Monday, January 23, 2012

GQ: Obama Dumb!

As part of their DEATHRACE 2012 coverage, the good people at asked me to talk about the frequent Republican refrain — and sometimes dog-whistle racist appeal — that Barack Obama is essentially stupid.

Even when they don't have the stones to make the case directly, GOP candidates run to old lines about "the teleprompter" (a device every politician uses), or echo the sighing smug-fuck paternalism of someone like Mitt Romney, who says that Obama is a "nice man" who's just "in over his head." Barack Obama's being dumb is an empty claim that explains everything and requires no actual intellect or analysis.

Click the aw-geez Obama to be taken to GQ.


  1. Oooo. You're classy now that you're writing for GQ.

  2. You mean GQ is classy now that he's writing for it.

  3. Stop that.

    I wrote some stuff for them last year, too, so any enclassening that happened already been and done gone.

  4. It makes sense for me to be anonymous, but why are you anonymous, Mr. "GQ Editors"?

  5. Why does it make sense for you to be anonymous?

  6. I take that back -- the lack of "Mobutu" is just on the front page, which throws off any officers on your scent.

  7. Great writing, great subject, relevant... brilliant. This is why I subscribe to your blog. Now if I can only get over the mostly ad-hom Hitchens article. ;)

  8. I read the piece and I agree with a lot of it, but I think there's two important things to consider.

    First, I think a lot of this "stupid" backlash is over the top, but I think a lot of it is a reaction to how over the top the "Obama is a genius" hype was. If anything, it's like a financial correction: an outrageous overvaluing leads directly to an outrageous undervaluing.

    For example, when the media was going over the top about Michelle Obama's good looks and fashion sense, there came out a slew of articles bashing her looks and fashion sense. While the articles bashing her looks and fashion were definitely over the top, I don't think we'd have seen as many of them nor would they have been so intense without the former positive hype that preceded it. Now that people aren't touting her as the reincarnation of Jackie O or a fashion icon, the bashing articles have died down too. At the end of the day both sides were ridiculous: Michelle Obama was neither as hot and fashion forward or as ugly and a fashion nightmare as either side claimed. It was just an overvaluation followed by an extreme correction.

    That, more than racism or anything else more insidious, is what I think's at play here.

    I remember when the "Bush is a stupid puppet of Cheney" meme started in the media and started making him seem exaggeratingly moronic there were many stories and profiles of him that started coming out overdoing how smart he was for a while as well.

    Second, Democrats do this all the time to Republicans, questioning their intelligence and exaggerating how stupid and backwards they are, and it's whites of similar class and background doing it to other whites of similar class and background, so I don't think its a classism or racism issue. It's just politics. The problem is that Democrats take the stupidity of Republicans as a given, so when they see it done it strikes them as natural as pointing out the sky is blue. On the other hand, Democrats take their own intellectual infallibility as a given also, so when the people whose intellectual inferiority turn around to dare criticize THEIR intelligence, the cognitive dissonance sounds a much louder alarm for them. It just feels much wronger and more noteworthy and egregious than the reverse.

  9. I also want to add, we may claim that this undervaluing of Obama's intelligence has a lot to do with racism and "otherizing" and and conservative arrogance, and I agree there are likely elements of that.

    But the overestimation of Obama's intelligence that preceded it comes from many of the same sources. White liberals overdid talk about his genius because of benign racism and "otherizing" and liberal white guilt, which is a form of arrogance in and of itself, although a much more sophisticated and subtle form of arrogance.

  10. What part of "he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review" do you think is "white racism"?

    At what point does white guilt give him that job?


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