Saturday, September 17, 2011

Proud to be dumb

Tom Toles' commentary:
Rick Perry’s favorite Beatles’ song is “Here Comes the Sun,” and this summer he got his wish with record heat, drought and fire in Texas. He pretends to doubt climate science because he has calculated that his short-term interests benefit from that calculation. He brags about being dumb because he recognizes that there is a big demand for that. I don’t know how you can both brag about being dumb AND expect people to think you understand climate science, but this isn’t a troubling paradox at all, if you don’t bother to think about what a troubling paradox might be.

The rich in this country are in a bit of pickle, although when you’re rich, pickles are just one of life’s many garnishes. They have all the money, but they don’t have many votes among themselves. They have engineered a Supreme Court that has redefined “money” as “speech,” but until they go all the way and declare money to be “votes,” they will have to work through middlemen. (One of their current schemes is to have their store-bought officials enact every manner of state law to decrease the number of voters they don’t like, as votes they don’t like have been redefined as “fraud.”) All is going well, but their pickle is that Rick Perry may be too much too soon and might turn off “sensible voters in the middle.”

Personally I don’t see what they have to worry about. I don’t see much sensible anywhere anymore. The bad economy is poised to bring down Obama, just as it raised him up. His enemies will not rest until he and all his acts are “repealed on my first day in office” by whomever and whenever. His friends flee as even the Democrats in Congress won’t get behind his jobs plan. The “sensible center” says in polls that it supports Obama’s positions and blames the GOP for gridlock, but then turns around and votes for more Republicans in special elections. If we are just too tired to think anymore, and falling SAT scores suggest we are, here is the simple answer: Dismantle the government, and hope the markets don’t crush so many people that we get social instability of a very different sort. Smart? We’ll find out!

Do you think that Toles was kidding about Rick Perry bragging about being dumb? This is from a right-wing columnist at The Washington Post:
Then today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry went to Liberty University. It was, at least in part, a celebration of ignorance. The Post’s reporter at the scene Phil Rucker tweeted some of the remarks. Jon Ward at Huffington Post likewise recorded some comments. Things started off on a poor note with Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. praising Perry’s seccessionist remarks as “gutsy.” Are we to believe now that Perry was serious about secession? Then Perry, apparently deciding to make ads for the Obama campaign, came out with a series of “See how dumb I am?” one-liners. He observed that he needed to pull out a dictionary to see what “convocation” meant. The next knee-slapper: He didn’t have the grades to be a vet, so he became a pilot. And then the real howler: He was in the top 10 in a high school class of 13.

Yes, he was trying to be self-deprecating, but it’s disturbing to see that he thinks being a rotten student and a know-nothing gives one street cred in the GOP. Is it so important to defy the MSM by flaunting affection for anti-intellectualism?

But it's true. Dumb is a big attraction for the GOP base. They don't want anything to do with those "elites," people with a good education who understand science and history and economics. The Bible is the only book you need to read, and your gut can make all the decisions, evidence be damned.

All you really need is the absolute certainty that you're right. Evidence matters not at all when you have faith. I blogged about a perfect example of that here, where Tea Party types were easily the most likely to reject the scientific consensus on global warming while also being far and away the most certain they knew everything they needed to know about it.

George W. Bush was their ideal candidate: a dumb, faith-based evangelical Christian who still had charm. He was, as we kept hearing, the kind of guy you'd like to have a beer with. So of course that's who we needed as president.

Well, Perry is pretty much Bush's clone. Only he's proud of how dumb he is. Does that sound promising to you? Maybe for a drinking buddy, but certainly not for the President of the United States!

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