gender, language, politics

Judge Kavanaugh Cuts the Gordian Knot


In the process of conquering the world, Alexander the Great came to the town of Gordium. In that town was a piece of rope entangled in an intricate knot. Whoever unraveled the knot, according to legend, would rule the world. Many had tried, and all had failed. Nor had anyone ever ruled the world.


Alexander contemplated the knot and his options. He fiddled with the knot but got nowhere. Then he drew his sword, sliced the knot apart, and went on to rule the world.


This legend is usually told as a justification of a bravura style of leadership. Wannabe leaders try conventional solutions to problems and fail. The natural leader scorns those, thinks outside the envelope, and rightly rules.


In his second hearing, on September 27, Brett Kavanaugh demonstrated Alexandrian leadership style, with considerable success . But just as Alexander’s impetuousness (and drinking habits) led to his early death, it may yet transpire that the bravura style may not work in Judge Kavanaugh’s long-term interests. You might, as many have noted, see a hearing of this kind as a job interview. You could also see it as an audition, in which a candidate demonstrates his possession of the skills he would need to successfully perform the job for which he is applying. Then the employer has to ask: does this candidate’s behavior demonstrate what I am looking for? Continue reading