Former World Chess Champion and current political activist Garry Kasparov appeared on Bill Maher’s program the other night. The entire, seven minute interview is worth watching, but I especially liked this part:
MAHER: But if you look at what’s going on in Russia, Putin has a very high approval rating. I mean there is something…
KASPAROV: How do you know? (Laughter) Are you seriously, are you relying on the polling results from a police state? I think with the same tight control of media and a pervasive security force, Bush and Cheney could enjoy the same approval rating here.
MAHER: Chekmate to me.
I knew there was a reason I always liked Kasparov.
At the end of the interview Chris Matthews, also a guest on the show, had this to say:
MATTHEWS: You ever get the feeling that they’re playing chess and we’re playing checkers? That was sophisticated and this audience was listening to every word. Our guys never get to that level of sophistication, they talk down to us.
Well, I certainly agree with the sentiment. But Matthews has a lot of nerve criticizing American politicians for being unsophisticated. You see, every time John Kerry expressed an opinion requiring more than ten words, Matthews was leading the charge to complain of how complex and nuanced Kerry’s opinions were. When Al Gore had the nerve to bring up an actual piece of legislation, the Dingell-Norwood bill, during one of his debates, it was Matthews and his cadre of yes-men who were falling all over themselves to deride him for being a stiff, humorless policy wonk. And when Bush spent the 2000 campaign making one incoherent, unsophisticated statement after another, Matthews was so apalled that he did long segments praising Bush for his plain-spokenness and for his affinity with the common man.
No, it is not our politicans who are less sophisticated than those in other countries (well, not as a general proposition at any rate). It is our media, especially cable news, that is unsophisticated, and frankly not very bright or knowledgeable either. Instead it is wall-to-wall gossip mongers who will happily denounce any politician that forces them to think about anything important.