Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Power of Stoopid 

Three sages:

Take, say, sports -- that's another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it -- you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that's of no importance. That keeps them from worrying about -- keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it's striking to see the intelligence that's used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in -- they have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of arcane issues.
-- Noam Chomsky, interviewed in Manufacturing Consent (1992)

Politics is about identity. The candidates and parties that win are not those aligning their positions most precisely with a majority of the electorate. The winners are those who form a positive image in the public mind of who they are (and a negative image of who their opponents are). Issues are a vehicle to create that identity . . . .

The Democrat comes before the public and says, "If you read my 10-point policy plan, I'm sure you'll vote for me. Let's go over it point by point." The Republican then comes before the public, points to the Democrat, and says, "That guy is a weak, elitist liberal who hates you and everything you stand for. I'm one of you and he's not." And guess who wins . . . .

[V]oters don't read policy papers, and they don't make decisions with a checklist of issues in their hands. That's why Republican campaigns operate on a different level: Whom do you identify with? Whom can you trust? Who is strong, and who is weak? These questions transcend issues, which is why Republicans -- who know they are at a disadvantage on the issues -- spend so much time talking about them.

-- Paul Waldman, the Boston Globe (9/6/06)

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.
-- H. L. Mencken

From our close study of the above we have concluded that most Americans, though not necessarily stoopid, nevertheless tend, for a variety of reasons primarily systemic in nature, to vote stoopid. Our perspicacious colleague and fellow Warriors fan Swopa, to whom we are indebted for the Waldman quote above, has been tracking the efforts of Candidate Obama to appeal to a stoopid constituency (or, more precisely, to appeal to a broad constituency on a stoopid level), and he has not, so far, been displeased with the results.

We bow to no one in our respect for Mr. Swopa's political acumen, but he is, at the end of the day, a member of the pointy-headed liberal elite -- as, we hasten to confess, are we! -- and we could not help but wonder whether Obama's admittedly mad framing skillz would pay similar, measurable dividends among hoi polloi.

Well, to quote a famous marine, surprise, surprise, surprise! According to a new Rasmussen poll commissioned by Fox News and the Washington Times -- and do not neglect the potential for disinformation when Messrs. Murdoch and Moon are doing the commissioning -- Obama's stoopidity index is surging:
[T]he survey determined that a quarter of self-identified Republicans rated Mr. McCain most likable, but nearly as many — 23 percent — chose Mr. Obama as most likable. And among all adults surveyed, Mr. Obama was rated likable by more people than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. McCain combined,

By contrast, likability has never been Mr. McCain's strong suit — even long-shot Republican candidate Mike Huckabee was rated more likable in the poll, both among all adults and Republicans specifically. Mr. McCain instead is betting on his national-security credentials, and there the survey shows him topping both Democrats combined.

Mr. McCain led with 39 percent to Mr. Obama's 17 percent and Mrs. Clinton's 19 percent when those surveyed were asked who "will be the toughest on matters of national security." Even among self-identified Democrats, Mr. McCain fared decently with one in five rating him toughest . . . .

Despite facing candidates with far more experience in government, [Obama] was rated smartest by 26 percent of those polled, more so than Mrs. Clinton, who won 22 percent, and Mr. McCain, who garnered 17 percent. Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, was fourth with 10 percent.

Even among Democrats, Mr. Obama was rated smartest by nearly half — a full 10 percentage points more than Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Obama also was wildly popular among independents and third-party members, 41 percent of whom rated him most likable.
All very encouraging. Remember, however, that while "likable" always wins votes from the stoopid bloc, "smart" is not necessarily a plus, and is inevitably trumped by "strong on defense." The last eight years clearly demonstrate that the average American voter is willing to overlook such putative defects as inexperience and pig-ignorance if he believes that a candidate A) would be fun to drink a beer with, and B) is likely to surround himself with the very best team of criminals, liars, would-be fascists, and paranoid-schizophrenic psycho freaks his handlers can assemble for him.

UPDATE: Uh oh. Hillary takes Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island. Stoopid hates Hillary.

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