Saturday, June 21, 2008
Delete "Elite," Tout de Suite
[Another weekend rant. But be of good cheer: it'll be my last. Also, I wrote it a while ago, so it's a little out of date. I'm emptying my drawers. As it were.]
Here is an opinion column that pretty much says what I've been thinking ever since Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's dismissal of the universal condemnation by economists of their gas tax holiday proposal. "Elitists," they called them. Them there 'lekshuals. Well, I've been thinking about it since she (unexpectedly), the wife of a president and daughter of the Seven Sisters, and McCain (expectedly), the son of admirals and duacentamillionaire by marriage, began trying to paint Barack Obama as an elitist. Naturally, the talking heads have taken up the cry. Just as it's assumed without scrutiny that John McCain is a wizard at foreign policy, pols promote the Obama/elitist meme as neogospel. The writer of the opinion piece said it well enough, but here's how I'd have put it:
FER GAWDS SAKE, PEOPLE!!! THE WORLD IS COMING APART AT THE SEAMS. WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF OIL, WE'RE MELTING, AND BEFORE WE'RE SWAMPED IN SEAWATER WE'LL MOST LIKELY DROWN IN DEBT. WAKE THE FUCK UP!! WE'VE TRIED IT WITH DUMB PEOPLE. ISN'T IT ABOUT TIME WE GAVE ANOTHER SHOT AT HAVING A SMART PERSON AS PRESIDENT??? NOW, WHEN OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT??? SHOULDN'T IT BE A GOOD THING TO HAVE LEADERS WHO ARE WELL-EDUCATED AND CAPABLE OF A COMPLEX THOUGHT??? DON'T THE TIMES DEMAND AN A-STUDENT, FERCHRISSAKES? ISN'T THINKING BEYOND BUMPER-STICKER PHRASES EXACTLY WHAT WE NEED? WOULDN'T YOU LIKE OUR PRESIDENT TO BE THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM, THE ELITE OF THE ELITE? ONE WHO LISTENS TO OTHER REALLY SMART PEOPLE, WHO ARE EXPERTS!!!??? WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM??? ARE YOU REALLY GONNA BUY THE CRAP THOSE IDIOTS ARE TRYING TO SELL YOU??? #%$$#@@%&?&RS!!!
We seem to have come to a pass wherein people not only don't care about intelligence in our politicians but have elevated stupidity to some sort of golden ideal. C-student? Heck, we can do better than that! How about bottom of the class at a military academy? Voters, in numbers large enough to flip an election -- so it appears -- care more about "relating" to a candidate (whatever the heck that means!) than about what he or she says about the really difficult problems we face. Thus, the two-carbon-fragment test: who'd you rather have a beer shot with. I think it's a sort of a mind-melt, mentally checking out of the debate: it's just too damn hard to think about the important stuff, and too scary. Let's talk wives, flags, fist-bumps. Enter the stupid. Cling to it, one might say.
There's a paradox: we saw it in the reaction to Barack Obama's "bittergate." The very people whom Republicans want to characterize as insulted by Obama's remarks are those that they (Republican strategists) assume want the simplest answers in all spheres: the Bible is the inerrant and literal word of God. George Bush never made a mistake. Gay marriage is more important than energy policy. In decrying Obama's poorly phrased but easily contextualized words, they count on the very thing they pretend to dismiss. You gotta be pretty elitist to think like that! N'est-ce pas?