The saying goes that during one of his bids for the White House, a woman told Adlai Stevenson “Not to worry, Senator, all thinking people are with you,” to which he replied: “But I need a majority!”
Not only was Stevenson smart and quick-witted enough to make that story plausible, it suggests that the smartest candidates have always had to do a little bit of hiding their lights under a bushel.
But now we live in what Vonnegut called the ultimate scary reality show: C-Students from Yale. The blog called The Daily Howler does a superb job, day in and day out, showing how the press has gone from chronicling our decline into demanding it, as the so-called liberal media positively makes intelligence into a disqualifying trait for leadership.
The relevance here is this: managing our multiple serious environmental challenges in the context of a world with diminishing resource availability and rising population (and poverty) is going to require the sustained application of intelligence of the first order. But rather than consider the intelligence of Bill Richardson a possible asset for a president, Dana Milbank speaks of the burden of having to listen to an erudite speaker drone on. Far more refreshing and relaxing to listen to the malapropisms that come tumbling out of Bush’s mouth, perfectly reflecting the dysfunction and chaos behind his dull eyes.
From today’s Howler:
MILBANK BOLLIXED AGAIN: Once again, Dana Milbank ran into too many big words when he watched a Big Dem give a speech. White House hopeful Bill Richardson was giving the speech — with subsequent Q-and-A’s, no less! — and poor Milbank found himself stuck in the audience:
“MILBANK (6/28/07): Leading a detailed, hour-long discussion about Iran in which words such as “fissionable” and “Abrahamic dialogue” were invoked, Richardson demonstrated why he is running a distant fifth for the Democratic presidential nomination, and why, in a CNN poll released this week, 54 percent of respondents had either never heard of him or had no opinion of him.
Poor Milbank! The discussion in question had lasted an hour, and several large words had been said! Later in his confessional “sketch,” Milbank helps us see how brutal it was. The speech “occupied nine single-spaced pages and had the warning `3,325 words’ at the top of the text,” he explains. He details the brutality:
MILBANK: When an attempt at a joke fell flat, the candidate added: “That’s supposed to be funny.” He could be heard to utter phrases such as “I revert back to the Nunn-Lugar initiatives, which have been underfunded,” and “the IAEA naturally has the lead on nuclear issues,” and “there are at least six major reasons why Iran is strategically significant.” When he finally uttered the words “in conclusion,” Richardson chuckled, perhaps realizing the challenge he had presented to his listeners.
Imagine being asked to sit through such statements as “the IAEA naturally has the lead on nuclear issues!” And imagine how it feels to be told that there are six reasons for something!
For years, the Post has reveled in its growing know-nothing culture, with various pundits rushing to complain about the long speeches they’re forced to endure — speeches which may contain long words and statements of stunning complexity. In August 2000, David Broder said he almost fell asleep during Gore’s convention speech — a speech which plainly rocked the election, sending Gore soaring in the polls. In recent years, Broder has continued to grouse when Hillary Clinton makes him listen to detailed discussions, and Milbank recently embarrassed himself with the utterly ludicrous “Washington Sketch” about all the big, long words Gore used when he discussed his new book. The sheer stupidity of such presentations doesn’t faze these toasted Posties, who express the type of Versailles culture often found among powdered elites.