So there’s this guy that I sort of know. We’ve never really been close and I don’t talk to him much, but he’s some big shot who a lot of people seem to like and respect (for reasons that escape me), and thus, I have to continually put up with him. We don’t get along because we occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, lead dissimilar lives and have little in common. He follows baseball, I follow basketball; he’s from the South, I’m from the North; he likes pretzels, I like popcorn. That sort of stuff. He’s also a fervent supporter of our administration while I am likely one of its most stringent polemics.
However, beyond petty schisms over junk food and important disagreements concerning this country’s direction, what might make me most upset with him – and trust me, the results of our ideological divergence really raise my ire – is his stupidity. The guy seems profoundly unintelligent, or at least unconcerned with intellectual pursuits, and resultantly, is incapable of speaking well or talking with distinction.
(Quickly, let me add a few notes: First, the guy has to be somewhat smart, at least socially, because tons of people like him and he seems to persuade others really well. I think his friends probably tell him what to say often, but he clearly understands what he’s doing. Second, I’m not saying that the guy has to quote Thucydides or have a Ph.D, but he should at least possess the ability to have a substantive discussion without pausing all the time and stumbling over his words.)
Normally, I wouldn’t be complaining like this, and usually it isn’t a problem when someone I know sounds like a ten-year-old, except that the person in question embarrasses me almost every time he opens his mouth. He’s like that one relative everyone dreads going out in public with because you never know what he or she is going to say, but you know that it will always be embarrassing.
I mention all of these issues because the guy with whom I take umbrage is the President of the United States. That’s right. My man G-Dub is an embarrassment. Have you seen this man deliver a speech? Whether he’s inventing language, pausing every six seconds to remember what he’s been told to say next or simply bungling a common aphorism, G-Dub constantly makes himself seem stupid, and that reflects poorly on the public that both voted for him and has allowed him to remain a bumbling fool. We should feel ashamed of him and, mostly, ourselves.
Practically, we should feel ashamed because we’re lazy and don’t ask nearly enough of G-Dub. Our president, as leader of the nation and the free world, should be a man of intelligence, one able to both understand broad, nuanced topics and articulate U.S. position clearly and accurately. We have not held G-Dub to that standard. For instance, he has routinely substituted “embetterment” for “betterment.” Why do we allow our president to abandon the language, giving him a pass as he substitutes his own words for English?
The answer is that we don’t demand anything more than the minimum from our leaders or ourselves. (Yes, there have been recent anti-war protests, and I applaud those Sisyphusian – see, here I have created a nonce word, not a Bushism – citizens who have demonstrated their opposition to the approaching conquest of Iraq.) That apathy is how we (sort of) elected the Dub Man in the first place, ignoring his lack of erudition, questionable accounting (how’s that surplus?) and silver-platter life.
That apathy, our apathy, has also allowed for the scariest part of G-Dub’s reign: his myriad and apparent flaws – in case they forgot to tell you this at Yale, George, one’s subject should always agree, in number, with his predicate – still haven’t inspired us to take action as the man has taken our rights, ruined our economy and advanced his neo-Reagan ideology. That we can idly watch G-Dub compromise bedrock American values while claiming to uphold those deteriorating ideals is cause for real alarm.
That indifference has most clearly manifested itself in our tolerance for the president’s blathering. As G-Dub spoke at the American Enterprise Institute last Wednesday, I felt close to ill watching my most prominent representative stammer over his words, pause to remember his ideas and employ generalities backed by no substance. I was only furthered sickened when I considered that seemingly barely-literate G-Dub was accepted by his own people as a fine representative of our nation’s education system and governing ideology. I was not proud and I cannot handle that any longer. I’m not with stupid.
Litman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.