Bob Herbert's dimwitted slur

Ed Lasky
Bob Herbert of the New York Times castigates the "dimwittedness" of Palin supporters while flaunting his own laziness, ignorance, and/or dishonesty.

While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I've gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.NYT HQ
Before Mr. Herbert throws this stone, he needs to get his own facts straight within the NYT glass house.

Here is what the Mr.Herbert writes about Sarah Palin:

Ms. Palin may be a perfectly competent and reasonably intelligent woman (however troubling her views on evolution and global warming may be), but she is not ready to be vice president.

With most candidates for high public office, the question is whether one agrees with them on the major issues of the day. With Ms. Palin, it's not about agreeing or disagreeing. She doesn't appear to understand some of the most important issues.

"Do you believe in the Bush doctrine?" Mr. Gibson asked during the interview. Ms. Palin looked like an unprepared student who wanted nothing so much as to escape this encounter with the school principal.

Clueless, she asked, "In what respect, Charlie?"

"Well, what do you interpret it to be?" said Mr. Gibson.

"His worldview?" asked Ms. Palin.

Later, in the spin zones of cable TV, commentators repeatedly made the point that there are probably very few voters -- some specifically mentioned "hockey moms" -- who could explain the Bush doctrine.

The Bush doctrine, which flung open the doors to the catastrophe in Iraq, was such a fundamental aspect of the administration's foreign policy that it staggers the imagination that we could have someone no further than a whisper away from the White House who doesn't even know what it is.

Let's deconstruct this line of attack:

The evolution/creationism canard

Palin is in favor of open inquiry in education. Isn't that the purpose of education?

In an Oct. 25, 2006, debate, when asked about teaching alternatives to evolution, Palin replied:

Palin, Oct. 25, 2006: Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject - creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.

A couple of days later, Palin amended that statement in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, saying:

Palin, Oct. 2006: I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.

After her election, Palin let the matter drop. The Associated Press reported Sept 3: "Palin's children attend public schools and Palin has made no push to have creationism taught in them. ...  It reflects a hands-off attitude toward mixing government and religion by most Alaskans." The article was headlined, "Palin has not pushed creation science as governor." It was written by Dan Joling, who reports from Anchorage and has covered Alaska for 30 years.
Source:  factcheck.org

So Palin's position is: if the issue comes up-raised by a student, it can be broached. How does that fit with Herbert's allusion/illusion?

Global Warming issue

Does Herbert watch the news or read a paper? Palin addressed this issue two nights ago -- well before his column was set to publish. Palin told ABC News journalist Charles Gibson

"I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change."

Her past comments may have been a bit murkier on this topic but she was very clear and on record two nights ago.

The Bush Doctrine

Does Bob Herbert read anything beyond left-wing publications? Does he get only information fed to him by the Obama campaign?

There is no single definition of the Bush Doctrine. The definition has evolved over the years. Charles Gibson got it wrong,too. ABC News has had varying definitions for the Bush Doctrine over the years. Andrew McCarthy notes that there has been ever shifting definitions of the Bush Doctrine. Lliberal columnist Kirsten Powers, who writes for the New York Post (or does Herbert refuse to read one of his hometown newspapers) wrote that ABC News bungled the Bush Doctrine. Charles Krauthammer and others have cited the evolving history of the term.

Then he has the gall to criticize Palin for not being able to condense this elusive, contested concept into a sound bite?

Worse, his use of the term "hockey moms" is transparently offensive. She was a mayor, she is a Governor (the most popular in the nation, which gives some indication about how successful she has been).

Bob Herbert is a columnist whose columns are so predictable and devoid of creativity that they have been mocked at a website that can generate Bob Herbert columns by just dropping a topic into a program that computer generates a faux Herbert column.

What else is notable in the Herbert column? He rails against Palin on the issue of the Bush Doctrine yet does not even define the Bush Doctrine himself.

Who is dimwitted?

Finally, Hebert has this gem:  

John McCain, who is shameless about promoting himself as America's ultimate patriot, put the best interests of the nation aside in making his incredibly reckless choice of a running mate. But there is a profound double standard in this country. The likes of John McCain and George W. Bush can do the craziest, most irresponsible things imaginable, and it only seems to help them politically.

I guess that makes people who support John McCain and Sarah Palin dimwits.

What is curious about his use of "double standard" is he fails to see the irony from earlier in his column when he wrote:

For those who haven't noticed, we're electing a president and vice president, not selecting a winner on "American Idol."

Barack Obama, Mr. Herbert, is the one who is playing the "American idol" role here: a man with a tissue-thin resume and a record of few accomplishments and responsibilities who has been propelled upwards because of personal charisma and a top notch ability to read a teleprompter when giving a speech. He might as well be lip synching. That is an American Idol for you.

But maybe we should be happy for columnists like Herbert who condescendingly look down at so many  Americans. They give us an insight into the reason so many in the media support Barack Obama.  They identify with his and his wife's view of Americans -- we are "bitter", we are "downight mean". Now we are also "dimwitted".

Photo credit: Jack Kemp (not the politician)
Bob Herbert of the New York Times castigates the "dimwittedness" of Palin supporters while flaunting his own laziness, ignorance, and/or dishonesty.

While watching the Sarah Palin interview with Charlie Gibson Thursday night, and the coverage of the Palin phenomenon in general, I've gotten the scary feeling, for the first time in my life, that dimwittedness is not just on the march in the U.S., but that it might actually prevail.NYT HQ
Before Mr. Herbert throws this stone, he needs to get his own facts straight within the NYT glass house.

Here is what the Mr.Herbert writes about Sarah Palin:

Ms. Palin may be a perfectly competent and reasonably intelligent woman (however troubling her views on evolution and global warming may be), but she is not ready to be vice president.

With most candidates for high public office, the question is whether one agrees with them on the major issues of the day. With Ms. Palin, it's not about agreeing or disagreeing. She doesn't appear to understand some of the most important issues.

"Do you believe in the Bush doctrine?" Mr. Gibson asked during the interview. Ms. Palin looked like an unprepared student who wanted nothing so much as to escape this encounter with the school principal.

Clueless, she asked, "In what respect, Charlie?"

"Well, what do you interpret it to be?" said Mr. Gibson.

"His worldview?" asked Ms. Palin.

Later, in the spin zones of cable TV, commentators repeatedly made the point that there are probably very few voters -- some specifically mentioned "hockey moms" -- who could explain the Bush doctrine.

The Bush doctrine, which flung open the doors to the catastrophe in Iraq, was such a fundamental aspect of the administration's foreign policy that it staggers the imagination that we could have someone no further than a whisper away from the White House who doesn't even know what it is.

Let's deconstruct this line of attack:

The evolution/creationism canard

Palin is in favor of open inquiry in education. Isn't that the purpose of education?

In an Oct. 25, 2006, debate, when asked about teaching alternatives to evolution, Palin replied:

Palin, Oct. 25, 2006: Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject - creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.

A couple of days later, Palin amended that statement in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, saying:

Palin, Oct. 2006: I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.

After her election, Palin let the matter drop. The Associated Press reported Sept 3: "Palin's children attend public schools and Palin has made no push to have creationism taught in them. ...  It reflects a hands-off attitude toward mixing government and religion by most Alaskans." The article was headlined, "Palin has not pushed creation science as governor." It was written by Dan Joling, who reports from Anchorage and has covered Alaska for 30 years.
Source:  factcheck.org

So Palin's position is: if the issue comes up-raised by a student, it can be broached. How does that fit with Herbert's allusion/illusion?

Global Warming issue

Does Herbert watch the news or read a paper? Palin addressed this issue two nights ago -- well before his column was set to publish. Palin told ABC News journalist Charles Gibson

"I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change."

Her past comments may have been a bit murkier on this topic but she was very clear and on record two nights ago.

The Bush Doctrine

Does Bob Herbert read anything beyond left-wing publications? Does he get only information fed to him by the Obama campaign?

There is no single definition of the Bush Doctrine. The definition has evolved over the years. Charles Gibson got it wrong,too. ABC News has had varying definitions for the Bush Doctrine over the years. Andrew McCarthy notes that there has been ever shifting definitions of the Bush Doctrine. Lliberal columnist Kirsten Powers, who writes for the New York Post (or does Herbert refuse to read one of his hometown newspapers) wrote that ABC News bungled the Bush Doctrine. Charles Krauthammer and others have cited the evolving history of the term.

Then he has the gall to criticize Palin for not being able to condense this elusive, contested concept into a sound bite?

Worse, his use of the term "hockey moms" is transparently offensive. She was a mayor, she is a Governor (the most popular in the nation, which gives some indication about how successful she has been).

Bob Herbert is a columnist whose columns are so predictable and devoid of creativity that they have been mocked at a website that can generate Bob Herbert columns by just dropping a topic into a program that computer generates a faux Herbert column.

What else is notable in the Herbert column? He rails against Palin on the issue of the Bush Doctrine yet does not even define the Bush Doctrine himself.

Who is dimwitted?

Finally, Hebert has this gem:  

John McCain, who is shameless about promoting himself as America's ultimate patriot, put the best interests of the nation aside in making his incredibly reckless choice of a running mate. But there is a profound double standard in this country. The likes of John McCain and George W. Bush can do the craziest, most irresponsible things imaginable, and it only seems to help them politically.

I guess that makes people who support John McCain and Sarah Palin dimwits.

What is curious about his use of "double standard" is he fails to see the irony from earlier in his column when he wrote:

For those who haven't noticed, we're electing a president and vice president, not selecting a winner on "American Idol."

Barack Obama, Mr. Herbert, is the one who is playing the "American idol" role here: a man with a tissue-thin resume and a record of few accomplishments and responsibilities who has been propelled upwards because of personal charisma and a top notch ability to read a teleprompter when giving a speech. He might as well be lip synching. That is an American Idol for you.

But maybe we should be happy for columnists like Herbert who condescendingly look down at so many  Americans. They give us an insight into the reason so many in the media support Barack Obama.  They identify with his and his wife's view of Americans -- we are "bitter", we are "downight mean". Now we are also "dimwitted".

Photo credit: Jack Kemp (not the politician)