Monday, February 15, 2010

You’re (Probably) An Idiot

The majority of people in America who will surf the web in the next 24 hours are convinced, that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that she could see Russia from her house. She didn't; a comedian named Tina Fey said it while doing a very convincing impersonation of her. It had to be very convincing, since so many of us are convinced.

Most people don't read anything of substance, and therefore will believe anything some well-dressed pompadour tells them on the evening news. We cringe when someone like Glenn Beck makes a very simple, very cogent presentation about the former lobbyists which the current President said he would never have in his administration. Is he playing on our fears? Well, sure he is, but is that what really bothers us? If our friends knew we watched Glenn Beck, if we had him on Tivo, would they still invite us to their parties, or to be their Facebook pals? Do we have the same reaction when Keith Olbermann goes on the warpath? (If you're under 25, do you have to think hard about those answers?)

People who do any serious reading would know that, to be the Governor of Alaska, makes you the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. In addition, it would come as no surprise if this put you in charge of the only National Guard unit in the USA on permanent active duty status. You would also know that having this responsibility for any length of time, requires an extensive background check for security clearance, since you would be involved in border security issues in relation to a major superpower, who is presently a precarious ally at best. Now, one may not think Sarah Palin should be the next president*, but neither a lack of experience, nor a lack of intelligence, are good reasons.

Besides, if a lack of experience was such a big deal, we would not have elected a President whose political career consists of less than eight years in a state legislature -- an undistinguished tenure, by his own admission, while appearing with his wife in a televised interview -- followed by roughly two years as a US senator, before running for the Nation's highest office. The point is, if that's enough experience, we probably attach more significance to something else.

And we still wouldn't have "a lack of experience" as an excuse.

People will even make jokes about a speaker jotting down a few words on their hand, as if no one ever does that. By the time we learn that someone on the other side of the political fence has done the same thing, it won't matter. But those who made something of it to begin with are fully aware of our collective short attention span, or at least know how to exploit it. They already know we've moved on to something else.

The way we form our opinions on the issues of the day can make a difference. With only one year into this administration, people are shocked at developments so far. We are seeing enormous disillusionment by those who supported this very outcome, and massive "tea party" rallies. How could we let this happen?

If you have to ask, you're (probably) an idiot.

* For the record, I don't. While I admire her personally, I believe Ms Palin would be more effective after serving as Vice President for at least one term. Some people need seasoning, or a more gradual ascent to greater responsibility. I am convinced she falls in that category. Just so we understand each other.

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