I am so tired of the idiotic arguments Republicans like Kathleen Parker make about how you don’t need no book-learning to be a decent president. First, forget the qualities you need to actually get the job. They’re only relevant for one thing: having a decent chance of convincing the public that you’re on their side and have the right policies. But being able to sell yourself and your policies is less important than knowing what you’re doing.
People should think of the president like they think of an astronaut. Or, since we all go along for the ride, maybe picture an airline pilot. Do you care if your pilot is a regular guy? Are you going to hold it against him if he was the best pilot the Air Force Academy ever trained? Conversely, are you going to be comfortable if he barely qualified for his license?
I am not making a political argument. A lot of people don’t like and cannot truly trust people who are a lot smarter than them. It’s understandable. No one wants to get swindled or seduced by clever talk. But if you want a president to make good decisions, you better hope they know all about the world, its conflict points, the history of all the other powers, how the economy works, what happens when international systems break down, who we can trust, and who is trying to screw us. You want to know why Poppy Bush didn’t ruin the country? Being head of the CIA and ambassador to China, and vice-president gave him a lot of experience to make informed decisions. He made some mistakes, but he navigated us through the fall of the Soviet Union without incident. Maybe he had to fake liking pork rinds to appeal to the conservative base. Maybe he had a hard time connecting with people. But he knew what he was doing, unlike his son, and unlike Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann.
Whether a president appeals to the average voter or not, it’s incredibly important that they know what they’re doing. Our current president knows what he’s doing. So did Bill Clinton, when he wasn’t letting his penis do his thinking. Being smart and well-educated does not guarantee success, but being of average intelligence and ignorant is a recipe for disaster. We need someone a little more sophisticated than ‘Iran bad’, ‘Saudi Arabia good.’ Do you know if Hizbollah is Sunni or Shi’a? No? Then you’d be a total disaster as president. You’d be completely at the mercy of your advisers. Why? Because you don’t know anything about the world, that’s why. You’re liable to invade the wrong country without a reconstruction plan.
I know even Parker is disturbed by the “I’m stupid, vote for me” attitude of Bush and Perry, but it’s lot worse than she acknowledges. Why are we even debating climate change, evolution, and the HPV vaccine? Because they GOP is addicted to The Stupid, that’s why. And it’s incredibly dangerous.