Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Stupid Like a Brilliant Fox

Tech Central has an article by Orrin C. Judd titled "Dumb and Dumber: Revisiting Conservatives as the Stupid Party." Link. The conventional wisdom goes back 139 years to when John Stuart Mill labeled Britain's Conservative Party "The Studip Party," but how often does conventional wisdom hold water for that long.
Indeed, the most successful conservative presidents -- Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush -- have played up the notion of their own stupidity or at least not fought it very hard. Democratic presidents, on the other hand, have ostentatiously surrounded themselves with Brain Trusts and the Best and the Brightest; played up their ties to Harvard and Rhodes Scholarships; and even, in the case of Jimmy Carter, inflated their resumes to the point of claiming to be a nuclear physicist. However, the tactical and strategic blunders of the Democratic Party over the last few years have been so spectacular that it may be time to reconsider the intellectual wattage of the respective parties.

What is most startling to observe these days is that the Democrats do not seem able, or willing, to learn from their most obvious mistakes. The most recent example of this blindness is the hysteria with which they've attacked an obscure Republican National Committee mailing about the new Democratic Senate Minority Leader, Reid All About It: Who is Harry Reid?, which makes the seemingly innocuous charge that Mr. Reid is "Determined to Obstruct President Bush's Agenda." A party with some sense of humor about itself would have laughed off the charge that the opposition was opposing. A party with some self-confidence would have seized on the piece as an opportunity for free publicity and said, "Dang right, he's going to obstruct the destruction of Social Security and the appointment of extremist judges!" Instead, the Democrats reacted with squeals of outrage. In so doing they turned it into a free publicity windfall for the Republicans and helped to establish a meme that the GOP will be able to exploit every time Senator Reid does work for Democratic interests instead of rolling over for the President.

In a field as cut-throat and competitive as politics, one of the greatest advantages one can have is to be consistently underestimated, or, better yet, misunderestimated. Reagan was further blessed with a personality that made him almost impossible to hate, even by his political opponents. Bush's personality only achieves this state with the majority of Americans who have not been driven mad by their loss of power. Both men are/were blessed with opponents who were incapable of learning from experience, who, year in and year out continued to think that they were dealing with a moron, and kept getting fleeced as a result. Lincoln was right. You can fool some of the people all of the time.


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