Gail Collins: Obama Is Anti-Dumb

Collins has a great piece in today’s NYT.

Think back. Why, exactly, did you prefer Obama over Hillary Clinton in the first place? Their policies were almost identical — except his health care proposal was more conservative. You liked Barack because you thought he could get us past the old brain-dead politics, right? He talked — and talked and talked — about how there were going to be no more red states and blue states, how he was going to bring Americans together, including Republicans and Democrats.

Exactly where did everybody think this gathering was going to take place? Left field?


But if you look at the political fights he’s picked throughout his political career, the main theme is not any ideology. It’s that he hates stupidity. “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war,” he said in 2002 in his big speech against the invasion of Iraq. He did not, you will notice, say he was against unilateral military action or pre-emptive attacks or nation-building. He was antidumb.

Most of the things Obama’s taken heat for saying this summer fall into these two familiar patterns — attempts to find a rational common ground on controversial issues and dumb-avoidance.

On the common-ground front, he’s called for giving more federal money to religious groups that run social programs, but only if the services they offer are secular. People can have guns for hunting and protection, but we should crack down on unscrupulous gun sellers. Putting some restrictions on the government’s ability to wiretap is better than nothing, even though he would rather have gone further.

Dumb-avoidance would include his opposing the gas-tax holiday, backtracking on the anti-Nafta pandering he did during the primary and acknowledging that if one is planning to go all the way to Iraq to talk to the generals, one should actually pay attention to what the generals say.

I was glad to read this column. Yeah, Obama does appear to be turning a little bit to the center for the general election, but it’s not like he was ever perfect on all the issues.

What originally drew me to Obama was, well, the hope thing. What kept me with him is his ability to analyze issues in different ways that go beyond the traditional Republicans vs. Democrats paradigm.

An anti-stupidity president is exactly what our nation needs.


9 responses to “Gail Collins: Obama Is Anti-Dumb

  1. Amen!

    Seriously, I never heard him say he was “liberal” or left wing. I heard and was drawn to the “drawing people together”, mending our difference & finding common ground, with Hope thrown in of something different.

    I find it disheartening to continually hear these dividing words by these diehard Clinton supporters and it is either black or white with no gray areas whatsoever to be discussed. I’m as left as they are, but reality trumps ideology in all respects for me. It is why I can find respect for Powell, Hagel & Huckabee who chose to attack a letter to their names diametrically opposite to my own ideological beliefs.

    I find Powell respectable, knowing he was sold down the river, based on his realistic Military beliefs. Hagel again on his realistic military beliefs. Huck on his realistic approach to fiscal responsibility. And shockingly enough, today I find myself in 100% agreement with T. Boone Pickens, who funded the Swiftboaters in 2004, with his “Plan” for energy independence trumping any hatred I may feel for the outcome of that election and the money he invested to make it so.

    Obama is not a demigod to me, but at the same time he is the embodiment, through his mixed race, of how the younger generation generally becoming more “gray” oriented instead of it is either black or white.

    Obama is the “Anti-dumb” candidate and that is more appealing to me that anything else, as i’ve been preaching the difference between ignorance & stupidity for years. People’s eyes are beginning to open and that is much to the detriment of those who have the most to lose by change be it positive or negative.

    I have to say it, for every one Hillary supporter who will not vote for Obama, i believe there are 10 people considered middle to right who are finding Obama’s message of unity more appealing and will vote for him over McCain. And this gives me great hope:)

  2. Ahhh! The sweet sound of sanity!

  3. “An anti-stupidity president is exactly what our nation needs.”

    This precisely sums up why I support Obama.

  4. Hans, thanks for the thoughtful post! I’m with you 100%.

    I’d add Lugar to your list of people from the other side of the aisle worthy of our respect.

    And was it me, or did this T. Boone Pickens thing come out of the blue? Though he seems to have a good message, I’m cynical about his motives. But if he gets richer by helping the US move to alternative energy sources, I’m all for it.

    I also really think that Obama will have a great ability to pull in first-time voters and independents, so he can easily get around the PUMAs.

  5. Laura, GB, how sad is it that we support a candidate because he is sane and anti-stupid.

    You’d think those would be some basic qualifications for a president.

  6. T Boone did come out of nowhere and you are right I am wary of it. But he does shut the “drill everything, including your grandma’s ass” crowd as I’ve very tired of battling these morons.

    The thing I am worried about is that they need extra Natural Gas to separate Oil from Tar Sands so that is one area of skepticism to be wary. CNG vehicles are in much of south america and the conversion is relatively easy and cheap, also there are trying to put in CNG receiving ports all over the west coast, here in Oregon there are 3 sites. Hillary actually won those 3 rural counties here because she & Bill campaigned hard against those ports. Which begs the question, if the US/Canada have massive Natural Gas reserves why are we looking to import more and why is it so critical to import?

  7. holy horrible spelling and grammar!

    cowers in corner in shame

  8. Great question, Hans. I don’t get it.

    It seems like we have the technology to detox from oil, but it’s not happening. And there is so much money to be made off of alternative energy sources. Why isn’t that happening.

    If Brazil can do it, so can we.

  9. to answer the above as I’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere as well, Dick Lugar I have not followed in a long time, but from what I can remember he was never a friend to anyone in the middle or to the left. Gut feeling on considering him as much as I could throw him.

    Brazil’s working mostly off of “flex fuel” vehicles that can use sugar cane derived ethanol, so the vehicle need not be much different from normal factory models and they have installed an infrastructure that is full circle planting using sugar cane ethanol in tractors, waste products powering furnaces–> generating electricity–> distilling the sugar cane, repeat. plus they have better growing conditions.
    CNG conversion I think would result in huge issues here with the need to first create the infrastructure at the gas stations, although how difficult would that be given NG lines are in most urban and suburban areas of the country, however I think the glitch would be in our hatred of big government and our typical sue everyone society, converting vehicles over and having to install CNG tanks in cars (think of a propane tank on your grill) that gets ruptured in a car crash. I’m sure that would be just one of many “fighting” points for Big Oil & Big Auto to fight it on 😦

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