These Guys Aren’t All That Smart

Election season is a pain where few people can appreciate it. Friends of mine decided to run for elected office. I don’t have that many friends so I said yes when asked to help. Then they told me my duties.

Like “Poll Watching”. I immediately opened my extensive library of past accomplishments and thought: “Pole watching, not a bad deal. I admired the ladies gymnastically maneuvering around that Fireman’s Pole at the nightclub. This could be fun.”

Wrong kind of pole. The duties explained to me drew beads of sweat to my brow. Sitting in the corner with a pad in my lap, watching people ignore their responsibility to vote and expressing it by not voting at all didn’t thrill me. But, for the sake of friendship I sallied forth.

Another thing I found fascinating was the fact everything electoral moves at a snail’s pace until the last 2-3 days before the election. Then everything becomes a matter of urgency. I guess nobody ever heard the old bromide: “the failure to adequately plan and activate that plan in a timely fashion on your part doesn’t necessarily constitute an emergency on my part.” But such is the conduct of politics in America.

In national matters it doesn’t seem like this is true; but trust me, it is. Watching Republican Candidates debate has been instructive. There are really NO differences between the candidates. They all dress smartly. They all have smart sounding answers to questions posed by the moderators and they answer in a smart and nimble fashion. Their demeanor is smartly honed to assure a sense of power is reflected in their presence and bearing. But in general they each fail to advance a working knowledge of something very important.

They just aren’t all that smart.

The other day I said the contests between the primary contenders in this circus were giving the Democrats the greatest ammo any political party could desire: divisive internal wrangling acted out on-stage, in front of a television audience and recorded for posterity.

These people have a list of questions they’ll be asked to answer. Instead of answering the question concisely, they appreciate the moderator’s gentle tugging on the invisible nose ring implanted by the networks. This assures the moderators/media get the dog and pony response necessary for a good television demographic. The moderators direct the display of emotional responses and personal attacks so they can get a rise out of the candidates.

The moderators and network mavens put aside control of the process in favor of the argumentative and combative elements of personal drama. It makes for crappy politics but fantastic ratings across the board. An example of this is the way moderators don’t shut down interruptive behavior and bloviating by one candidate trying to talk over another. Simple etiquette says: take notes, think quickly and speak articulately in response. Not here folks. The Republicans talk over each other, interrupt each other and ignore the basic rules of debate: like keep your hands off of your opponent.

Romney came off looking insulting and paternalistic as he tried to put down Rick Perry’s arising ire during the last debate. Perry fumed. I’d have broken his arm. Perry did nothing. (That’s probably a good move, but looked like he was indecisive.) And everybody else (people on the dais and the moderators) just watched in stunned appreciation something wrong was happening.

This whole ordeal of the press feeding off of the candidates’ gaffes and flub-ups is getting old and potentially dangerous for the Republicans. People no longer accept the premise that candidates know what they’re talking about. That theory is being slammed every time these people appear on stage and woefully ply their wares as saleable. Nobody is looking all that good.

I once told my son the difference between being intelligent and being smart is a valuable one to learn. Being intelligent means you can accept and process information. Being smart means you can take that information and turn it to your best benefit.

These are definitions these people need to grasp and learn from because when they appear on stage they show just how smart they aren’t.

Thanks for listening.



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