KASICH SAYS IT AGAIN! Last night, Ed Schultz took his turn: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2011
The dumbness of the whale: The dumbness of elite American political culture only seems to grow. This dumbness is constantly put on display in the Washington Post, one of the principal organs of our modern elites.
This morning, to cite one example, Mark Penn offers a fiscal path to the center on the Posts op-ed page. Penns proposal is stunningly unintelligent, from its goal (a balanced budget within five years) right down to its specific prescriptions.
How to get rid of our massive annual deficits? Incredibly, Penn actually wrote the passage which followsand the Post actually published it:
That was Penns complete prescription regarding the budget. How would he achieve balance within five years? He would enact all sorts of spending cutsand he would reduce all income tax rates! He doesnt even mention the possibility of increasing tax rates on any type of incomeor the possibility of eliminating any tax loopholes as he lowers those income tax rates.
Assuming good faith, that passage is the work of a dunce; the Washington Post couldnt tell. But the dumbness of the modern whale is unyielding, vast, all-consuming. The massive dumbness of our political culture is one of its key defining featureshas been for a good long time. (Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Al Gore said he inspired Love Story!) Progressives make a massive mistake when they fail to confront it by name.
The dumbness of the whale is vast; it manifests itself in various ways. And this dumbnessthis massive, low-IQ incomprehensionis different from such handmaidens as bias or simple bad politics.
How about another example?
Whatever else it might have been, Kathleen Parkers column in Sundays Post was just massively dumb. Heres the way the reigning Pulitzer-winner started an exceptionally unintelligent rumination, in which she complained about Obamas failure to say a magic word during his State of the Union:
Parker plays it several ways in that passage, as she does throughout this column. On the one hand, she suggests that Republicans are playing a silly game as they try to out-exceptionalize each other. But despite that observation, shes troubled that Obama didnt say exceptional during last weeks address! Floundering thusly, she quickly finds herself asking a very dumb question:
Is America exceptional or isn't she? Is there something about this country that makes us unique in the world?
How dumb can American discourse be? Obviously, there is something about every country which makes it unique in the world. Surely, that cant be what Republicans mean when they try to out-exceptionalize each other. But Parker had produced this puddle by her fourth paragraph, and things went downhill from there.
Last year, Parker was chosen by the Pulitzer hacks as our top opinion journalist!
What a conundrum! We the people rarely know any facts; our reigning journalistic elite is often transcendingly dumb. A modern nation cant function this way. Citizenship demands a lot more.
Why dont more progressives say this? Is the current system, in which we wink at The Dumb, perhaps working for us and our leaders too?
Parkers next question: Parkers column was stunningly dumb. Soon, she was advancing a second question, drawn from a recent poll:
There you see a second question. It too is massively dumb, the product of very weak minds:
Does the U.S. have a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world?
Is the United States the greatest country in the world? This question is stunningly vague; its useful for very little aside from generating fist fights and blather. What criteria do we use for making such an amorphous judgment? For example: Finland outscores us in international testing; beyond that, Finland provides universal health care for about one-third the cost, per person, of health care in this country. Does that make Finland the worlds greatest country?
Questions like this make no actual sense. In a rational world, it would fall to intellectual leadersincluding Pulitzer winnersto note such obvious facts.
Parkers column was hopeless in other ways. Understating the problem, Greg Sargent notes onejust click here.
KASICH SAYS IT AGAIN (permalink): Big Ed Schultz was storming and fuming, dumbing us liberals down to the ground and making a chew-toy of race. Big Eddie played several race games last night. But check out the highlighted passage:
Big Eddie was pimping four separate charges in his heartfelt rant. We invite you to ponder the third. Governor Kasich is the same guy who signed a resolution honoring Martin Luther King on St. Patricks Day, this big dumb block of peckerwood said. Miraculously, Kasich had somehow accomplished this outrage even though hes only been in office for 22 days!
It just cant get dumber than that.
As we noted yesterday, this charge about Kasichs King Day proclamation is about as dumb as human life gets. Heres what happened: At the top of Kasichs official King Day proclamation, someone listed the date as March 17 instead of January 17. The error was quickly corrected.
Back on January 19, even Steve Benen managed to say that this was obviously an unfortunate clerical error (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/31/11). But by last weekend, Steve was playing us liberals for fools, pretending that this was an actual racial offense. By last night, Big Eddie was playing us too, as this big block of petrified dumb has done many times in the past.
Question: When you see Big Eddie add that sh*t to his list of charges, do you think hes really sincere about anything he says on this topic?
Should Kasich have minorities in his cabinet? The Republican Party is heavily white; we cant say were astonished or outraged by the situation as it exists. For the record, Kasich says he offered two cabinet posts to blacks, and was turned down. His interim director of Job and Family Services, a cabinet post, is black.
Last night, Big Eddies disturbance centered on a short comment which has been attributed to Kasich. (I dont need your people. See above.) As everyone and his pet rock knows, its tricky to build a serious critique around a short reported commenta comment for which there is no tape or transcript to review. Even Benen mentioned this problem in yesterdays post, before ignoring his own words of caution. But Big Eddie was playing the fool last nightand he was playing it hard.
Should Kasich have a diverse cabinet? How diverse should his cabinet be? (Big Eddie scolded Kasich for rejecting quotas, while forgetting to note that one Ohio state legislator has said his cabinet should be 12.1 percent black, just like the states population.) However you might answer those questions, answer our question about Ed Schultz: When a big block of dumb plays the St. Patricks card, what does it tell us about his sincerity? What does it tell us about the way such people will toy with race, while shoveling big bucks in their pockets?
This conduct fuels a culture war. When needless culture war splits Us from Them, the plutocrats winevery time.
The problem with short reported comments: Jay Silberman served on the DC board of education from 1991 through 1998. This Sunday, he wrote a letter to the Washington Post, complaining about the way a comment by new mayor Vincent Gray has been, in his view, misreported.
Mayor Gray made the comment in question during a public discussion with Silberman. According to Silberman, a Post reporter completely ignored the context in reporting what Gray said, thus distorting his meaning. How could such a thing have occurred? As part of a long discussion, Silberman offered this possibility:
Silberman suggested that Grays comment was being used mainly to fan flames or provoke controversy. Of course, this sort of thing occurs quite often when people spin short, reported commentscomments for which there is no tape or transcript to check.
For ourselves, its hard to judge what Mayor Gray said. There is no tape or transcript!
Hacks can play such comments however they please. After playing the fool on St. Patricks Day, did Big Eddie do that last night?