How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?

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In 1968 the Democrats fired at Richard Nixon with this ad:

Barack Obama is going up with this rather milquetoast update:

But both ads work. The McCain campaign's botched rollout of Palin (why is she doing new policy speeches with six days to the election?) turned her into the most unpopular pol on either ticket. The newest surveys put her disapproval rating above 50 percent, in Hillary Clinton territory. And Palin fares far worse than Clinton on the "ready to be president" question. She's made it hard-running-to-impossible for McCain to craft a closing "risk" narrative against Obama.

Despite that, six days from now we're going to be discussing the 2012 Palin run for president. Robert Stacy McCain goes all Gene McCarthy and tells us not to reject this woman:

I saw the Republican Party today, standing in line to see Palin at Shippensburg University. The line stretched for more than half a mile – people waiting outside for hours on a windy 40-degree day – and though the doors opened more than two hours before the event, security still wasn't able to get everyone through the metal detectors by the time the rally began. Let's see Buckley or Kathleen Parker or Ken Adelman draw a crowd like that.

Those lines are good enough for an 11-point polling deficit in Pennsylvania, a state that Kerry was barely holding onto in 2004, and hasn't given a Democrat more than 51 percent of its votes since LBJ. Of course the base loves Palin, but unless McCain pulls the upset we're going to realize that the GOP's embrace of "folksy" anti-intellectualism (sorry, anti-intellectualoidism) bought it nothing and lost it plenty.

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  1. OK, Dave, that’s fair enough, but if there’s no relationship between the lines for Palin and polling, then that means there is also no relationship between the lines for Obama and polling. It can’t matter for one and not the other.

    This means that a) let’s acknowledge that people will stand in line for no other reason than to see (hot) celebrities and b) that the differences in polling reflect what people actually want from policy, not their “energy” about some sort of messianic figure.

  2. The Republican Party needs a Jindal/Flake ticket next time if it wants to be taken seriously again.

    A ticket with Palin at it’s head will make them go the way of the Federalists and Whigs. It would be a disaster.

  3. Of course the base loves Palin, but unless McCain pulls the upset we’re going to realize that the GOP’s embrace of “folksy” anti-intellectualism (sorry, anti-intellectualoidism) bought it nothing and lost it plenty

    Hmm, I don’t know, Dave. Anti-intellectualism has a greater appeal to more people than you think it does, smart guy.

    “Then I wondered ‘Why would Einstein want to talk to a gorilla?’ So I grabbed the gorilla and I beat it out of him.”

  4. How about a Flake/Pence ticket? I know, I know . . . it’s incredibly novel to have one, let alone two congressmen on a ticket – but if this party ever wants to win again, it will have to revert to what made it win in the first place : unabashed conservatism of the libertarian variety, the kind that emphasizes and actually attempts to carry out plans to reduce government’s role in our lives.

  5. I like the way you think, Rock Lobster.

    Actually Flake will probably get McCain’s seat in 2010.

  6. Thanks BDB . . . and by the way, I wholeheartedly agree that a Palin GOP spells disaster for them.

  7. I think Mrs. Palin’s experiences in education, family and even working momhood are closer to the average person’s in the US than is Mr. Obama’s experiences.

    It might not be a popular meme, but she seems like the kind of person people in small twons would even seek out for advice, being “sharp as a tack” but still “one of us”.

  8. A ticket with Palin at it’s head will make them go the way of the Federalists and Whigs.

    It’s like the head was cut off, but the lips are still moving.

    And they’re pig’s lips. With lipstick.

  9. [U]nless McCain pulls the upset we’re going to realize that the GOP’s embrace of “folksy” anti-intellectualism (sorry, anti-intellectualoidism) bought it nothing and lost it plenty.

    Oh, really bad premise.

    Even if McCain/Palin win, there is no guarantee that the GOP embrace of anti-intellectualism will benefit the next administration.

    I can see any number of situations arising where President McCain (or Palin) is faced with a crisis requiring a technical solution, and the scientific community issuing a public smackdown about how we would have been better prepared for this had Project X received more funding, or basic research had not been scoffed at.

    Paybacks are like that.

  10. Wow, I find it hard to believe at this point that anyone with a single ounce of common sense could be taking McBush seriously. Everything he says lately is either made up as he goes along or is just an outright lie. His word clearly means nothing.

    Jiff
    http://www.online-anonymity.kr.tc

  11. I think Mrs. Palin’s experiences in education, family and even working momhood are closer to the average person’s in the US than is Mr. Obama’s experiences.

    I too believe that Palin’s experiences of working momhood are closer to average than Obama’s.

    Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?

  12. Yes, the Republicans absolutely have to drop their folksy anti-intellectualism — but it is hardly something that they have only recently embraced.

  13. Mr. Obvious . . . should we really seek something like the average American to be our President? Remember, the average American has become a piglet on the teat of government . . . I think it takes an exceptional, not average, person to elucidate in plain language why this should not be so.

  14. I can see any number of situations arising where President McCain (or Palin) is faced with a crisis requiring a technical solution, and the scientific community issuing a public smackdown

    Do you really think this would happen? Embarrassing the President isn’t the way you get funding for stuff.

  15. Rock Lobster and BDB – unfortunately, there is a big difference between “what we would LIKE to see the GOP do” and “what it would take for them to win in 2012”.

    But, on an even better note….can we please please please please not talk about the 2012 Presidential Election until at least 2010? Give me some fucking peace already.

  16. Mr. Obvious,

    your moniker belies your conclusions, which are anything but…

  17. I agree with your second point, TAO. After all this election isn’t even over yet (though all that’s really left is the vote counting).

  18. I think Mrs. Palin’s experiences in education, family and even working momhood are closer to the average person’s in the US than is Mr. Obama’s experiences.

    And if there’s one thing people like in their leaders, it’s to be average. Christ, people bitch about being smarter than their boss, why would they want the same in their president.

    By the way, Palin may be living an average American life, Obama lived the American Dream. Raised by a single, poor mother, went to the the best universities, now on the cusp of presidency. It’s the aspirational “average” life.

  19. How many “average Americans” shoot moose or snowmobile? For God’s sake before August the GOPers would have called you some kind of weird Canadian for doing either of those things.

  20. It might not be a popular meme, but she seems like the kind of person people in small twons would even seek out for advice, being “sharp as a tack” but still “one of us”.

    I have the impression that she’s a self-important politician/overbearing sports parent who’s neither “sharp as a tack” nor “one of us”.

  21. How many “average Americans” shoot moose or snowmobile?

    If you change that to “shoot deer or ride a quad”, then your question becomes pointless. Don’t underestimate the ability of people to associate with someone they reflexively like anyway.

  22. David–

    Well put. She reminds me of the asshole local pols that make County Council such a pain in the ass.

  23. Epi,

    Do you really think this would happen? Embarrassing the President isn’t the way you get funding for stuff.

    True, under normal conditions. However, my premise was an unforeseen crisis which requires some sort of new scientific discovery to solve.

    Granted, the people who might be funded in hopes that they would solve said crisis might prudently keep quiet, but their surrogates certainly would not.

    The reality-based, pro-science community is hugely incensed over recent statements by McCain and Palin. They (McC/P) don’t even understand concepts like basic research, or worse, do but pretend they don’t.

    The most egregious recent example of GOP anti-intellectualism was McC referring to a multi-million dollar planetarium projector as “an overhead projector.”

  24. The front runner in 2012 is going to be Mark Sanford, and he’s about as Libertarian as a major party candidate with a realistic chance of winning is going to get. I don’t think that’s a reaction to anything in particular another than Sanford existing and having his career peak in the year 2012.

    And I find the idea that Sarah Palin is McLame’s big problem pretty hard to swallow. She’s the thing that brought him back in to contention in the first place. His frenzied support for the bailout is what stuck the fork in McCain. If McCain had more sympathy and understanding for Palin’s paleoconservative views, he might have thought better of throwing his lot in with the Feds and the Wall Street hustlers.

  25. There is a guy I know (who loudly and frequently professed his undying admiration for Hillary Clinton, prior to her exit from the race) who goes into a sputtering, foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy when Sarah Palin’s name is mentioned.

    I don’t get it; I’m no fan, but she doesn’t offend me to the roots of my soul. Of course she’s loathsome. She’s a politician for pity’s sake. Politicians as a species are loathsome.

    And I still believe it’s possible to make the case that a (non-Palin) mayor would be a better President than a United States Senator would. So would a paperboy.

  26. I will second BDB . . . unfortunately, libertarians are left in no man’s land once again – The GOP used to speak to some of our values, and very occasionally seemed to want to act upon them. No more . . . there are just a token few Goldwater types left. I actually bear very little hope that those few will come close to mounting the type of comeback within the party that would make it somewhat attractive to us. So, it’s the wilderness . . .

  27. The most egregious recent example of GOP anti-intellectualism was McC referring to a multi-million dollar planetarium projector as “an overhead projector.”

    Tonio, the only way statements like this are going to hurt, and not actually help, is if we get an asteroid barreling down on us or some other major emergency. And at that point, how you poll kinda doesn’t matter.

    The scientific community being mad at the GOP probably is a net benefit for them with the fundies and other religious types.

  28. I have no problem with the projector. I have a problem that the Feds paid for it. They could have easily used Illinois tax money instead of tax money from people who live in other states.

  29. Hell, the City of Chicago probably has enough money floating around they could have even footed the bill.

  30. Politicians have made themselves over with varying degrees of success before, and maybe she’ll learn how to moderate her rhetoric and make sense in an interview. In other words, lotsa time for lotsa lipstick by 2012! And if Obama does okay (popularity wise), the GOP may be ripe for a sacrificial lamb (at the risk of shifting barnyard animal metaphors) to offer up for the base’s sake…

    Not that I’m predicting this, mind you, but it’s hardly beyond the pale.

  31. Fyodor–

    You’re assuming Alaska re-elects her in 2010. With oil prices falling, I wouldn’t bet on it.

  32. Tonio, the only way statements like this are going to hurt, and not actually help, is if we get an asteroid barreling down on us or some other major emergency. And at that point, how you poll kinda doesn’t matter.

    Well, a major emergency was the premise for my original post. I was actually envisioning a pandemic disease of some sort — one which would significantly reduce the population but would not destroy infrastructure or change habitability.

    The scientific community being mad at the GOP probably is a net benefit for them with the fundies and other religious types.

    Hugely true, but only if there is no crisis. Also, the aftermath of this election could entail either the marginalization of the fundagelical wing of the GOP, or the marginalization of the whole GOP if they don’t purge or marginalize the fundies.

  33. “And I find the idea that Sarah Palin is McLame’s big problem pretty hard to swallow. She’s the thing that brought him back in to contention in the first place. His frenzied support for the bailout is what stuck the fork in McCain. If McCain had more sympathy and understanding for Palin’s paleoconservative views, he might have thought better of throwing his lot in with the Feds and the Wall Street hustlers.”

    The bailout killed McCain. I was an issue handed to him on silver platter, and he botched it totally. A simple “no” vote would have simultaneously put Obama in the position of defending corporate warfare and drawn a clear distinction from the policies of W. I think economic issues are weaknesses for both McCain and Palin, as neither can seem to grasp them.

  34. FYI the Obama ad is not loading right now…

  35. Christ, people bitch about being smarter than their boss, why would they want the same in their president.

    Because their president is not their boss.

  36. the aftermath of this election could entail either the marginalization of the fundagelical wing of the GOP, or the marginalization of the whole GOP if they don’t purge or marginalize the fundies

    While I would like to see either of those scenarios, I really can’t see it happening. The fundies represent a significant part of the core of the GOP now. Maybe the latter situation if the fundies keep dominating the GOP, but definitely not the former.

  37. BDB,

    A ticket with Palin at it’s head will make them go the way of the Federalists and Whigs. It would be a disaster.

    Im failing to spot the disaster in that.

  38. The GOP could have a crack-up, the same way the Dixiecrats ran third party candidates for President several times, there could be a Evangelical Nationalist Party or what have you.

  39. robc–

    If you look closely, I think you can see the disaster from your house.

  40. BDB,

    ???

    My point was the GOP going the way of the Whigs is a good thing, not a disaster. If we could get the Dems to follow, it would be even better.

  41. Gee…I don’t know why 6 weeks of “She’s an idiot hick, a redneck beauty queen” reporting would ever cause someone to be unpopular.

    Meanwhile, newspapers and newsrooms around the country are losing money hand-over-fist. I wonder if these things could be related.

    We all lost when the first “Palin is a C*nt” t-shirt was sold on Cafepress.

  42. The GOP could have a crack-up, the same way the Dixiecrats ran third party candidates for President several times, there could be a Evangelical Nationalist Party or what have you.

    That would be nice (I’ve always thought it would really take four parties to decently capture the American political spectrum), but it’s not likely to be stable.

    Duverger’s Law, and all that.

  43. This is OT, but still about embarrassing candidates. Joez Law goes mainstream. Personally, I’d prefer a CFO that could spell.

  44. A ticket with Palin at it’s head will make them go the way of the Federalists and Whigs. It would be a disaster.

    I would call that one down, one to go.

    I think Mrs. Palin’s experiences in education, family and even working momhood are closer to the average person’s in the US than is Mr. Obama’s experiences.

    I agree that she is much closer to average. And the average American is too stupid to run their own life, let alone run a country.

  45. She reminds me of the asshole local pols that make County Council such a pain in the ass.

    She reminds me of the Vice-Chair of the Board of Selectmen who spends all of her time looking for the chance to knife him in public, so she can hold the gavel.

  46. And I find the idea that Sarah Palin is McLame’s big problem pretty hard to swallow. She’s the thing that brought him back in to contention in the first place.

    The IDEA of Sarah Palin put him back in contention, briefly.

    Then she opened her mouth.

  47. @ mo: heh. nice that it got misspelled twice

  48. It is not folksy anti-intellectualism, it is folksy anti-big media. Frankly, you have a pretty low bar for the term “intellectual” if you consider George Will or Kathleen Parker to be notable ones. Bloviating on a national editorial page or blog does not make you an intellectual. There are a few people like Anne Applebaum or Amity Shales who are intellectuals and also write on editorial page. But those are few and far between.

    Lastly, in the realm of public policy being anti-intellectual may not be a bad thing. Intellectuals tend to dream up government solutions to things. Herb Stein was one hell of an intellectual. I took an econ class from him when he was guest lecturing a night class at GW. That guy was a giant brain. He also was chairman of the council of economic advisors when Nixon thought wage and price controls were a good idea. Heidegger was certainly smarter than the entire Reason staff combined and he supported National Socialism. Wilson, the worst President of the 20th Century, was President of Princeton. The list of well intentioned but incredibly wrong and destructive intellectuals goes on and on. If there is one lesson of history since the French Revolution it is that intellectuals in power is usually a very bad thing.

  49. The Palin base-appeal is much better described as “anti-intellectualoid” than as “anti-intellectual.”

    Lotta syllables, I know, but do you really not know what “intellectualoid” means? Limbaugh appears to.

    Are you and Douthat pretending to be stupid to pretend to be smart, or just reveling together in not understanding a common suffix as a kind of cross-publication frat-boy high-five?

    Either way, the ironing is delicious.

  50. Please don’t insult the American anti-intellectual tradition by equating it with the utter idiocy of what the GOP base is up to these days. Anti-intellectualism is a philosophy that values pragmatism over idealism. Anti-intellectualism is why the US had, and still has remnants of, the ubermessy but liberty-riffic distributed govt and common law systems, that European intellectuals were tearing down left and right on their side of the pond.

    Anti-intellectualism is not the same thing as absolute foolishness.

  51. @ mo: heh. nice that it got misspelled twice

    And now it’s a neologism. Maybe it’s a corruption of “Republican” and “politician” or “Republican” and “magician”.

  52. I think Palin gets too much credit for “bringing McCain back in to centention”. The bump in McCains poll numbers coincides with the convention which ALWAYS gives candidates a bump.

    Further it seems that she gets too much blame for him for him dropping further back. If you look at the daily tracking numbers, Obama’s biggest move (excepting his BIG jump during the DEM convention) coincides with the bank failures, the bail-out drama and wild Dow drops.

    At times when the ecomomy is poor, the incumbant party always loses. That is what is going on here. That explanation doesn’t make for very entertaining cable news programming. Goofing on Palin does.

    So I think this “Palin effect” has been wildly overblown both ways. The ecomony is what is pushing Obama’s strong performance and is what is going to account for his win.

  53. do you really not know what “intellectualoid” means?

    The counterpart of “Joe the plumber”?

  54. Gee…I don’t know why 6 weeks of “She’s an idiot hick, a redneck beauty queen” reporting would ever cause someone to be unpopular.

    Xmas, I think you’re overestimating the persuasive ability of the MSM, and have a flased notion of causality. The MSM is reporting that she’s a rural, unsophisticated person because, well, she IS (or chooses to present herself this way). And I say this as someone with rednect bona fides.

    You’re also underestimating the backlash against said media, which she’s certainly aware of and benefitting from.

    Meanwhile, newspapers and newsrooms around the country are losing money hand-over-fist. I wonder if these things could be related.

    While you’re wondering, you might want to look at the decline of print media BEFORE this campaign. It was already dropping like a shot pheasant. Now, if you can pin an acceleration of that drop to the portrayal of Palin you might have something.

    We all lost when the first “Palin is a C*nt” t-shirt was sold on Cafepress.

    I don’t think the constitution is so fragile that a little bit of scurrilous political speech would take it down. Are they really selling these shirts?

  55. The list of well intentioned but incredibly wrong and destructive intellectuals goes on and on.

    Are you saying that the list of well-intentioned but incredibly wrong *idiots* is shorter?

  56. The most egregious recent example of GOP anti-intellectualism was McC referring to a multi-million dollar planetarium projector as “an overhead projector.”

    Actually, I’d say the most egregious example of GOP anti-intellectualism would be Sarah Palin decrying research into fruit flies in the same speech she called for more research into autism, at least some of which involves said fruit flies. It’s like the GOP isn’t even trying anymore. They remind me of a cargo cult, repeating the old liturgy without understandig of why it worked for their ancestors, and so not capable of making it work for themselves.

  57. Reason tends to use the word intellectual in the cultural sense not the primary dictionary meaning. Reason and others want intellectual to mean university educated and participating in certain professions such as being a professor or journalist. This group then wants to conflate that with the dictionary definition and thereby take possession of the word to mean those who are professors, journalists and such are by definition devoted to the pursuit of intellect, the dictionary definition.

    Very few people are anti dictionary definition intectualism. If someone says they are anti-intellectual they are most likely using the above definition except they do not conflate the profession with pursuit of intellect. In other words what they mean is they are anti university educated elitist snob.

    Is Obama an intellectual? Most people would say yes, after all he was a university professor. But if you ask him why he plans to raise the capital gains tax rate when it has been shown that action will lower the amount of tax revenues, Obama will say “fairness”. Ask Palin if she would raise the tax even though it reduced tax revenue and you would probably get something like “Golly gee no that would be stupid.” Who’s the intellectual? The answer is probably neither but because Obama fits Reason’s definition they will never challenge Obama’s intellectualism only Palin’s

  58. Of course the base loves Palin, but unless McCain pulls the upset we’re going to realize that the GOP’s embrace of “folksy” anti-intellectualism (sorry, anti-intellectualoidism) bought it nothing and lost it plenty

    The McCain campaign brought Sarah Palin on board, then tried to cram her into a McCain-shaped hole. Who in their right mind would think it a good idea to send the candidate on a high-fashion-expensive-clothing tour in the middle of an economic disaster?

    Palin is a mishandled rookie, and she’s figured that out. Give her four years on the national stage, and we all may be singing a different tune.

    How many “average Americans” shoot moose or snowmobile?

    There are 80,000,000 “average American” gun owners. If, as I expect he will, Obama truly pisses them off, Palin’s NRA “A” rating will go nova. Add to that everybody else who is going to get screwed over by Obama’s policies.

    She reminds me of the asshole local pols that make County Council such a pain in the ass.

    As governor of Alaska, eighty percent (80%) approval rating.

  59. Alaska elected Ted Stevens, Larry. ‘Nuff said.

  60. I’d also like to see her popularity survive an oil price slide.

  61. Every gun owner in America shoots moose?

    How about, less than 1%? Better?

    BTW, her approval rating is now 60%, a 20% drop in a month.

  62. My prediction is her popularity is directly related to the price of oil. As oil prices go down, so do the Alaska Oil Welfare Checks, so does her popularity.

  63. Scott66 has it exactly right. Further, Reason is a haven for pseudo-intellectuals and posers. Other than maybe Ron Bailey, I wouldn’t describe any of their writers as intellectuals. Repeating conventional wisdom snark does not make Weigal and intellectual.

  64. John, you sound inordinately snippy today.

  65. does not make Weigal and intellectual.

    joe’z law? I can forgive either the misspelling of Weigel’s name or the ‘and’ typo, but not both.

  66. Nobody ever said Weigal was an intellectual.

  67. The newest surveys put her [Palin’s] disapproval rating above 50 percent, in Hillary Clinton territory.

    And yet, the conventional wisdom is that Palin is sinking McCain’s candidacy, whereas had Obama nominated Clinton, Obama would be on his way to a Reagan-like landslide victory.

    If Palin and H. Clinton have the same disapproval rating, I doubt both those bits of conventional wisdom can be true.

  68. That is hardly the conventional wisdom.

    Even the Conventional Wisdom has caught up to the fact that Clinton voters are going overwhelmingly for Obama.

  69. I too believe that Palin’s experiences of working momhood are closer to average than Obama’s.

    I agree, she does have a lot more in common with half of the elctorate than does Obama.

  70. Lots of obnoxious jackasses on these threads misspell Weigel’s name as “Weigal”. Is this just idiocy, or is it somehow snide?

  71. Mr. Obvious, allow me to insert a syllable.

    You are now “Mr. Oblivious”.

  72. As governor of Alaska, eighty percent (80%) approval rating.

    68%, actually. And dropping, mostly due to her behavior during Troopergate and the events that are making moderates dislike her all over the country. If she’s smart, she could make herself into a power player for the 2016 elections, but 2012 is a little soon for her to be getting the experience she needs to not have the people who are supporting her now turn on her as “not sufficiently experienced.” She needs to pull a John Edwards; spend time working on her own large initiative and then parley that into a candidacy. She *won’t* because she’s not smart enough to see it and is just going to run to DC in two years because she’s convinced that she’s beloved by all, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s what she’d have to do.

  73. That is hardly the conventional wisdom.

    You obviously didn’t watch the same C-Span panel with several Democratic pollsters that I watched this weekend.

  74. Mr. Obvious . . . should we really seek something like the average American to be our President? Remember, the average American has become a piglet on the teat of government . . . I think it takes an exceptional, not average, person to elucidate in plain language why this should not be so.

    I’m surprised at this immature expression of need for someone who is smarter and better than you to lead you.

    W has a Harvard degree and he’s an idiot. Clinton is brilliant and he was stupid enough to get caught and impeached for didling with a skanky butterface. Bush 1 was smart enough to squander the seemingly impossible success of uniting the arab nations in a victorious and almost blood free (on the allies side ) war. Reagan was the closest we’ve had to normal person as president since that POS Truman and even St. Ronnie was double dealing with Iran/Contra.

    There have been many articles on this site explaining that while the average American is on the teat of government, it’s the exceptional one who are sucking hundreds of billions of dollars from government. Perhaps it is understandable why the average person, who sees the deserving rich and the deserving poor get their share from taxes, suddenly use the existing loopholes to get a small bit of their money back?

    Maybe a taste of someone who hasn’t been assured of their brains or their privilege every day of their lives might be a refreshing change from the past 30 years?

  75. You are now “Mr. Oblivious”.

    Oh shit, you’re funny! ha!

  76. Since we do, in fact, have a president, wanting that president to be intelligent and capable isn’t “wanting someone better than you to lead you,” but “wanting the person who’s going to be president to be smart and capable.”

    One could just as easily wrote that Mr. Obvious wants to be led by someone, but doesn’t care if he’s smart and capable.

    But that would be equally inaccurate.

  77. Considering that 99.7% of intellectuals are liberal (statistic provided by POOMA Research Associates), it’s not at all surprising that conservatives try to distance themselves from intellectualism. It doesn’t take an intellectual to figure out that when “intellectual” becomes a political position that you’re going to alienate a lot of people.

    Couple that with the disdain the left shows to ruraldom, and the only reason the Democrats still have voters left in flyover country is because they still own the unions.

  78. “Since we do, in fact, have a president, wanting that president to be intelligent and capable isn’t “wanting someone better than you to lead you,” but “wanting the person who’s going to be president to be smart and capable.”

    Of course there are different kinds of intelligence. There seems to be a certain kind of intelligence, bookishness combined with huge doses ego, earnestness and a strong belief in a ideology that produces at best incompetent and at worst monstrous results.

    To be an effective leader, you have to understand and respect people. People of truly exceptional intelligence tend to make terrible leaders because they are so different from average people they don’t understand them and thus don’t understand the world. This idea that the eggheads should run the world is absurd. We want people with practical knowledge and wisdom who understand how things actually work, versus how they should work, to be leaders. Most importantly, however, is a leader’s morality and values. Richard Nixon is the epitome of the self made man with practical knowledge of the world, but he had lousy moral values and thus was a terrible leader. Woodrow Wilson was the rare combination of all of the bad features of a leader, excessive bookishness, lack of understanding of how the world actually works, and an immoral character.

    If you look at past Presidents, of the great ones only Jefferson could fairly be described as a genius and true intellectual. The rest like Lincoln were certainly smart and erudite but the strength of their leadership came from their morality and understanding of people and the world, not their intellectual talents.

  79. I agree that thinking people are ovewhelmingly liberal, but what makes you conclude that there aren’t any in the interior states?

  80. “I agree that thinking people are ovewhelmingly liberal, but what makes you conclude that there aren’t any in the interior states?”

    Yeah because people who fix cars, build buildings, and do everything else to make the world work don’t do any thinking. Thinking is reserved to people in wood paneled offices wearing tweed jackets.

  81. Wasn’t someone lecturing us on elitism the other day? Gosh, I wish I could remember who that was…

  82. John —

    Skating right past the moral point that Jefferson owned slaves, you do realize that he *did* a few of them, right? According to your theory, he should be knocked out of the runnings, as “raping a female slave” is an inarguably immoral act.

  83. Tonio,

    Yes, they are selling those shirts. People are buying them.

    The shirts aren’t a Constitutional problem, I don’t think we’re losing anything that way. But this editorial sums it up nicely:

    http://www.philly.com/inquirer/currents/20081026_Palin_deserves_our_respect.html

  84. Elemenope,

    I have never heard that Jefferson raped female slaves. I find that claim highly dubious. Affairs with them? Maybe depending on who you believe. But, I have never heard of him being a rapist.

  85. People of truly exceptional intelligence tend to make terrible leaders because they are so different from average people they don’t understand them and thus don’t understand the world.

    What? This is idiotic. Why not just yell, “NERDS!” and get it over with. Do you really think smart people don’t know how things work? Jealousy of the smart kids isn’t attractive.

    I have never heard that Jefferson raped female slaves. I find that claim highly dubious. Affairs with them? Maybe depending on who you believe. But, I have never heard of him being a rapist.

    They were slaves. Do you think they had any choice? Who’s the one that doesn’t understand how things work?

  86. “What? This is idiotic. Why not just yell, “NERDS!” and get it over with. Do you really think smart people don’t know how things work? Jealousy of the smart kids isn’t attractive.”

    Mo, I am one of the smart kids I have nothing to be jealous about. If you had ever been around really smart people you would know that their views and understanding of the world rarely match up with reality. The examples of this are endless. Go read about Bertrand Russell sometime for an example of an exceptionally smart person who had no clue about anything practical.

    Again, with the exception of Jefferson, none of our great Presidents have been geniuses. Many of our worst Presidents, Wilson and Carter most notably, have been serious intellects. Even Madison, despite being perhaps the smartest President, wasn’t that great of one in office. I will take Eisenhower or Lincoln or Reagan, all of who were certainly smart but not geniuses over the geniuses any day. There are different forms of intelligence.

  87. “They were slaves. Do you think they had any choice? Who’s the one that doesn’t understand how things work?”

    Yes, Jefferson raped Sally Hemmings. There was nothing complex or ambiguous about the relationship, it was just Old Jefferson raping the shit out of her. God Mo are you really that stupid or are you just a troll?

  88. There is no definitive evidence Jefferson even had sex with Sally Hemmings.Someone other than he fathered most of her children.

  89. Not you, John, Brandybuck.

    Quote: Considering that 99.7% of intellectuals are liberal (statistic provided by POOMA Research Associates), it’s not at all surprising that conservatives try to distance themselves from intellectualism. It doesn’t take an intellectual to figure out that when “intellectual” becomes a political position that you’re going to alienate a lot of people.

    Couple that with the disdain the left shows to ruraldom, and the only reason the Democrats still have voters left in flyover country is because they still own the unions.

    But what makes you think that people in the interior states only “fix cars and build buildings?”

  90. There’s this “noble savage” theme that runs throught this anti-intellectual, “Real America” line of argument.

    No, no, it’s not an insult when I say you aren’t intellectuals, because you’re NOBLE savages. Close to the earth. Work with your hands, you know?

  91. Mo, I am one of the smart kids I have nothing to be jealous about. If you had ever been around really smart people you would know that their views and understanding of the world rarely match up with reality.

    He’s got you there, Mo.

  92. Mo, I am one of the smart kids I have nothing to be jealous about. If you had ever been around really smart people you would know that their views and understanding of the world rarely match up with reality. The examples of this are endless. Go read about Bertrand Russell sometime for an example of an exceptionally smart person who had no clue about anything practical.

    I never said all smart people know nothing about reality. The old trope about street smart vs. book smarts is idiotic and for the most part, non-existent. Street smarts is just applied intelligence. Eisenhower graduated relatively high up in his class from the USMA, he was no dummy. Lincoln didn’t have formal education, but based on things written about him and his self-education, I’m guessing he was a genius.

    If smart people don’t know anything about the real world, then how the fuck do smart people, that aren’t inventors or lawyers, become rich in the real world. To build a successful business, you have to have a pretty good understanding of the real world and what people want.

    The reason intellectuals tend not to know much about the “real world” is because they’re lumped together with academics that are often in an unusual, not real world environment. Of course, by the same token, I’d say the same thing about career military men.

    Clinton was a brilliant man and a really good president (the affair thing doesn’t really count because for the majority of American history, extramarital affairs weren’t reported by the media).

    Yes, Jefferson raped Sally Hemmings. There was nothing complex or ambiguous about the relationship, it was just Old Jefferson raping the shit out of her. God Mo are you really that stupid or are you just a troll?

    Do you really think there is any sort of choice in that situation? Rape isn’t just scary dude jumping out of an alley or frat guy going to far on a date. I don’t know what the situation is, but to think that assuming that there was some duress involved in having sex with a slave is hardly controversial. Slaves were forced to work unwillingly, why is it trollish to think that the sex was unwilling?

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