Sometimes Stupid

About two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal Online ran an article by Peggy Noonan titled, A Nation That Believes Nothing.  I almost posted in on my Facebook page but decided against it.  It was a fairly partisan article … and since it was the WSJ, you can guess which way it was partisan.  And I can’t complain about partisan Facebook posts one week then post them the next.  But the truth is, it wasn’t the partisan aspects of the article that caught my attention … after all, I can find partisanship virtually anywhere.  And you probably know by now that I try to keep politics out of Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog unless it’s non-partisan commentary on our process.  So, that’s what I’ll try to do here.

Noonan’s REAL theme is, in her own words, that we are becoming a nation that believes nothing. Not in nothing, but nothing we’re told by anyone in supposed authority.   She talks about the effect of politicians continually spinning everything in the news.  Political technicians always think they’re magicians whose genius few apprehend, she says, but Americans now always know where the magician hid the rabbit. And we shouldn’t be so proud of our skepticism, which has become our cynicism.  Someday we’ll be told something true that we need to know and we won’t believe that, either.  And Noonan speaks of our politicians tendency to avoid revealing any real substance, calling each other ridiculous names like Obamaloney and Romney Hood.  Both campaigns, she says, are afraid of being serious, of really grappling with the things Americans rightly fear.

I agree.  But as always, I have more to say.  This week we got to listen to a statement of remarkable stupidity by a sitting congressman, representative Todd Akin of Missouri.   He may have topped the stupidity scale for this political season, which is pretty amazing given our Vice President.   Biden’s idiotic statement that, they goin’ to put y’all back in chains, referring to the Romney team, could win the prize most years.  The spinning of that statement by political operatives is exactly what Noonan is talking about, by the way.  But that’s not my point.   Politicians are simply humans like the rest of us.  They are Sometimes Stupid … OK, perhaps more so.   Which of us isn’t ignorant in some corner of the vast array of human knowledge?   Who among us hasn’t said something thoroughly stupid in the heat of the moment or when caught by surprise by a question … or even at the end of a bad day?   For ordinary humans, an apology often suffices to save the day … it is only repeated stupidity that brings disaster.   And sometimes, our stupid moments become teachable moments.  I can personally attest to that.

My point is that if we crucify our politicians every time they say something stupid, then allow other politicians to avoid saying anything of substance by attacking their opponents, we end up with exactly what we’ve got … politicians who are afraid to say enough about themselves to let us know who they are … and politicians who never find themselves in a teachable moment that could benefit their constituency.  I suppose there is a threshold at which we simply throw the bum out … and Akin may have crossed it … but I want to know the warts of the men I’m voting for before I elect them.  So, in most cases, I think we should let them speak, simply listening then voting accordingly.

What do you think?

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11 Comments on “Sometimes Stupid”

  1. Thomas Ross Says:

    Bud,

    Thoughtful post.

    My own take is that the whole Akin thing is a sideshow. He’s a moron, okay. So let’s hope the folks in Missouri show him the exit. But this media frenzy around Akin obscures the larger issues re violence against women, the Republican Party’s platform on women’s issues, and so on.

    The problem with Akin isn’t that he made a stupid slip of the tongue. It’s a matter of values. As you point out, anyone can say something stupid that yields a false sense of their real values. In Akin’s case, the problem is that the stupid comment is not that far off his actual values and policy positions.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Tom

    • oldereyes Says:

      Thanks for commenting, Tom. Let me offer an experience from my own life. Like most sixty-eight year old men, I grew up in homophobic times. Verbal cruelty toward gay men was standard faire. Fortunately, I grew up and came to understand that gay men differ from me only in their sexual orientation … a pretty minor difference. But those old attitudes lurk. One time, in a passionate conversation with a dear friend about a radio personality, I used a particularly odious word for a gay man. It just popped out. My dear friend’s brother was gay and I apologized profusely. That moment did not reflect who I am. If you were there and stormed out of the room, you’d never know that.


  2. I have to agree with Tom. But then again, you read my post about Rep. Akin and you read my reply to your comment, so you already knew that. 🙂 VP Biden’s comment was stupid in that it was culturally insensitive and probably manipulative. (Your comment about gay people to your friend falls into this category in most ways.) Rep Akin’s comment was stupid in that it was utterly uneducated. He truly didn’t know where babies came from. He then added literal insult to injury by piling on with his assertion that there is such a thing as a distinction between “legitimate” rape and rape of some other kind. You are aware, from reading my post, of how I suspect he makes that distinction. We have also learned recently that Mr. Akin and Mr. Paul Ryan were co-sponsors of a bill that would outlaw abortion except in cases of what they termed “forcible” rape. Again – I’d like a definition. What am I required to do in the course of my savage attack in order to make sure Messrs. Akin and Ryan define it appropriately? To be clear: Mine is not an argument for or against abortion rights. It is an argument against anyone who would sit in the halls of Congress with the nerve to presume he or she knows what rape, and a resulting pregnancy, is like for me or other women, and then tell me that the particular way in which mine occurred means it doesn’t count.

    In addition, Rep. Akin’s apology is a false one. It lasted mere hours before he was back on “Huckabee” with this defense: “… I misspoke one word in one sentence on one day. I hadn’t done anything that was morally or ethically wrong, as sometimes people in politics do. We do a lot of talking, and to get a word in the wrong place—you know, that’s not a good thing to do, or to hurt anybody that way. But it does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.”

    He doesn’t get it. There were a lot of wrong words in his interview response, and he doesn’t get it. His policies (including the “forcible” rape verbage in his bill) prove he truly believes what he said in that interview. That he needed advisors and experts to tell him women’s bodies can’t shut down reproduction in the event of rape is further evidence of dangerous ignorance. If it were you, Bud, I’d educate you and walk away. This man wants to make national policy. To allow him to do so would be reckless.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. I’m glad you waded into the fray. 🙂

    • oldereyes Says:

      To some degree, you make my point. If I were coming into the fray with no knowledge of Akins … if, for instance, he were a candidate … it would be his Huckabee interview that showed me his true colors. I’d have more of a chance of hearing it, though, if the reaction to his original statement wasn’t so extreme that he’d continued to speak in “open media,” not in conservative enclaves like Huckabee’s show. If he were a candidate, it would be my opportunity to see what he is before he’s making national policy.

      I think you are entirely too ready to give old Joe a pass. The idea of him being President scares the crap out of me, certainly more than Akin being in Congress.


      • But he IS a candidate. He wants to go from representing the Missouri 2nd (a fragment of the state) to being one of two senators representing the entire state, in a legislative body with fewer members, thereby increasing the importance of his vote, during a race in which his party is hoping to gain control of that legislative body and push through laws like the bill he proposed with Rep. Ryan (and, to be fair, many others, including 11 Democrats). The problem with him going on conservative enclaves is that the only people likely to hear his “true colors” are those who are more likely to agree with him in the first place. Forgive me, my friend: the argument about telling a woman what she can and can’t do with her body is one thing, and I make no point for or against that argument here. But presuming to tell a woman what a MAN can and can’t do to her body? There is no reaction to that nerve that’s too extreme.

        As for Mr. Biden, make no mistake: I’m not giving him a pass at all. His comment was unacceptable. I’m simply saying he has no record of legislating racism, like you have no record of actually being anti-gay.

      • oldereyes Says:

        Background: I am pro-choice in almost every circumstance except late term abortions. But I understand moral objections to abortion, just as I understand moral objections to birth control and gay marriage. I don’t believe in legislating moral positions for everyone. The idea of “degree of rape” infuriates me. So, let’s drop Akin for a moment … we are in agreement, he’s a cretin.

        Let’s suppose I was running for the Senate and I made an unfortunate slip of the tongue with respect to gay marriage. Since I actually do have a history of being anti-gay, the media would crucify me. If I withdrew… or if I was driven to use only media partial to my candidacy, others wouldn’t get to see that indeed, I learned the error of my ways and I support gay marriage. The country would miss out on my considerable talents, not just as a supporter of gay marriage but in other matters. I honestly believe we end up stuck with the sad cast of characters we have because the political mine field scares off capable people, leaving only cynical political types. I guess that’s my point.


  3. I understand your larger point in this latest response and I grant it. I just don’t think that’s the situation here.


  4. The Akins initial comment, all by itself, was bad enough but then, he decided to dig a larger hole in which he could be buried -my thoughts on him and I think someone above here referred to him as a “moron” and I pretty much do mirror that opinion. That he serves now on the Science committee and made such a ridiculous statement that women’s bodies have a mechanism that halts a pregnancy when it is a case of rape -aren’t biology and physiology science courses -makes me very afraid of what other things pertaining to the body, to medical science and things of that nature that he doesn’t know diddly squat about and yet, would be there making the call on many of these type of issues. On the abortion issue, though I personally would not opt to have one, I am very Pro-Choice because no one, man or woman, should have that kind of control over what happens with any woman’s body. And I’m not touching Biden and his comments with a ten-foot pole!

  5. Coming East Says:

    I’m with you, Bud, in as much as I think I understand what you are saying. The media spin on everything has made it nearly impossible to determine what the truth is or who the best candidate is. Add to that the lies and half-truths being flung out there by both parties and it leaves the public with the daunting task of trying to figure out the true character of any candidate, especially when one slip can be pounced on by the press and become the focus for days and weeks. No wonder fewer good people seem to want to go into politics, and good people like Olympia Snowe are exiting it.

  6. Rick Gleason Says:

    The Democrat’s repeated narrative is this so called “war on women.” But, when presented with the facts — that some of the brightest and most admired leaders in the Republican party are women — one has to question this liberal position. To hear the Democrats speak you’d think … as one of them has said, the Republicans are a party of old white men. That’s nonsense!

    Of the 6 current female governors, 4 of them are Republicans. At the Republican convention speakers included a former Secretary of State, three sitting Governors, a U.S. Senator, a black Mayor, 3 U.S. Congress members, a former Lt. Governor and an Attorney General. All were women and all were Republican.

    Since when is being pro-life anti women? I guess my mother, my daughter, my sisters in law, many of my female cousins, aunts, friends and co-workers — who are also female and pro-life — are all participants in this so-called war on women?

    Simple common sense betrays the Democrat’s argument.


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