The GOP Advantage: Stupid Is Easy. Smart Is Hard.

It took me a while to find it, but I thought you’d enjoy this little nugget from October 5, 2004, dug out of the Mahablog Archives.

Why We’re Screwed

    Bush’s years as a good-time Charlie and heavy drinker may actually help him draw a contrast to Kerry. Bush led a more “normal” life as a young man, spending his college and postgraduation years partying, chasing women, and raising hell, while Kerry sought academic excellence, positioning himself to be a leader of his generation. Kerry’s devotion to high-minded pursuits, first through his combat service in Vietnam and then as an opponent of the war, may have impressed some, but it now is often portrayed by adversaries as opportunistic and self-important. Those accusations are rarely made against Bush, who showed little interest in leadership as a younger man. [U.S. News and World Report]

We’ve come a way from George Washington and the cherry tree, huh?

The original U.S. News and World Report article, by Kenneth T. Walsh and Dan Gilgoff , appeared in the October 3, 2004 issue. It serves as a nice time capsule to show us how the “elite” versus “regular guy” narrative played out four years ago. The paragraph quoted above still makes my jaw drop.

Smart is elitist, and elitism is, you know, bad. So we can’t elect smart people, and instead elect stupid people, because they connect with us, and they’re more fun to have a beer with, even when (they say) they’ve stopped drinking. Then we wonder why the government doesn’t work. Stupid? Do tell.

I mean, where else in the world is someone accused of academic excellence and high-minded pursuits?

Occasionally we hear that there’s an “anti-education” culture among African-American males that causes them to under-achieve. I will leave it to others to decide how true or false that is. It just seems to me that this phenomenon is not limited to African-American males. The whole country is infested with it. It’s just plain not cool to be smart.

Case in point: Saturday’s event at the Rev. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. Discussing this not-debate, Sally Quinn writes that she wishes she could live in John McCain’s world:

I want to live in a world where Gen. David Petraeus and Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay, are the wisest people I know, where offshore drilling will help ease our energy crisis, where a guy stays in a Vietnamese prison camp even when told he could get out, and has great stories to tell. I want to live in a world where I was absolutely certain that life begins at conception, where a man is a maverick and stands up against his Senate colleagues when he disagrees with them, where the only thing to do with evil is defeat it, where a guy will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of Hell to capture him.

I want to believe that our biggest enemy is radical Islamist terrorists. I want to be part of a world that doesn’t have to raise taxes; where America is a beacon, a shining city on a hill; where our values are simply Judeo-Christian values; and where a man always puts his country first. I want to be one of “my friends.”

John McCain’s world doesn’t appeal to me all that much, but let’s go on …

Obama came first, and he handled himself well in front of an audience that clearly disagrees with him on many issues. He also managed to put to rest the notion that he is a Muslim, which 12 percent of Americans still believe he is. He talked directly to Rick Warren as though they were having a real conversation, whereas McCain played to the audience, rarely looking at Warren. He was low-key, thoughtful and nuanced.

That kind of nuance is hard to understand sometimes — it’s unclear, complicated. Obama’s world can be scarier. It’s multicultural. It’s realistic (yes, there is evil on the streets of this country as well as in other places, and a lot of evil has been perpetrated in the name of good). It’s honest. When does life begin? Only the antiabortionists are clear on that. For the majority of Americans (who are pro-choice), it is “above my pay grade,” in Obama’s words, where there is no hard and fast line to draw on what’s worth dying for, and where people of all faiths have to be respected.

Stupid is easy. Stupid lets you give clear and unambiguous answers to murky and complicated questions. Smart, on the other hand, requires dealing with reality.

Columnist William Kristol, a high priest of the religion of stupid, wrote of Saturday night’s whatever it was:

Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful.

Smart is boring. Stupid is much more “compelling,” i.e., entertaining and comforting.

(Later in the same column, Kristol challenges his readers: “Where in particular has the United States in recent years — at home or especially abroad — perpetrated evil in the name of confronting evil?” He really doesn’t know. Truly, this is the Stupidity of the Gods.)

Michael Gerson, who’s just a watered-down David Brooks as far as I’m concerned, wrote,

First, the forum previewed the stylistic battle lines of the contest ahead, and it should give Democrats pause. Obama was fluent, cool and cerebral — the qualities that made Adlai Stevenson interesting but did not make him president. Obama took care to point out that he had once been a professor at the University of Chicago, but that bit of biography was unnecessary. His whole manner smacks of chalkboards and campus ivy. Issues from stem cell research to the nature of evil are weighed, analyzed and explained instead of confronted.

Now, let’s think about that last sentence. To me, weighing, analyzing and explaining issues are inseparable from “confronting” them. You have to understand an issue thoroughly before you can deal with it wisely, and sometimes the wisest course is to leave the dadblamed issue alone. In Rightieworld, however, “confronting” an issue takes these steps:

  1. Identify what you want to do (e.g., attack Iraq; help your oil industry buddies increase their profits).
  2. Find or manufacture a reason why you should do what you want to do.
  3. Overwhelm news media and the American people with blustering rhetoric about why America must do what you want to do, accompanied by juvenile taunting of anyone who disagrees with your doing what you want to do.
  4. Do the thing you want to do.
  5. Spend the next several months or years denying or making excuses for the mess you made by doing what you wanted to do.
  6. Eventually, when the mess turns out to be an undeniable failure — blame liberals.

Notice there is neither weighing nor analyzing in the list above. Weighing and analyzing is for academics and women. Red-blooded Americans take the hairy-chested, Neanderthal approach and just smash the hell out of whatever is bothering them.

Let’s talk about moral issues. I’ve written in the past about how “moral clarity” is not clear at all. “Moral clarity” is based on bullshitting yourself; a refusal to weigh and analyze all facets of an issue.

Essentially, “moral clarity” is about bullshitting yourself. It’s about not dealing honestly and compassionately with all aspects of a moral issue. Instead, the “morally clear” begin with the position they want to take and work backward to justify it, scamming themselves and others when necessary to achieve the desired outcome. This twisted way of achieving “clarity” is founded in the dualistic thinking Glenn Greenwald writes about. This dualism assumes one side of an issue must be “good” and the other must be “bad.” Thus, in much anti-choice literature embryos can talk and women who choose abortions are either ignored or assumed to have evil or selfish motivations. But real-world moral issues often involve multiple “good” sides. It is actually quite rare for people and facts to so neatly sort themselves into “good” and “bad” boxes as the morally clear want to sort them. And by achieving “clarity” based on lies and false assumptions, the “clarifiers” actually create more pain and complication.

But, by gawd, “moral clarity” works great on television. The “morally clear” can look the camera in the eye and give decisive, sound-bite answers. People attempting to deal with reality have to explain things. They must fall back on nuance. Boooooooring.

Finally, the really great thing about stupid is that it allows you to believe whatever you want to believe. Peter Dizikes writes that gurus of the Right like Rush Limbaugh and Jerome Corsi are telling people there is all kinds of cheap and readily available oil here at home if only the snotty, elitist liberals would let the noble and virtuous oil industry drill for it. In fact, Corsi tells people that petroleum is not a fossil fuel but instead is something the earth keeps regenerating, never mind what those snotty elitist scientists with their fancy Ph.D.s say.

See how we’ve solved the energy crisis? All we have to do is drill, drill, drill and we’ll get all the cheap oil and gas we want as soon as we want it. And we’ll never have to worry about an energy crisis again. We don’t have to listen to the boring liberals and their boring explanations about science and renewable energy and technology and stuff.

Stupidity like this makes me wonder how our species survived as long as it has, frankly.

32 thoughts on “The GOP Advantage: Stupid Is Easy. Smart Is Hard.

  1. thank you and no thank you, Maha. You outdid yourself with today’s post AND you raised my blood pressure by at least 30 points.

    And I agree that it is a wonder that we have survived as a species.

  2. Regarding Sally Quinn’s comments: I don’t agree with her at all but I’ve love a few doses of whatever medication she’s taking. That’s some delusion she’s having there.

  3. “Where in particular has the United States in recent years — at home or especially abroad — perpetrated evil in the name of confronting evil?”

    …there are times when I feel like I should install a 5-point racing seat belt system on my chair so I don’t injure myself in the fall after reading something like this. Even though it’s only an aside in your excellent post, it amply demonstrates the carnage that can ensue when crass dishonesty and bone-deep stupidity collide with such brutal force…

  4. Sally Quinn want to have a president that is as stupid as she is. Who can blame her for that?

  5. At some point Stupid is going to be revealed as, stupid. When that happens, the problem will be that Stupid is armed and has been told for several decades that Liberals are to Blame for Everything. You don’t want to anywhere near Stupid when this happens.

    It is depressing living in a country so dominated by idiots, and it can’t last. Rightards have yet to learn that the Truth is more powerful than any fantasy they believe in. This inability to accept reality is one of the things that defines them. That the Truth is such an enemy in this country, and that great lengths are taken to hide it, says much, none of it good.

  6. Outstanding post. What limited prospect has the future when dumb & dumber are the substance supporting falsehood’s grab for power. Only twice has the country called for excellence since the end of WWII. Once when a new “moon” was sighted in October skies, once a president called to do for the country. Those voices are silenced, not to be heard again other than the echos in a few memories.

    Never before has a world power been defeated by its own ignorance and sloth, but one now is out to prove it can be done. Most powers try to perpetuate the tools and weapons necessary for survival, not this country, surrendering knowledge and ability to others for a days enhanced profit, nary a thought of the day following. Their economic lifeblood debased to near null value, put to use chasing after chimeras promising extravagant returns for nothing, rather than nurturing a providing economy for its people. That population faced with penury and decimation from disease, with no support in advent of adversity, no knowledge free of belief, twisted by propaganda and lies, to use in their salvation, sheeple shorn, subjugated and shat upon.

    None of the shinning institutions carefully built still stand, only empty shells, eviscerated of function, still stand where once a government greatly governed. Only a handful of dried myths remain. No life can be sparked from the dust.

    All must be leveled, new architects and engineers educated and employed to begin construction anew. There is precious little the rubble can provide for material in the new construct, only an outline of what must not happen again. With luck, and good fortune, a new city on the hill will arise, that gives sustenance and shelter for the people.

    Once a herding dog has tasted fresh blood, it becomes a liability and must be destroyed. So too, politicians, in violation of their oaths who act to subvert their constituted duties, must be held the traitors they are and dealt with according to the customs of dealing with traitors.

    Great times are upon the country, will it arise to greatness? or pass unremarked, unregarded into history.

  7. I agree with moonbat above. People tend to not react well to being played for fools. Sure the right can make up a bunch of phony “solutions” to the problems confrontng the country. They can even string it out for months or years but eventually reality will bite everyone square on the ass. Then they’ll be alone and confused in a world where everything they learned is wrong and events don’t make any sense

    That’s when they’ll be ready to lash out at anyone. All someone need do is point them in the right direction.

    But other than that cheery thought, great post barb!

  8. Great post, Maha. I don’t know if I’m reading Sally Quinn right, but her point is excellent. What I thinks she’s saying is that you can’t go home again. She’s ragging on McCain and his feeble attempt to waltz us down the garden path with promises that can never be fufilled. Many nights I lay awake longing for the days of my youth where I lived in an idyllic world devoid of danger and responsibility. How lovely it was running barefoot through fields of daffodils without a care in the world, and knowing that someone was providing for my welfare.
    Unfortunately that world is reserved for infancy and pre-adolescence, and it’s not going to be recaptured by being lulled into a fantasy by John McCain with promises to take me to a place of security that exists only in childhood.

    McCain just isn’t saying the things I need to hear..he’s saying the things he thinks I need to hear… the problem is I’m an adult who can cope with reality and I don’t need a daddy.

    Now.. Obama’s statement that we return to our best traditions resonates with me.

  9. Great post, maha. I honestly don’t know how you can keep up the desire to smack these people down, it’s just so depressing. As Atrios says “The stupid! It hurrttts!!!”

  10. I am reminded of the words of the poet Matthew Arnold:

    Ah, love, let us be true
    To one another! for the world, which seems
    To lie before us like a land of dreams,
    So various, so beautiful, so new,
    Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
    Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.

    Some of us can still see the land of dreams, so various, beautiful and new, by being true to one another, while others, trapped in their lonely darkness, reach for a semblance of certitude, to deny their knowledge that they are on the darkling plain, afraid of unseen armies in the night.

    You can pretend, or you can transcend. It’s a choice.

  11. Well, I don’t think we should be surprised that humanity has lasted this long. Practically speaking, we have never had the ability to kill ourselves off. That’s mostly because we breed well, and could always afford to lose a few million of us to some idiotic and preventable war or disease at any given time.

    Of course, recently humanity has finally gained the ability to achieve our own extinction. What’s more, we’ve proven time and again that we, as a species, are just stupid enough to allow that to happen. As one marginal, though popular, movie put it, “stupid is as stupid does.”

    And on that note, cheers.

  12. I read Sally Quinn and Fred Hiatt in the waiting room at Fairfax Honda – I thought that they were both profoundly bad columns. I have no particular desire to be back in first grade, nor do I desire to have adolescent boys set our foreign policy.

  13. So then smart folks should be capable of crafting the entire array of issue-based attacks, ranging from simple to complex…something for exeryone, regardless of where they fall along the bell curve. That is, if the smart can be smarter than stooping to the level of stupidity of their opponents and consequently ignoring the portion of the electorate who actually want to elect a smart person.

    McCain would love running a campaign on anything but the issues. His campaign is terrified of anything having to do with facts and issues.

    Smart people would exploit these weaknesses. I’m not sure Democrats are actually smart enough.

    But they could make a few great spoof ads out of these thoughts:

    Are you as tired as I am of all these smarty pants educated people and their never-ending parade of facts? If you are then vote McCain. He might not know much but he’d darned sure of himself.

    This year let’s go all out for the stupid guy. Vote McCain!

  14. This reminds me of a quote in an article from the primaries about Chelsea Clinton, who came to campaign on behalf of her mother.

    “She did a good job of conveying her mom’s message,”
    says Nicky Adamson, a student who saw Chelsea last month at Stanford University and ended up voting for Obama.
    “But the average college student can’t relate to her, because she seems so intellectual.”

    That almost made me cry. Undergrads at *Stanford University* school can’t relate to someone who “seems so intellectual”.

    “Never before has a world power been defeated by its own ignorance and sloth”

    Actually, I thing a significant percentage of world powers in History have been defeated by their own ignorance and sloth. Rome is a great example, Athens is another, Spain as well. Typically, it’s the empire that gets built by hard work and discipline, and then is squandered a few generations later by a bunch of spoiled, self-entitled, children who just assume the world exists to please them and can’t conceive of not being on top just because that is the natural order and they “deserve it”.

  15. I think the smart will survive and win in the end. When the earth finally decides she’s had enough of the pollution and human excrement.

    Darwin will triumph and it will be the stupid that perish as they will be too busy listening to the radio hatepimps telling them that nothing is wrong to recognize the rising sea about to swallow them. Their reaction of course will be to shoot the sea but they will drown because you can’t swim clutching a gun in one hand and a bible in the other.

  16. Sadly, I’m old enough to remember Adlai Stevenson. He got the same flak about being an intellectual. Because he had thought about things, he shouldn’t be president. That was over 50 years ago. But then, history really isn’t taught in school, is it? Oh, and yes he was running against a Republican.

  17. Actually, Homo sapiens has not been around all that long evolutionarily speaking, only about 150,000 years. Should we vanish tomorrow, our prescence would be but noise in the geologic record. That is, if one ignores the havoc we have wrought on the earth, and on our companion species.

  18. This is the unfortunate reason why well-qualified Democrats lose elections to obviously incompetent Republicans. When discussing a complex issue like the economy, Democrats explain the complexities of the situation as best they can to voters and weigh the pros and cons of different solutions to problems. Democrats admit that there are no easy or cheap solutions, but we outline what we think is the best choice and exactly what it will require.

    Republicans, on the other hand, willingly reduce complex issues into Tinker Toys. They ignore complexities, oversimplify solutions, and underestimate costs. The solutions they supply to voters are black and white, simple, easy to understand. Their solutions are also lies, but they rarely trouble themselves with this. They know that most people secretly yearn to give up power and return to a childlike state. It doesn’t matter if you have to move out of your nice house with a big backyard into a stuffy condo with mean neighbors: daddy said everything is going to be ok, so no worries. It’s a scary world and Republicans invite us to crawl back into the womb, to just close our eyes and let it be someone else’s problem. Many people cannot resist an invitation like that.

    And that becomes our downfall. We treat voters like adults, giving them all the information and asking them to be informed. Republicans treat voters like children, withholding information and asking voters to trust them. Why are we torturing prisoners? Because I said so, that’s why.

  19. Corsi tells people that petroleum is not a fossil fuel but instead is something the earth keeps regenerating, never mind what those snotty elitist scientists with their fancy Ph.D.s say.

    Further evidence that Righties are not born, but made– apparently by violently jamming icepicks up their noses.

    This dove tails well with you excellent post, Maha.
    I have to disagree with a canadian reader ( although I have great respect for her), I find the current situation up -lifting, because we (except for the most comatose) have had enough of this shit.Regardless if Obama or McCain win this election, if the job doesn’t kill them, the American people will shred their asses if they don’t deliver.

    I just “turned” 54, and realize I’m getting close to the expiration date stamped somewhere on my person. It has taken me this long to realize how corrupt things are, but I now UNDERSTAND, and can shout it from the roof tops to others….
    This is what us “Champion Idealists” do.

    In regards to McCain, I favor the policy of Sun Tsu, if he insists on bungee jumping, give him an extra long bungee cord.
    Allow thyne enemies to hang themselves……..
    I will make a prediction:
    If we don’t change things drastically very soon, the world’s center of finance will shift eastward to either Singapore or Dubaii.
    Wall street is corrupted beyond repair.

  21. If we don’t change things drastically very soon, the world’s center of finance will shift eastward to either Singapore or Dubaii.
    Wall street is corrupted beyond repair.

    It already has. Check out these “postcards” from Dubai.. They’ll make your jaw drop.

    Whoever comes into power come November, expect more sovereign wealth funds to buy up America. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ford or GM will be sold to the Chinese. There will be a cry and hue for awhile over some of these deals – recall the flap in 2005, when the Chinese wanted to buy Unocal – but in one way or another these deals will go forward, because – despite what the rightards tell you – our country has been weakened by years of mismanagment.

    It will be like the Iraq war in one sense – the architects of this hostile takeover bet that they could pull it off and reap the benefits of $30/barrel oil before anyone could figure out what was going on. Of course it didn’t work out that way. The looting of America is along the same lines: a massive smokescreen while the country has been gutted before our very eyes. By the time the rubes figure it out, it will be too late.

  22. Great post maha; thougthtful, deep, nuanced and smart and all the other good stuff at which the “stupids” scoff and mock.

    Your readers are smart too. One thing the “stupids” understand is how to get what they want; as you say, all they have to do is identify it. Identify and justify.

    That’s what makes the following so upsetting; these folks are armed. Nuclear destruction not withstanding, there is plenty of destruction to do right here at home in small but meaningful ways.

    “The ABC News Investigative Team connects Mary “McFate,” a paid mole by the NRA to spy on gun violence prevention groups, with a McCain insider.
    According to ABC News on Aug. 19th:
    A Republican political operative considered part of the McCain campaign’s “kitchen cabinet” oversaw a National Rifle Association lobbying campaign that allegedly hired a spy to infiltrate gun control groups, according to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    James Jay Baker served as executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) in the late 1990s when it allegedly hired a woman to pose as a gun control activist and funnel information back to the NRA.

    A McCain campaign spokesperson said Baker was only a “high level volunteer” for the campaign.

    Investigative journalism magazine Mother Jones first reported the political espionage scandal last month, naming Mary Lou Sapone.
    Beginning in 1998, according to the gun control group, Sapone, using her maiden name McFate, infiltrated the gun violence prevention movement and remained extremely active in a variety of gun control groups, even sitting on the boards of some, until they say she was outed two weeks ago.
    “She was one of the major players in the movement,” said Helmke. “She was at every meeting possible and made you think she cared so much about the issues.”
    Mother Jones reported that the NRA paid the now-defunct security firm that hired Sapone to snoop, Beckett Brown International (BBI), $80,000 in a 12-month period spanning 1999 and 2000.
    Baker, who is still registered as a lobbyist for the NRA, is now Managing Director of the Washington-based lobbying firm, Ogilvy Government Relations.
    Ogilvy has billed the NRA $90,000 so far for 2008, according to the company’s financial disclosure forms, and $360,000 in 2007. Congressional lobbying disclosure reports show the NRA has paid Ogilvy $2.34 million since Baker left the NRA and joined the firm.
    Gun control activists who say they are “stunned” to learn about the allegations that McFate/Sapone was a spy, are calling on McCain to take a stand against Baker whom the Brady Campaign has linked to the underhanded business of spying.

    “Senator McCain describes himself as a ‘straight talker’ and a critic of the Washington lobbying establishment,” said Helmke. “Senator McCain and his campaign need to answer whether or not they approve of this spying on victims, and whether they will ask Mr. Baker and the NRA to explain the extent of their involvement in these activities.”

    The McCain campaign today sought to distance itself from Baker.
    A spokesman for McCain said that though Baker is on McCain’s Sportsman Committee and is a high level volunteer who supports the campaign, he is not one of McCain’s chief advisors.
    The spokesman said that the McFate-Sapone issue has nothing to do with the candidate, adding that McCain has a stricter policy against lobbyists working on the campaign than Obama.
    In March of 2007, Baker gave the maximum amount of $2,300 to McCain’s campaign, and in August of 2006, he gave $1,000 to Straight Talk America, McCain’s Leadership Political Action Committee.
    The NRA did not return phone calls requesting comment. Neither did Baker, who did, however, tell Mother Jones that he was not aware of any infiltration of the gun control movement.
    Baker’s deputy director at the NRA’s ILA, Patrick O’Malley, who is identified as Sapone’s contact at the NRA in BBI depositions, did not return phone calls requesting comment.
    Sapone’s home telephone number has been disconnected and messages left on her cell phone were not returned.”


    Texas Gov. Rick Perry OK With Teachers, Staff Carrying Hidden and Loaded Guns At Schools – Time To Bring Back Stephen Colbert’s Take
    After it was reported last week that the Harrold school district in Texas would allow teachers and staff to carry hidden and loaded guns inside its schools, Texas Governor Rick Perry has recklessly come out to say that he supports the idea.
    This is hardly the first, nor the last time, these ludicrous ideas will surface.
    In fact, mocked Wisconsin State Rep. Frank Lasee when in, Oct. 2006 he suggested on ABC News that we should be arming teachers in our schools.
    GunGuys said of Mr. Lasee:
    In fact, Frank Lasee’s idea was so insane, that even his own cousin Alan Lasee– the Senate president at the time — called Frank’s proposal insane but also dead on arrival.
    Last fall, Lasee was quoted on ABC News about his crazy proposal: “I want to end the turkey shoots that go on in our schools…’s part of the puzzle of making our schools a safer place for our children.”
    That’s why we felt it necessary to bring back the hilarious and prescient Stephen Colbert and his take on arming teachers when Frank Lasee first suggested it”


  23. I am sorry to say that I came to the same conclusion about the appeal of overly-simplistic solutions that many of you did after watching the Saddleback Civic Forum last weekend.

    Obama’s responses were thoughtful, deliberate, intelligent, and complex. McCain’s answers were crisp, clear, certain, and overly simplistic. To him, the only “wrong” appears to be a national security threat. He did not even come close to identifying the evil that exists on our own doorstep.

    Although members of the audience were polite to both candidates, they seemed to prefer John McCain. I am convinced his overly simplistic answers were the reason. Why worry about Darfur, street crime, or child abuse, when you can wipe out all evil by winning the War in Iraq?

    At the end of the forum, we were left with two entirely different views of the world. One is complex and real, the other is simplistic and imaginary. Obama’s world is harder to master because it is multi-dimensional, involves complicated relationships and judgments, and requires intelligent analysis and action. McCain’s world is easily contained in the palm of your hand (I could feel it). It is one-dimensional, simple to understand, and black and white.

    After listening to McCain, it seems feasible to conclude that Osama bin Laden, Islamic extremists, and Vladimir Putin are responsible for all our problems (a declining economy, high energy costs, climate change, inaccessible health care, illegal immigration, terrorism, and warfare). Crank up the defense budget, destroy our enemies, and all will be well.

    It is clear that John McCain has a limited perspective and vocabulary (fight, kill, destroy, win). This is not surprising since, by his own admission, he ranked 894th out of 899 at the Naval Academy and his grades were “barely passing.” Nevertheless, people like him because he does not make them think.

  24. “RIGHTIEWORLD”–Very true, very perceptive article, one item I would comment on — the human race used to be “smarter”. By this I believe the humans were intelligent in a visual sense. When you saw your best buddy being eaten by the saber tooth tiger, there was no ambiguity. Blood and guts were everywhere, and by that good old process of natural selection, you were naturally selected to recognize the danger and run, or you were naturally selected to be lunch. These days it takes a much more complex series of memory, and reasoning, and a poor choice by a bunch of voters may kill the unfortunate untreated diabetic, while leaving the “stupid-healthy”. That said the real experiment is now being conducted — will the smart folks find enough guts to tell the selfish rich they may no longer make the decisions that might kill everyone.

  25. I’ve said it elsewhere but it really fits here too. Historically, prosperous nations seem to inevitably drift into materialism and anti-intellectualism, often with disastrous results. Boy, does that fit today’s America, which if nothing else should jolt us awake to the fact that we are not ‘exceptional’ afterall.

    And now that the flapdoodle crowd, right-wingers, control the majority of microphones nationandmedia-wide, the rate of progression into ‘disaster’ is increasing geometrically.

  26. Thanks to Erinyes for the compliment (#24). Unfortunately, I still stick by my words. In today’s Globe and Mail (Toronto edition of Canada’s national newspaper), an article shows Obama trailing McCain 47-41. Oh lord.

    As far as people not wanting to be taken for fools (post #10), that’s very true, but it’s a double-edged sword. I know someone who lashes out quite viciously at anyone who has more education and a higher income than she does. Whatever you say to her, she perceives you as being condescending. This is commonly known as having a major chip on your shoulder. Such people consider reasonable points, reasoned argument, nuance, well-thought out analysis, etc. as nothing but being looked down upon. It’s the politics of identification and they can’t identify.

    I don’t know what the answer is. Putting on a drawl and joining the NRA don’t seem feasible to me. But why isn’t Obama stressing the fact that he comes from a modest background, pulled himself up by his bootstraps, etc. as compared to the pampered life that McCain has always lived (excluding his wartime experience, of course)?

  27. Maybe I just woke up to something that had been present all along but several years before Bush first ran for office it seemed that something I’d not noticed before had started becoming prevalent…its pervades our culture.

    It is this idea that everyone’s opinion is equally important. Inasmuch as we all get a vote it does but are all opinions equally desirable? Uninformed opinions?

    OJ trial notwithstanding I see people who have watched a 5 minute thumbnail about some major court trial being asked their opinion and beaming while giving their take with apparent certainty. It is as if to say that getting all the facts just confuses people and leads to wrong thinking.

    Ads for American Idol urge everyone to be counted and to vote for their choice.

    Politicians play to every imaginable shortcoming, fear and prejudice just as long as it works in their favor.

    The media is well aware of it’s need to SELL so it too makes few judgments involving hard facts and instead provides those of all persuasions something to consume that is agreeable to them.

    Is it any wonder we are in the pickle we’re in? Such delusion practiced on an individual basis inevitably leads to a fall. Why should we think it any different when we collectively stop trying to understand the world outside of our own realm and its inherent, assuring rationalizations?

    I’ve made the analogy before, but where’s a Willie Stark (All the Kings Men) when we need him? …berating miiddle America for kowtowing to those who have not a single one of their interests at heart, trying to demonstrate what their ignorance has brought them. I haven’t seen anything like this on any scale. Delusion seems to suit everyone just fine. My only question is how much worse can it get before it gets better?

    Obama won’t go this route. He’s all carrot and no stick, offending no one and finding something to agree on with everyone. I sometimes wonder if that won’t be his undoing…and ours as well.

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