Beast Banner December 2008
ISSUE #133
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Features

ArrowA PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE READERS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
You need to be more like us

ArrowTHE GREAT SHAME
Bush's legacy is our failure

Allan Uthman

ArrowA MILLION LITTLE PUNDITS
Memoirs of a fake political junkie
Ian Murphy

ArrowBACK TO THE FUTILE
Guess those old politics aren't so bad after all
Anchor Downs

ArrowRACE TO THE CABINET
Gentlemen, start your speculations
Steve Gordon

ArrowSTUPID, or HOW TO LOSE MONEY RUNNING A SPEED LAB
Part Too: Bongo Burger
John Dolan

ArrowTHE 25th YEAR AFTER
The nuclear winter of our discontent
Alexander Zaitchik

ArrowWE WON & THAT'S NOT A PANDA
My Epiphany in the No-Spin Zone
Allison Kilkenny

ArrowDULLEMITE
How to make fun of a black president
Ian Murphy

ArrowSMARTISTS FOR OBAMA
Fear of a Barack Planet
Michael J. Smith

ArrowTHE *TRUTH* ABOUT HUSSEIN OBAMA
Coming soon to an inbox near you
Eric Lingenfelter

Departments

ArrowThe Beast Page 5
Menacing Anachronism

ArrowWaxy Beast: Music Reviews
by Eric Lingenfelter

ArrowKino Kwikees: Movie Trailer Reviews
by Michael Gildea

ArrowInsano-Scopes!
Your completely accurate horoscope, expressed cryptically in the form of the stupidest election-related lines we’ve read all month!

[sic] - Your letters

 

SMARTISTS FOR OBAMA
FEAR OF A BARACK PLANET
By MICHAEL J. SMITH

I happened to overhear an elevator conversation recently, between two of my neighbors. They were talking about the election -- when, I wonder, will anybody on the West Side start to talk about anything else?

Neighbor A: “At least Obama is intelligent. Bush was such a... dummy.”
Neighbor B: “That is SO true. Thank God!”

Got me thinking. I’ve heard this intelligence trope a lot. What does it presuppose?

You want your lawyer to be smart. If you hire a computer programmer, you want him or her to be smart (unless the job includes Javascript, which a smart person won’t write). And so on.

Wanting a smart president, then, goes along with another trope: that the presidency is a “job.” And of course (unlike people who actually make hiring decisions, in the real world) we want the best man -- or woman, as the case may be -- for the job.

What exactly is the job description? Administrator of the global empire, right? Required skills: bland hypocrisy, experience with mass murder....

All of which makes me think I’d rather have a “dummy” in the job. It’s not, actually, a job I want to see done well.

I made this point recently to another neighbor of mine -- call her Lyle. West Siders are nothing if not quick. Lyle shot back, “You just had eight years of the biggest dummy in US history. Did that make you happy?”

Now factually, I don’t think she’s right about Bush. She’s deceived -- as New Yorkers often are -- by the hick accent. Who knows what Bush is really like? But the carefully-contrived persona to which both she, and the people who voted for him, are responding, is not that of a dummy, but of a sly and crafty peckerwood anti-intellectual, quite a different matter. Lyle mistakenly believes that a peckerwood anti-intellectual must be dumb -- it’s her New York provincialism coming out. And it must be noted that if this Administration was run by dummies, it nevertheless strangely succeeded -- with a good deal of help from the Democrats, to be sure -- in doing exactly what it wanted to do.

Still. Let’s grant Lyle’s point, arguendo. I didn’t have a response ready at the time, but pondering the matter later, I realized that I wasn’t all that happy after the presidencies of the two officially-certified Brainiac presidents in my lifetime, Carter and Clinton. (Nixon was smart too, but poorly educated and crazy as a bedbug, so he’s in a class by himself.)

Smart as they undoubtedly were, they left very unsatisfactory records behind them -- unsatisfactory to me, anyway, happy though others may have been -- and more to the point, these two mighty intellects paved the way for Reagan and Bush II respectively.

So how important is intelligence in a president? It depends, I suppose, on what you’re looking for. Here I must return to a favorite theme: to wit, that people like Lyle and my neighbors in the elevator, when they go to vote, are mostly looking for someone they can recognize as a person like themselves. In the case of my neighbors, this would be a smart person, with a reasonably good education (as these things go), with some regard for culture, and above all -- no fucking hick accent.


Read more from Michael J. Smith at stopmebeforeivoteagain.com.



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