It’s interesting to ponder just exactly why the smartophile Palin-phobes think it’s so important for a President to be “smart”. I know I know all else equal “smart” is better than the alternative etc. Not saying otherwise. But still. What exactly will a person’s being “smart” mean they will do/accomplish in a political executive leadership role, and conversely, what exactly would happen if (gasp) such a President weren’t “smart”? Is there any tangible thing anyone actually has in mind when they implicitly obsess over “smartness”, or are they just saying that if a President generally exudes “smartness” then good things will somehow automatically happen via smart-osmosis? (Because that would be dumb.)
This seems like a dumb question but look. Basically I’m faced with this weird spectacle wherein there’s a politician, who as far as I can tell is no more or less “smart” than any other politician, but all the Cool People decide he/she is “dumb”. So then Katie Couric asks her in an interview, like, who is the ambassador from Siam. And he/she doesn’t know or flubs it. What we’re all supposed to do after that (apparently) is to guffaw with laughter at how “dumb” she is, and then put him/her on permanent “disqualify” status in our minds.
Because how can a person be the President if they don’t know offhand who the Ambassador from Siam is? It’s not like you can wiki it! Also, what is the office of the Presidency if not a position wherein you are continually called on 24/7 to answer trivial-pursuit-style questions about current leaders and events off the top of your head? I think that’s like 99.99% of the role of President. At LEAST.
But seriously, call me dumb if you will, but I don’t get it. These criteria do not make sense to me. Objectively, I happen to think that someone like a Barack Obama or a Nancy Pelosi ushering in a giant mammoth health care bill that they haven’t read, arguing that we have to pass it to find it what’s in it, is not only (a) objectively dumb but (b) going to be highly damaging to our everyday lives.
Meanwhile, Sarah Palin couldn’t answer that Katie Couric question (whatever the hell it was – and I’ve literally forgotten).
Yet I’m supposed to fear and hate the latter with a passion while craving the former. Because they’re so ‘brilliant’. Is that it?
I’m sorry. These rules make no sense to me. Is this “smart” thing some sort of religion, and Obama, Pelosi et al are adherents, therefore they get a pass? But Palin is a heretic, therefore she must be cast out?
Argh. I hate this whole issue so much. I don’t even have any reason to like or favor Palin in the first place. Yet her haters irritate me so much I think I’m just going to vote for her out of spite. In fact, the more I think about it the more I think she should be the next President precisely because of spite, specifically to disprove the theory of ‘Smart Osmosis’. Because whatever damage Palin might cause as President, it can’t be anything approaching the damage I think the Cult of Smart Osmosis is causing to our body politics. Or at least to my ability to enjoy political discussion…
UPDATE 11/27: This is another good example. So, Sarah Palin said ‘North Korea’ when she meant South Korea. THIS DISQUALIFIES HER FROM POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.
Because, after all, as everyone knows, if she did that, this indicates that, if she were President, she could be in a meeting, with, like, her advisors, and she’d be all ‘we gotta help North Korea bomb South Korea’, and they’d be like, are you sure?, because we totally thought South Korea was our ally, but she’d be all (continuing to make the same mistake) ‘yes North Korea why are you acting so surprised? they’re our ally’, and they’d be like ‘well whatever, she da boss’, and then we’d accidentally bomb South Korea as a result.
THAT’S TOTALLY A THING THAT COULD HAPPEN IF SARAH PALIN WERE EVER MADE PRESIDENT. On account of how dumb she is, as proved by that verbal miscue. Hell, the SNL skit – always a high barometer of intelligence in my book – practically writes itself!! (2-to-1 this will show up as an SNL skit in almost precisely this form)
Meanwhile totally a thing that COULDN’T ever happen is that President Barack Obama could accidentally send out 7 extra checks for Medicaid, highway funds, etc on account of him thinking there are 57 states. THAT was just a verbal slip of the tongue, no big deal. He’s brilliant! Brilliant I tell you!
I’d say that when we apply these criteria, we’re selecting only for a very dumb and dangerous thing to select for in political leadership – namely, verbal deftness, the skills of a smooth talker – except the weird thing is, we don’t even apply these criteria uniformly. So what gives?