Audacity or Stupidity?

Email to NPR’s All Things Considered (Daniel Goure is a fellow at the conservative Lexington Institute think tank, his ATC essay was titled “Where Is the Audacity in Today’s Leaders?”):

Daniel Goure’s essay on the need for audacity in leadership doesn’t take into account the need for that audacity to be based in reality. It might be audacious to get tiger-stripe tattoos on your face, for instance, but that adornment might limit your options for employment and the ability to make a living.

The chasm between audacity and stupidity is vast. Is it audacious to bet your family’s savings on a single number in roulette? Or is it stupid? If you win, someone like Goure might say it’s audacious, but you never hear about the people who lose, unless they lose spectacularly.

Gen. George Patton, who Goure references, made his career on being not only willing to take risks but to take risks that weren’t so far out of the realm of reality that they could actually accomplish their goals. That’s the true difference between audacity and stupidity, which is something Goure seems not to recognize.

Goure states that the war against Iraq was won with the smaller force that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld authorized. Perhaps he could pass that message along to President Bush, who says the troops won’t be coming back from Iraq until we’ve won, because he seems not to share Goure’s view.

Oddly enough, given Rich Lowry’s recent love note to Sen. Barak Obama in the (also conservative) National Review, Obama’s new book is titled The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.