It seems some have mistakenly interpreted yesterday’s post as a defense of Sarah Palin.
It was not a defense of Sarah Palin.
While I, like many, was initially impressed with Ms. Palin’s speech to the Republican National Convention in 2008, it quickly became apparent that she was, in the words of Peggy Noonan, a nincompoop. My point, then, was that the nation’s knowledge of Palin’s nincompoopery came by means of Saturday Night Live, which acted as the delivery vehicle, not the creator, of the Palin Stupidity Narrative.
The Stupidity Narrative, generically speaking, assumes that its target barely has enough brainpower to generate enough energy to keep their limbs moving. It seems to be a more frequently used tool in the arsenal of the left than the right, although the fact is that there are people on both sides of the aisle who deserve to be labeled as too dippy to function in polite society.
Case in point: can anyone find an example of a Republican representative as stupid as the guy who was worried that an enlarged military presence on Guam might cause the island to capsize?
So, clearly, there are some people who deserve to have their story filtered through the Stupidity Narrative. Sadly, Sarah “Revere-warned-the-British” Palin is one of them. But some people get labeled as imbeciles who don’t deserve it, while others who are objectively boneheads escape the Stupidity Narrative scot-free.
Allow me to elaborate.
I was a Mormon missionary in Scotland during all of1988, so I essentially missed the entire presidential election of the same year. When I came home, I was startled to discover that America had apparently elected its densest citizen to the office of Vice President.
It seemed like every time Dan Quayle his mouth, something subhumanly asinine would tumble out.
You remember all the examples as well as I do. He claimed that President Roosevelt took to the television airwaves after the stock market crash of 1929, even though Roosevelt was then the governor of New York and television didn’t really exist. He dropped the F bomb at one of the president’s most important bill signings, and he made racist comments about Indians in a local Dunkin’ Donuts. He flubbed the lines of his own swearing in, condescendingly referred to a prominent black politician as “clean” and “articulate,” plagiarized an entire speech from a British labor party leader, claimed to have finished in the top of his law school class when he actually graduated as #76 out of 85, invited a paraplegic supporter to stand up at a rally, told the Irish prime minister he was sorry his mother died when she was still very much alive, referred to an Internet URL as a “website number” and later said “the number-one job facing the middle class… happens to be… a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs,” called Justice John Paul Stevens “Justice Stewart” and called Barack Obama “Barack America.”
Barack America? Oh, wait.
No, Quayle didn’t do any of those things. He just misspelled “potato.” The previous laundry list of stupidity burbled forth from the mouth of our current veep, the supposedly brilliant elder statesman Joe Bunion. Or is it Paul Biden? Can someone use the Google and interface the website number where I can find out?
Yet the narrative is that Quayle’s a stone cold idiot, whereas Biden’s a genius and a lovable character. How is that fair? An you imagine the endless stream of jokes if Quayle mistakenly referred to a prominent research scientist as “Dr. Pepper,” the way Biden did last week?
It’s also true that it’s very hard to assign the Stupidity Narrative to a politician who has already been defined as something else. By the time Rick Santorum made mention of “the brave men and women who signed the Declaration of Independence,” he had already been tagged with the Scary Religious Zealot Narrative, so piling on with a stupidity label would have been overkill.
Of course, Mitt Romney has said some stupid things, too, but it’s doubtful the Stupidity Narrative is going to take hold with him. Why should it? I have feeling that the Mormon Weirdo Narrative will do very well in its first time around the track.