06/24/2010 09:26 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Dumbing Down: Mediocrity, the Business Mob, and Karl Rove

With all the overheated gas blown at us about corporate expertise and corporate excellence and corporate wisdom, what is usually avoided is the reality that the people who gravitate to corporate management positions -- such as the people who ultimately may appear before congressional hearings to explain oil spills -- are not the best and the brightest of society, but usually the not-so-best and not-so-brightest, the middle third in university classes, the "people" persons and bean counters and power strivers -- all with a sprinkling of sociopaths. They are not the inventors, scientists, engineers, mathematicians, dedicated medical people, and the sparkling intellects of the literary and visual arts, history, philosophy, and the social sciences. They are not the people who think us through from one generation to the next, not the people who work to rid humanity of misery, madness, and mortality.

They are the business mob.

Is this elitism? Call it what we like, the reality remains that any society led by the business mob is still a society led by a middle-brow mob, and also a society that will ultimately implode. Despite the hawking of conservative media hacks, the implosion of the Soviet Union was not an affirmation of the value of unrestrained capitalism, but simply an affirmation of the reality that mediocrity -- whether bureaucratic or corporate, leftist or rightist -- has a high probability of producing public disaster.

The dangers of mediocrity were already proposed by the ancient Greeks. It's a pity that so many proponents of a "classical" education choose to ignore what's in the books they say they read.

The ironies of mediocrity become most apparent in the political arena, where the business mob is routinely puffed by the conservative Republican political mob. The partnership of the two mobs is sometimes so transparent (see the BP scandal) it becomes a late night joke.

During the Bush Junior presidency, we had eight years of a mediocrity in the Oval Office advised by a gang of mediocre conservative hacks. First among equals in the gang, if anyone remembers, was Karl Rove.

Mr. Rove has now published a memoir -- 600 pages of self-aggrandizement with the title Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight (Threshold Editions).

A long time ago, Mr. Rove achieved some fame as a protege of Donald Segretti, a dirty tricks Republican hack who went to jail as a Watergate conspirator. What an irony it is that people who proclaim the absolute truth of their conservative ideology so often resort to dirty tricks to win elections. Gosh, one would think they disdain democracy!

Mr. Rove's book is apparently not selling well. Maybe even conservatives are finally bored with his ludicrous reputation as a political magician. Duping the American public is not magic, it's merely another way to shuffle in slime.

You can put the book on your bookshelf as a reminder of darkness. Or you can choose to ignore it -- and remember the darkness anyway.