Ross Douthat: Hooray For Stupid!

4 comments July 6th, 2009at 09:11pm Posted by Eli

I will never understand the conservatives’ fetishization of stupidity.

Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.


Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

First of all, I really don’t care if someone went to the “right” school – I care about whether or not they’re a blithering idiot (I would also parenthetically point out that this is why Palin’s scant resume was so much more of an issue than Obama’s –  Bill Kristol still seems a little confused by that).  Although, that being said, bouncing between five different colleges is more of a red flag than a badge of just-folksness.  Not to mention uncannily apt foreshadowing for recent events.

Second of all, I continue to be both mystified and terrified by the way conservatives cherish stupidity in their leaders, as if the supposed relatability or “democratic ideal” is more important than competence or even sanity.  I sure as hell don’t want the government run by people who are as dumb as I am who just somehow lucked or hustled their way into power – I want it run by people who rose to the top because they’re so smart it’s scary.  I don’t want my president to be someone I can have a beer with, I want him to be someone who makes me feel like a mental midget.

Because I really have no desire to hang out with the president, or even to imagine that hanging out with the president would be a pleasant experience (on what planet does that have anything to do with the ability to run a country?).  I want a president who is brilliant and amazingly competent, and not a complete asshole.  Yes, it’s an unattainable ideal, but I would much rather measure candidates against an unattainable ideal than an all-too-attainable one like “I want my president to be an obnoxious dumbass.”

Entry Filed under: Media,Palin,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. Bill  |  July 6th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I’d say honestly that you and I both know people from school who are that scary intelligent, which is what makes this level of dumb (and it’s advocates) that much scarier.

  • 2. Bill  |  July 6th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    sorry, its, not it’s

  • 3. Eli  |  July 6th, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    No presidency for you, dude.

  • 4. Cujo359  |  July 6th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    The way most intelligence tests measure intelligence is by finding out how much the subjects have learned. I’d say what we should look for in a prospective President’s background is evidence that he has learned things. Excelling in school, particularly in a good one, is one way of demonstrating that ability, as is excelling in some profession. People who don’t show such potential, who I think would include at least the last two Republican candidates, are people a sensible country would normally avoid having as leaders.

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