"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."--F.A. Hayek
04 September 2013
The Best Analogy
Peter Beinert wrote a hit-peice on Marco Rubio for something called the Daily Beast. He starts off swimmingly by calling the reading of two books, one an autobiography by Rubio, the other a biography about him, an act of "literary masochism." So we get how hip and funny Beinert is right off the bat. The second paragraph cuts right to the heart of things, starting "It’s not that Rubio is as smart and perceptive as Obama." I was e-mailing a friend of mine tonight along these lines. What evidence has there been of Obama's intelligence and perspicacity? But I digress. Rubio might be sharp as a tack, he may be another Sarah Palin. I don't know. I do know that political autobiographies are about as useful for finding out about a person as dropping an anvil on your foot, as both are completely untethered to any useful information about the subject. My point being that I don't know enough about Rubio to have an opinion one way or the other about him. I've heard he is a "Tea Party" guy, but I've heard that about both Palin (possibly) and Ron Paul (no), so I don't know exactly what that means.
But after reading these books, Peter Beinert knows Marco Rubio. I have a sneaking suspicion that he already had a pretty good bead on Marco Rubio before he picked up either book, but that is another matter.
The point of the post is to share what is the best analogy I've ever read. In describing what drove young Rubio into politics, Beinert writes "[w]hat he fell in love with on the streets of Miami’s raucous Cuban ghetto was the political game." Rubio's parents were Cuban immigrants, and he was raised in Miami. Beinert then writes the best analogy I've ever read, immediately following the previous sentence, "The best analogymight be John F. Kennedy, who also learned the art of politics in a parochial ethnic community but through personal skill and generational change was able to transcend it."
John F. Kennedy learned the art of politics in a "parochial ethnic community?" His maternal grandfather was the mayor of Boston and served three terms in congress. His father, a fabulously lecherous human being, went to Harvard, made money through investing and was hob-nobbing with FDR at the dawn of WWI, three years before JFK was born. JFK lived from birth to the age of ten in Brookline, MA, then moved to the Riverdale section of the Bronx. He attended private elementary schools, summered in Hyannisport, MA, went to The Choate School, then on to Harvard. You get the idea. I won't disagree that the Kennedy family was ethnic. I pretty sure there were several pair of Irish sunglasses donned by all of the kids at one point or another, and certainly some of the boys' spouses on more than one occasion. But to describe his upbringing as happening in a "parochial ethnic community" is patently absurd. And, further, to depict Kennedy's political ascendency as something that had to be attained through some Herculean transcendence in spite of the parochial ethnic community has somehow managed to escape is an insult to anyone who can spend 35 seconds on wikipedia finding out exactly how unparochially ethnic JFK's upbringing was.
I would go further, but once I got to the best analogy I've ever read, I stopped reading.