Dumb and Dumber?

Quote of the day, from Tom Friedman’s column in the Times today:

In China, Bill Gates is Britney Spears. In America, Britney Spears is Britney Spears.

In the column, he endorses Bill Cosby for President on condition that he talk as bluntly to white parents as he has to black parents: “Throw out your kids idiotic video games, shut off the TV, and get Johnny and Suzy to work.”

The nation-of-idiots theme is, I think, oversimplified, but on the next page of the Week In Review was another article, commenting on the microscopic sales of the novels nominated for the National Book Award this week. In Britain, the writer points out, the Booker Prize* “is a cultural event … the subject of radio and television commentary, even betting and the occasional pub fight.” One could argue the merits of recent N.B.A. winners versus winners of the Booker Prize, but it’s hard to imagine Americans having a bar fight over books of any stripe.

* I know the official name of this award now includes the name of a sponsoring corporation. I’m leaving it out on purpose.

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20 Responses to Dumb and Dumber?

  1. bobhowe says:

    Jesus, did you read Suskind’s Magazine piece? I’m going to have to buy Zoot a little canvas jacket with no holes in the sleeves.

    • ken says:

      Yes, as one of those who lives in “the reality-based community” I was a little disturbed by statements like

      We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

      Those are the folks who need the special jackets. Whatever Zoot’s issues, she’s not that crazy or malicious.

      • bobhowe says:

        Yeah, I think the phrase “reality-based community” says it all. I can’t imagine what historians (in the European Free Zone) will make of this administration a hundred years from now. I hardly know what to make of it.

        • shunn says:

          What a fascinating and terrifying story that was. I can hardly digest that phrase, “reality-based community.” I’ve never liked Bush, of course, but that image of him being asked to leave the board of Caterair less than a dozen years ago because he brought no value contrasted with the idea of him as leader of the “free” world makes me physically ill.

          The best passage in the article, and the nub of the whole issue of faith, comes at the end:

          Can the unfinished American experiment in self-governance — sputtering on the watery fuel of illusion and assertion — deal with something as nuanced as the subtleties of one man’s faith? What, after all, is the nature of the particular conversation the president feels he has with God — a colloquy upon which the world now precariously turns?

          That very issue is what Jim Wallis wishes he could sit and talk about with George W. Bush. That’s impossible now, he says. He is no longer invited to the White House.

          ”Faith can cut in so many ways,” he said. ”If you’re penitent and not triumphal, it can move us to repentance and accountability and help us reach for something higher than ourselves. That can be a powerful thing, a thing that moves us beyond politics as usual, like Martin Luther King did. But when it’s designed to certify our righteousness — that can be a dangerous thing. Then it pushes self-criticism aside. There’s no reflection.

          ”Where people often get lost is on this very point,” he said after a moment of thought. ”Real faith, you see, leads us to deeper reflection and not — not ever — to the thing we as humans so very much want.”

          And what is that?

          ”Easy certainty.”


          • bobhowe says:

            Yes, exactly. Bush’s defenders would like to paint his critics—the ones who call him dumb, especially—as blue state elitists who just don’t understand the president’s connection with “real” people. But, like pornography, we know dumb when we see it, and this is exhibit A.

          • shunn says:

            It’s dumbness, and it’s laziness. He may talk about how much hard work it is being president, but his is not a patch on Clinton’s industriousness and curiosity.

          • bobhowe says:

            Concur. Clinton also had better taste in women, even counting Monika. I wouldn’t fuck Laura Bush with Tom DeLay’s dick.

          • shunn says:

            Yeah, which of us has Laura Bush in mind when we fantasize about librarians?

          • bobhowe says:

            Those of us who are necrophiliacs?

          • shunn says:

            Hey, don’t call the president something he can’t spell!

          • bobhowe says:


            Yeah, right now he’s got Condi Rice explaining to him that “Necrophilia” isn’t a place you can invade.

          • shunn says:

            “No, Condi, it’s that island with the dictator whose wife had all the shoes. And I still say Sweden’s the one with no army.”

          • ken says:

            That was a great ending to the piece. I find it (somewhat) encouraging that even (some) conservative Christians are troubled by this administration.

          • shunn says:

            Those are the true Christians, who really pay attention to what Jesus said. Of course, that’s just my interpretation of Christianity.

          • bobhowe says:

            Have you heard about the Pat Robertson flap?

            It’s highly amusing to have Dubya hoisted on his on petard by a religious fanatic who may be crazier than he is. Imagine what their conversations must consist of? It’d be like two teenage girls fighting over who’s better friends with god.

  2. shunn says:

    I can imagine bar fights over the Bible….

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