Saturday, July 2, 2011

Just the Facts, Ma’am

As Robin Williams’ character, Mork, was fond of saying, “Reality, what a concept.” Well reality, like facts, has now become optional these days. It seems no matter how many facts rear their ugly, reality-soaked heads, in the end, people are free to interpret them as they see fit, and completely ignore them when they are inconvenient. Subjective reality and ignorance have now become joined at the hip. Whereas once upon a time, knowledge was respected as a vital component of every day living, nowadays it might as well be an elective in a college curriculum.

Witness the ascendancy of Michele Bachmann. If you had a dollar for every misstatement she has made in her relatively brief political career, you could probably pay your next month’s mortgage. And yet, even with such egregious examples of errors, misrepresentations and flat out lies, her star continues to rise. In deed, the more she trips over and mauls the facts, the more popular she becomes. Among the disciples of the ignorant, she has become the stuff of legend.

So it should come as no shock to anyone that the darling of the heartland, while announcing her candidacy for the office of the presidency, couldn’t resist the temptation to once more show off her stunning prowess.

“What I want voters to know is, just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that’s the kind of spirit I have, too.”

Yep, real nice. Unfortunately for Bachmann she got her John Wayne’s confused, just like virtually everything else she has an opinion about. While The Duke of the old westerns lived 150 miles away, John Wayne Gacey, the serial killer, was the Waterloo resident. Well at least she got the first two names right, and if you’ve ever seen most of Wayne’s early movies, the term serial killer does kinda fit.

Seriously, this is the dimwit who is virtually tied with the only candidate capable of beating Barack Obama, Mitt Romney. If I was a serious conservative – and by that I mean someone who doesn’t get his “facts” from Fox News or AM talk radio, assuming there are any left – I would be extremely nervous right about now.

In deed, it isn’t just serious conservatives who should be nervous. Anyone and everyone with a brain still left in his or her head should be loosing sleep over the dearth of intelligence that is sweeping across the political landscape these days and passing itself off for “credible” leadership. Michele Bachmann is but a symbol of a growing trend within the population, which seems to be rejecting knowledge – even when it’s useful – for intellectual mediocrity. Disappointed by the seeming elitism of the Washington establishment, a sizable portion of voters has elected to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

It’s as if your foot doctor did a bad job operating on your foot and now you’ve decided to let your mechanic have a crack at it. Sounds stupid, you say? Well, to quote a famous movie character, Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” The whole country has gone stupid mad. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and now Michele Bachmann. All constitute the latest contingent of nincompoops hell bent on driving the whole damn bus over the edge of the cliff into the abyss.

And that’s what worries me most about next year’s presidential election. If Bachmann actually wins the nomination, she will dumb it down to such a degree that any attempt by Obama to bring civility and reason (i.e. intelligence) into the debate will be seen by the masses as arrogant and evidence of pure elitism. Even Obama’s most ardent admirers admit the word empathy is not written into his DNA. Bachmann will strike a chord among the frightened and downtrodden who see little reason to hope. With an economy still stuck somewhere between neutral and first gear, the electorate might well jettison the remaining collective brain cells it has and do the unthinkable: vote for someone who makes George W. Bush look like a Rhodes scholar.

Oh shit!

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