Prideful Ignorance

Barack Obama defends himself from Republican stupidity:

Now two points, one, they know they’re lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they’re making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It?s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.

The back story. Obama rolled out a comprehensive energy plan. It’s smart, and it’ll work (which is more than can be said for anything John McCain has said, even when he contradicts himself).

At the end of the speech ? a speech in which he proposed increasing fuel economy standards, funding development of lower-emission engines, sustainable biofuel development and the infrastructure to support it, and a national low-carbon fuel standard ? an audience member asked what individuals could do now. Echoing noted hippies like NASCAR, the federal Department of Energy, McCain surrogates who happen also to be governors of Florida and California, and the auto industry ? Obama suggested that people should check that their tires are properly inflated, and added (correctly) that we could save more gas through that simple expedient than we would get by expanding ocean drilling. That would have the added benefit of keeping the air cleaner, rather than endangering coastlines, and of taking effect immediately, not in ten years.

McCain and his allies responded by ignoring the substance of Obama’s plan, and mocking the idea of checking your tires. Heaven forfend that someone should tell Americans to tinker with their cars. That’s simply not what we do.

One quibble with Obama’s excellent response to the mendacious crap being thrown at him. It isn’t “like these guys take pride in being ignorant.” They do in fact take pride in being ignorant. It’s part and parcel of the anti-intellectualism of the American right-wing. Even people who aren’t ignorant (McCain, his eventual VP, Hillary Clinton, Disco. Inst., etc.) know that playing ignorant is the way to succeed. And McCain is playing off of that tendency brilliantly. The “presumptuous” meme that’s been sweeping through the punditry is being pushed as a way to play off of that dynamic. Obama has established himself as knowledgeable (which makes it harder for McCain to turn “experience” into a selling point), and his reception abroad and with the young, hip cosmopolitan Stuff White People Like demographic makes it hard for him to run as the ignorant buffoon. That leaves McCain an opening, one he’s decided to run with.

Does that explain why he offered to enter his wife in a biker beauty contest? A contest which, as ESPN points out:

is essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too. During a drenching rain Wednesday night, the contest broke up into smaller groups and one woman wound up dancing naked on a bar top. Her boyfriend/husband saw her and angrily dragged her away as she struggled to put her pants back on and muttered something about how, “It’s only this one week a year.”

The contest features competitive events like banana deepthroating and “pickle-lickin.” It is sandwiched (as it were) between Hank Rotten Jr.’s Culture Challenge and a Fake Orgasm Contest.

Whether this represents McCain struggling to act like the common man, or his deep disdain for his wife, or indeed his deep disdain for women in general is unclear. What is clear is that women make up a majority of the voting public, and not too many of them probably want their husbands to force them into a nude beauty competition. I hope they vote accordingly.

I hope a few people realize that a president ought to know something, and that it’s better to be proud of knowing something than to be proud of knowing nothing. At the very least, a president ought to know where he stands, and ought to know why that’s his position; McCain doesn’t.


  1. #1 latichever
    August 5, 2008

    That’s because the Republican base is faith, not evidence, based.

  2. #2 megan
    August 6, 2008

    on last night’s news someone actually checked the stats on how much oil we’d get from off shore drilling vs. how much we’d save by inflating tires. The stat they gave said 1.2 mil. gal/day off short, 800k gal/day with tune ups and inflated tires. They then pointed out that Obama was wrong when he said they were equivalent, but I say ‘hello! that’s still a HUGE oil savings and it’s really worth doing and maybe he wasn’t so stupid to mention it!’

    Also, I hear you were able to get Obama 08 tire gauges in Lansing. Wish I hadn’t been home visiting the fam.

  3. #3 chris
    August 6, 2008

    To my knowledge the only tire gauges given away in Michigan were given mockingly by the Republicans at the Obama appearance there. They were stamped “Obama’s Energy Plan”.

    RDRR, I say.

  4. #4 Brodie
    August 6, 2008

    Obama tire gauges are on Ebay now. I think they’re completely brilliant. They’re a symbol of a no-nonsense, self reliant, efficient, low tech elegant solution. I would proudly use one of those gauges on my car.

  5. #5 Ben
    August 6, 2008

    Well said. What really irks me about McCain’s crazy statements about his wife and women in general is that he seems to be able to say them without any significant recourse or criticism. Somehow, his age, or his “maverick” perception shield him and allow him to contradict, insult, etc. On the flip side, Obama presents a measured, nuanced energy plan, and he’s criticized.

    Jesse Taylor from Pandagon makes a good point about this unfortunate double standard against democratic candidates:

    “All I’m saying is that if Barack Obama had gone to an event with 20,000 people wasting gas to talk about energy and said that his wife should have simulated sucking a banana dick between another woman’s legs, this race would be fucking over.”