In response to “Are You Smart Enough to be President of the United States?”:
This reminds me of the running gag about the hapless Senator Bedfellow in the “Bloom County” comic strip, forever facing rigged “gotcha” questions from the satirical representation of biased media. In one of my favorite examples (possibly slightly misquoted due to fuzzy memory, with all due apologies to Berke Breathed) the press asked Senator Bedfellow where Jimmy Hoffa’s body was buried. When the flustered politician replied that he didn’t know, the next day’s headline read, “Senator Forgets Where He Buried Hoffa’s Body.”
So the Rick Perry edition of the “when did you stop beating your wife?” gotcha question implies that the lunkheaded Texas cowboy is too stupid to be President, unless he can prove otherwise – and the burden of proof is most definitely on him. That’s a fine bit of thanks from the media, since Perry’s Texas is the only reason their beloved, elegantly credentialed, super-genius President gets to pretend his dead-fish economy is undergoing some kind of “recovery.” Take away Perry’s state and the North Dakota energy jobs Obama couldn’t kill, and no one would be able to deny seeing the recession we would be looking at.
So yes, lefty media, I think Rick Perry is smart enough to be President, and he’d be a gigantic improvement over the one we have now – not only due to his personal qualities, but because you lot would treat him with the kind of aggressive skepticism you never, ever show toward Barack Obama, not even when he’s caught in the most immense and obvious lies. Even when the biases behind the questions are laughably obvious, I’d like my Presidents to be vetted at least as well as, say, obscure Republican staffers who dare to offer their opinions about the fashion choices of the First Family.
A good first step would be refusing to take stylish academic credentials at face value. That way, we won’t get another alleged “constitutional scholar” who seems almost completely ignorant of what the Constitution says, having studied it only to plan his strategy to destroy it. I’m down with asking every presidential candidate of every party affiliation to prove they’re smart enough for the job, and if they can’t do anything better than the recite their list of degrees, let’s buzz them right off the stage. As you observed, Perry’s answer to the question sets a pretty high bar for others to follow.
The Senator Bedfellow treatment won’t be reserved strictly to Narrative-reinforcing questions about intelligence, of course. They’re not going to waste any time asking Dr. Ben Carson if he’s smart enough for the job – they’ll challenge his experience, with a side order of eye-rolling about his religious zealotry. Senator Ted Cruz will be asked, “Aren’t you too extreme to run for President of the United States?” Governor Chris Christie will be asked if he’s too confrontational, while Governor Scott Walker will be asked how a partisan lightning rod such as himself could possibly dream of becoming The Only Politician Everyone In America Gets to Vote For. As a group, the Republican candidates will get stephanopolized with out-of-left-field questions that have nothing to do with the concerns of ordinary Americans, but set up Democrat campaign themes.
Meanwhile, nobody in the mainstream media will think to ask if Hillary Clinton is too dishonest, or Senator Elizabeth “The Government Owns Everything” Warren is too extreme. Concerned journalists will ask them how they’re holding up under the incredible pressure of running as a female against the patriarchal War On Women culture. Hillary will be asked how she handles all the mean questions about her competence rotten Republicans are asking, in those shadowy camera-free corners where they cluster to ask such questions, and Madame Clinton will respond with that hideous laugh of hers and modestly allow that she’s kind of a superhero for being able to simultaneously handle the hatred of Neanderthals, the demands of a presidential campaign, and struggling to raise a daughter who gets paid six figures for doing nothing.
Personally, I think the softball treatment given to Democrats causes far more damage than the hardballs chucked at Republican heads. Republicans like Perry can handle the hardballs. The rest of us can’t handle what Democrats are doing to us.