Everyone is familiar with the claims of how smart our president is. To take just one of the latest examples, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote a column on the subject last week. Milbank took the president's brilliance as a given, then talked to three professors to learn just what burdens a man so gifted might bear. "What distinguishes Obama particularly is the depth and carefulness of his thinking, which renders him somewhat unfit for politics ... He is a brilliant social and political analyst" possessed of a "high degree of 'integrative complexity.'" I have no idea what "integrative complexity" is, but then, those of us on the right are simple minded, too dull witted to understand the gods of the center-left (you see, Mr. Obama is not on the left, just the center-left). Ed Morrissey took Milbank's column apart over at Hot Air.
Milbank is an opinion writer for the Post, though one could be forgiven for thinking he aspires to becoming a humorist. Speaking of humor in the Post, Jason Horowitz, Staff Writer, has unintentionally provided plenty in his piece on an Obama czar or adviser or whatever the title of the day is. I had not heard of Steve Croley, "the White House's point man on gun regulation policy." Croley is -- get ready -- a "wonk" with "a genius for regulatory law."
How exactly does Croley employ all that wonkiness, or wankiness, for the administration? He "has a broad portfolio including good government and transparency issues, civil rights, food safety and criminal justice policy. Guns have accounted for only a small part of his workload, and it's an issue with which he has little experience." Snort; giggle. Jason Horowitz must have doubled up with mirth as he typed out "good government and transparency issues." And since last August, too. Well, that's certainly borne fruit, Mr. Croley.
Of course, Mr. Horowitz is careful not to say that Croley champions "good government and transparency" or promotes "good government and transparency" or anything of the sort. No, those intangibles are just part of his "portfolio." It depends on what the meaning of is is, right Mr. Horowitz? Like a lawyer poring over a deposition, we must parse the clever wording in our newspapers to catch our journalists lying with the truth.
And what are Mr. Croley's bona fides to be Mr. Obama's point man on guns? None, really: guns are "an issue with which he has little experience." But never fear, he's a "gun owner" (how many and what calibers? does that count the wall-hanger over the fireplace?). Oh, and he hunted deer as a kid. Why not add that the man has seen pistols used on TV? Remember when Bill Clinton, early in his presidency, made a big deal of going duck hunting? The picture of him carrying two ducks was splashed all over the papers. Er, those were not ducks but mud hens. I never knew a hunter to kill mud hens, much less bring them home. Apparently, they taste like mud, so there is bag limit on them. But Mr. Clinton thought the outing would burnish his reputation among gun owners.
Back to Mr. Croley. He is, according to Mr. Horowitz, one of the top tort professors in the country, so smart that he got his fingers mangled in a snowblower. "He had disregarded the warning label, and he became an on-campus case study: If one of the country's leading tort scholars fails to heed an advisory label, professors posited, do such warnings carry any weight?"
Uh-oh, professors are positing, signal for the rest of us to sit down and shut up. You see, if someone as smart as Mr. Croley shoves his hand into a running snowblower, it can't mean that he's dumb or stupid or not so bright. No, it's more evidence of "the depth and carefulness of his thinking," of a "high degree of 'integrative complexity.'"
I don't understand that at all, professors, but can't you just do something to protect us? Why don't you sue manufacturers before their products come to market? Call it a kinetic tort action, akin to the administration's dilatory, lackadaisical, sporadic "kinetic military action" in Libya. But professors, "do such warnings carry any weight?" Professor Croley should host a seminar with Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, the wonky architects of the president's Libya "policy," to elucidate "the depth and carefulness" of the president's Middle East policy, the "integrative complexity" manifested in his North Africa adventure. Call the seminar How Wise Women with the Richness of Their Experiences Reach a Better Conclusion Than a Black Male. Mr. Horowitz's humor is so sly, delivered with a deft hand at every turn. For instance, we learn that Mr. Obama told Sarah Brady, "I just want you to know that we are working on it [more gun control]. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar." Whoops, careful there, Sir. As Professor Haidt advises, "It is important for the president not to be rational and fully honest." Yes, that would be change we could believe in.
Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d[at]gmail.com.