Nicholas Kristof has a good column in today’s New York Times. Here’s a taste:
From Singapore to Japan, politicians pretend to be smarter and better- educated than they actually are, because intellect is an asset at the polls. In the United States, almost alone among developed countries, politicians pretend to be less worldly and erudite than they are (Bill Clinton was masterful at hiding a brilliant mind behind folksy Arkansas sayings about pigs).
Alas, when a politician has the double disadvantage of obvious intelligence and an elite education and then on top of that tries to educate the public on a complex issue — as Al Gore did about climate change — then that candidate is derided as arrogant and out of touch.
The dumbing-down of discourse has been particularly striking since the 1970s. Think of the devolution of the emblematic conservative voice from William Buckley to Bill O’Reilly.
I do have two little nitpicks, however. I really wish people would stop talking about “believing in” evolution. “Believing in” something is what you do when the something can not be supported with evidence. And I also wish people would stop making the joke where examples of poeple getting dumber and less sophisticated over time is taken as evidence that Darwin was wrong. That sort of naive progressivism was silly even in Darwin’s time.
Oh, and look for Bill O’Reilly to huff and puff on his show tonight about being labelled a conservative. He’s an independent and a straight talker, dammit.