tend to be hedgehogs.

Drezner recently used the same analogy to assess Ron Paul's appeal:

Paul is a hedgehog.  He knows One Big Thing and uses it to construct his worldview.  We know from Philip Tetlock that hedgehogs are less likely to be right when making predictions than foxes — those people who know a little about a lot of things. Hedgehogs outperform foxes is in getting big macro-consequential events correct, however.  We tend to ignore such predictions, however, because hedgehogs usually lack the emotional intelligence necessary to persuade nonbelievers.  I want Paul banging on about the dangers of excessive government intrusion and overexpansion.  That's not nothing. Here's the thing, though — precisely because Paul is a hedgehog, he brings other less-than-desirable qualities to the table. 

Earlier discussion of hedgehogs and foxes here

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