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The extraordinary myth of Brian Cowen's intelligence

Almanac

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Aug 1, 2008
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3,139
Cowen is "very bright",according to U S ambassador, Daniel Rooney, reported the Irish Times yesterday.

Now I have nothing against Cowen personally. Unlike others though I have no idea if he is a decent chap or not. But I find the repeated references to his wonderful intelligence preposterous.

This is the man who guided our economy toward shipwreck, in spite of, despite his claims to the contrary, warnings from at least twenty authorities worldwide and national. Now intelligence involves accurately processing information and making correct judgements based on incisive reasoning. In this at least, Cowen displayed not the slightest trace of intelligence. Intelligence also involves lateral thinking, looking at things from different angles, being capable of intellectually projecting different outcomes and their consequences and preparing accordingly. Here Cowen too evinced and evinces no trace of intelligence. Intelligence arguably involves original or creative thinking. Yet Cowen has displayed neither of these in his responses to the various crises over the last year.

Most telling of all, and this is what caused me to seriously question, this ludicrous myth, is Cowen's lack of verbal dexterity. Right, he is nowhere near as bad as his predecessor yet, at least when he speaks, his grammar, syntax and sentence construction, are all frequently muddled and confused.

He lacks even social or emotional intelligence. I personally detest Obama's politics but I respect the degree to which he displays the latter qualities. If Cowen possessed even a modicum of these kinds of intelligence, he would have admitted that he is directly responsible, to a greater degree than any other individual, for the mess we are now in, that he should have been aware of and listened to the warnings back then. He would have also stated that he hoped to win back the trust of the electorate some time in the distant future at best. This would have won him many admirers, it would have softened the attitude of the public towards him and would have quelled the collective feeling of frustration at the sight of people in power inexcusably evading their moral responsibilities.

Instead it is the same tired, dull, unoriginal, equivocations, which fool no one as has now been proven, but which continue to tarnish the image of both the man and his party.

So, all in all, I can't see the slightest trace of Cowen's supposed intelligence, however the latter attribute is considered or defined.
 


Ecoguy

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Mar 12, 2009
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393
To be fair i think he may mean compared to the rest of the FF party which is a totally different measure of intelligiance:rolleyes:
 

Almanac

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To be fair i think he may mean compared to the rest of the FF party which is a totally different measure of intelligiance:rolleyes:
:D Very true. It's all relative.
 

Ah Well

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Joined
Dec 18, 2008
Messages
1,228
Cowen is "very bright",according to U S ambassador, Daniel Rooney, reported the Irish Times yesterday.

Now I have nothing against Cowen personally. Unlike others though I have no idea if he is a decent chap or not. But I find the repeated references to his wonderful intelligence preposterous.

This is the man who guided our economy toward shipwreck, in spite of, despite his claims to the contrary, warnings from at least twenty authorities worldwide and national. Now intelligence involves accurately processing information and making correct judgements based on incisive reasoning. In this at least, Cowen displayed not the slightest trace of intelligence. Intelligence also involves lateral thinking, looking at things from different angles, being capable of intellectually projecting different outcomes and their consequences and preparing accordingly. Here Cowen too evinced and evinces no trace of intelligence. Intelligence arguably involves original or creative thinking. Yet Cowen has displayed neither of these in his responses to the various crises over the last year.

Most telling of all, and this is what caused me to seriously question, this ludicrous myth, is Cowen's lack of verbal dexterity. Right, he is nowhere near as bad as his predecessor yet, at least when he speaks, his grammar, syntax and sentence construction, are all frequently muddled and confused.

He lacks even social or emotional intelligence. I personally detest Obama's politics but I respect the degree to which he displays the latter qualities. If Cowen possessed even a modicum of these kinds of intelligence, he would have admitted that he is directly responsible, to a greater degree than any other individual, for the mess we are now in, that he should have been aware of and listened to the warnings back then. He would have also stated that he hoped to win back the trust of the electorate some time in the distant future at best. This would have won him many admirers, it would have softened the attitude of the public towards him and would have quelled the collective feeling of frustration at the sight of people in power inexcusably evading their moral responsibilities.

Instead it is the same tired, dull, unoriginal, equivocations, which fool no one as has now been proven, but which continue to tarnish the image of both the man and his party.

So, all in all, I can't see the slightest trace of Cowen's supposed intelligence, however the latter attribute is considered or defined.
Mr. Cowen has a BCL (Batchelor of Civil Law) Degree from UCD
He also is a qualified but non practising Solicitor having been entered onto the Rolls of the Law Society of Ireland
He followed the political route and has been within for many years now

There are plenty Lawyers in Politics and have been in Governments too

I know plenty folk of similar qualifications with the personality of a cat and those of the opposite

Different strokes, different folks

There are those who academically are sound but have no appreciable public interaction or draw, those who are vice versa, those who have neither to any appreciable degree and those who have all and seem to appeal to people

An Taoiseach doesn't seem to be one of those happy to hop before the public with a twinkle in the eye and spoof till the sun sets (like some not all that long departed)

I'm not au fait with his academic intelligence but it must be relatively decent ... however the "common touch" in the sense of same being required to interact with the public and with regard to the position he currently holds appears to be sadly lacking ... I think from memory he didn't deny this to an extent during some recent Indo? interview .... but that of course helps no-one in these very difficult times
 

Almanac

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Mr. Cowen has a BCL (Batchelor of Civil Law) Degree from UCD
He also is a qualified but non practising Solicitor having been entered onto the Rolls of the Law Society of Ireland
He followed the political route and has been within for many years now

There are plenty Lawyers in Politics and have been in Governments too
True, nothing unusual about that, just as there is nothing unusual about Cowen.
 

PaddyJoe McGillycuddy

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Apr 30, 2009
Messages
206
I'm not defending B. Cowen or anybody else in politics but what has 'intelligence' got to do with political advancement? For a start are you going to define ''intelligence' in an academic sense as in 7 A1s in the Leaving Cert or in a broader sense of 'savoir faire' and common sense.
In the early 80's only 20 to 25 percent of school leavers went on to third level education. They were the people whose parents intended that their offspring would have a professional or public service career. These days more or less all 17 year olds go on to further education
Most of our TDs come from middle class backgrounds with parents who had reasonable paying jobs and and the aspirations to push their children no matter their 'intelligence".
 

Almanac

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I'm not defending B. Cowen or anybody else in politics but what has 'intelligence' got to do with political advancement? For a start are you going to define ''intelligence' in an academic sense as in 7 A1s in the Leaving Cert or in a broader sense of 'savoir faire' and common sense.
In the early 80's only 20 to 25 percent of school leavers went on to third level education. They were the people whose parents intended that their offspring would have a professional or public service career. These days more or less all 17 year olds go on to further education
Most of our TDs come from middle class backgrounds with parents who had reasonable paying jobs and and the aspirations to push their children no matter their 'intelligence".
Well if you read the post, you would see that I don't define it as that. Howard Gardner, for example, though his theory is controversial, identifies seven different types of intelligence. The point though is that Cowen does not deserve the accolades he receives and it is irritating when you actually consider the role he has played over the last few years.
 

PaddyJoe McGillycuddy

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Well if you read the post, you would see that I don't define it as that. Howard Gardner, for example, though his theory is controversial, identifies seven different types of intelligence. The point though is that Cowen does not deserve the accolades he receives and it is irritating when you actually consider the role he has played over the last few years.
Indeed you do refine the notion of intelligence and I read too hastily. Mea culpa. A lot of mileage a few months ago was got of out of the fact that Cowen, Lenihan and Coughlan are all from political dynasties. "Intelligence' and background factors may differ.
 

Trmr09

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Jul 3, 2009
Messages
27
Why do you detest Obama's politics? And yes, the Cowen being highly intelligent myth is Fianna Fáil propaganda - Cowen is all bluster with his shouting down of the opposition, etc. I'd rate the rest of the cabinet well above him, but that isn't saying much.
 

rightsofman

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Aug 2, 2008
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An interesting point of view, and well presented.

Here's what crossed my mind when you gave examples of how Cowen refused to listen. He did what most politicians seem to do. I wouldn't quite call it an obsession with their image, or with their being right. It's something close to that though. The way politics seems to work is by force of will and maintaining allies. That doesn't always mean following the correct path of action. It means holding your position and trying to weather the storm, to save face and maintain alliances.

I don't claim to know how politics truly works, but I'm sure its mostly based on manipulated perceptions. Leaders seem to think they cannot ever admit to mistakes, as if that would weaken their position. IMO that is the root of public mistrust in most politicians. I would vote for someone who can admit they were wrong, take advice and act on it. I would not vote for someone who is pigheaded enough to believe they can fool everyone all the time.

So in that light, I'm not sure if Cowen is showing a lack of intelligence. More he is showing himself as a product of the political system.

I would agree that he lacks the sharpness to think on his feet, in terms of how he responds to questions.

So overall I agree he doesn't come across as particularly intelligent, but he knows how to play the game. That might not be enough anymore now that the country is in need of real leadership.
 

jmcc

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The intellect of most politicians, including Cowen, Coughlan, Harney et al, owes more to effective PR and spin than any innate intelligence. Cowen and the rest of the "dynasts" are really the result of political inbreeding. The sad part for Ireland is that these morons are in government and it is their policies that have driven this country on to the rocks. Lenihan is the odd one out as he might actually be intelligent and has some experience outside the muddy world of politics - something that most of the rest of the village idiots, small town solicitors, simpleton school teachers and assorted mediocrities do not really have. If FF does not dispose of Cowen and the gombeenarchy in the next few months, its long-term future is in serious doubt.

Regards...jmcc
 

DCon

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May 5, 2009
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5,889
Mr. Cowen has a BCL (Batchelor of Civil Law) Degree from UCD
He also is a qualified but non practising Solicitor having been entered onto the Rolls of the Law Society of Ireland
He followed the political route and has been within for many years now

There are plenty Lawyers in Politics and have been in Governments too

I know plenty folk of similar qualifications with the personality of a cat and those of the opposite

Different strokes, different folks

There are those who academically are sound but have no appreciable public interaction or draw, those who are vice versa, those who have neither to any appreciable degree and those who have all and seem to appeal to people

An Taoiseach doesn't seem to be one of those happy to hop before the public with a twinkle in the eye and spoof till the sun sets (like some not all that long departed)

I'm not au fait with his academic intelligence but it must be relatively decent ... however the "common touch" in the sense of same being required to interact with the public and with regard to the position he currently holds appears to be sadly lacking ... I think from memory he didn't deny this to an extent during some recent Indo? interview .... but that of course helps no-one in these very difficult times
I wonder if Cowen and the other career politicians (especially those holding hereditary seats) get an easy passage through university and the law Society as it is generally known they will become politicians and not practice law.
 

Almanac

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Aug 1, 2008
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3,139
An interesting point of view, and well presented.

Here's what crossed my mind when you gave examples of how Cowen refused to listen. He did what most politicians seem to do. I wouldn't quite call it an obsession with their image, or with their being right. It's something close to that though. The way politics seems to work is by force of will and maintaining allies. That doesn't always mean following the correct path of action. It means holding your position and trying to weather the storm, to save face and maintain alliances.
That's why I contrasted him with Obama and his emotional or political intelligence. Obama is, in my view, a much more disingenuous character than Cowen yet he had the political sense, the understanding of public perception, to say, "This is my fault. I am responsible here. The buck stops with me", in response to public outrage over the bonuses scandal. Obama really couldn't care less- he has lined his cabinet with more Wall Street insiders than any previous president and reappointed cronies from Bush Snr and Jnr and Clinton admininistrations- but his capacity to understand and manipulate public perception demonstrates his political acuity.

Cowen doesn't have any face to save with the public and his colleagues in FF are also responsible for the mistakes of the party as a whole.
 

The OD

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Oct 10, 2005
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He's a bully boy by all the indications I have seen, if he doesnt like the way something is going, he raises his voice and looks more and more belligerent.

Anyway, I have a feeling he wont be around come Yuletide.
 

zakalwe1

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given he fails the basic indicator of intelligence, learning from one's mistakes, one must assume he is an intellectual pipsqueek!
 

He3

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Imagine the Irish Ambassador in Washington pronouncing Obama 'very bright'.
 

petervalhala

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May 18, 2008
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746
Cowen is "very bright",according to U S ambassador, Daniel Rooney, reported the Irish Times yesterday.

Now I have nothing against Cowen personally. Unlike others though I have no idea if he is a decent chap or not. But I find the repeated references to his wonderful intelligence preposterous.
As you admit you don't know him, why bother posting this useless thread?

Are you going to suggest that Dame Enda is more intelligent?!
 


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