Saturday, September 17, 2011

Not Stupid, But....

Kathleen Parker is onto something. Just not as much as she thinks she is.

The veteran syndicated columnist, no longer entangled with Elliot Spitzer at CNN, recently criticized

Democrats who pride themselves these days on being members of the "smart" party. Indeed, the Ivies do seem to be mass-producing Democrats, including the last two Democratic presidents. And, alas, even the most recent Republican president, though he seems not to have taken it, or himself, quite so seriously.

She concedes

Republicans have earned some of the ridicule aimed their way. Many are willing to dumb themselves down to win the support of the party's base, preferring to make fun of evolution and global warming rather than take the harder route of explaining, for example, that a "theory" when applied to evolution has a specific scientific meaning. It isn't just some random idea cooked up in a frat house.

Parker obviously recognizes that many Democrats are convinced that many of the extreme, unsubstantiated views apparently held by many conservative Republicans emanate from stupidity- or a kind of mental illness, though she doesn't specifically address that theory. In his controversial CNN online piece urging President Obama to panic, James Carville exclaimed "As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation."

Parker realizes it's not craziness or stupidity. She notes "anyone who thinks Republicans are stupid is missing the point. What those dummies Bush and Perry have in common, other than having been Teas governors, pilots and cheerleaders (what is it with Texas?), is that they're not stupid at all." Instead, she credits them with a sort of nobless oblige charm- "smart enough to know that most people in this country didn't go to Ivy League colleges- or any college for that matter" and "haven't led privileged lives of any sort."

But Bush graduated from an Ivy League college- and Perry graduated college with a Bachelor's Degree in animal science. Sure, it wasn't climate science but presumably the Texas governor knows a little something about the physical world around us. Nonetheless, in his book, the Texas governor had labeled global warming theory "a contrived mess" with "doctored data" and claimed "we are experiencing a cooling trend." And he has told New Hampshire voters "I think we're seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man made global warming is what is causing the climate to change."

It's hard to believe that Perry is that stupid (or even ignorant)- and as Parker understands, he's not. In last month's GOP debate, Perry contended President Obama "had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs."

We now have an intelligent man- Kathleen Parker believes so and she is right- telling us that the earth is cooling and $800 billion pumped into an economy created zero jobs, while every estimate has pegged that money as having produced jobs in the (low) seven-figures.

And Perry knows that intimately. The Texas Tribune reported in August "Through the second quarter of this year, Texas has used $17.4 billion in federal stimulus money- including $8 billion of the one-time dollars to fund state expenses that recur over and year. In fact, Texas used the federal stimulus to balance its last two budgets."

Texas, like 48 other states, legally must balance its operating budget annually. If it hadn't gotten that money, other spending would have had to be cut, prompting major job losses. And the state's governor says "it created zero jobs."

Rick Perry isn't alone in his tendencies; he has company in George W. Bush and some other Republicans. But Perry is reputed to be his party's leading candidate to be President of the United States. Meanwhile, he vociferously denies global warming and adamantly maintains that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which supplied him with over $17 billion dollars, nowhere created a job. No, Rick Perry isn't stupid and he doesn't believe what he has been saying. Which makes him something worse than stupid.

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