Forget the White House, Send McCain-Palin to a LIBRARY!

18 10 2008

More on just how stupid you’d have to be to claim stupid as a qualifying virtue for the presidency, and just how stupid we’d have to be to elect it:

It didn’t start out this way.

Once upon a time we had leaders who were both highly intelligent and intellectually curious. While our current president struggles with English, our Founding Fathers spoke four to five languages. They weren’t just politicians but diplomats and inventors, scientists, authors and public intellectuals.

And they were, to a man, extremely well read.

In college, Thomas Jefferson often read fifteen hours a day – and he read important works in the original – as it was a given that, along with mathematics, history and philosophy, an educated person should know Latin, Greek and French.

There was a crazy idea at the time that if you wanted to play a role in the affairs of the world, you should learn a thing or two about it first.

There was a time when America’s leaders neither aspired to be average nor pretended to be. They weren’t Joe Six-Pack . . . Courage is important, to be sure, but a cool head and a firm hand are important as well. Knowledge both wide and deep and the judgment to wield it- wisdom in other words – is perhaps the most essential quality of all.

Plato talked about the “philosopher king” …well we’ve had almost 8 years of an idiot-king who flew by the seat of his flightpants and it’s nearly ruined us; leaving us mired in two wars abroad with quaking markets and a gaping deficit at home.

Now, in a highly touted “change” election, one party is running a former D student who himself admits to being hot-headed and impulsive, whose low-road campaigning has tarnished both the electoral process and his own reputation and whose political ideas become less credible with every emerging reality. As his running mate this man has, either recklessly or cynically, chosen a woman who believes instead of thinking, who knows little of the world and whose every tortured sentence is an affront to the logic of language itself.

Forget the White House. The only public building these people should be heading for is the library.

At the worst of times we need to turn to our best. So bring on the bookworms, bring on the deep-thinkers, bring on the leaders who make decisions with their minds and not with their guts or their bibles.

It’s time to turn the page.

And p.s. —
I, Doctor JJ, am wearing a button this very minute that says “Booklovers for Obama!”




16 responses

18 10 2008

“I cannot live without books”

— Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1815

18 10 2008

Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin yesterday in WSJ:

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks I’ve listened to her, trying to understand . . .
She doesn’t think aloud. She just . . . says things.

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she’s not a big “egghead” but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? “I’m Joe Six-Pack”? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensation—”palling around with terrorists.” . .In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn’t, really, understand.

This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn’t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can’t be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush’s style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don’t, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.

I gather this week from conservative publications that those whose thoughts lead them to criticism in this area are to be shunned, and accused of the lowest motives. In one now-famous case, Christopher Buckley was shooed from the great magazine his father invented. In all this, the conservative intelligentsia are doing what they have done for five years. They bitterly attacked those who came to stand against the Bush administration.

This was destructive. If they had stood for conservative principle and the full expression of views, instead of attempting to silence those who opposed mere party, their movement, and the party, would be in a better, and healthier, position.

Everybody got the DVR set for SNL tonight? You betcha! WINK

18 10 2008
Daryl Cobranchi

I have long subscribed to the theory that the smarter person in the race has my vote until they choose to lose it. It has served me well. And since the term “ignorant Republican” has been redundant for at least a decade, I find myself voting for Democrats all the time now.

18 10 2008
Nance Confer

A good line: “She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite.”


19 10 2008
Betty Malone

Impression of Sarah Palin on SNL…she looked uncomfortable at laughing at herself. In fact, I don’t think she thought it was funny, Why did she do it? Does John McCain seriously think that anyone who watches SNL..would vote for their ticket? …please..If SNL is anything, it’s smart..and open…It diametrically opposes the worldview of the McCain Palin ticket..and stands in opposition to the kind of world that Palin would have us embrace as Pro America.. You know the parts of the country she likes to be Indiana..where she spoke two days ago, 10 minutes from my house..and to which many of my religious homeschooling friends marched off to cheer her victory. And so I am left with this thought..

The years I spent working hard to develop a strong homeschool support network in our area…only to have it used to educate children on the evils of Obama..and the righteousness of Palin McCain…Have I been my own worst enemy in this case? Which my son Chris has said from the beginning, only aiding and abetting these lunatics.. I thought I could open them up, help them see the light..of their fanaticism. I’m coming to doubt the validity of religious homeschoolers…but wouldn’t that mean, I’m wanting to take away their rights to school their children as they see fit..even if it means..brainwashing them?

19 10 2008

I’ve had those thoughts!
And feelings.

People have different ways of being in the world and dealing with human challenges. McCain e.g. wants to “fight” anything and everything to win whatever it is he most wants to claim as his own — friends, fun, a job, a new wife, a reputation, honor, credit, applause. Palin’s faith communities call on their own conspiratorial concept of “god” as a sort of ultimate trump card to impose their “family” code on others.

The KKK historically combined these two dangerous ideas of fighting all the time and praying for god to trump anyone different than your kind, in a way I read into the McCain-Palin ticket. That pious Christian fundamentalist Congresswoman from Minnesota, Michele Bachmann, came right out and said it the other day, that we’re all anti-American enemies of hers if we don’t agree with her and let her god and party rule us all. They can be offended and squawk all they want about civil rights leader John Lewis comparing their divisive battle plan to George Wallace, but I am a full-fledged American too and a reasonably well-educated and thoughtful one with a background in journalism, history and public policy among other worldly work, capable of complex independent thought. JJ the Idea Plumber. I’ve come to see all kinds of clannish, politicized “family value” piety used to gain power, corrupt government, and exploit others, as synonymous to the mafia as family. (And Palin as its new poster child!!)

There are homeschooler moms blogging in Michele Bachmann’s voice right now, making Obama the enemy to be fought because their god doesn’t want them to share earthly goods or decisions with anyone but their own kind, as they rule in his name. Bigger than just homeschooling, of course! But definitely about education or the lack of it.

So for me, it’s not fighting and praying that holds American progress. This is where intelligence and education proves its worth in better living and united purpose that helps us all imo. I try to see such thoughts and feelings (mostly my own frequent fears) as continuing education for ME, working through complex thinking problems and getting back to core principles so I can come out the other side of those thoughts with a deeper understanding of all that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness stuff.

19 10 2008
Nance Confer

Betty, what do you think the religious homeschoolers in your neck of the woods will make of the Powell endorsement of Obama?


19 10 2008

“There was a time when America’s leaders neither aspired to be average nor pretended to be. They weren’t Joe Six-Pack . . . Courage is important, to be sure, but a cool head and a firm hand are important as well. Knowledge both wide and deep and the judgment to wield it- wisdom in other words – is perhaps the most essential quality of all.”

I love this! I want to go back to that time. It’s funny how the Republican ticket often alludes that they offer a return to the values upon which our country was founded, and yet they disdainfully call intellectuals elitist! It reminds of the juvenile attitude that makes fun of “the brains” in school. I can’t understand you, so rather than try, I’ll call you a name. >:P

I “believe” it is a very good thing to be well-read and well-spoken, and I think my belief will be validated when Obama is elected our next president.

19 10 2008

I liked the way General Powell courageously fingered what he doesn’t like about what’s happening in Republican party politics and um, discourse. Senator Claire McCaskill on CNN just commented on his Obama endorsement with: “Would Colin Powell ever endorse anyone who had any patience with terrorists? Of course not.”

She went on to give examples of all the ways Sarah Palin actually divides us (and narrows her party) every time she opens her mouth, even to say something positive like praising praising small towns as pro-American. OTOH, there are issues and concerns — and ways of addressing them — that unite and enlighten us as Americans. Again, I care about Idea Plumbers, not human waste plumbers. From alternet as “powerful independent journalism” comes the ten most important differences between Barack Obama and John McCain:

1. Who They Want to Tax

2. How They Would Shape the Supreme Court

3. How They View Democracy

4. How They Want to Change the Health Care System

5. Their Plans for Iraq

6. Their Views on Energy

7. How They Treat Our Vets

8. What They Think America’s Young People Should Know About Sex

9. Internet Access

10. Their Views on the Global Market

19 10 2008

To COD and CW — we all have buttons that say “Baseball for Obama” too. 😉

21 10 2008

Time magazine’s Joe Klein is already banned from the McCain-Palin press plane (which has just likened him to DailyKos diarists) so he had nothing to lose yesterday by spelling out their most recent “incoherence” and self-contradictory lines of attack:

October 20, 2008 11:52
Posted by Joe Klein

John McCain had a fabulously loony weekend, flipping out charges and attacks like a mud tornado. The truly remarkable thing about McCain’s attacks, especially on Obama’s economic policies, is that McCain, in each case, is “guilty” of supporting some version of the policies he’s attacking

. . .Finally, McCain had this exchange about his campaign’s skeevy robo-calls this weekend on Fox:
WALLACE: … and you said the following [after the South Carolina primary campaign in 2000], “I promise you, I have never and will never have anything to do with that kind of political tactic.”

Now you’ve hired the same guy who did the robo calls against you to — reportedly, to do the robo calls against Obama and the Republican Senator Susan Collins, the co-chair of your campaign in Maine, has asked you to stop the robo calls. Will you do that?

MCCAIN: Of course not. These are legitimate and truthful, and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family and about certain aspects that — things that this is — this is dramatically different, and either you haven’t — didn’t see those things . . .

Legitimate and truthful? I supposed that’s why Susan Collins, one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, criticized him for this trashball tactic. Oh, and the “same guy” Wallace was referring to is none other than Warren Tompkins, whose name was a synonym for satan among the McCain inner circle in 2000.

I can imagine John breaking the news to Cindy, “Hey, honey, great news! Remember that guy who was involved in spreading the rumors about your addiction to pain killers and Bridget being an illegitimate interracial child? Well, we’ve got him doing that same sort of high-minded stuff for us!”

21 10 2008
21 10 2008

I didn’t see it myself but I just read that Jon Stewart (bless his intellect) went public on the stupidity of Palin et al pitting small-town America against the very American cities that were attacked by REAL terrorists on 9/11:

Stewart lambasted the general divisive sentiment that pits small towns against big cities, alluding to the fact that 9/11’s “ground zero” happened to be godless and elite New York City and “Communist Country/Fake Virginia” Arlington County.

2 11 2008

Thanks for the reprint 🙂 I’ve got a new post up on HuffPost if you want to check it out. Less of a rant but I still had fun with it.



2 11 2008

LMAO! Glad I read the new one before the coffee had cooled off . . .my literary-theatre college kid is off to Joe Biden’s morning rally here in Tallahassee but I can’t wait for her to read this.

Hi Stefan, thanks for being gentle with me. This isn’t a political blog usually, more education and cultural commentary. So your post about the life of the mind as good government captured what’s important to us here, and I knew we’d want to talk about it — we’re totally no-ad here, not trying to gin up traffic — and quote it back to each other over time. As you can see!

2 11 2008

Stefan —

That was great! Thanks for laugh! 🙂


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