The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Pelley’s Perspective

We are all placed, at some point, in a position in which we have to make a spur of the moment decision, with little time to weigh the pros and cons.

For most of us, these situations are to be avoided. The possible repercussions from such ill-informed decisiveness can be devastating. However, science writer Malcolm Gladwell explores the validity of such decisions in his latest book, entitled “Blink.”

In his bestselling book, Gladwell defines what he calls the “Blink Theory,” an inherent human process in which snap judgments are accurate. These spur-of-the-moment decisions, Gladwell writes, are actually based on a combination of personal experience and perception of the situation, both of which can contain incorrect biases.

While Gladwell applies his theory to what types of music people will like and dislike, the theory itself can be applied on a much larger scale.

Story continues below advertisement

Time magazine columnist and CNN contributor Joe Klein did just that, in an editorial piece published in the Feb. 28 edition of Time.

Klein’s column, “The Blink Presidency,” looks at decisions made by President Bush in the context of Gladwell’s theory. His findings have both considerable merit and may be a cause for concern.

Klein writes of the seemingly immediate reactions Bush has stood by during his tenure: Yasser Arafat is evil and Ariel Sharon is good. Steep tax cuts will undoubtedly help our economy. Social Security is a wreck and privatization is the only answer.

Even after experts continuously tell the president America’s Social Security system is not on the brink of immediate disaster, he will stick to his original decision because, let’s face it, our society does not value a leader who appears weak on any topic even if he is wrong. Thank goodness the “flip-flopper” isn’t in the oval office.

Expanding on the “Blink Theory” and Klein’s examination of the presidency, one could take a look at what would happen if others in charge of important decisions always trusted their gut reaction.

I, for one, would not hold a doctor in high regard if he abandoned all tests and simply diagnosed patients on instinct.

Likewise, a judge would be de-robed for passing judgment after opening arguments. What would you think if student body President Chad Wade implemented policy that affected you without any input from Student Senate?

How can we trust the decisions of the leader of our country, who does just that?

Furthermore, Gladwell argues “Blink” decisions are best when made by an expert in the field, which Bush is not in terms of Social Security, taxes or foreign diplomacy.

Alan Greenspan, for example, would be far more qualified to make such a decision on federal interest rates than would I.

However, Greenspan has a slew of equally qualified advisers and extensive amounts of data that contribute to his recommendations for the Federal Reserve. He doesn’t wake up in the morning with a gut-reaction from which policy is automatically implemented.

On the other hand, many have touted Bush’s extreme decisiveness as the necessary leadership style following Sept. 11.

His strength and determination over the last four years prompted 8 percent of respondents in a recent Washington College poll to list him as the greatest president of all time.

(As a side note, Bush was preceded by Lincoln with 20 percent, Reagan with 15 percent, Franklin D. Roosevelt at 12 percent, John F. Kennedy at 11 percent, and, finally, Bill Clinton with 10 percent in the Feb. 21 survey.)

When Bush decided to attack Iraq without an exit strategy, he showed the ultimate downfall of “Blink” decisions: Immediacy does not allow for necessary planning.

However, unlike others who have faltered because of ill-reasoned decisions, Bush is able to turn attention to another topic in true “Blink” fashion. Hey, there may not be weapons of mass destruction, but look at those Iraqis vote.

Regardless of partisan alliance, it is a scary day when society values immediate decisiveness over the ability to make an informed, rational decision.

In our attention-deficit society, we want the answers now to the questions that may have to be addressed in the future.

It is time to treat our president as we would anyone else in a position of power and insist he look us in the eyes without constantly blinking.

Pelleymounter is a senior print journalism and political science major and editorial editor of The Spectator. Pelley’s Perspective is a weekly column that appears every Thursday.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Pelley’s Perspective