Friday, September 19, 2008

Achievement vs. Potential

I have Ladyblogged once more; as usual, after posting anywhere, it occurs to me what I really meant to say, so here goes: the problem with an elitism that favors only the top minuscule percent is not only that there's no clear-cut way to measure who is 'best,' from birth to the end of one's career, across all fields. It's also that overemphasis on an uncategorized 'best' amounts to an emphasis on potential over achievement. In a sense, all achievements one has while still a student (the SAT, Harvard alumni status) are about potential, whereas all postgraduate accomplishments fall under the category of achievement. It seems silly to me to consider standardized tests about 'potential' and grades about 'achievement,' since both are ultimately about assessing what one will accomplish in a situation that is neither a test, nor a classroom.

Which, like everything else under the sun, brings us back to La Palin. The problem is not that she failed to exhibit potential at various points along the way, say, by earning a Rhodes Scholarship or what have you, but that she failed to achieve anything VP-worthy in her post-education life. Doubtless those who show the most potential tend to do the best later on, but clearly the most successful are not, in all cases, the same as the valedictorians. But there should be options open to prove one's self along the way. If Palin had, no one would care about her time spent at who knows how many colleges for however many years. But she is not the exception to the rule, so indeed, even those of us who could not in a million years, on the basis of our high school records, have made it to Harvard, kind of wish she had. Or at least that she'd performed accordingly.

That was a whole load of nonsense. What will follow, assuming I have time, is an explanation of why, grace a notre amie Palin, Jews are going to be voting for Obama with so much enthusiasm, I can't even begin to explain.


Withywindle said...

More accurate to say she hasn't done enough things worthy of being VP. She has excellent achievements for her time in high office--it's just that the time has been too brief.

As for Jews voting for Obama with enthusiasm--the only person in America who has benefitted from affirmative action more than Palin? I suppose a great many Jews will vote for Obama with some such rationalization in mind, but maybe that isn't his real appeal. He's a luftmensch--what more appealing figure for all the other luftmenschen of American Jewry? Not his achievement, not his potential, but his airy ineffectuality are what make him the candidate for these Jews.

Phoebe said...

I'll explain what I mean about Jews being pro-Obama later, but I think you may overestimate how opposed Jews today are to affirmative action, and how high on anyone's list of priorities opposing it is for those who do.