The Dumbing Down of the GOP

Great piece by Joe Conason:

Why should we pretend not to notice when Gov. Palin’s ideas make no sense? Having said last week that “it doesn’t matter” whether human activity is the cause of climate change, she said in debate that she “doesn’t want to argue” about the causes. It doesn’t occur to her that we have to know the causes in order to address the problem.

That moment seemed like a major gaffe to me. She acknowledged that climate change is a problem, but isn’t concerned about what caused the problem?

Maybe it makes sense in the GOP mindset; after all, they want to fight terrorism, but “don’t want to argue” about its causes. Finding solutions to problems seems too often to be about appealing to emotions and making sure to not piss of the party’s base.

More from Conason:

Why should we ignore her inability to string together a series of coherent thoughts?

Why should we give her a pass on the most important issues of the day?

All the glaring defects so blatantly on display in her debate with Joe Biden — and that make her candidacy so darkly comical — would be the same if she were a hockey dad instead of a “hockey mom.” In fact, the cynical attempt to foist Palin on the nation as a symbol of feminist progress is an insult to all women regardless of their political orientation.

There was a time when conservatives lamented the dumbing down of American culture. Preservation of basic standards in schools and workplaces compelled them — or so they said — to resist affirmative action for women and minorities. Qualifications mattered; merit mattered; and demagogic appeals for leveling were to be left to the Democrats.

Not anymore.

This goes back to the farcical nature of the McCain campaign. They have run their entire operation as if it were some kind of a cynical joke run by privileged frat boys who think they are smarter than anyone else, but who in reality have a lot of growing up to do.

Campaign flailing? Pick a hot governor from a small state with very little experience. She’s so hot that no one will notice that she is most certainly not qualified to be a president (and as Vice President to McCain, a 72 year-old man who has had malignant melanomas three times, there is a decent chance that she will become president if McCain wins).

Wall Street crisis? Pretend to lead. Pretend to suspend your campaign. Go to Washington to have dinner with your friend Joe Lieberman. No one will notice that even members of Congress in your own party won’t follow your ideas on the bailout. No one will notice that when your campaign was “suspended,” you continued to campaign, your ads stayed on the air, and that you didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to get back to Washington nor that you hadn’t cast a vote in the Senate since April.

Unpopular Republican President? Pretend to be a “maverick.” No one will notice that since you were defeated by Bush in a nasty and foul South Carolina primary 8 years ago, you’ve become Bush’s lapdog in the Senate, voting with the President over 90% of the time.

The ultimate irony of Palin’s rise is that it has occurred at a moment when Americans may finally have grown weary of pseudo-populism — when intelligence, judgment, diligence and seriousness are once again valued, simply because we are in such deep trouble. We got into this mess because we elected a man who professed to despise elitism, which he detected in everyone whose opinions differed from his prejudices. That was George W. Bush, of course. Biden was too polite and restrained to say it, but the dumbing down is more of the same, too.



One response to “The Dumbing Down of the GOP

  1. Interesting. Many people talk about how the McCain of today is so different from the McCain of 2000, but is he? Or are we just getting a closer look?
    That bit about dumbing down the American culture is spot on. I remember how “The Closing of the American Mind” blamed liberal philosophy on the crisis in higher education.

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