Friday, August 8, 2008

Reading: "Too dumb to succeed?" Krugman says, "Don't count on it."

The 19th century "Know Nothings" were a nativist party who got their name because they mostly refused to answer questions about their semi-secret membership and organization. The know-nothings of the beginning of the 21st century, on the other hand, take a more literalist approach to the term.

At last night's Drinking Liberally, some of the finest minds of our generationTM were mulling over the sad inevitability that pundits and advisors would soon be telling Obama and McCain that it's time to start courting the "undecided" vote.

If the "undecided"-friendly town hall debate from the 2004 presidential campaign taught us anything, it's that "undecided" is a euphemism for "low-information," which in turn is an even gentler euphemism for "uninformed," which, in turn--well, let's see:

Here, in case you've blocked the experience out of your memory, was the first question of that memorable evening:

Senator Kerry, after talking to several co-workers and family and friends, I asked the ones who said they were not voting for you, why. They said that you were too wishy-washy. Do you have a reply for them?

In the media-saturated environment of the contemporary presidential campaign, the "undecideds" have opted to treat the glut of information like a pie fight, in which the object is to make it to November while getting as little custard on themselves as possible.

Think of them as people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know . . . morons.

Yes, it's almost time for the quadrennial American love affair with the moron vote to burst into flame again. And it looks like Obama is largely abandoning the field to the Republicans; here's his reply to the Republican tire-gauge mockery of last week:

Now two points, one, they know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

Ouch. Senator, don't come a-courtin' the moron vote with plain talk like that!

Over on the other side of the aisle, the Republicans may have failed to make inroads with blacks or Hispanics, but that's not stopping them from going after the moron vote like lust-addled teenagers with a pocket full of roofies.

Here's Krugman from this morning's column:

The debate on energy policy has helped me find the words for something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Republicans, once hailed as the “party of ideas,” have become the party of stupid.

Now, I don’t mean that G.O.P. politicians are, on average, any dumber than their Democratic counterparts. And I certainly don’t mean to question the often frightening smarts of Republican political operatives.

What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

In the case of oil, this takes the form of pretending that more drilling would produce fast relief at the gas pump. In fact, earlier this week Republicans in Congress actually claimed credit for the recent fall in oil prices: “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Representative John Shadegg.

What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats. And the Democrats, as Representative Michele Bachmann assures us, “want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, take light rail to their government jobs.”

Is this political pitch too dumb to succeed? Don’t count on it.

The newest offshoot of identity politics: "It's a moron thing--you wouldn't understand."

Krugman's column is going onto the Reading list on the sidebar.

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