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1.06.2004

Oh, that explains everything 

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:



Millions of words have been written as to the motivations of voters. Particularly in close elections, as in the 2000 presidential contest, pundits and laypeople alike have speculated on why people voted for whom. The exit poll has been a major tool in this speculation.

But the speculation misses the mark by far. It's increasingly obvious, for example, that none of the so-called theories can explain President Bush's popularity, such as it is. Even at this date in his presidency, after all that has happened, the president's popularity hovers at around 50 percent -- an astonishingly high figure, I believe, given the state of people's lives now as opposed to four years ago.

What can explain his popularity? Can that many people be enamored of what he has accomplished in Iraq? Of how he has fortified our constitutional freedoms with the USA Patriot Act? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment? Perhaps they've been impressed with the president's personal integrity and the articulation of his grand vision for America?

Is that likely?

Granted, there are certain subsections of the American polity that have substantially benefited from this presidency. Millionaires and charismatic Christians have accrued either material or spiritual fortification from Bush's administration. But surely these two groups are a small minority of the population. What, then, can account for so many people being so supportive of the president?

The answer, I'm afraid, is the factor that dare not speak its name. It's the factor that no one talks about. The pollsters don't ask it, the media don't report it, the voters don't discuss it.

I, however, will blare out its name so that at last people can address the issue and perhaps adopt strategies to overcome it.

It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright.

It's not merely that some people are insufficiently intelligent to grasp the nuances of foreign policy, of constitutional law, of macroeconomics or of the variegated interplay of humans and the environment. These aren't the people I'm referring to. The people I'm referring to cannot understand the phenomenon of cause and effect. They're perplexed by issues comprising more than two sides. They don't have the wherewithal to expand the sources of their information. And above all -- far above all -- they don't think.



I can't figure out what this column is supposed to accomplish. As far as I can tell, it's just going to make the author look like an asshole. I know plenty of people who share his opinion (not too surprising, given that I'm in graduate school at Harvard), but no one who doesn't already agree with him is going to be enlightened or persuaded by this rant.

Myself, I think you can find plenty of dim lightbulbs on all sides of the Christmas tree.

(Hat tip: Bird Dog.)

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