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I Screwed Up

Posted Oct 22 2008 12:23pm

Poor Becca Trabin. Here she is, working so hard on being a blog intern, and I don't even give her the props she deserves. She sent me two -- count 'em, two! -- posts last week, and I received the emails and then forgot to read them. Lame of me, I know. Here was her first one. It's a little snarky, but hey, that's how it is when you're young. You've got attitude. This was about Brokaw hosting the debate.

Last night’s debate was alright. Maybe for the next one, though, we could do away with Tom Brokaw continuously chastising our future Commander-in-Chief for trying to explain his economic policy in greater length than a sixty-second sound byte will allow, since we have a collapsed economy and a $10 trillion debt. Maybe it would help.

I’d be interested in hearing the logic train of the mainstream media that lead to a sacred pact between the candidates and Tom Brokaw, which forbade either man to speak beyond ONE minute. Being as our democracy is sort of at stake here, I wonder if next time I might get to hear each man give us his views in full instead of having to hear a self-inflated member of the press paternalistically remind them about a sacred pact.

The debate was good, but I wonder if Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas wouldn’t have told their friend Tom to shut the fuck up.

This post is more ... evolved.

I was having breakfast and watching Joe Scarborough’s show this morning, and I couldn’t help but notice that he said something awesome. He told liberals to stop acting like we’re somehow better than McCain supporters. He said it’s off-putting, it makes conservatives want to vote the other way, and then they win every four years.

It’s intuitively true: don’t act superior to others. But it’s easy to forget that when it happens on a broader scale. If I were to call an Australian aborigine unevolved, anthropologists would rightly call me ignorant. But if I say that fat suburbanites who shop at Wal-Mart and vote Republican are unevolved, then I’m considered cool and smart. Granted, I don’t have to share a government with aborigines, but the cross-cultural criticisms within the U.S. are pretty judgmental from both sides.

Liberals who act pompous and self-righteous, who villainize conservatives by calling them “evil,” or who dehumanize them by calling them “Neanderthals,” misrepresent the true principle of equality that underlies Obama’s political platform. Equality doesn’t mean we each get good healthcare but I’m actually superior to you because you’re not smart enough to vote in your best interest. It means that on a fundamental level of human existence, neither of us is greater or lesser, and we deserve the same respect, wherever in the game of intelligence we may be.

Maureen Dowd begins her recent column on grammar and elitism:

I had hoped I was finally done with acting as an interpreter for politicians whose relationship with the English language was tumultuous.

That’s not true, Maureen. If the President actually were smarter than you, there would be a lot less space for your gargantuan ego to flourish. She continues:

We could, following her strenuously folksy debate performance, wonder when elite became a bad thing in America. Navy Seals are elite, and they get lots of training so they can swim underwater and invade a foreign country, but if you’re governing the country that dispatches the Seals, it’s not O.K. to be elite? Can likable still trump knowledgeable at such a vulnerable crossroads for the country?

She’s conflating the term. Being elite, as in doing something that not very many people can do, is wonderful. But being an elitist, as in taking the position that people who aren’t as smart as you are wrong for being intimidated by uppity smart people, and instead favor people who make them feel comfortable, is not okay. If you want people to like you, don’t act superior. If you want Republicans to like Barack Obama, don’t surround him with your elitist messages. He stands for an equality that’s much more powerful than the one you’re granting him.

Well done, Rebecca. Stay tuned for Becca's writing about madness, the Great Schlep (she went, she saw, she conquered, sorta) and other stuff, including whatever you'd like to hear from a bespectacled Temple student.

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