I have been called a lot of things. As a conservative in Madison, it comes with the territory.
But I had never been called stupid. Until now. Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, the parent of TheDailyPage, quotes an expert who thinks those of us who voted for governor-elect Scott Walker and senator-elect Ron Johnson are "pretty damn stupid."
The victories of our chosen candidates on November 2, Bill says in the current issue, represent "The Triumph of Stupidity." Otherwise,
How could the electorate opt for an obvious phony like Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold?
Isn't it obvious as the dunce caps on our heads? Ron Johnson is a phony. (What? RoJo is not really a conservative? Not really a successful manufacturer? We've been duped!)
While us dumb folk cling to our guns and our religion, we can't be thinking clearly, as Bill's eloquent hero, Barack Obama, likes to say. We're so stupid we couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. Still, God must love us stupid people, he made so many of us -- 1.25 million in Wisconsin alone (52% of the electorate), judging by the election returns.
This isn't just Bill's opinion. It is the considered opinion of a shell-shocked liberal commentariat unwilling to confront any root causes deeper than trashing their victorious adversaries. Bill was among mournful friends at a meeting of professional journalists hosting a tenured professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Why am I not surprised?
The professor, political scientist Charles Franklin, said this:
"I'm not endorsing the American voter. They're pretty damn stupid."
Remember, kids. This is the science of politics as practiced by a man with a post-graduate degree to an audience of rapturous professional journalists. How stupid is the American voter? Can you quantify that for the class?
Thank you, professor.
Might other factors have been at play on November 2? Doesn't matter. Professional journalist Bill likes this opinion, so it will be the only one he uses. He tells his readers he had been shopping for just such a response.
"Thank you, professor. That's the answer I was looking for."
If defense attorneys can go shopping for lenient judges I suppose professional journalists can go shopping for opinions that support their preconceptions.
Understand, I am not criticizing Bill Lueders, especially since I have been warned not to do so on these pages. Let me say here that I respect Bill Lueders. I really do.
I would never call him stupid.
Tea partiers are better educated
In fact, he's as smart as a tea partier and twice as clever. Bill just has a different world view. I can respect that, if he can. Now hear this:
Tea party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, tend to be Republican, white, male, and married, and their strong opposition to the Obama administration is more rooted in political ideology than anxiety about their personal economic situation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. [New York Times 4-15-10]
Fourteen percent of Tea Party supporters have a post-graduate education, compared with 10 percent for the general public; 23 percent of Tea Party supporters have a college degree, compared with 15 percent for the general public, according to the poll. [Fox News 4-15-10]
Professor Franklin has some splainin' to do
The essence of Progressivism, the narrative behind the Wisconsin Idea, is that the "experts" on Bascom Hill would instruct their lessers, especially legislators popularly elected by the rabble, to scrape the manure off their boots before they enter the State Capitol.
Which is why Bill Lueders is chagrined that "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires." (What's the matter with Kansas? Anyone? And Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania ...)
Although I am only a "former" journalist, as Bill calls me, on Friday I asked Professor Franklin if he really said what he was quoted as saying. Not to doubt Bill Lueders' accuracy -- he is, after all, a professional journalist. It just seemed like an NPR, fire-Juan Williams kind of thing for Prof. Franklin to do. Does the UW political science department really want to give Rep. Steve Nass a wedgie when he's poised to take over the higher education committee?
Here is Prof. Franklin's response, in full:
The quote is accurate. I think it lacks some context and Bill's application to the Wisconsin Senate race is not exactly what I had in mind. But I said it, he quoted accurately, so I've got no beef.
The point I was trying to make was that voters often lack detailed knowledge of the policy implications of their votes. I went on to say that while they didn't know the details of Ron Johnson's policy positions (since he himself wasn't very clear) they nonetheless picked the right candidate if they wanted to vote for the more conservative candidate who would be more opposed to government spending. So "pretty damn stupid" was hyperbole but in keeping with my point that people vote without knowing the details, yet they get the general directions about right, at least most of the time. By the former measure, they are "stupid" but by the latter, they do ok despite limited information.
What I certainly did not intend to say was that voters were stupid to pick Johnson over Feingold. I don't think I said or implied that, and I don't believe that. Voters made a choice and I think they picked the guy that was closer to their preferences this time around. Bill may think them stupid for that, but that was not at all my intention nor what I think I said.
Some nuance, as our liberal acquaintances like to say (For they ARE our aquaintances.) Not to mention, some damn fancy tap dancing. "Voters often lack detailed knowledge of the policy implications of their votes"?
No shinola, Sherlock. Does the professor expect voters to read the 1,200 pages of ObamaCare when most of Congress couldn't be bothered? Did he read it?
'Looks like another six years for Feingold'
In a gala ceremony, mainly involving card tricks and a cash bar, your faithful BlaskaBlogger gratefully accepted the chairmanship of the Dane County Association of Political Pundits. They love me, they really do!
Way back on March 12, before the print or broadcast news media in town, your Blaska Blog alerted his faithful readers to RoJo's incipient candidacy. What's more, he forecast propitious sailing. The growing line of candidates, announced or potential, was:
A very good sign that the Massachusetts Miracle has legs. [Feeding Frenzy on Feingold?]
The reference, of course, was to the upset win of Scott Brown in taking "the Ted Kennedy seat" as a harbinger of things to come. While the Blaska Policy Research Team was foretelling the Badger State's version of the Massachusetts miracle, another would-be pundit, fresh from the Tax Day tea party rally on the south Capitol lawn, at which Ron Johnson electrified the crowd, came a-cropper:
It looks like another six years for Russ Feingold. Despite what the Tea Party might make you think about Wisconsin, most people in the state are not itching to elect anybody to replace the three-term senator. [The Sconz 4/15/2010]
Not itching like an unwashed penitent in a hair shirt, that is.
How does Blaska do it? He buys right! And so can you by visiting the Stately Manor every so often.
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