Some liberals seem to think when politicians – notably of the tea party-tilting, Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand-you persuasion -- say something nutty, their reputation naturally suffers.
Ignorance might be a negative in the real world. But it's virtuous among inhabitants of Idiot America, the title of political blogger-sports scribe Charles P. Pierce’s book.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas says God is an understanding Heavenly Father when it comes to howlers from politicians he summons to public service -- more on that in a minute.
Anyway, Idiot America is a book you can judge by its cover. The author doesn’t pull punches.
“The rise of Idiot America today reflects—for profit, mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power—the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good,” Pierce writes. “It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know best what they’re talking about.”
Perry is just the kind of politician Pierce means. So is one of the gaffe-a-minute governor’s favorite lawmakers, State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican like him.
Laubenberg made the news, big-time, for claiming, according to the Associated Press, that a rape exemption to her anti-abortion bill wasn’t necessary because “in the emergency room, they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.”
Police use rape kits to determine if a woman was raped.
Laubenberg’s bill would have criminalized all abortions after 20 weeks and effectively closed down nearly every abortion clinic in the Lone Star State. It passed the GOP-majority house but stalled in the Republican-controlled upper chamber. With hundreds of protesters cheering her on, Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat, strapped on a back brace and filibustered the measure to death.
Perry, who couldn’t wait to ink the bill, confessed the other day that his well-publicized and plentiful verbal stumbles have humbled him, ABC News reported. “But the fact is, God hadn’t called the perfect to go into the arena of public service,” Perry said, according to ABC. “He’s called people just like you and just like me.”
More than a few of Perry’s “people” – Laubenberg’s, too – don’t care if the candidates they elect aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. All that matters to them is that politicians have “common sense” on issues like what one of my union buddies calls “the Four Gs – God (love), guns (love), gays (not love) and government (not love, except for the military).” To the faithful, too, “common sense,” means “taking our country back” from the Kenyan-born-Islamo-Socialist in the White House whose plan, according to a tea party sign, is “WHITE SLAVERY.”
So the faith of those who elected Laubenberg and Perry and a whole raft of pandering politicians like them remains unshaken, even when a Laubenberg says a rape kit is for abortions or when a Perry puts Benghazi in Lebanon or can’t remember which federal agency he would shut down if he were president.
Pierce argues that idiocy is righteous in the la land of Laubenberg , Perry et al. His book is subtitled, How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.
Since 1968, when I cast my first ballot, I have wanted people in office who know more than I do about running my state, my country and even my hometown.
“The rise of Idiot America , though, is essentially a war on expertise,” Pierce also wrote. “It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of the elites that Richard Hofstadter [author of the famous 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”] teased out of the national DNA, although both of those things are part of it.”
Pierce is convinced that “never has a nation so dedicated itself to the proposition that not only should people hold nutty ideas, but they should cultivate them, treasure them, shine them up, and put them right up there on the mantlepiece.”
To prove his point, Pierce zeroes in on the Creation Museum in my native Kentucky , which, sadly, lends hefty credence to what Mark Twain supposedly said of our Bluegrass State : “I want to be in Kentucky when the end of the world comes because it’s always twenty years behind.”
The museum is in northern Kentucky, close to Cincinnati . But it attracts its share of pilgrims from my neck of the deep western Kentucky woods.
“It’s the truth, like the Bible teaches,” I overheard a retired middle school math school teacher gush after her visit.
In a restaurant the other night, my wife and I espied a teenager proudly sporting a Creation Museum sweatshirt. “PREPARE TO BELIEVE,” was written below the dinosaur (according to the musuem, such prehistoric lizards shared God's green earth with people.)
The likes of Perry, Laubenberg, the teacher and the kid made me mindful of two of my late Presbyterian grandmother’s oft-used expressions. “Sometimes you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying” and “If they’re not embarrassed by their nonsense, I’ll be embarrassed for them.”
Wednesday, 26 June 2013