In those three words, Bob Herbert pretty much summed up what may be the biggest problem in the US today. Forget the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health-care crisis--our biggest problem in this country for the last, well, as long as I've been awake to the world of politics it seems, is that we have lionized dimwits. We have not only made anti-intellectualism socially acceptable, we've praised and honored it. Say what you will about the Know-Nothing party--at least they didn't win.
But our modern Know-Nothings have won, and won regularly since at least the eighties--not every election, and not always by overwhelming majorities, but they have won, and what's more, they've dominated the discourse, especially for the last 10-15 years. Rush Limbaugh on the radio, and his internet counterpart Matt Drudge, are the dimwittiest of the dimwits who've been lionized in recent history, with the Fox News Channel as a whole taking the television prize in a romp. National newspapers provide a bi-coastal whammy, which Jonah Goldberg in LA and William Kristol in NY, neither of whom, it seems, can write a column without including at least one factual error.
And the most lionized dimwit of all for the past eight years has been the Dimwit-in-Chief, George W. Bush, who we won't have to kick around much longer, thankfully. Sure, he's provided hours upon hours of blogging material, but at what cost? And look at the dimwits he's given us over the last eight years: Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff, Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers, Hank Paulson, Stephen Hadley, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby. Even Karl Rove's vaunted genius was really nothing more than a willingness to wade deeper into slime than anyone else, and that only works part of the time.
The early indications from President-elect Obama are that he won't be lionizing dimwits, that he will be choosing stable, experienced, intelligent people to run his departments and offer him advice. And given the way he ran his campaign, I think we're in good hands.
Labels: bob herbert