Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is Bush an Idiot?

Someone sent me an email with the subject line "Is Bush an Idiot?" and noted:

For a long time I¬íve argued that intelligence is the most important quality for a president to have.  Now, at least, the pundits are starting to get on board with that.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/19/AR2006081900568_2.html

Here is my reply...

---

Speaking of intelligence, have you seen Talladega Nights ("The Ballad of Ricky Bobby") with Will Ferrell? I couldn't help but feel that it was a great satire of President Bush and his NASCAR-mentality supporters. The *only* reason some of the right-wing pundits are grumbling about Bush's intelligence level is that he's not "Going fast, going faster!" If we were invading (oops, I mean "liberating") Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Cuba, they surely would be touting what a "genius" Bush is.

The bottom line is that Bush is simply a front man, a puppet, and all of the intelligence or lack thereof is in the minds of the policy wonks (both within the administration and outside) who are whispering in his ear or scripting his speeches.

I am curious what plan you would propose for convincing NASCAR fans that whatever you think of as "intelligence" or "smart" is something they should care about. Yes, diplomacy and working more closely with a broader spectrum of allies is quite advisable, but how are you going to appeal to someone who has the NASCAR racing mentality with "I wanna go slow, I wanna go slower!" or the anti-war approach  of "I want to quit now, I want to quit faster!" I assure you that a higher body count won't phase these NASCAR fans.

As long as we're going to use general elections to pick leaders, we're going to have this "intelligence gap". Maybe you'd be happier if "we" (you and all of those millions of NASCAR fans) didn't pick the President, but had an elite nomination and confirmation process, not unlike picking a new chairman for the Federal Reserve. Try selling that to all of those NASCAR fans.

BTW, part of the reason that some right-wing pundits are questioning Bush's "intelligence" is that we hasn't been more aggressive in Iraq with things like de-baathification and putting non-diplomatic pressure on Iran (e.g., trying to topple "the mullahs" with covert action) and Syria. I'm not sure that their motivation would fit you definition for "intelligence". But I suppose you could use "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" model for welcoming "support" from "The Right" for your quest for "intelligence".

The good news is that the mid-term election will be over in a couple of months and the anti-war movement will dissipate, again. Sure, it will be back again and again, but never with enough energy to make much of a difference. Most people have more important things to do than fight "The War".

What is your short list of candidates who are intelligent enough to be president? One problem I see is that anybody who really is "intelligent" enough to be president is probably intelligent enough to not *want* to be president.

BTW, I suspect that most people are far more interested in the latest tidbits of news on JonBenet than *anything* related to "The War". JonBenet was the *top* story on Google News when I checked a minute ago! In fact, there was only *one* story that mentioned Iraq in its headline on the entire front page of Google news, a story from the Boston Globe entitled "Pilgrimages in Iraq made on foot". Maybe you should write a letter to Google and complain that their AI algorithm for story selection doesn't use enough of the right kind of "intelligence".

Yeah, intelligence is important, but somehow there's a lit bit more to politics than intelligence.

How would you rate the intelligence of Mr. Flat World (Thomas L. Friedman of the NY Times)?

To answer your title question ("Is Bush an Idiot?"), the answer is clearly "Yes", but also "So what?" After all, this is America, and I'm sure there's an important NASCAR race going on as we speak, not to mention progress on JonBenet. It's all about priorities.

-- Jack Krupansky

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