Thursday, August 21, 2008

Am I Dumb Enough?

Just once I would like to see a candidate admit that they prefer books to reality TV, or that they are proud of getting a 3.9 GPA at their Ivy League school. Phonies are a hell of a lot worse than intellectuals, and I’ll support elitism over populism any day. We should demand that the most powerful political leaders on the planet be intelligent, hardworking, principled, exceptional people—not fat, dumb goofball dads from family sitcoms.
Are you kidding? A candidate for office in this country who even admitted he or she knew what a book was would be dismissed as some sort of freak. Indeed, we're so dumb as a people, that it's not even news anymore. Despite the continued warnings voiced by commentators, Americans continue to get dumber every year. Some years ago, the Rolling Stones sang in their ditty "Beast of Burden" lyrics that went something like "Am I rough enough? Am I tough enough? Am I rich enough?" Now we're talking. These are good ole 'murican questions. And the people are certainly going to put them to any candidates for office: are you tough and rough enough to satisfy the beer-swilling masses? Are you ready to kick ass in the name of democracy and freedom? Are you going to keep all those nasty people "who hate America" at bay? Are you rich enough? It goes without saying in this culture that money equals worth. The more you have, the more worthy you are.

Nobody asks the question: "Are you dumb enough?" but it's implicit in the great lengths cadidates go to show they're just regular guys. Bowling, walking around in jeans, knocking back shots in a bar. No politician is ever going to miss the opportunity to be seen in a field or factory. Or somewhere they have to wear a hard hat--they love that. (For some reason they never seek photo ops in the cubicled Dilbertvilles that a lot people waste away in every day. And you won't see them cozying up to store clerks and shelf-stockers either. Too pedestrian and familiar.) Way back in our historical experience, it became incumbent on candidates for office to pitch to the lowest common denominator. That was Andrew Jackson's great contribution to our trajectory as a nation: lower the level of electioneering forever. He was the prototypical dumb ass who got to be president. Now, by God, you better be dumb enough for public office. You better appeal to the Jerry Springer nation, or you don't have a chance.

You wonder how John McCain is making the inroads he's making on Obama? A lot of the answer lies right there.
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