SOWELL’S STAND AGAINST INTELLIGENCE…. Thomas Sowell’s latest column for National Review notes that President Obama and his team are “brainy.” That, Sowell argues, isn’t encouraging. (thanks to reader B.A. for the heads-up)

As Sowell sees it, bright officials in positions of leadership can be dangerous. For example, he argues, FDR and his team were deemed “brilliant,” but their policies were responsible for the Great Depression. Seriously.

Sowell went on to argue, “Make no mistake about it, Adolf Hitler was brilliant.”

So, President Obama is not to be trusted because he’s intelligent, and FDR and Hitler were, too. National Review actually published this, on purpose.

The column concluded:

Someone recently pointed out how much Barack Obama’s style and strategies resemble those of Latin American charismatic despots — the takeover of industries by demagogues who never ran a business, the rousing rhetoric of resentment addressed to the masses, and the personal cult of the leader promoted by the media. Do we want to become the world’s largest banana republic?

There’s that phrase again, “banana republic.” The far-right was fond of the phrase for a while several months ago, and perhaps Sowell intends to bring it back.

I’d just respond that conservatives don’t seem to appreciate what the phrase actually means. One of the distinguishing characteristics of a “banana republic” is an unaccountable chief executive who ignores the rule of law when it suits his/her purposes. The ruling junta in a “banana republic” eschews accountability, commits heinous acts in secret, tolerates widespread corruption, and generally embraces a totalitarian attitude in which the leader can break laws whenever he/she feels it’s justified to protect the state.

It’s a phrase that applies fairly well to the last administration, not this one.

As for Sowell’s larger point, his column argues that brilliant people “tend to overestimate how important individual brilliance is.”

It’s a problem Sowell will never have to worry about.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.