Thursday, October 02, 2008
Six of Dumb, Half Dozen of Dumber
Remember back in early 2001, when perpetual intellectual underachiever George W. Bush told the graduating class at Yale -- his alma mater -- that he was proof that even a "C" student could become president? Although he was aiming for self-deprecation, it was the subtext of that simple statement which made it so patently offensive. Bush wasn't the everyman hick he pretended to be -- a down-home interloper among the silver spoon-fed rich kids of the Ivy League; far from it. Not only was he a legacy while at Yale -- a predestined Skull and Bones oligarch -- but he in fact came from one of the wealthiest and most politically powerful families in the country. And that's what made his comments at the school's commencement so goddamned obnoxious: it's not as if he squeaked by with a "C" average because he had to work his way through college or because he faced some other obstacle that stood as an impediment to his education; it's not as if he scratched and clawed to earn that very average average. Bush didn't get better grades because he knew he didn't have to. He fucked around and didn't give a damn about actually being the best student he could be because his family, and his family's status, all but guaranteed that he'd eventually inherit the keys to the kingdom regardless. Why work for it when you don't have to?
What Bush was basically telling the Yale kids is, "You can be a lazy fuck-up and still get ahead -- as long as your last name is Bush. Heh heh."
No wonder they protested his appearance; it was an insult to everyone who actually worked to earn a degree.
At first glance, it may not seem like the dynastic Junior Bush has anything in common with an undereducated rube like Sarah Palin -- and really he doesn't.
Unless you consider this: they both believe that there's nothing wrong with ascending to the most important offices in our government without actually doing the work and learning the skills necessary to do the job well.
But whereas Bush seems slyly proud to have been able to work the system and stand on the shoulders of giants to get where he is, Palin's a True Believer -- she genuinely thinks that anyone, any "Joe Six-Pack," should have access to the presidency and vice presidency of this country without ever having made the effort or undertaken the course of self-betterment which would assure that he or she is more than just adequately qualified for the position.
I'd once again run down how this inane ethos highlights half of America's ongoing hate-affair with intellectualism -- how it once again casts elitism as a bad thing -- but Bob Cesca's latest piece in the Huffington Post says it better and with more righteous fury than I ever could.
"Of course Sarah Palin probably doesn't realize that in suggesting that just any ignorant hoople can be vice president, she's not only suggesting that she herself is an ignorant hoople but, most importantly, that she can be easily replaced by any ignorant hoople plucked by the mullet out of any random monster truck rally. In other words, it's a frivolous position open to anyone who can read a teleprompter without choking on his or her own tongue. I mean, is she seriously advocating for equal job opportunities for Joe Six-pack? It's about time, she seems to have said, that normal Joe Six-pack Americans were in control of our most important and most complicated jobs. Joe Six-pack presidents. Joe Six-pack astronauts. Joe Six-pack police detectives. Joe Six-pack surgeons. Imagine being wheeled into surgery for a triple bypass and just before they push the anesthesia, you see Sarah Palin walk into the operating theater with a hatchet. A nurse offers her some sterile gloves and she blurts out, 'Thanks, but no thanks! Oh I love doin' amputations!' Scary. But it's about time, right?"
What's more, the particular brand of Joe Six-Pack that Palin is ham handedly attempting to ingratiate and compare herself to is really, no bullshit, the last guy you want having an inequitable advantage at the very top of our government. He's the guy who robotically chants "USA! USA!" when confronted with a delicate international situation that requires not simply stern action but thoughtful nuance as well; who likewise extolls that this is "the greatest country on earth" without ever having tested that premise by traveling beyond its borders (or even wanting to); who believes that the rest of the world will invariably fall in line with whatever the good ole U-S-of-A says, dammit; who wants leaders he can drink with rather than ones he can look up to.
At the top of Cesca's piece in HuffPost, he recounts a story that Mike Judge -- creator of Beavis and Butthead, Office Space and King of the Hill -- told during an appearance on David Letterman's show a while back. It provides a pretty good example of what "Joe Six-Pack" looks like. What's worth noting is that Mike Judge is also the creator of the hilariously depressing satire Idiocracy, which paints a picture of a future America in which the lowest common denominator has claimed absolute control over every facet of our culture, media and government -- a future where Joe Six-Pack really has become president (and vice president, and a doctor, and a lawyer, and everything else).
I used to think that George W. Bush was pushing us slowly in this direction -- that the fate of our country as depicted in Idiocracy was assured because of who Bush and his cronies prostrated themselves before in an effort to hold onto power. But Bush was just a pretender to the throne -- as incompetent as he was and is, he's never been just your average guy, even if for no other reason than that he accidentally hit the socio-economic lotto at birth.
Sarah Palin though, she really is just your basic unimpressive doofus -- living proof of affirmative action for the ambitious-but-stupid.
And she doesn't simply think of Joe Six-Pack as a campaign slogan or a means to an end -- she thinks of him as the future.
Which, especially if you've seen Idiocracy, should scare the living hell out of you.