The Virtue of Simplicity

As the Obama campaign sputters, we’re bound to hear more ‘uh’s and ‘um’s, which Democratic apologists will try to pass off as deep, nuanced thought. It’s good to be reminded, then, that “nuance” is often a cover for confusion and moral cowardice.

For Truman and Reagan the key ingredient to successful statecraft was simplicity. “I say there are simple answers to many of our problems–simple but hard,” Reagan liked to say; “It’s the complicated answer that’s easy, because it avoids facing the hard moral issues.”

2 thoughts on “The Virtue of Simplicity

  1. Why put Reagan and Truman together? Reagan’s simplicity was based on his belief that people could run their own lives. From reading Paul Johnson, I see that Truman’s simplicity was kill the “bad guys.”

  2. Our vernacular is littered with idioms that exhort simplicity. “Cut to the chase!” “Put it on a bumpersticker!” “Get down to brass tacks” etc. The simplicity of the executive, though, is often the result of a very complex thought process that is informed by knowledge and experience. Some people are blessed with a talent for clearing away the thoughts and considerations that matter little in achieving a particular goal, and indeed, keeping a clear eye on an elevated goal at all times. That was Reagan’s genius. Harry Truman’s rise was forged in the Hot Wars, so I find it understandable that his actions lacked a certain “nuance.” And, given the circumstances, “kill the bad guys” doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

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