Uncharted Territory


RSS     Archives

“A second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament!”

TIMEのカバーストーリの最後に出てきた“A second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament!”という言葉。アメリカ大統領やアメリカの歴史に詳しい人ならすぐに誰のことを語っているのかわかるでしょう。FDR、ルーズベルト大統領のようです。

What a President Needs to Know
Jon Meacham July 14, 2016

Of course, Trump believes he too has that special something. Clinton will beg to differ. One of her chief arguments will be that Trump lacks the temperament to be President–a point that evokes an ancient anecdote familiar in the literature of the presidency. On Wednesday, March 8, 1933, the newly inaugurated 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, called on retired Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The two men chatted a bit–Roosevelt asked about Plato, whom Holmes was reading–and he sought counsel on the crisis of the Depression. “Form your ranks–and fight!” Holmes advised. After the President left, Holmes was in a nostalgic mood. “You know, his Uncle Ted appointed me to the Supreme Court,” Holmes remarked to a former clerk. The Justice then added, “A second-class intellect, but a first-class temperament!”

Historians still debate whether Holmes was referring to T.R. or FDR, but the story is often cited to underscore the significance of a President’s disposition. Temperament is one of those terms that brings Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography to mind: We know it when we see it. Or in this case, feel it. The word derives from the Latin meaning “due mixture,” and one Oxford English Dictionary definition calls it “a moderate and proportionable mixture of elements in a compound.” Discerning temperament is more a question of intuition than of clinical perception. It is, to be sure, a fraught enterprise. And at this moment in history, there is no common agreement on just what qualities are best. Still, Trump’s temperamental failings include his oft-indulged instinct to bully and turn petulant when someone–reporters, opponents, whole regions of the world–gets under his skin.

雑誌を読むことはいろいろな知識を入れられるので英語学習者にとってありがたい素材なんですよねえ。あと面白いところはそのバリエーションも味わえるところ。数年前の記事ですがオバマ大統領の弱腰外交を批判する際にa first-class intellect but second-class temperamentという言葉が使われていたようです。

President Obama: a first-class intellect but second-class temperament. Really?
Presidential choices are often so constrained by factors outside their control that temperament has little bearing on whether presidents succeed or not.

By Matthew Dickinson, Decoder contributor OCTOBER 28, 2014

President Theodore Roosevelt, the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, possessed “a second class intellect, but a first class temperament.” (Some historians think Holmes was describing TR’s nephew Franklin, but no matter.) If pundits are to be believed, President Obama suffers from the opposite condition: He has a first-class intellect, but a temperament that, as recent events indicate, seems ill-suited to acting with the urgency and decisiveness necessary to deal with crises both home and abroad.